Parish and other Pilgrimages

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PAGE 1 Fr Patten looked back at organised pilgrimages in the early days an early pilgrimage before the Translation 1925 St Barnabas, Pimlico 1928 Norwich Anglo-Catholic Pilgrimage 1928 League of Our Lady/Society of Mary from Birmingham from 1932 St Andrew's, Willesden 1934 Bradford and Worth Valley 1935 PAGE 2 Scottish Pilgrimage 1936 Southend & District Pilgrimage Association from 1946 St Augustine's, Tonge Moor 1947 Oakworth (Bradford) 1948 St Mary Magdalene, Millfield 1959
1947: Tonge Moor pilgrims on a trip out to Cromer (with the furniture van that brought them on pilgrimage)
“A RETURN TO THE AGES OF FAITH" 1925 [a pilgrimage before the Holy House was built] from the first issue of Our Lady's Mirror, January 1926 The ecumenical August Feast of Mary, 1925, has so far seen the post Reformation high water mark of the Pilgrimages to England’s Nazareth. Nearly 100 Pilgrims, excluding those from the immediate neighbourhood of Walsingham, came during the Octave of the Assumption to visit the Shrine and present their petitions. All ages and all classes were represented, while the presence of a retired Judge and a goodly muster of the more robust sex made any outside comment of exotic devotions suitable for ladies and sacristy minded youths, utterly untrue. The village was quite en fête, and the Pilgrims were housed, thanks to the great generosity of the inhabitants, in many of their houses. Outside the Roman Communion I have never experienced such an atmosphere, charged with prayer and devotion, as I found at Walsingham. It is often possible to attend very gorgeous services, most accurately and punctiliously performed, but there is always the amateurish and self-conscious element present, but here everything was spontaneous and natural, and not only the Church seemed sanctified, but the village also. The Pilgrimage, like those in mediæval times, was a meeting place for old friends and a time of real Christian jollity and merriment. It was no mere round of services and devotions, and it was indeed at “holiday” in the best meaning of that well-worn word. It is this confined atmosphere of holiness and gaiety, rather than any diary of events, that I would press upon the notice of possible Pilgrims for other years. Two scenes were strangely reminiscent of the Béarnais Pilgrimage – the outside procession in the twilight, in honour of Our Blessed Lady, when some hundreds, all with lighted tapers, traversed the grounds of the Church, singing the old story of Mary’s love for Walsingham, to the well-known Lourdes tune; and also the evangelical gathering at the Holy Wells in the grounds of the Old Augustinian Religious House, where several lame and deaf Pilgrims bathed, amid the prayers of the faithful. It seemed as if we were transported far from Walsingham, or even Lourdes, back to those distant Gospel days, when the sick and infirm waited to go down into the pool of Bethesda. History has a strange way of repeating itself, and the miraculous takes place at the bidding of the Mother of God just as readily in the twentieth century in a Norfolk village as at the marriage feast of Cana in Galilee. Round the Shrine in the Lady Chapel of the Parish Church hundreds of candles burned continually throughout each day, silent witnesses to the efficacy of intercessory prayer, placed there by the Pilgrims as a reminder of their intercessions and petitions. Many clients of Mary, unable to come in person, sent money for candles to be put up for their intentions. “Ask and ye shall receive”. We did ask, and we did receive. To my mind, nothing could restore Faith to the waverer and the doubter more than a pilgrimage to Walsingham, where controversy, discussion, and argument are non-existent, and where the Seven Fruits of the Holy Spirit take their place. [Fr Archdale King] it was at this pilgrimage that the Society of Our Lady of Walsingham was inaugurated,
