from Our Lady's Mirror, Autumn 1956


The celebrations commenced with a solemn Mass sung in S. Magnus the Martyr
by that constant friend and supporter of the Shrine from the first years of its revival in Walsingham, Father Fynes-Clinton. In the evening of that day, September 20th, a reception was held in the large chamber of Caxton Hall, when between three and four hundred guests assembled. It was a most happy and informal gathering, and the occasion of meeting many old friends.

During the evening the Master of the College of Guardians said a few words about the revival of the devotion and the gradual development of the Shrine itself, concluding by giving a sketch of the proposed programme for the final days of the Jubilee.

Later in the evening Sir William Milner, the restorer of the site to Our Lady upon which the original Holy House is believed to have stood, after giving his impression of work at Walsingham, presented Father Lingwood with a cheque for about £360 and a copy of the Van Eyck triptych of the Adoration of the Lamb. Father Lingwood, as readers know so well, became Pilgrimage Secretary before he was ordained, and after he returned to Walsingham as Secretary and Bursar, and later on became Assistant Priest. Mr Patrick Maitland, MP, made a strong appeal for prayers, asking those present, and through them, all the friends of Walsingham to send him a card, addressed to himself at the House of Commons, saying that the writer will pray daily for priests (and we would add laymen) for the College at the Shrine, which is at present the very great need. We too would add to his petition by issuing an urgent S.O.S. to this, for indeed men are urgently needed humanly speaking to save our Shrine.

A series of pilgrimages large and small have visited the Sanctuary in connection with this twenty-fifth anniversary since September 20th. On October 8th close on sixty priests made a pilgrimage until the 10th, during which, besides their own Masses in the Pilgrimage Church, High Mass was sung and served by members of this pilgrimage. Wednesday, October 10th, High Mass of Requiem was offered for the souls of all departed pilgrims since the restoration of the Holy House in 1931.

In real late summer weather the concluding pilgrimages of the Jubilee came to an end, when large numbers arrived at the Sanctuary on Saturday, the 13th October - the feast of St Edward the Confessor - some of whom had visited the King's Shrine in Westminster Abbey that morning, while Mass in his honour was sung in Walsingham at his altar. The Pilgrimage Church was beautifully decorated with numerous flowers, the Holy House by our Sister Sacristan and the rest of the building by Father Smith of South Creake, who has such a reputation as a florist; his church at South Creake always being so beautifully arrayed. The choir was illuminated by a number of coloured lights above the stalls and on the screen at the East end, while at night the west front and campanile were very effectively floodlit.

Solemn Vespers was sung at 8.15 that evening, when Father Fynes-Clinton spoke to the assembled pilgrims, most of whom had to sit at his feet (as we always do) and all over the nave floor. The procession was unable to use the garden owing to the large marquee covering the pathway, so it made the circuit of the Shrine precincts, through the Common Place down Bridewell, Guild and Knight Streets, returning for Solemn Benediction.

Sunday dawned a bright crisp day. After the various low Masses the way of the Cross was followed, and at 10.30 a procession was formed at the Shrine, and singing a variety of popular hymns it wended its way to S. Mary's, when at the top of the steps leading into the yard it was met by the Vicar of the parish and his attendant ministers and servers, and entered the glorious old perpendicular church which was crowded to overflowing, where they assisted at the parish Mass of Trinity XX, and listened to an oration by Fr Colin Gill. After lunch the pilgrims queued up for the customary sprinkling while others commenced to offer the intercessions in the Holy House. At 4.30 the departing pilgrims attended Solemn Benediction, during which a few sick were blessed. Shortly after other groups of pilgrims began to arrive, and at 6.30, while Evensong was being said at St Peter's, one of the three parish churches in the cure, Vespers were again sung solemnly with attendant Deacon and Sub-Deacon when Fr Harding, vicar of St Alban's, Birmingham, was the preacher.

At 9 o'clock the palmers (although that is the wrong word, being used properly for those visiting Compostella), manfully set forth in the dark carrying their lights and slowly wended their way through the High Street, all reciting the Rosary. A station was made in the Parish Church, which was most beautiful in its lighting and decoration, where the metrical litany of Our Lady was most enthusiastically sung by the assembled crowd, concluding with a Solemn Magnificat and the general thanksgiving said for the favours and graces granted by God through the intercession of O.L.W. The route back to the Shrine was by way of the "sunk road". This act of devotion ended with the singing of the Salve in the Pilgrimage Church.

A pilgrimage is not meant to be an easy act of devotion; properly kept it makes great demands on the body and soul and is, of course, even when its primary intention may be one of thanksgiving, always part penitential not only in the use of Sacramental Confession, an inseparable part of all catholic pilgrimages, but also in various other penitential acts; the making of the Stations of the Cross, for example, which obviously comes to mind. So it was not surprising that those who had gathered at Walsingham on this auspicious occasion were in church again in their numbers to assist at the offering of the Holy Sacrifice at midnight, and some remained there all the night, while others in groups came to keep watch before the Most Holy. Throughout the night Mass was celebrated in the Holy House by a series of priests. The watch was closed by Solemn Benediction at 8.30 a.m.

During the morning (of Monday) others trod the hallowed precincts from far and near. Again the singing of the Mater Dolorosa was heard while groups wended their way along the way of sorrows, while others drank and were sprinkled with the water from Our Lady's Well. The bells pealed out at periods before the midday Angelus to call all to assist at the High Mass sung by Bishop Vernon, a Fellow of the College of the Guardians of the Holy House. After this time seemed to fly, and before it was realised the Guardians again occupied their stalls in their mantles of blue velvet and scarlet to listen to the wonderful oration delivered by the Lord Abbot of Nashdom, O.S.B., who emphasised so strongly the need there is for greater charity among Christians, and prayer for unity so that in God's time, through the powerful intercession of Our Lady and our loyal co-operation, the prayer of Our Lord may be accomplished. May God grant it. [The sermon is printed out in full in the Mirror after this report.]

Finally the Administrator of the Shrine, who is also Master of the College of Guardians, presiding, the last Jubilee procession wound through the village streets circling the precincts and then all standing before the High Altar as with one voice the assembled pilgrims and villagers sang a solemn Te Deum in thanksgiving to God and Our Blessed Lady through whom we had offered our prayers. Then he blessed us all and with joy in our hearts and renewed intention for the future we wended our way homewards.

top of page
return to Translation Anniversaries page
go to 1981 Jubilee page
Home Page