from Walsingham Review December 1981 No. 75


The actual day of the Jubilee passed quietly as it had been decided to celebrate the event over the following weekend.
The Holy House was decorated and the Shrine Church looked very fine with a series of large banners on the pillars made at St Stephen's House, Oxford. After the drenching of this year's National Pilgrimage, there was a certain apprehension about the weather, but Friday 16th was cold and clear with no hint of rain.

At 8 p.m. several hundred torches were lighted (gold and blue) and the procession made its way through the village carrying Our Lady's statue from the Holy House to St Mary's. It seemed fitting that for this occasion she should be carried by members of the Chapter, and so the four bearers were, the Abbot of Nashdom, Lords Lauderdale and Gainford and the Administrator. The Vicar of Walsingham, Father John Barnes, greeted the procession on arrival and sang a Mass of welcome with about six hundred people present. There followed an all-night Vigil, during which fifteen of the Guardians led an hour's devotion on the different Mysteries of the Rosary.

On Saturday 17th the Solemn Mass was scheduled for 1 p.m. and all through the morning the village began to fill with cars and coaches, and hundreds had to listen to the ceremonies over loudspeakers put up in the churchyard. It is estimated that around fifteen hundred people were crowded in or around St Mary's for the Jubilee Mass. This was a splendid occasion with choir and orchestra, and was made all the more glorious by the presence of the Bishop of London who presided and preached. After Mass, the statue was carried back to the Holy House to the strains of the Pilgrim Hymn - she had a bodyguard of sea cadets from Brighton just to make sure that her journey was a safe one! On arrival, the Magnificat was sung in the forecourt before the re-enthronement, and the singing of the Te Deum. Several outbursts of spontaneous applause during the proceedings summed up a sense of excitement and fun which it is hard to sum up on paper.

Later on the Saturday afternoon the local Eastern Orthodox sang their devotions in the Holy House - a moving reminder of the great devotion to Mary in the churches of the East. At 8 p.m. it was the turn of the Roman Catholic Administrator to preach before Benediction. In a moving address, Father Clive Birch spoke of the debt which all Christians owe to the vision of Father Hope Patten, and of the present opportunities for ecumenism in Walsingham. He presented to Father Colin Gill an address of congratulations from the RC Shrine authorities under the signature of Bishop Alan Clark (this is now hanging in the Hospice Green Room for all to see).

Sunday 18th saw the celebrations brought to a conclusion with a Concelebrated Mass for all the pilgrims at which Father Colin Gill spoke about the Shrine's development, and of the great gratitude which we ought all to feel to God for the restoration of the pilgrimage. It is fitting that Father Gill should have presided over the Jubilee celebrations as he was present at the Holy House's opening in 1931. All who had the privilege of sharing in the Golden Jubilee went away with Father Gill's injunction in their ears ... 'thank you' for so much achieved, but with so much to look forward to.

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