Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Our Lady's shrine at Walsingham

The restored image of Our Lady
of Walsingham blessed by

Pope Leo XIII, from my
pilgrimage there in 2012.
Today is the Memorial of Our Lady of Walsingham.  From the Catholic Encyclopedia:—
Walsingham was the most celebrated of all the English sanctuaries of Our Lady. So great was the veneration in which it was held that it was called the "Holy Land of Walsingham". About 1061 a little chapel, similar to that of the Holy House of Nazareth (not yet translated to Loreto) and dedicated to the Annunciation, was built here by Rychold (Recholdis) de Faverches, a rich widow, in consequence, it is said, of an injunction received from Our Lady. Within the chapel was a wooden image of the Blessed Virgin and Child. Pilgrims flocked from all parts of England and from the Continent to this sanctuary, and its priory became one of the richest in the world. Among the royal and noble pilgrims were: Henry III, who came in 1248; Edward I in 1272 (?) and 1296; Edward II in 1315; his consort, Isabella of France, in 1332; Edward III in 1361; Edward IV and his queen in 1469; Henry VII in 1487; Henry VIII in 1511, walking barefoot from Barsham Hall, on which occasion he presented Our Lady with a necklace of great value; and finally Queen Catherine of Aragon in 1514. About 1538 the venerated image was brought to London with that of Our Lady of Ipswich, and both were publicly burnt at Chelsea in presence of Cromwell. Fifteen of the canons of Walsingham were condemned for high treason; five were executed. All the jewels and treasures left by the piety of the faithful found their way into Henry VIII's coffers.
Devotion to Our Lady was revived in 1897 with a replica of the original statue blessed by Pope Leo XIII, and the Catholic Slipper Chapel in the village was designated the national shrine of Our Lady by the Bishops of England & Wales in 1933.

I made pilgrimage to this shrine in the Norfolkshire countryside in May 2012, and I have had special devotion to Our Lady under this title since my conversion to the Catholic Faith in 2009.

Our Lady of Walsingham: pray for us!

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