Our Lady's Mirror

Winter 1946

View across the nave to the chapel of S George, with that of SS Hugh and Patrick beyond
It is always very difficult to combine a place of pilgrimage with a place for conducted retreats, unless special accommodation can be provided. We hope, however, the day may not be too far off before such accommodation may be possible at the Shrine, as we are constantly being asked to have both private and public retreats. Slowly the kitchen and dining hall for the College are taking shape, and, as we write, the sound of the hammer and trowel can be heard. But at present we still have to have our meals in the Pilgrims’ Refectory. Can you imagine two – sometimes three – of us in solemn state in that big room? We have been very troubled to find the ancient feretory containing the relics of S. Vincent has been attacked by the worm. Every time the outer case is opened the floor is found covered with the dust of the decaying reliquary. This is very serious, as it is a most important possession of the Shrine. The Administrator has had to place an immediate order for a metal reliquary to be made, as it is impossible to secure the sort of case required ready-made these days. It is one of those crises which need prompt action, but where the cash is coming from to pay for it we do not know. We expect all those who read these lines have venerated and sought the prayers of S. Vincent when visiting the Shrine at Walsingham, and we venture to ask you to send a donation towards this necessary work. Pilgrimages are already being booked for next year, and we hope that priests hoping to bring Parish Pilgrimages will fix up their dates as soon as possible to avoid disappointment. William – we all know William, the Shrine Beadle and gardener – has returned home from the Forces, and is horrified to see the depleted condition of Our Lady’s gardens. He wants plants and shrubs and all sorts of things to bring the grounds back to their well-known beauty, so much has perished during the years of war. It would be nice if those who are interested in the gardens could help in their restoration. During November and December we have had Bishop Nicholai Velimirovitch staying in the College with us. He has come to rest before leaving England for America, having vowed seven Liturgies in the Shrine of our Lady of Walsingham. These Masses he has celebrated with local assistance, but on the two central days, Father Nicholovitch, King Peter of Serbia’s chaplain, came to help. We have had the great pleasure of entertaining several ecclesiastics of the Holy Orthodox Church since the last number of the Mirror was published. We want to make improvements to the pilgrims’ accommodation, as we are still very primitive at Walsingham; indeed, there is no main sanitation or water in the whole village, and this complicates all schemes very much. We also plan to enlarge the Hospice: build a series of new bedrooms and bathrooms, together with rest rooms and a more commodious refectory. Donations can be earmarked for the purpose, and the Guardians would be prepared to borrow the money from anyone willing to lend it as the usual rate of interest. So now those of you who are keen on improving our accommodation please see what you can do about it! articles: A Pilgrim, 'A Day in the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham'; Fr Colin Stephenson, 'A Story which may have happened'; A Correspondent, 'A True Record'; an article by the printers of OLM about the difficulties in printing during the War photographs: view across the nave to the chapel of S George [above]; three architects' drawings of the proposed Thanksgiving Chapel