Our Parish Cell of the
Society was inaugurated on Wednesday 23 February 2005. Fr Philip
North, the Priest Administrator of the Anglican Shrine, preached at
the Inaugural Mass and presented the certificate recording the
event. It now hangs on the south wall of the sanctuary in the Lady
Chapel. Fr Nicholas is Ward Superior.
The Cell continues to grow, with approximately twenty-five members,
and a number of parishioners are currently exploring the possibility
of joining the Society.
2012, a hand-carved image of Our Lady of Walsingham was
dedicated and now provides a focus for all Cell
gatherings. The image is painted in mediaeval colours,
and was made possible thanks to the generosity of Fr
Paul Armstead, our then departing Assistant Curate, as
well as Cell members.
Following a Sunday morning presentation by Cell members
about the Shrine, including personal testimony of what
it had meant to various individuals, a Day Pilgrimage
took place on Saturday 28 April. This allowed first-time
pilgrims to visit the Shrine and experience first-hand
why so many continue to be drawn to this remarkable
place in rural north Norfolk.
Our annual residential Parish Pilgrimage took place from
Monday 21 – Friday 25 May, and was a great success.
A gallery of images from our time together may be viewed
Members also attend 'privately' and support a range of
other events and initiatives at the Shrine throughout
the year, including the National Pilgrimage in June.
(For further details please contact the Cell Secretary.)
The Aims and
Objectives of the Society
The Society exists to encourage and support devotion to Our Lady of
Walsingham and Pilgrimage to the Shrine. Members receive information
and news from the Shrine three times during the year, including the
Walsingham Review in December and August.
Members of the Society and Priests Associate of the Holy
honour Mary, the Mother of God and to deepen faith
in the incarnation of Our Lord
To promote devotion to Our Lady and pilgrimage to Walsingham
further, with Our Lady's prayers the conversion of
the nations and the reunion of Christendom
seek holiness of life through prayer, the scriptures
and the sacraments
To say the Angelus, or in Eastertide the Regina Coeli,
In addition Priests Associate are asked to offer Mass, monthly if
possible, for the work of the Shrine and for all who visit the Holy
House and are interceded for there.
A lamp burns for members of the Society and Priests Associate in the
Holy House; they are prayed for each day at Shrine Prayers at
Walsingham and by members of the Living Rosary.
Departed members are remembered at Shrine Prayers, at a Requiem Mass
and their names are recorded in the Walsingham Review.
There are currently six Masses of the Holy House based on the
Mass I - The Annunciation
Mass II - The Visitation
Mass III - The Word made Flesh
Mass IV - The Visit of the Shepherds
Mass V - The Wedding at Cana in Galilee
Mass VI - Our Lady, Type of the Church
Mass concludes with the singing of the Angelus or, in Eastertide,
the Regina Coeli. The Cell Mass is followed by refreshments and a
meeting of members in our Parish Centre. At these gatherings Cell
business is advanced, and there is a discussion of the issues raised
by the homily.
The Parish Cell maintains a lamp in the Holy House, the most sacred
part of the Shrine, and actively supports the on-going renewal and
development of the Shrine and its facilities through subscription
and fundraising activities.
Form of Admission to
† In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
The Lord be with you
and also with you.
My brothers and sisters,
the Society of Our Lady of Walsingham exists to give honour to Our
under her ancient title of Our Lady of Walsingham,
and to bring more people to know and love the National Shrine of Our
Lady of Walsingham, England's Nazareth,
and to encourage Christians to seek our Lady's help by pilgrimage to
that holy place.
May membership of this Society bring you closer to Our Lord and his
most Holy mother,
and ever remind you of the love of God in sending his only Son to be
born of a pure Virgin, to raise our lowly nature to the heights of
Let us pray
Lord Jesus Christ, to redeem fallen humanity you came to earth,
one like us in all things but sin:
bless we pray, this badge (these badges)
fashioned to honour the Shrine of the Holy House of the blessed
Our Lady of Walsingham;
may those who bear this sign be likewise pure temples for you to
and be found worthy to live with you for ever in glory.
The priest sprinkles the badge(s) with holy water, and presents
it to the new members, saying
Receive, dear fellow pilgrim, the badge of the Holy House of
through the intercession of blessed Mary, Our Lady of Walsingham,
having put off your former sins and being cleansed from every stain,
may you bear it without fault to life everlasting.
He gives a lighted candle to each, saying
We receive you into all the spiritual privileges of the Society of
Our Lady of Walsingham
† in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
When all have been admitted a seasonal anthem to Our Lady may be
said or sung.
The Admission ends with the Walsingham Prayer to Our Lady:
O Mary, recall the solemn moment when Jesus,
your divine son, dying on the cross,
confided us to your maternal care.
You are our Mother,
we desire ever to remain your devout children.
Let us therefore feel the effects of your powerful intercession with
Make your name again glorious in this place
once renowned throughout our land by your visits,
favours and many miracles.
Pray, O holy Mother of God for the conversion of England,
restoration of the sick, consolation for the afflicted,
repentance of sinners, peace to the departed.
O blessed Mary, Mother of God,
our Lady of Walsingham, intercede for us. Amen.
