Bishop Mark Davies attends Solemn Mass to mark end of LMS Pilgrimage to Walsingham
Around 70 people took part in the three-day, 55-mile walk from Ely in Cambridgeshire to the Slipper Chapel in Walsingham, which was offered for the conversion of England.
The pilgrimage began with Sung Mass, celebrated by Fr Cahill, offered on the Friday morning at St Etheldreda’s Catholic Church, Ely. The MC was Rev James Mawdsley, one of the English seminarians studying with the FSSP. Mass was followed by the traditional Pilgrims’ Blessing given by Fr Rowe. A visit was then paid to Ely Anglican Cathedral to prayer for the conversion of our separated brethren. By the end of the afternoon, the pilgrims had been blessed with beautiful sunshine and had reached their first billet at Stoke Ferry near King’s Lynn.
Sung Mass on Saturday morning was in the family chapel at Oxburgh Hall, a fifteenth-century moated manor house, which, although now owned by the National Trust, is still lived in by the Bedingfield family whose ancestors built it. Oxburgh has a long history as a centre of recusancy and boasts its own priest’s hole, which pilgrims were given the chance to visit after Mass.
The pilgrims continued through Saturday, praying the Rosary, singing hymns and songs, and getting absolutely soaked through as the heavens opened and thunder and lightning let loose on the Norfolk landscape. By the time the procession of pilgrims reached Harpley village, their Saturday evening stop, spirits had recovered somewhat, which was further aided by a visit to the Rose and Crown pub in the village.
Sunday saw the last leg of the pilgrimage and the tired pilgrims reached their destination of the Slipper Chapel. They were joined by a coach full of people who had travelled from London for the day to attend the final Mass in the Chapel of Reconciliation at the National Catholic Shrine. Following Mass, Bishop Davies gave his blessing (in Latin) to the pilgrims.
The statue of Our Lady of Walsingham, which had been carried throughout the final day of the pilgrimage led the procession of well over a hundred people along the Holy Mile to the grounds and ruins of Walsingham Abbey, the site of the Holy House of Nazareth, built by the Lady Richeldis in 1061 and which, like the abbey, was destroyed under Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries. Prayers of thanksgiving were offered by Fr Bede Rowe followed by veneration of the statue of Our Lady.
LMS General Manager, Mike Lord, said: ‘This year’s pilgrimage was the most successful yet, with the number of participants rising to 70 from last year’s total of 30. This is very encouraging. Several family groups joined us, which we were delighted about and, although most pilgrims were young people, there was a good spread of ages. Everyone was most impressed by two ladies aged 84 and 86 who completed the walk.
‘We are very grateful to Bishop Davies for agreeing to attend in choro for the Solemn Mass and for preaching. There are many other people who put in many hours of work to make this event the great success it turned out to be and we would like to thank them all.
‘We hope that our pilgrimage, with the many prayers and personal sacrifices of the pilgrims, and the Masses offered up during the three days, will bring many graces upon England and assist in its conversion.’