ST BARNABAS, PIMLICO July 1928 [before the Holy House was built] This is not an article on pilgrimages in general, but an attempt to describe one pilgrimage in particular - the one conducted by Fr Eves to the shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham on July 10th. But in this case this should catch the eye of someone to whom the word "pilgrimage" means a bare-footed friar seeking the Holy Sepulchre in Palestine, or else that more boisterous affair, immortalized by Chaucer, when worldly ecclesiastics went on horseback to Canterbury, it may be as well first to "define our terms." To go a-travelling is as old as Abraham and as young as the latest American globe-trotter; and there are no dates in the history of the Catholic Faith, save one, Anno Domini. It is therefore quite immaterial to the modern pilgrim as to what precise year or century or age the Blessed Virgin appeared in a vision to the lady Richeldis at Walsingham, commanding her to build a shrine in Her honour. The essential point is that here is a place, hallowed by the presence of Our Lord and His Blessed Mother, for years the object of the devotion and prayers of the Faithful; and it is beyond any shadow of doubt a holy place. What more natural than that the Faithful, in the year of grace 1928, should resort there to pay honour to Our Lady, to witness for the Faith and to ask Her prayers? It is not therefore a medieval pageant, but a pilgrimage with an intention. This was explained to us by Fr. Eves on the first evening that we arrived there. Our intention was to be (1) a deeper personal consecration to Our Lord and His Blessed Mother, (2) the conversion of souls in our own parishes and elsewhere. A copy of the original statue of Our Lady is now in a chapel in the parish church. On an altar in the same chapel the Blessed Sacrament is reserved. Here was the centre of our devotions. There are places where intercession comes more easily and more spontaneously than others and all that seems necessary is an act of will to join in the unseen force of prayer that is going on all around. This is such a place. The original shrine (destroyed by Henry VIII, himself a devout pilgrim in his earlier days) was of course in the Priory, now a ruin and in private hands. We went there on Wednesday afternoon, to the holy wells, where each pilgrim received a blessing. Here, too, while all knelt in prayer, the sick were "anointed" with holy water and received the laying on of hands. In the evening there were Vespers of Our Lady, a great procession in Her honour round the outside of the church, and Benediction. (Not the least attractive feature about Walsingham is that the Faith has got back into the hearts of the people; the servers, for instance, are all Norfolk men and boys). I have omitted to mention a visit to the Slipper Chapel in the morning. This is the place where pilgrims in the old days stopped and removed their shoes and so walked barefoot into Walsingham; but on the whole the place is of historical interest rather than of present piety. No, a pilgrimage to Walsingham is not a medieval pageant, nor is it just a pleasant outing (it is that, certainly, and the Vicar, the Sisters and the people give you a real welcome); but like the monstrance in Enid Dinnis’ book, the clock without hands, it tells not time but Eternity. top of page
NORWICH ANGLO-CATHOLIC CONGRESS 1928 [before the Holy House was built] The Pilgrimage to Walsingham from The Norwich Mercury reproduced in Our Lady's Mirror, Autumn 1928 Last week the English Catholics assembled in Norwich concluded their Congress by a visit to the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham. This was the first official Norwich pilgrimage since the 16th Century. After the High Mass of thanksgiving for the Congress, sung in St. Laurence’s Church at Norwich – the members who were taking part in the visit to Walsingham preceded by the bannerette which they were taking to the Shrine – left the Church and embarked in the char-a-bancs and other cars waiting to carry them over the twenty-seven miles’ journey. Arrived at the Pilgrimage Church of Our Lady, they were met by the parish Priest and servers and, following in procession, proceeded to the Shrine in the Lady Chapel. Here the conductor of the Pilgrimage (the Rev. Father Raybould), acting on behalf of the Norwich A.C.C. Committee, presented the bannerette to be “Kept as a perpetual memorial of our visit to the Shrine of Our Lady”, after which prayers were said. About two hundred pilgrims had assembled and lunch was taken, some at the Pilgrims’ Refectory at the Hospice, others in the Parish Hall or the shops of the town. Priests sat for confessions after lunch – and at 2.30 all collected in the Church and made the Stations of the Cross; at the conclusion of which, walking two by two, and singing first the Litany and afterwards the hymn, “Faith of our Fathers”, they passed through the village to the Abbey Gate. Through the kindness of Lady Gurney the grounds