Our Lady's Mirror

Winter 1940

The south side of the Shrine from the Hospice garden in snow
Owing to the expense of production we feel it may not be possible to continue issuing this little paper with any real regularity. At the same time we are very anxious not to have to discontinue publishing the “Mirror” as often in the year as we can, as in these days it is almost the only link we have with the Priest Associates and Members of the Society. We hope our readers will bear with us and help us all they can to pay for this very diminished leaflet, which costs almost as much to produce as some of our larger numbers. As last year, owing to the black-out the Midnight Mass of Christmas as well as the Mass of Cock-crow had to be sung in the Pilgrimage Church. For us here, as members of the Parish, it is rather sad as naturally our spiritual home is S. Mary’s. At the same time the majority of the congregation realises its good fortune in being able to have services after dark at all, as so few country Churches are able to black-out as completely as we can at the Shrine. It seems that there are only four copies of Andrea della Robbia’s masterpiece the “Annunciation” in enamelled terra-cotta, the original of which is on Mount la Verna in Tuscany, and was executed 1472- 1479. Our copy, which forms the reredos to the Society of Mary’s Chapel (“The Annunciation”) is of composition, but the same size as the original. The feast of S. Charles K.M. was kept on the 30th of January and at 10.30 there was a Sung Mass and Fr. Penrose Berreman preached a sermon on the Royal Martyr. At conclusion of the Mass and at other times during the day the relics, consisting of a portion of the King’s baptismal clothing, and another, a fragment of his original coffin, were venerated. It is really remarkable, when we consider to what extent the Church in these provinces is indebted to S. Charles, that there is so little real enthusiasm and devotion to this great English Martyr. In this time of war when we are invoking S. George, S. Sergius, S. Stephen the King and S. Louis, to say nothing of our very own S. Edward, surely we could find a place for S. Charles of England. By the time you have received this copy we shall have another brass in the floor of the Church. It is to be in memory of Father Roe, a great devotee of Our Lady of Walsingham, being one of the very first members of the Priest Associates. S. Mary’ s Church at Buxted is the very first evidence of the beginning of the restoration of the devotion to Our Lady under her ancient national title. Here it was that Mr Wagner built a chapel exactly the same size as the Holy House. This was consecrated in 1887. Father Roe, assisted by a group of devoted clients of O.L.W., refitted this Chapel placing a carved copy of the Walsingham figure under a canopy above the altar. Here during his latter days as incumbent, the rosary was said nightly, and numbers of pilgrims began to visit the Church. His association with Walsingham was very close from the time of the arrival of the present Parish Priest. THE CHILDREN’S HOME The cellar has been converted into a shelter, and here we have fixed up a dozen bunks and put up a “cosy-stove” which has happily enabled us to spend our time there without being suffocated by an old oil stove which we had to suffer. If it had gone on much longer we should have had to have sat in our gas masks. We have come to the conclusion that it is more satisfactory to have the children in the Vicarage until after the war and so we have let their two cottages for the “duration”. We certainly could not at the present time have spent more money on the necessary repairs and adaptations. THE SHRINE Gifts: Some very precious woodwork consisting of an early Tudor window from the Angel Inn, said by some to have been the tavern in which Erasmus dined on one of his pilgrimages to Walsingham. This ancient Pilgrim’s Hospice was demolished about sixty years ago in the memory of some inhabitants still living. A carved door-post and lintel from either the Swan Inn or Leper Hospital, they both originally adjoined. It is hoped some day to be able to use these “relics” in the future College buildings or place them in the museum of local and ecclesiastical objects, which we hope to collect in connection with the proposed library here. THE EIGHT HUNDRED AND EIGHTIETH FESTIVAL OF THE HOLY HOUSE. Lady Day 1941 On the Feast of the Annunciation we hope to keep the festival of the Shrine as usual. On Monday evening, the 24th of March, Vespers, followed by Benediction, will be sung at 6.30 and on the next day there will be a solemn High Mass, followed by a sermon by Father Green, the Parish Priest of Gresham, Norfolk. Benediction at 6.30. On this occasion the Guardian’s candle is brought to the altar at the Offertory with their annual offering, the candle is blessed and then set up on its