Father Philip North's Homily (Priest Administrator of the Shrine)
Fr Nicholas and I had adjacent rooms at St Stephen's House. He can
testify that I'm a quiet, compliant, calm, obedient sort of person who
never once kept him awake with rowdy parties!
Sadly, not always thus. About one year ago, I went back to my old
Secondary School to preach at Founders Day. Teachers who remembered
me found it highly amusing that I was a priest and began to remind
me of all the scrapes and scandalous episodes of my youth.
The biology teacher had an especially good memory. Everyone in class
had to bring in a flower to identify the constituent parts. Boys of
course conveniently forgot. Girls brought beautiful bunches of
daffodils. For a bet, my friend Brian Harries and I went round the
whole class eating all the daffodils, so beautiful bunches of
flowers became less than beautiful clumps of stems. Not only were we
banned from the biology laboratory for the rest of year, we were
both horribly and violently sick!
Results of all this - I have little knowledge on the subject of
cells, I'm sure they covered them in biology. I just wasn't there.
And it's a bad thing to miss because they're what I'm made of. I do,
however, know one thing about cells. They grow. In fact, that's
about all they do. Don't choose to grow. They just do. It's their
It's wonderful to be with you tonight as we celebrate the birth of a
new cell - the cell of Our Lady and
St Matthew - a cell of the
Society of Our Lady of Walsingham. First thing I want to do on
behalf of the Shrine is to say thank you. Thanks to Fr Nicholas, to
Jean (Collins), to the members and to all who have been involved in
this new enterprise. It's an exciting day not just for you but for
all who love Walsingham. Big new cells such as this are a really
encouraging sign of the health of pilgrimage to Walsingham as we
prepare to celebrate our 75th anniversary in 2006. But what's it all
about? What is your cell for? Well, like all cells - it's there to
grow. In particular, I hope it will grow in three ways, each one of
which reflects something of the ministry of the Shrine as a whole.
First of all: I hope that in your cell you will grow together in
love. I hope that you'll enjoy being a cell, that you'll look
forward to each meeting, that you'll take delight in each other's
company. I hope you'll become a real community, joined together by
your love for Mary and her Son. Because that oneness amongst you -
it's not just about having good times. It will reflect to your
parish and to this community something of the Shrine's ministry of
I spent some of last week in Bosnia. It was a fascinating but very
disturbing visit. I have never seen poverty like it, and a sense of
menace hangs over the country, not because war is going to start
again, but because forgiveness has not yet begun. We were there
under the auspices of a church called Soul of Europe who try to get
people who have been in conflict to talk to each other. They want to
arrange a conversation between Croat and Serb-Catholic Orthodox. And
they rang up out of the blue to say that the only place in world
where that conversation could take place was in Walsingham.
Walsingham - a place where, through Mary's prayers, people are
brought closer to God. And as they do so, they are brought closer to
each other, and forgiveness and reconciliation can begin. So, as a
cell, grow together in love. Enjoy the fellowship you have with each
other. And remember - it goes far deeper than you can begin to
The second way in which cells should grow is in faith. We've just
heard in the Gospel a most astonishing story. A young woman gives
her life to God in an act of reckless, dangerous discipleship. How
could Mary take such risks? Because her life was patterned on God.
And so it continued. How often do we read of Mary pondering things
of God in her heart? She listened and she went on listening. That's
how she could discern where God was leading her. That's how she
could remain faithful, even at the foot of the cross and in the
A cell is there that its members might come together to pray. Each
time you come together you will go in heart to Walsingham to pray in
the Holy House. And as you do so, you will draw ever closer to God, and
discern his will in your life.
It gets on my nerves when people call Walsingham a pilgrim centre.
That's not what it is at all. It's a place of prayer and because
it's a place of prayer people go there on pilgrimage. The praying is
everything. Through your cell, you will become part of that daily
round of prayer. And as you do so, your life will become more and
more patterned on God's life, and you will grow in him.
And the third way I hope your cell will grow is, quite simply, in
strength. In numbers. Occasionally - though fortunately not all that
often, I come across a cell that has lost its way. It's become a
holy huddle, a group of people for whom Walsingham is 'their
thing!' But what is at the very heart of the Shrine? A Holy House
where a young girl gave her life to God. Walsingham - a place of
conversion. It's a place where, through experience of pilgrimage and
through Mary's prayers, others might be drawn more deeply into the
mysteries of faith. How dare we keep that to ourselves? So part of
the role of a cell - to promote. You with others - have received
joys and benefits of pilgrimage. So encourage others to discover
that too. I hope that a cell can be an ambassador for the Shrine
within its parish. There's something for everyone at Walsingham. For
younger pilgrims there's children's pilgrimages or youth pilgrimages
in the Summer. There's a special weekend for families in November
when children come free of charge. There's a young adults pilgrimage
at the end of this season.
Those are really lovely opportunities for people of all ages to find
something special on Walsingham's holy ground. So I hope we can work
together to tell the good news. Growing together in God. Growing in
faith. Growing in strength. That you might grow in the school of
Mary - may that be our prayer for your cell as it is formally
And may God be glorified.
For more information about The Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham,
please visit www.walsingham.org.uk
Northampton to Walsingham
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