were open free to this Norfolk Pilgrimage (the gardens are only open to visitors on Wednesday as a general rule). Here they visited the sites of the “Holy House”, or ancient Shrine of Walsingham, and the High Altar of the Priory Church, where suitable prayers were said, after which gathering round the Holy Wells the pilgrims were blessed by the Rt. Rev. Bishop O’Rorke (Blakeney), and to the accompaniment of special ejaculatory petitions, everyone drank of the water of the Wells. After tea the pilgrims once again gathered in the fast darkening Church and assisted at Pontifical Vespers sung by Bishop O’Rorke at the fauld-stool. A sermon was preached by Father Raybould, at the conclusion of which a procession was formed, and passing out into the dark night, singing the Pilgrims’ Hymn, the Church and churchyard was encircled by a ring of light as each pilgrim proceeded bearing his candle. The service was concluded by hymns and devotions to the Most Holy Sacrament; and so the final act of the Congress was made in the ancient traditional way of praising God for His condescension in being made Man – seeking the prayers of the Mother of Our Lord – and adoring that same Lord truly present in our midst. Many fail to understand the purpose of such a Sanctuary as that of Walsingham, but if it stands for anything at all – it is as a witness to the great fundamental truths of Christianity that, “the Word was God . . . . . and the Word was made flesh”, and that the Word “was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary”. However much the original purpose of the existence of the Walsingham Shrine may or may not have been lost sight of during the latter middle ages – the fact remains, namely, that it is a Holy Place approved by God and honoured by His servants out of devotion to the mystery of the Incarnation of Our Lord and the Virgin Birth, two fundamental truths of Christianity which are so constantly attacked by unbelievers in these days. top of page LEAGUE OF OUR LADY/SOCIETY OF MARY FROM BIRMINGHAM from 1932 [by David Stokes] The Birmingham Pilgrimages of the League of Our Lady (The Society of Mary from 1931) were among the first to visit the Shrine. There have been unbroken pilgrimages since 1932 (except for the war years). Eight members had visited Walsingham in 1931. In 1932 the first members were admitted to the Society of Our Lady of Walsingham. Fr Patten came to promote the pilgrimage on a visit to Birmingham in 1935. The earliest record of costs are in 1939 when the weekend cost 24 shillings [£1.20 today] all-inclusive!! In 1940 the cost increased by one shilling [5p]; in 1945 the cost at Walsingham was 8/6 a day [42.5p]. The travelling time was six hours. We have a note on the programme that it was obligatory for ladies to wear blue veils. In 1947 our pilgrims stayed at the Sanctuary School (six to a room). Your own sheets and pillowcases had to be taken "due to coupon difficulties". In 1947 the intentions were Thanksgiving for Victory [after the war], and for the Ten Year Movement. The cost for this postwar weekend pilgrimage was £2/3 shillings [£2.15 today]. It would appear that the weekend programme has changed very little since then. On 3 July 1947 the first Shrine of OLW was officially set up in St Saviour's Church, Birmingham. In 1960 a film of the Shrine was made by Fr Wills of Leigh-on-Sea and shown at St Saviour's. A special pilgrimage was organised for the Silver Jubilee [of the opening of the Holy House] on 13-14 October 1956. top of page
ST ANDREW'S, WILLESDEN 1934 [after the Holy House was built but before the Shrine Church] from the parish magazine The history of the Shrine of Walsingham was related in the Magazine three years ago. We knew that one day some of us would have the fortune and happiness of going there. We didn’t “wear black” for the occasion. We tried our best to go in the real pilgrimage spirit of humble faith and gaiety. After Mass and Communion at St. Andrew’s seven of us went to St. Magnus, London Bridge, where we received our badges, said the itinerary, and were blessed. On arrival at Walsingham, we were given a great welcome and made our first visit to the Holy House. Walsingham is coming back to life again since England is returning to the faith of its fathers, and her sons and daughters more and more desire to return to the old paths. It is a “never ending May” there. It is impossible to describe its joyous atmosphere. It must be experienced. There were about 250 of us