Our Lady's Mirror

Summer 1940

Chapel of the Presentation
The most outstanding event connected with the Sanctuary during the last few weeks has been the surprising way in which the suggestion has been taken up for parishes to organise pilgrimages to local shrines of Our Lady of Walsingham in their own Churches. These are, strictly speaking, spiritual pilgrimages to the Holy House made, more or less, in union with those at the Shrine in East Anglia. Since the military authorities forbid groups of people entering the defence area – this is an excellent substitute and one destined to foster and keep alive the devotion – and after all, no power on earth can prevent a spiritual flight. These visits follow a modified form of the ordinary pilgrimage and are held in a Church where there is a permanent – or temporary – Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham. Confession and Holy Communion are a necessary part, then the Stations of the Cross are made – pilgrims drink, or are sprinkled with, water from the Holy Well – The altars of the Church are visited – intercession and other prayers offered – and usually, before the last visit to the Shine, Benediction is given or Devotions are made before the Holy Sacrament. The following comes from S. Paul’s Oxford:- “It was indeed a memorable occasion. I erected a Shrine at the entrance to the Sanctuary on the North Side. We began at 2.15, when I said a few words of introduction, giving general intention and mentioning the “happy” side of the Pilgrimage idea, which was not to be forgotten and also the “social” side. It is difficult to give numbers, as they varied somewhat. I should say there were over 50 – nearly 60 – definite Pilgrims and many others came to parts. The Catechism boys and girls came to the Stations, and for the Sermon Procession and Benediction the Church was comfortably full. At 2.30 we had the Stations singing the verses of the Stabat Mater, and at the end “ALL for Jesus”. After a few minutes’ break I gave out various notices and said a few words about the sprinkling. I had arranged a Table at the west end with a portable Font full of Walsingham water and we processed to that, singing the Litany of our Lady, and then each pilgrim was sprinkled according to the Manual – Father Favell repeating the Prayers, while I did the Sprinkling. This took some time and it was all done with great devotion. We then returned to the Shrine, completing the Litany of Our Lady. After this, the pilgrims went up to the Vicarage to have tea on the lawn. It was then nearly 4 o’clock. We started the book stall on the lawn and continued it later in Church. Towards half-past five the people went back to Church for the Intercessions. I had provided a box and quite a good number were put in. We sang “Ave Maria, O Maiden, O Mother” and I then offered the Intercessions as in Manual. This took us until nearly six o’clock. Some went off to get their veils, etc., for the Procession; others stayed in Church or walked outside. At half-past six we had the Service, beginning with Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be, and Creed, followed by the hymn “Mary Mother Holy”, and then the Bishop of Madagascar (Gerald Vernon) preached the sermon from 1 Kings, 2-20. It was splendid, about Our Lady, her Assumption and her work and place in Heaven. The Procession, over which the Bishop presided, followed. We sang the Walsingham Pilgrim Hymn – at least part of it, as much as would go on a foolscap sheet – which I had duplicated, and also “In Splendour Arrayed”. The Guilds of the Holy Child, S. Agnes, S. Joseph, Rosary Sodality took part, together with the pilgrims. We carried another Statue of Our Lady. The Bishop looked very fine and was attended by his Mitre, Book and Candle Bearers. It was all most impressive and there was a great atmosphere of devotion. At the end I gave Benediction, in which we all joined in singing “Soul of My Saviour”. After a short break, we made the Last Visit, using the set prayers at the Shrine. The Bishop kindly blessed the pilgrims and as a conclusion we all went up and venerated the Relics. It was all really most stirring, and from comments I have heard I am sure it was most helpful to many. I think as far as possible we did get the atmosphere of Walsingham. Some who go regularly felt this and remarked about it. While, of course, they would have liked to have gone there this year, as this was impossible they felt they had done the next best thing. I have written rather fully but I thought that you would like to know the details yourself and also perhaps you may be able to include some account in the next issue of the “Mirror”. Running a Pilgrimage is a little strenuous, but well worth it, and at any rate we did our best to honour Our Lady and show our devotion. It was such a joy to have the Bishop with us and he was so delightful