Our Lady's Mirror

Spring 1945

The north aisle looking west, showing the Epiphany crib
With the approach, as we all hope, of peace – at least in Europe, we are more than ever depending upon those who love Our Lady and her chief Sanctuary in England to help in every way possible to revive the Walsingham Pilgrimage. After so long a time of war it is very possible that many pilgrims will have lost their zeal for, and memories of, the Holy House, and some of us are inclined to feel that we may have to begin building up this devotion again, almost from where we started in 1922. This being so, every member of the S.O.L.W. and every Priest Associate must become a live wire and a Walsingham missionary. Will you do this for the love of the Blessed Virgin and all that this implies for the maintenance and rekindling of the true Faith of the Incarnation in these Provinces of ours? The adaptation of the cottages for the use ultimately, we hope, of a College of Priests, is progressing slowly – too slowly, alas, to give a picture as proposed of the changes in the Precincts. But we have to be grateful to those who make it possible for any work to be done in these times. The Executive Council decided, upon the proposal having been referred to them by the Chapter, to change the seating arrangements of the Guardians in Choir. We are hoping some day to be able to put up stalls, and according to this new arrangement the Master and Treasurer will have their seats at the west end facing the Altar, with the Priest Guardians adjoining and the Lay Guardians to the east nearest to the Altar. This is more in accord with the English collegiate and cathedral tradition. It has also been decided to make plans for a thanksgiving memorial for the return of peace – may it soon come! – and it is deemed desirable that this should take the form of a crypt chapel within the ancient foundations of the Shrine, the major part of which are still open to the elements and quickly disintegrating. This chapel will be so constructed that the ancient remains will be preserved and visible. Within this crypt will also be an Altar in memory of the fallen, where Mass can be said regularly for their souls, and where a book or something will be placed recording the names of these. The main chapel will be a votive in thanksgiving for peace and the safe return of those whose names may also be recorded when desired. This will be rather a large undertaking, as the whole site of the crypt will, it is thought, have to be tanked, as the water is very near the surface below the mediæval remains. In consequence it will not be an inexpensive work, but we hope a really worthy offering for the great mercies God has granted to us and our Allies, and a worthy memorial of those who have sacrificed so much to secure the blessing of peace. On the Second Sunday after Epiphany the congregation at the Parish Mass was nearly smoked out as our heating stove went wrong and the floor caught alight. However, we managed to survive without undue convenience. On the following Sunday the house in the precincts called S. Augustine’s caught fire. One room was badly damaged, and chairs, a mattress and other furniture was destroyed, and other things blistered and spoilt. The floor had to be cut away, as it was well alight, too. All this happened with two fire brigades operating, but the people in the Hospice and the Shrine – not 100 yards off – ignorant of the danger. There was Exposition of the Most Holy Sacrament in the Pilgrimage Church for the Church Unity Octave observance, and the silence and peace in the Shrine was remarkable as one came in from the excitement of the conflagration just outside. We are living now in that horrible atmosphere of “burn”; the Library and whole house are heavy with it. The Priory For the benefit of our friends who have made enquiries, and because of the many rumours which have been circulated about our Sisters, and because some misapprehension still appears to exist regarding the status of the Community at Walsingham, it seems as well to make a statement of the facts. In 1942 the Sisters at Walsingham were canonically released from the Community of S. Peter, Westminster, by their Chapter, with the full approval of their Episcopal Visitor, Dr. Fisher, Bishop of London, and they have been formed into a new Community known as that Community of Our Lady of Walsingham. This has been done with the knowledge of the Advisory Council of Religious Communities, and with the full approval of the Bishop of Norwich, who is their Visitor. Fr. Raynes, the Superior of the Community of the Resurrection, Mirfield, is their Religious Superior and Father Wrathall, C.R., their Confessor Extraordinary. Since these events took place necessary changes have been made, designed to give stability to the new Community. There are definite signs that real progress is being made. This progress is being greatly assisted by the kindness of the Community of S. Mary the Virgin, Wantage, in having the Novices in turn for a part of their Novitiate. Three temporary Professions have been made; our small Novitiate is at present full, and a number of aspirants are waiting for the opportunity of testing their Vocation. So that with the help of your prayers we hope the Community of Our Lady of Walsingham will eventually survive the trials which seem to be the experience of every new foundation. The Choir School The new term sees the School still in the precincts of the Shrine, but we trust that after Easter they will be moved into more commodious quarters. The teaching staff has been increased by Mrs Whittaker, and Miss Moore has taken up her post as matron. The Children’s Home As some of our readers may have noticed in the “Church Times”, the Guardians of the Shrine were particularly anxious to build a permanent house for the children. A flat in the Vicarage house does not have much security of tenure, for it has to be vacated in an emergency at three month’s notice. A site off the Wells Road, Walsingham, has been acquired, but since this was done an excellent modern house, built about ten years ago, has come into the market, and we feel justified in making a very great venture of faith, so we have bought it and up to date paid the deposit. We know you will realise our acute need, and our good fortune in being offered it, and will help us to purchase it. We want £1,200. It is a lot of money, we know, but it means that there will always be a house in Walsingham where some of those less fortunate children in this world can find a real home. An authority on housing matters in this district wrote to us recently: “It is quite impossible to build a similar house for anything like the price or, indeed, build it at all for a very long time”. We shall, of course, easily be able to use the other site. articles: 'Loreto'; H J Fynes-Clinton, 'The Armorial Bearings of Our Lady, of Walsingham and of the College of Guardians'; 'The Ancient Church of St Julian's, Norwich'; 'A Hitch-Hike Pilgrimage in War-time' photographs:The north aisle looking west, showing the Epiphany crib [above]; a print of the Holy House of Loreto; interior of St Julian's church, Norwich, before its destruction in the War; architect's drawing for the reconstruction of Mother Julian's Cell, with church and house for Sisters