Friends of Walsingham Occasional Paper
Father Patten came to Walsingham as Vicar in 1921. A man of great foresight and courage, he set out to revive the Pilgrimages to Our Lady of Walsingham that took place in Mediæval times. A statue of Our Lady, copied from the Priory Seal, was set up in the Parish Church. This statue was subsequently removed to the Shrine which was built to receive it in 1931. Father Patten was instrumental in extending this building and thereby constituting the beautiful Shrine Church which was consecrated in 1938 by Bishop O'Rorke, a former Guardian.
Father Patten possessed a great personal charm and was full of humour. He was an eloquent and often amusing preacher, and those who came to him for guidance remember him with gratitude. He was beloved and respected by everyone in Walsingham, even by those who were not of his flock or who were unbelievers.
His health, never robust, deteriorated greatly in recent years. We thank God that he lived to see the fulfilment of his work at Walsingham, that he was spared a long illness and that he escaped the blindness with which he was threatened. Although his loss seems irreparable yet surely we also have reason to rejoice at so wonderful a death. Father Patten had spent a happy day with some overseas Bishops who had come on pilgrimage to Our Lady’s Shrine; he had dined with them in the evening; taken part in the Procession in the Shrine Garden; had given Benediction and then collapsed and died peacefully. We thank God for the life and the death of so wonderful a priest.
(signed) Lawrence King
As most readers already know, Fr Colin Stephenson, Vicar of St Mary Magdalene’s, Oxford, who, as Registrar, became acting Administrator on Fr Hope Patten’s death, has since been elected Administrator. Fr Colin Gill, Vicar of St Martin’s, Brighton, has been elected Registrar.
Those who did not see the letter in the Church Times of 15th August from the five bishops who were visiting the Shrine at the time of Fr Patten’s death, may be interested to know that they were the bishops of Barbados, British Honduras, Kalgoorlie, South West Tanganyika and Zanzibar. The Bishop of Carpentaria attended the funeral and subsequently staying in Walsingham; the Bishop of Central Ceylon also visited the Shrine a few weeks later.
We are permitted to reproduce the following passages from Fr Fynes Clinton’s eloquent tribute in the Messenger of the Catholic League:
“For all this immense work, initiated and sustained by his unremitting care, and for the influence of the Holy House on the surrounding county, now indeed increasingly known and felt throughout the world, we owe to Father Patten under God our lasting gratitude.
The thousands who come to take part in the constant Pilgrimages organised from all parts of England, with those who come privately to seek help from Our Blessed Lady in spiritual and physical needs, must feel the same. For among the work is the ministration of Blessings and drinking of the Holy Water from the well, of which there is a long story of constance cures and renewals of spiritual health, many of which have seemed to be truly miraculous. Almighty God seems to have set His Seal of blessings on the Shrine in these cures, but it is the spiritual results of the visits and intercessions there which are to us the most important fruit of the work from 1922. We can be full of thankfulness for the regular weekly Pilgrimages and for the 16 or 17 hundreds of pilgrims who come now at Whitsun, after the first Pilgrimage in 1922 when two persons arrived at the station to rest in a hayfield which is now the Garden of the Way of the Cross, and to walk unknowingly over the later discovered foundations of the original Chapel.
The Guardians who have supported and helped to guide the work know the needs and the ways. We are confident that we have been guided aright in the election of Fr Colin Stephenson, the Vicar of St Mary Magdalene’s, Oxford, to succeed Father Patten as Master of the College of Guardians, and as Administrator of the Shrine. He is doing valuable work for the undergraduates of the University.
We are fortunate in having one who has been a professed brother of the Community of St Augustine there and originally a boy of Walsingham, trained from boyhood by Fr Patten, and ordained just when required for service of the Shrine in Norwich Cathedral on September 16th; namely Father John Augustine, who will now be ministering in the Shrine Church. We also have Fr Harbottle as Assistant Curate of the parishes, who also had been a brother in the community before he went to the Bahamas. Fr Patten had just decided that for many reasons, especially the increase of the work of three parishes and the Shrine, it was time for him to resign from the parishes; and the Guardians have decided to make this separation. This will make the work of both Shrine and parishes less a task beyond the strength, as it has been for one priest.”
The Appeal and the Hope Patten Memorial Fund
The Appeal launched last November has made a good beginning, as it has realised, in gifts, subscriptions and promises, a total, given or to come, of approximately £5000. The need, foreseen when the Appeal was launched, is now actual; the time when the income from the endowment fund is required, is now upon us; so, while we are raising the remainder of the endowment, we have also to meet the monthly bills of the Shrine, i.e. of a diminishing part of them, until the Endowment Fund is complete. Fortunately this has been made much easier now that the need has actually arisen, and especially since the Guardians have decided to make the Endowment of the Shrine the chief memorial to the memory of its great champion and restorer, Fr Patten. What is needed therefore, in order to make this practical memorial to him, by setting his great work on its financial feet, it is a further sum for the Endowment of £45,000; plus a yearly sum of a further £300 for every £1000 of capital that has still to be raised. Which means, at present, £1,500 a year. We want therefore to multiply the number of donors, of covenanted subscribers, and of Friends of Walsingham by ten. One lady in a small country town has already done this. She gave a tea party, as a result of which she sent two donations and gained 12 new Friends of Walsingham.
One parish, whose vicar appointed one of his congregation to collect for the Fund, has sent 5 corporate donations in 9 months. One subscriber, who has experienced a marvellous cure, has made a thanksoffering of what is perhaps a tithe of annual income. A married couple, who had lost their small son, sent the money they have saved for his education. It is surprising what a variety of things there may turn out to be that we can do, either ourselves or by a bit of organising. In one town there are 37 Friends of Walsingham who send the proceeds of special collecting boxes once a year. Perhaps another town would like to follow this lead! Another suggestion is to collect by means of club cards and there is always the possibility of a meeting with pictures or the Walsingham film strip or a speaker from London or elsewhere. In this connection we are authorised to say that members of the Central Committee for Walsingham, which arranges the Devotions in London, are always willing to act as visiting speakers if suitable dates can be arranged. Also that it is hoped to have a Walsingham film strip in colour by the end of the year, which can be sent for a meeting where a projector can be provided.
But we have to remember two things. One is that we do not want to “rob Peter to pay Paul”, e.g. give to the Endowment Fund what we should ordinarily give to another Walsingham fund! The other is that our gift can be a thanksgiving, whatever form it takes; a thanksgiving for God’s grace given to Fr Patten and all those who stood by him and worked with him and all who have been associated with the restored Shrine and its finding its place in the world. A thanksgiving too for God’s forgiveness, as shown in His giving the Shrine back to our people and our church; His boundless goodness in answer to Our Lady’s prayer; and the ever increasing number of those who have had direct experience of help, spiritual, mental or material; for the Chapels, especially the Orthodox Chapel; for the Well and the sprinkling and all cures; for the Priest Associates, the Guardians, for the Society OLW; for the Society of Mary; for the Central and other Committees, and for the Friends of Walsingham.