and kind.” Here is the description of another Spiritual pilgrimage which may be of interest: the name of the East Anglian town is omitted in case of trouble:- “We have had our pilgrimage: we are very happy about it. I enclose the time tables. David preached on Tuesday evening. About 50 pilgrims made their communions and about 80 came to the Devotions. We had eight air-raids in the 24 hours and four of them were daylight raids, but there were never less than five or six people at the Shrine. At about 5 p.m. a German bomber was destroyed by one of our fighters within sight of the Church and the occupants are alive and prisoners. Perhaps that was an answer to our prayers for victory. There was a striking atmosphere of devotion all day in the Church. I hope that the spiritual pilgrimages will bind us more closely to the Holy House.” At the Annual Corpus Christi Chapter of the guardians it was decided to erect a screen in memory of Father Lury, between the Chapel of S. George and that of SS. Hugh and Patrick. This has now been put in place and is a great addition to that part of the Church – Various schemes had been suggested – one being to put up the first of the Choir stalls – but the funds would not run to that. As we are very near the coast the Shrine is in the prohibited area and all organized pilgrimages from outside this district have had to be abandoned for the present. Private pilgrims are however still able to visit the Holy House, but these alas! are very few in number; indeed, a stranger coming into the court- yard is quite an event. The list of men from all over England serving with the forces is growing daily, and these are mentioned by name after the Rosary nearly every evening. We are glad that this work is being allowed us and that the Holy House is being used for this purpose by so many. The Reverend Mother of S. Peter’s, Westminster, has felt it necessary to withdraw some of the Sisters from the Hospice for the War period and there are only three here at present. The Assumption. How different everything has been this Festival: the streets undecorated; no flags lifted on high and rather a sense of sadness, but that is only to be expected with over fifty of our boys away with the Forces. Still, despite the absence of the many visitors and pilgrims who come at this time of the year, it was a very happy time. The Assumption being the Patronal of the parish, we naturally concentrate on the Village Church, rather than at the Shrine; however, we were happy in having our Guardian, the Bishop of Madagascar, with us, who sang the High Mass in the Pilgrimage Church at 10 o’clock, in the presence of quite a good congregation for war conditions; a few people coming from the neighbouring villages. In the afternoon he gave Solemn Benediction at the end of Exposition at the Shrine. In the evening he Pontificated at Vespers in S. Mary’s. His Lordship offered the Holy Sacrifice in Our Lady’s House at an early hour the next morning before leaving Walsingham. We extend our deepest sympathy to Father Twisaday and his congregation on the terrible loss they have sustained in the total destruction of their Church, and fear this means the total loss of all their treasures. Such a blow must be so crushing to those who worship there and to any devoted Parish Priest that we can scarcely conceive of a more grievous visitation. Father Fynes-Clinton and Father Reggie Kingdon have both suffered very seriously from the raids, their Churches being battered and in part destroyed – all these parishes are constantly in our prayers at the Holy House as well as those priests and people who are clients of our Lady of Walsingham – and we pray that their Churches may be spared. It is strange that the Catholic places of worship seem to be receiving the lion’s share of destruction and damage. Since the darker evenings have come round, we have been obliged to forsake the Parish Church, as last winter, for all our evening Services – and use the Shrine Church. Besides occasional Masses in the week (without Chaplains or visiting Priests it is impossible to have a daily Mass there) there is, after Rosary on Monday Evening Prayers; Tuesday Benediction; Wednesday Greater Litany in procession; Thursday half hour’s Exposition; Friday Holy Hour; Saturday Evening Prayers; Sunday Solemn Evensong and Benediction. Every Saturday we manage unless one of us is ill, to have a Sung Mass at 10 o’clock. We would like to impress upon our readers the fact that the Hospice is still open to Visitors – but that if people do not come to Walsingham and make use of it there is every reason to expect that it will have to be closed in the near future for the duration of the war. There is no reason why people should not come for a quiet rest, and the Sisters are only too willing to welcome them as in the past. photograph: Chapel of the Presentation [above]