stand, where it is lighted each day for the ensuing year. We hope those who are unable to make the pilgrimage at the Annunciation this year will at least send their candles. It is twenty years ago this year that the Shrine was restored in the Parish Church and ten years ago in September that the Image of our Lady was translated from S. Mary’s and enthroned in the Holy House. THE COLLEGE OF PRIESTS We wish to urge all our readers to pray daily for the guidance of the Holy Spirit so that a body of Priests may be established at the Shrine. Each year the necessity of some such foundation at Walsingham, becomes more evident. Even in war-time, when none but local East Anglian pilgrimages can be made on any scale, the pressing need of priests to say the Masses for which we are continually being asked, to say nothing of many other things they could do, becomes more acute. It is also very important that the Divine Office should be offered in Choir daily at such a place. Walsingham ought to be a centre of continual adoration. In these days when even our Cathedral Chapters are giving up the regular round of the Choir services it is time that we should find others to step into the breach, so that God is not deprived of this act of prayer. We have the ground on which to build the required houses, hall, kitchens and library, etc., but we want the men who will give themselves to the life. A college is not a monastic institution. In this case it would be the assembling of a group of Priests for the regular worship of God in Choir as their primary work, and then to give their time and abilities to whatever came to hand in the working of the various branches of the Shrine and its pilgrimages. We hope some time to have a Choir School, the nucleus being composed of the existing Children’s Home. We want to be able to look after Missionary Priests on furlough, and we have always had in mind the care of some old and desolate Priests who are left without any to care for them, such as would welcome the opportunity of spending their declining years under the shadow of a Shrine, such as this, with a daily altar and the Catholic life. Please pray much about this and of course ask that the right Priests may be forthcoming Before the war we were trying to get the buildings before the people; this was evidently, and at the time we felt it, the wrong way round. Let us get the Priests and then as the need arises the college buildings will come. It will mean all sorts of experiments as far as accommodation, etc., is concerned, but the important thing is the man-power. After the war, when we hope the Holy Places of our country will be sought with redoubled zeal, it will be impossible for most of us to make our pilgrimages in the ease and comfort of the past decades. This will be a good thing in every way. Many, indeed all, will be much poorer; numbers will therefore have literally to take their staff and trudge to the Shrines. The devout, and this will prove the sincerity of the devotion of not a few, will have to be prepared to put up with much inconvenience, much lack of comfort, and with primitive lodgement. At Walsingham, if we are fortunate, in addition to our present arrangements, we hope to secure some army huts and set them up, not only here, but at points on the road, to provide sleeping places for those desiring to pay court to Our Lady but who are unable to spend the very smallest sum on the venture. We certainly shall have to make many new experiments so that all who wish may not be debarred from making the pilgrimage. One thing is sure, however, and that is that the pilgrim of the future will have to tighten his belt and be prepared to meet many trials and hardships on the road and realise more than ever that a pilgrimage is a bit of hard work, a serious undertaking for the glory of God and not a comfortable devotional outing. The Hospice – As we pointed out some time back, it is very difficult for us to keep things going, not only at the Shrine itself but perhaps even more so at the Hospice. This latter problem would be solved if only some of those Walsingham friends who have or still intend evacuating themselves were to come here for three or four months or longer. This is an evacuation area and many children have been sent to this and neighbouring villages, and we are told more are yet to come. The Spring and Summer are on their way when Walsingham is at its best. The Sisters are ready to receive a few semi-permanent war-time guests for whom permission is not required. Visitors for short periods, however, have to obtain passes, which must be secured by us at this end. This does not apply however to Priests coming to say Mass in the Holy House – or Guardians visiting the Shrine on business. article: 'The Pilgrimage after the War' photographs: two of the Shrine under snow, this one of the south side from the Hospice garden [above]