We went straight to the Chapel of Reconciliation where we celebrated mass with other worshippers, many of whom had obviously travelled far. There were many people of Sri Lankan Tamil and Filipino descent. The readings, the songs, the priest’s sermon and of course the location all combined to make the mass a fitting celebration of Easter. I had an overwhelming feeling of holiness, peace and community in that chapel.
|Chapel of Reconcilation|
After mass, we had lunch in the tea room. Then we visited the gift shop, the Slipper Chapel and the Chapel of the Holy Spirit before making our way back to our car and starting our long journey back home. We thoroughly enjoyed the trip to England’s national Catholic shrine, which was once known as ‘England’s Nazareth’. As a Catholic it is heartening to see that Walsingham is once again seeing something of a revival despite its tumultuous past.
History of the Shrine
|Richeldis de Faverches|
The Holy House was built in Walsingham and around 1130 a community of Augustinian Canons took charge of the foundation and Walsingham became one of the notable Shrines in medieval Europe. All the kings of England from Henry III (1226) to Henry VIII (1511) came to Walsingham on pilgrimage. In 1538 the Reformation caused the Priory property to be handed over to the King’s Commissioners and the famous statue of Our Lady of Walsingham was taken to London and burnt. Nothing remains today of the original shrine, but its site is marked on the lawn in “The Abbey Grounds” in the village.
|Our Lady of Walsingham|
In 1934 Cardinal Bourne led a pilgrimage on 10,000 and declared that the National Shrine of Our Lady was to be at the Slipper Chapel. Since the 1950’s the Shrine of Our Lady has developed constantly and it has become firmly re-established as a place of pilgrimage and worship. Today over 250,000 people (pilgrims and tourists) visit the Roman Catholic Shrine each year. On most summer weekends there are Diocesan or other organisations’ pilgrimages taking place.