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Our Lady's Mirror 1931
referring to a forthcoming publication
of extracts from Erasmus
Summer Number 1931; Autumn Number 1931
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We have a very sad piece of news to report to the brothers and sisters of the Society. We have come to the decision that it is imperative to move the Shrine of Our Lady from the Parish Church.
The Bishop of the Diocese demanded that the images should be taken away and that many other matters should be 'reformed'. [Fr Derrick Lingwood's memory of this should be taken into account: see ** below] The latter part of his request is not within our power; but the substitution of a picture for the image of Our Lady does not involve the doctrine of the Communion of Saints, and regrettable as it is, it is quite a legitimate thing to do; but it will cause much pain and sorrow to those who know and love the Shrine in its present home. But the removal does not mean the end of the revived devotion or the suppression of the Shrine. We are going to build a Chapel in which Our Lady of Walsingham will be translated.
This Chapel will be as near an exact reproduction of the original Shrine - founded here by Richeldis in obedience to Our Lady's request - as it is possible without actually seeing the Santa Casa in situ. But we have the Holy House of Loreto, which is claimed to be the actual cottage in which the Annunciation took place; where our Lord was incarnate and lived his days on earth; and we know that the Shrine at Walsingham was supposed to have been a copy of this building, although - according to William of Worcester - slightly smaller in dimensions. So we have much to go on. In this little Chapel was originally enshrined the image of Mary of Walsingham, and in this reconstructed Sanctuary the statue we all love so well will find its new and, we hope, permanent home.
But at the time of the dissolution, this 'English House of Nazareth' was itself enclosed in yet another Chapel, called variously, 'The Church of S. Mary', and the 'Novum Opus'. It was only a small building when all was said, but it was sufficient to preserve the Santa Casa and to enable pilgrims to circulate under cover from our variable and inclement weather. We propose erecting a similar building; similar, that is to say, in dimensions, though not in style, as we have no record of that, and moreover there is little doubt that it would be a Chapel of great magnificence and totally beyond our wildest dreams at the moment. This building, enclosing the Santa Casa, will be erected on private property - the ground has already been given - and will be held by a trust, drawn, we expect, from members of the Society of Our Lady of Walsingham, and so it will be an 'independent' Chapel. Of course, unless the Bishop of the Diocese licenses it, we shall not be able to offer the Holy Sacrifice there. Our Confession and Communion will still have to be made in the Parish Church as at present. But we want all members of the Society to start prayers and request that the Bishop may grant us the privilege of having Holy Mass at the Shrine - and this is not beyond possibility - as the outer building will serve as the Chapel for the Sisters.
This little Pilgrimage Church will always be open to the public although on private property, and whatever the Parish Church may be in years to come, its doors will always be open to the servants of Mary who will seek her in the Sanctuary of her choice. The Parish Church was never the home of the Shrine, and the new site is only a stone's-throw from the ground occupied by the original Church, now razed to the ground.
To make this all possible, each member of our Society must do his and her uttermost to provide the necessary money. We have already seven hundred pounds promised; but we need much more to make even the shell, as building is very expensive at the moment - but is anything too expensive for us to offer to our Mother S. Mary? This Votive Chapel is to be put up as an act of reparation for all the insults Mary and her Divine Son have endured during the last three hundred years here in England, and it is our privilege to be able to do something in this restoration. We want every member to promise to give during the next three months at least one pound. Those who can afford it will give ten or a hundred times more - if their devotion means anything to them - but for many of us a pound will cost us a lot and be very difficult to promise; it is 1/8 (8p) per week for twelve weeks. The name of everyone who contributes will be entered into 'The Golden Book of Our Lady's Friends' and sealed in her Altar. See to it that your name will not be missing from the book, and so from the continual round of prayer that will go up for all who are inscribed therein.
Then, too, we shall need furniture for the Shrine - Altar candlesticks, crucifixes, linen, frontals, carpets - there is much for us all to sacrifice ourselves to give to Our Lady's honour. 'He who hesitates is lost', so do not hesitate, but send your £1 or more, or your promise, at once - by the next post - on the enclosed forms. Here is a real test of your love for Our Lady.
**In the Friends of Walsingham Occasional Paper no. 11 (December 1960), page 7, Fr Derrick Lingwood, who for many years could have been described as Fr Patten's 'right hand man', is quoted as saying that the then Bishop of Norwich did not specifically require the image of Our Lady to be removed from the Holy House. He asked for changes in the service and the decorations of the parish church, leaving it open to Fr Patten to say that, as the original Shrine had never been in a parish church, he would see whether a special building could not be raised to house it, and this he has accordingly done.
illustration: drawing [above] referring to a forthcoming publication of extracts from Erasmus