Our Lady of Walsingham

Our Lady of Walsingham

Today is the feast of Our Lady of Walsingham. Walsingham is known as ‘England’s Nazareth’, a place of pilgrimage for almost a thousand years, ever since the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to Richeldis de Faverches in the eleventh century. So, Our Lady of Walsingham carries a special significance to the Christians of our land. The National Shrine reminds us of the ancient faith we hold, which has shaped our culture and graced our people over the centuries. Walsingham remains a beautiful witness to the Annunciation at Nazareth, when God ‘pitched his tent among us’, taking our human flesh to himself in Jesus Christ.

Every year in May, the English Dominicans organise a pilgrimage to Walsingham. If you missed this year’s pilgrimage, watch this space for the next!

Walsingham is also a place where English Christians seek unity. It is a place of pilgrimage for Catholics, Anglicans and Orthodox alike. Though the Anglican Church holds this feast on 15 October, as we celebrate this day let us continue to pray for Christian unity. Last year, the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham was established to allow Anglicans to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church while retaining many of their distinctive traditions.
During his visit to the UK in 2010, Pope Benedict XVI said the Ordinariate ‘should be seen as a prophetic gesture that can contribute positively to the developing relations between Anglicans and Catholics. It helps us to set our sights on the ultimate goal of all ecumenical activity: the restoration of full ecclesial communion in the context of which the mutual exchange of gifts from our respective spiritual patrimonies serves as an enrichment to us all’.

Our Lady of Walsingham, pray for us.

Matthew Jarvis OP

Fr Matthew Jarvis is currently studying Patristics at the Catholic University of Lyon.