Our Lady's Mirror

Summer 1946

St George’s Porch, Shrine Church
Once again we have to apologise for the lateness of this copy of the Mirror, but with the return of pilgrims and other work it becomes increasingly difficult to publish to time. We are supposed to aim at producing this paper around about each quarter day, but, alas, it is seldom realised. What a day we had for the Whit Monday Pilgrimage! A large pilgrimage came to the Holy House. The programme was carried through with the exception of the procession, which had been planned; this could not be held owing to the deluge, for the rain simply teemed down practically all day. Half the mud of Walsingham seemed to be carted into the Church, while the garden paths were churned up into mire tracks. Father Harry Howard, like the zealot that he is, hurried down on Whit-Sunday night from Bradford in order to deliver his oration to us, and we are all grateful to him. Since Easter there have been a number of parochial and small pilgrimages: a lot of old, or, dare we say, older faces which we had not seen during the six years of war, as well as an increasing number of new people from parishes which have hitherto not sent representatives to visit the Shrine. We feel more and more the need for increased accommodation to suit the requirements and the purses of all sorts of people. The Shrine Shop has been enlarged, and it is really surprising, considering the times and the difficulties, to see the amount of stock that has been procured, and the very good book section which is proving of great value to visitors as well as pilgrims. Orders for the new Christmas cards can now be taken. Enid Chadwick has designed eight new coloured cards at 3d. each. Miss Doyle Smithe still holds court in the kiosk in the garden, and one almost thinks she is a centre of pilgrimage herself, considering the number of people who seek her there! The College has moved into its own kitchen and hall, which is a great joy after having had to picnic for nearly a year in the Pilgrims’ Refectory. These new buildings, or rather, 15-16th century cottages, which have been adapted, consist on the ground floor of an undercroft, cupboards, and a parlour at present used as the Administrator’s office. On the first floor are the kitchen, pantry and hall. This latter has an open roof with oak rafters and beams, and, in the main, oak floor. It is a very nice room of 15th or early 16th century date, and the same size as the hall within the screen at the Vicar’s Choral Hall at Wells. On one of the walls, which has had to be temporarily covered, are the remains of a 17th century painting of a decorative character. Remains of similar work is also seen on some of the wood work. During the restoration a pair of fine old windows, 15th century, have been removed from a passage below the old hall for resetting, while in the hall a doorway of the same period is in situ. Adjoining the hall to the north are three more cottages of about the same period, at present condemned as unfit for human habitation, which await restoration and adaptation. One wonders what finds will be made then, when the money and the times allow of fresh development. Three times this year we have had such torrential rains that some of the streets have been like rivers, and the College has suffered minor flooding. We hope now that we have been able to meet this menace by some good soakaways and drains. In the Octave of the Sacred Heart the Guardians of the Shrine held their Chapter at Walsingham. Vespers were sung and Benediction given on the evening before, and the next morning High Mass was sung preceding the Chapter. It is always a delightful and dignified spectacle to see the Fellows in procession wearing their mantles of blue velvet with the flashes of scarlet lining, led by the Beadle in his red gown. Perhaps in years to come it will become a local event witnessed by the neighbourhood. On the evening of Thursday, July 4th, a meeting took place in the Pilgrims’ Refectory to celebrate the twenty-five years of Father Patten’s ministry as Parish Priest of Walsingham and Houghton. Parishioners and friends combined in making him a presentation, which consisted of an 18th century silver chalice and a cheque. Congratulatory speeches were made, and a very happy gathering followed. Talking of Jubilees: all readers of the Mirror ought to make a note of a Pilgrimage that is being organised for Saturday, July 5th next, in commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the setting up of the Shrine afresh here in Walsingham. It is proposed to have a Day Pilgrimage on this anniversary of the revival and return of Our Lady to Walsingham, and to a large extent through Walsingham to the English Church. Parishes and individuals should make early bookings. Do NOT FORGET SATURDAY, JULY 5th. On this occasion, should the weather be propitious, it is proposed to have a Procession, Solemn High Mass and Benediction, in addition to the other devotions of an ordinary pilgrimage. Although the present figure of Our Lady of Walsingham can only boast twenty-five years, the actual Shrine will be 886 years old in 1947. What vicissitudes it has passed through! What fashions, what crowds of various people from Saxon times to the present day have trod these streets in search of the Holy House! What prayers! what hopes! what sorrows! what joys! Do the millions of those who have been before us still turn their thoughts to Mary’s Shrine? Why will some writers of an allegiance other than ours persist in repeating exploded theories – and new ones – about the Holy Well and the ancient foundations? In a new edition of a book on Walsingham Mr Gillett ignores completely the fact that the leather found at the bottom of the Well in 1931 was that of ancient shoe-soles, and that these were examined by experts at the South Kensington Museum, and declared to be of early or middle 16th century date. Mr Gillett continues to insist that the Well belonged to a tannery which stood on the site in not too remote years, whereas we have repeatedly affirmed that by the title deeds going back into centuries we know there was no building there, and we also know where the tannery was – on the other side of Knight Street. For some reason known best to himself he now suggests that the foundations were very likely those of an old inn! How easy pilgrims expect the journey and visits to the Shrine to be these days! On page 125 of “The Cure of Thildonck” we read: “Twice a year the Cure undertook a pilgrimage to our Lady of Montaigu, which is fifteen miles from Thildonck. He usually started in the middle of the night, and on arriving said Mass at the Shrine and remained for hours absorbed in prayer, usually reaching Thildonck at 3 p.m. without having broken his fast. The people of Montaigu were used to seeing him kneeling before the door of the church in early morning, waiting for the sacristan to open it, and this sometimes when the ground was covered with snow”. A NOTABLE GIFT A lovely picture of Our Lady and the Holy Child holding a rose, by Sodoma (1477-1549), has been presented to the Shrine by an anonymous donor, to be used as the altar-piece in the proposed Memorial and Thanksgiving Chapel which we hope to build together with the North Walk of the Cloisters. This treasure is a very great gift, and we hope it will encourage our readers and their friends to contribute generously to the scheme, as, apart from any other motive, it is a picture which needs a beautiful and right setting. Our Lady's dress is crimson, and covered by a blue mantle lined with tawny yellow, with a a web of halo. The Holy Child holds a rose of deep crimson. Behind is a dark green curtain and a charming landscape. Twenty –five years ago in the evening of July 6th the image now at Walsingham was blessed and set up in the Parish Church for public veneration, and thus the Shrine was founded. Pilgrimages commenced to be made. The devotion has gradually grown and developed. Many thousands of favours have been granted – for these and the restoration of the Ancient National Shrine of the Mother of God we should endeavour to visit her Holy House in the year of her Jubilee, and especially on the special days set apart for this commemoration. articles: 'The tragedy of Walsingham'; 'Our vocation' [a sermon]; W E Hand, 'Votive Candles'; 'Colleges and Collegiate bodies'; 'A dream which came true' [opening of Our Lady's House, St Leonards-on-Sea]; Thora A G Muller, 'St George's Day'; Donald Hole, 'The Canonization of Saints'; 'Our Lady of Pity' photographs: St George's porch, Shrine Church [above]; Our Lady and the Holy Child (by Sodoma), presented to the Shrine as a reredos for the Memorial chapel to be built as a thanksgiving and in memory of the dead [as described above]