there, although every day large numbers make private pilgrimages. We sang vespers in the beautifully devotional parish church and this was followed by Adoration and Benediction. Fr. Monahan, who conducted the Pilgrimage, set before us the ideals of a Pilgrimage, reminding us that its primary intention is to give honour and worship to God through the veneration of one of His saints or some place holy to Him. Once he told us that we were there to thank our Lady for what we sometimes were inclined to thank ourselves. Pilgrim priests were then kept busy until quite late, hearing confessions, since as it was rightly said, a good confession and communion are essential to the making of a good Pilgrimage. At 7 o’clock the next morning High Mass was sung and Holy Communion given to the pilgrims. Pilgrim priests saying their own Masses. I had the great privilege of saying Mass at the Shrine Altar itself, and the great happiness of being served by a priest who was once one of my own servers. Later in the morning in various groups, we made the Stations of the Cross as an act of reparation for the desecrations in the impious age of “reform,” and as an act of penitence for our own short-comings. The Stations are erected in the beautiful grounds around the Holy House, and though small in comparison, are similar to the ones at Lourdes. Then we made a pilgrimage to the Slipper Chapel, two miles away, which is now in the hands of the Roman authorities. It was from here in the days of faith, that pilgrims removed their shoes and walked barefooted to the Shrine at Walsingham. Perhaps the day is not far distant when 5,000 will do the same. We were not permitted to enter the Chapel, but we knelt down outside and said “Our Father” and “Hail! Mary,” and an act of adoration to our Lord present there in the Holy Sacrament. In the afternoon we visited the Saxon Well under the Holy House and were sprinkled with, and drank of the waters. The sick are bathed in a piscina near by. During this, the most moving part of the Pilgrimage, pilgrim priests offered Intercessions and Thanksgivings, many of them coming from all over the world. The walls of the chapel are covered with tokens of gratitude for answers to prayers. Then after tea, the seven of us went to the ruins of the Augustinian Priory, and on the actual sites of the High Altar and shrines, knelt and said a decade of the Rosary, again in reparation for its desecration. Again, Vespers and Adoration, and then a gorgeous Torchlight Procession in honour of our Lady from the Church to the Holy House, a wonderful paean of praise when it was impossible to remembers one’s ailments, such exuberant and infectious joy as we sang“Ave, Ave, Ave, Maria,” and uplifted our candles to show our gratitude and greetings and love: I’ve rarely seen so much spluttering grease. No verger would put up with it!! But there, we didn’t mind!! Next morning pilgrims thronged the altars where priests again dispensed the bread of Life. Then a final visit to the Holy House and once more we turned homewards, exhilarated and more divinely controlled. Now Walsingham is one of the special spots which God has chosen and hallowed in a peculiar way, and in which he has seen fit to manifest His love and mercy, and to distribute His favours. There is always joy and laughter, and mirth there, with the sick as well as the whole. You are aware, as soon as you arrive there, that our Lady has enfolded Walsingham within her mantle, and has in so many ways shown her gratitude for this intention to make Walsingham a centre of true faith and devotion to her Divine Son, whence it will radiate to all the corners of the world in the grace of true conversion. You will one day, if not now, have something in which you would especially wish our Lady to have a share. Then go to Walsingham. Don’t take newspaper or even Church newspaper reports about the shrine with you. Go there for the glory of God, and the Honour of Mary, and blessings far more than any you could feel yourselves worthy of, will be yours. Send your Intercessions to Fr. Hope Patten. He will be only too pleased to add them to the list, and you will be remembered weekly at the shrine altar. Send a small offering, if you can, for the upkeep and continuance of a work that will once again make England the “Merrie England” of our Lady. “Our Lady of Walsingham, pray for us.” top of page
