parish pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of
Walsingham took place this year from Monday 21 to Friday
25 May, with 14 pilgrims.
The timetable started off with a Mass and Blessing of
Pilgrims in St Matthew’s Lady Chapel at 9.30am. Then
setting off in private cars, with a lunch stop en route,
we arrived at Walsingham in the early afternoon. First
stop was the Slipper Chapel, the Roman Catholic Shrine,
where we said a short prayer. The Slipper Chapel has
seen centuries of secular use. It was built in 1340 at
Houghton St Giles, the final station chapel outside
Walsingham. Pilgrims would remove their shoes to walk
the final ‘Holy Mile’ to the shrine barefoot, hence the
naming of the Slipper Chapel.
On arrival at the shrine we were all allocated rooms in
the Milner Wing. At 4.00pm we gathered at the Pilgrim
Entrance, west end of the Shrine Church, for The First
Visit to the Holy House. “How awesome is this place!
This is none other than the house of God and this is the
gate of heaven” Genesis 28.17
Evening prayer was at 5.30pm, as it was every day, in
the Shrine Church, led by one of the Shrine Priests. We
then met for drinks in the Norton Bar, where many
varieties of gin were on offer! Supper in the refectory
followed at 6.30pm. The food is excellent, local produce
used wherever possible, always a choice of two hot main
courses or an extensive salad selection and the
opportunity to meet with fellow pilgrims. There were
groups from the college of St Barnabas, Lingfield,
Surrey, and Frome Valley Benefice, Worcestershire during
our time there. There was also a day pilgrimage on the
Wednesday from Downham Market, led by a college friend
of Fr Nicholas.
Every morning after breakfast, there was Morning Prayer
followed by Mass, in differing chapels within the shrine
grounds. The gardens are beautiful, lovingly tended,
even better when bathed in sunshine!
On Tuesday we had a fascinating talk by one of the
Shrine Priests, Father Andreas Wenzel, about the two new
icons, designed by iconographer Lee Harvey, and
exchanged by the Anglican and Roman Catholic Shrines.
They are mirror images of each other, emphasising unity
between the shrines and the significance of the
Annunciation. Prayer cards depicting this image were
distributed to the congregation following our return.
Intercessions were offered in the Holy House for the
sick and departed in our own parish, those on our weekly
prayer lists, and those for whom we were specifically
asked to remember. We also remembered those unable to
join us on pilgrimage due to illness, frailty or
The Liturgy of Reconciliation, Sprinkling at the Well,
Laying-on of hands, Anointing and Benediction took place
On Wednesday following the Pilgrimage Mass, the
afternoon was free time to visit any of the surrounding
areas, or as some of us did, walk the holy mile along
the old railway line to the Slipper Chapel.
The evening devotion included the Procession of Our Lady
around the grounds by candlelight, speaking to us of the
nature of the pilgrim church on earth, as we journey
together, God’s people from earth to heaven. The image
of our lady was carried by two of our pilgrims, Gary and
Seymour (we were assured it was very heavy but in safe
hands!) Caroline and Sarah carried candles accompanying
the image, teeth chattering and hands shaking throughout
the procession, it was very chilly! Jean M set fire to
her candle holder before the procession was even under
way; in swiftly extinguishing it she covered herself in
embers and charcoal!
On Thursday, following mass in the Priory of our Lady,
our gracious and delightful hosts were the two remaining
resident nuns. We had coffee and biscuits in a sun
filled conservatory overlooking the garden.
The Stations of the Cross in the afternoon took place
outdoors, the 14 stations having been newly restored.
The Social Evening on our final evening together, in a
very fine local hostelry, was greatly enjoyed by us all!
On Friday, following mass and the Last Visit to the Holy
House we departed for home, thankful for the warmth,
friendship, spiritual unity and tremendous fun!
A Parish Pilgrimage is arranged every year from St
Matthew’s, normally in May or June.
Please find below a selection of photos.