Our Lady's Mirror

Autumn 1939

interior of the Holy House
We hope all readers of the Mirror will accept this very reduced number without complaint, as the expenses of production and the terrible financial slump at the Shrine since September 3rd, make it impossible to produce the larger-sized paper during war time, but we are very anxious not to drop this link between the Shrine and our Priest Associates and Members of the Society of Our Lady of Walsingham; this can only be maintained if readers continue to support it as in the past, for there are arrears to clear off on the last two quarters’ issue. Life in Walsingham is much as usual, only all organised pilgrimages have temporarily ceased, but we hope ways may be found for small Parochial parties to come to pray for a just and abiding peace and for those who are at the Front or in danger zones. There seems nothing to prevent, and every reason for, private individuals making the pilgrimage. We are told that the Slipper Chapel averages, since war commenced, fifty pilgrims a day. Surely English Catholics must realise the significance of Holy Places as much as others by now! The Pilgrimage Church has been entirely “blacked out”. Wood has been “lifted” from our derelict property and made into shutters. Most of these can be taken down during the day, but the lantern and west window have had to be covered for the “duration.” So the Church has a very dim light on the brightest of days. It is impossible, without considerable expense, to darken the Parish Church sufficiently, and with the possible exception of Sundays, afternoon services are not attended by Walsingham people. So Benediction, which is ordinarily given in S. Mary’s on Tuesdays and Fridays, besides other evening devotions, will be in the Pilgrimage Church for the present. There seems no other alternative. Quite a number of people have used the cards we printed and there is a fair list of names of those who are on active service on the walls of the Holy House. We still have a large batch left and shall be glad to forward copies to Priests who wish to distribute them among people going to the Front. Those entered on this list are mentioned after the ordinary Intercessions each evening in the Shrine as well as privately. Certain Masses are offered for their spiritual and temporal welfare. S. Hilary, The Walsingham Children’s Home, has had to move from its temporary quarters in High Street, as it was considered impossible to find the extra money required to keep them there, and as the cottages which have been bought for the Home could not be vacated at the time, (and it is doubtful if we shall be able to adapt them during the war) it was deemed advisable to house the children in the Vicarage for the time being. Half of the first floor has, therefore, been given over to them and as those rooms communicate and can be shut completely off from the rest of the Parsonage, it really does seem a good emergency plan. October 15th was the eighth anniversary of the blessing and opening of the reconstructed Holy House. What a wonderful day that was, in one sense far more than June 6th last year. As the 15th was a Sunday, the commemoration was transferred to Monday, 16th. There could be no pilgrimage, as it was so different from former years. However, the Administrator sang Mass in the Pilgrimage Church, at 10 o’clock, after which a visit was made to the Holy House, when Te Deum and the Salve were sung. Only thirty people were able to assist. It reminded one of a visit to the great Church of S. George at Venice on its Patronal Feast some years ago. Pontifical High Mass had been announced, we arrived to find the Church empty – about an hour after the advertised time the candles were lit. Thirty minutes later there were half a dozen people waiting, besides our two selves. Mass began and proceeded till the last Gospel, when the Bishop arrived in time for the genuflection, and all departed! We at Walsingham were not late in beginning, but after the crowds of the summer, it seemed strange. Since the copy for this number of the Mirror went to the press, Walsingham has been invaded, fortunately only by our own troops, and they are billeted all over the village. Those in command have been surprised at the splendid reception people have given the men, and with one or two exceptions everyone has put themselves out and done all in their power to make the soldiers as welcome as possible, and are only too glad to help them and their country by having them in their houses. The Shrine Administration has converted the Pilgrims’ Refectory into a club for those billeted in Walsingham with games, books, writing tables, canteen, etc. In addition to the Special Service for the troops at 10 o’clock each Sunday in the Parish Church, a Mission Service is being held on Sunday nights at 6.30 in the Shrine. We are anxious to GET A PROJECTOR for religious as well as secular films, for the soldiers and others; has any reader got one to give or lend? To accommodate the congregation at the Mission we have been forced to buy some chairs, as it is too expensive to go on hiring them, as we have had to do for every pilgrimage so far; and, moreover, it was getting almost impossible to do this with the great demand for chairs for the troops. A few people in Walsingham have generously come forward to help us to do this, but we shall even now be out of pocket by about £10 unless others outside give us a hand. Not only have we been invaded by soldiers, but flooded by an evacuated Roman Catholic School, the children being billeted in the village houses. With them are ten teachers and a priest. A wonderful piece of propaganda! Up to date, these have not arrived, but are expected immediately. photograph: The interior of the Holy House [above]