BRADFORD AND WORTH VALLEY 1935 [after the Holy House was built but before the Shrine Church] and see also the group photograph in front of the Halifax Altar, mentioned in this report "from a Yorkshire newspaper 15/6/35" For the second year in succession Church of England pilgrims set out from Bradford and Worth Valley parishes early on Whit Monday morning bound for Walsingham in Norfolk. They went by road – one bus load leaving Oakworth at 6.30, after service in the Parish Church at 5.45. In all, over 70 pilgrims, old and young, men and women, boys and girls, and children took the Great North Road. They stayed for prayers at St. Mary’s Church in the lovely little village of Egmanton, near Tuxford, and they visited the college of the Sacred Mission at Kelham, near Newark– and at Newark stayed for lunch. Through Lincolnshire to King’s Lynn and then on by the outskirts of Sandringham until, at 6 o’clock in the evening, the famous village of Walsingham was reached. Here the buses drive up to the courtyard of the restored chapel. In the chapel is the reproduction of the House at Nazareth where the angel came to announce to Mary that Christ was to be her son, and where, in later years, lived Jesus and Mary and Joseph. The shrine was first built here in 1061 through the piety of the Lady of the Manor, Richeldis de Faverches, in obedience to a heavenly vision. So famous became the place, so healing the waters of the holy wells which appeared near the site of the chapel, that in the course of the centuries 20 and more hostelries came to compete with the Black Lion for the pilgrims’ patronage, while Religious Orders of Benedictines, Augustinian Canons, and Franciscans had their houses here to provide for the spiritual needs of the visitors. During the reign of King Henry VIII, and after the year 1534, the pilgrimages and the shrine were, in the course of a few years, ruthlessly destroyed, leaving only ruined masonry to mark the sites of the buildings surrounding and sheltering this centre of devotion. It was Philip, Earl of Arundel and heir of the Duke of Norfolk, who, at the end of the sixteenth century, composed the famous "Lament" over Walsingham:- “Level, level with the ground The towers do lie, Which with their golden, glittering tops Pierced once the sky. Owls do shriek where the sweetest hymns Lately were sung: Toads and serpents hold their dens Where the pilgrims did throng. Sin is where our Lady sat, Heaven is turned to hell, Satan sits where our Lord did sway. “Walsingham, O farewell.” But in 1931 the vicar and people of Walsingham brought to completion the first part of the restoration of the ancient shrine, and it was into the restored house that Yorkshire’s sons and daughters made their entry on Whit Monday evening. They saw, as Erasmus says he saw in his day, and as Erasmus reports in his writings, “the small inner chapel, which admits by a narrow and little door on either side, those who come; the light is feeble, in fact, scarcely any excepting for the wax candles, whose most delightful fragrance gladdens one’s nose. You would say that it is the abode of Saints, so brilliantly does it shine on all sides with gems, gold and silver." The grounds round about the buildings are beautifully laid out, and through these grounds the pilgrims joined in a torchlight procession on the Monday evening. On the Tuesday there was general Communion in the Parish Church at 7 a.m., later in the morning another outdoor devotional exercise, when meditations were made at the open-air “Stations of the Cross” which finish at an exact reproduction of Our Saviour’s Sepulchre. Later again, prayers and intercessions were offered in the shrine, and all drank of the waters of the Holy Well, which was rediscovered during the building operations of 1931, and is now incorporated into the arrangements of the chapel. The people of the village of Walsingham provided beds for the pilgrims and meals were taken in a dining hall constructed out of a fourteenth century barn, and the catering was in the hands of the Sisters from Horbury, who have a branch house of their Order in Walsingham. Before leaving Walsingham all the pilgrims assembled to have their photographs taken in front of a pavilion, which houses an altar for use in the open, and which was presented to Walsingham by the late Lord Halifax after it had been used for functions at Hickleton in 1933. The return journey was made via Lincoln, and the section of pilgrims from Oakworth were able to be singing “Te Deum” in the Parish Church there just before midnight. [by Fr Frank Harwood] top of page