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Parish Pilgrimage to Walsingham 2018


Our annual 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 bereavement.

The Liturgy of Reconciliation, Sprinkling at the Well, Laying-on of hands, Anointing and Benediction took place that evening.

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.



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