Our Lady's Mirror

Summer 1932

from the Daily Mirror 13 June 1932
COUNTRY SHRINE PILGRIMS Bathing in a Sacred English Well WAY OF SORROWS From our Special Correspondent Little Walsingham (Norfolk), Sunday “England’s Nazareth” is the name by which a little plot of land on the northern side of this village has been known for nearly a thousand years. But, since the coming of Father Hope Patten to the vicariate, it is achieving a reputation as the English Lourdes. Fifteen hundred pilgrims from all parts of the country have visited the shrine in the Holy House. Many of them have bathed in the sacred well, seeking a cure for their ailments. “Most of our pilgrims,” Father Hope Patten told me, “come to kneel at the shrine and walk The Way of Sorrows, a pathway representing a course traversed by Our Lord on his way to Calvary.” Village Helpers Today such a party of pilgrims arrived from Ipswich and Needham Market, the first pilgrimage to be made here by Suffolk Catholics. There were about twenty of them, but they included women feeble with age and young children who looked on with wondering eyes. When the original shrine was built in 1061 there were no nearby highways loaded with traffic crashing noise into the sacred retreat. Today there are three roads meeting at the corner where the Holy House stands and the incongruous blare of motor horns came frequently over the old flint walls, drowning the soft chanting of the pilgrims. Time and again as the little procession wound its course along The Way of Sorrows, and while it paused a moment at the sacred well, the clatter of the modern tourist could be heard rushing by this reproduction of mediæval devotions. One of the most remarkable features of this patch of old England is the faithfulness with which the monks and their village helpers have reconstructed the sanctuary in its sixteenth-century pattern. They are still working on the stations which mark incidents in the last journey to Calvary. These stations are coloured illustrations worked in plaster by the youth of the village. There are fourteen, beginning with a scene in the condemnation of Christ by Pilate and ending with the Sepulchre. In the Tomb This last is a reproduction of the actual Holy Sepulchre, and is of the same dimensions as that venerated in Jerusalem. One must bend low to enter the porch and on the right is a recumbent figure of Christ. It is scarcely visible in the gloom of the tomb. In the Holy City the actual road traversed by Christ goes from the Prætorium due west, then it turns south for a while, and then due west again until Calvary is reached. The road in this sanctuary garden, now called The Way of Sorrows, follows the same direction. It was followed today by the pilgrims from Suffolk, and while they walked with bent heads, reciting the Litany, they at least seemed deaf to the clamour of 1932, bursting over the thousand-year-old walls.