Our Lady's Mirror

Winter 1947

The Beadle’s staff and new processional cross
Fr Patten's habit of calling his first issue early in every year the 'Winter' number, together with the irregularity of publication, can cause confusion, and does so particularly in the years 1947-1948. This Winter Number is the first edition of 1947, followed by the Spring/Summer Number 1947, Autumn and Winter Number 1947-8, Spring Number 1948, Summer Number 1948, Autumn Number 1948, Winter & Spring Number 1949.
Walsingham at the time of writing is deep in snow, a picture of beauty, and with that wonderful silence reigning which always come with the soft roads. Since the last Mirror we have had few visitors, but among them have been Father Raynes, Superior of Mirfield, Canon Wakefield, Father Fynes-Clinton, Father Wrathall, C.R., Sir William Milner, and Mr Romilly Craze. The weather is inclement and the journey trying, and yet in the days of Edward I., that King spent several Candlemasses in Walsingham. It seems to have been a favourite time for him to make the pilgrimage. Were the folk hardier in those days, or was the devotion stronger? The Administrator, Father Patten, is commemorating the Jubilee of the restoration of the Shrine in Walsingham by erecting his stall in the Choir of the Pilgrimage Church. This he is enabled to do owing to the generous gift made to him last year on the occasion of his own Jubilee as Parish Priest of Walsingham. It has been suggested that the friends and parishioners of the other Priest Guardians might like to take the opportunity of combining and setting up the stall of their own Priest Guardian at the Shrine and so perpetuating the memory of the connection of these parishes and the National Shrine of Our Lady. It is possible to do this by Deed of Covenant and so considerably reduce the cost of the gift. Those interested should write to the Rev. the Bursar for particulars. We have had several compliments on the production of the Mirror – the get-up and the illustrations. This is gratifying, and especially to our printers, the Sutton Press, who always, and in the most difficult of times during the war, have been most helpful and anxious to please. We have had trouble with parts of the flat roofs of the Shrine Church, and rain has been coming in and causing quite minor floods. We have these flats examined, and the men found several live bullets thereon. Often during Rosary at six o’clock, in the war winters when the enemy planes cam over the guns belched, the roof rattled with what we thought to be bullets or shrapnel, sometimes quite like hail, and the church trembled. We didn’t realise the nearness of our danger, and how the blue mantle was spread for the protection of the Holy House. Laus Deo! Miss Martin, whom so many pilgrims and visitors will remember for her most beautiful weaving and embroidery, has left Walsingham to help a community in South Wales. It was impossible for her to go on living in her condemned cottage, and equally impossible for her to get another and suitable house. We shall miss her very much, and our good wishes go with her to her new home. The Administrator is now settled in his own office at the College. It is situated in Knight Street, and approached by the passage door leading to the kitchens. Over the entrance is a stone engraved the date of some restoration, as the building itself is late 15th century. Here he has the ‘phone, No. 255, Extension No. 4. We hope many of our readers will have seen by this time the notice in the Church Times asking for donations towards the War Memorial at the Sanctuary. You will remember that it is to be offered as a sign of our gratitude to God for our escape from invasion and for victory, as well as a memorial of all those who lost their lives in or through both the great wars. It is to consist of the library built over the North Walk of a cloister, in the centre of which and at right angles to it a chapel is to be built which will house the magnificent painting of our Lady by Sodoma, a photograph of which appeared in a recent Mirror. It is intended to proceed to the Chapel each evening after the Rosary in the Holy House, to offer our continued thanksgiving to God and Our Lady, and to make a memorial of the dead, who will thus be constantly remembered. Here, too, regular Masses are to be offered, both by thanksgiving and of Requiem. Surely this is a truly Christian work, and one which should appeal to the imaginations and hearts – and purses – of Catholics all over the Empire. Few, if perhaps any, “War Memorials” of this or former wars since the 16th century have been set up with and for such definite and charitable purposes. It will be possible for those who wish to have the names of their departed friends inscribed on the Cloister wall. This will, of course, involve a fee to cover the cost of engraving, etc. It is not too much to ask every member of the Society of Our Lady of Walsingham to collect from among their friends for the accomplishment of this Memorial. If each and all set out to collect a minimum of £6 each the necessary funds would be in hand. Copies of the plans and elevations can be had on application to the Office. A MORNING IN THE SHRINE OFFICE It was Wednesday, one of the days on which the Office had its bi-weekly scrub. Fanny arrived at her usual hour to find that the operation was already in progress, and that the small girl who accompanied her mother on these expeditions was seated in the Bursar’s chair happily sticking stamps on to his copy of the Church Times. She was promptly given a pencil and some scraps of paper and told to write OXO, the only word her baby mind and fingers could grapple with. Now, thought Fanny, what have I got to do this morning? Receipts first; then the agenda for the Executive meeting to be typed and sent out – (which Guardians are on the Executive, by the way? I hope I can remember) – the certificates for this month’s Deed of Covenant subscriptions to be prepared; and perhaps I can get some of the Mirror envelopes addressed. No extra rush jobs to be done, so we can get ahead with the routine work. She starts on the receipts, standing on one leg and hopping about for the books in which special entries have to be made, for the Office is by this time like the Fens after a heavy rain. The Junior Assistant hasn’t come – probably went to a dance last night; however, left to oneself more work can be accomplished. There is a knock at the door. In comes Flip from the Home, to know (a) if we have any foreign stamps for him this morning, (b) if there are any bits of wood he can have for fretsaw, and (c) if – “Sorry, Flip, not to-day. And please shut the door when you go out”. Now, where is the Priest Associates’ File? Oh – the Administrator took it to his cottage yesterday, and I must make a note that Fr. X has changed his address or there will be trouble. In the meantime Joyce-anna has emptied the contents of the waste-paper basket on to the floor, has extracted the scissors from a drawer, and is cutting up – what? Horrors! the Bursar’s draft of a letter to the School Governors that has to be typed as soon as possible. Never mind; it was quite illegible, anyhow. Joyce-anna’s mother has gone for some clean water, so a more than usually watchful eye will have to be kept on this young hopeful. She may be a long time, as cups of tea are probably going round in the College kitchen. Another disturbance. This time it is the telephone. The Administrator is ringing from his extension to ask Fr. Y’s address. Luckily Fanny knows most of the addresses by heart, so this request is soon dealt with. No sooner has she replaced the receiver than the Administrator rings again. “How do you spell ‘mediæval’? What time does that train get in to Wells? And I want you to write me out three notices, NO ENTRANCE THIS WAY.” “Yes, Father”. One more job. A knock at the door. “Is the Reverend + in?” “No, I’m afraid he isn’t. Can I give him a message?” “Well, I hear he has a house to let and I am wondering if I could have it”. “I’ll tell him; but there are hundreds of people after it”. The scrubbing has been completed, and peace reigns once more, albeit a somewhat damp peace. Perhaps now we might address some Mirror envelopes, or get out the accounts for the Sanctuary School, or pack up that parcel of literature for America. Fanny decides to do the envelopes. Mustn’t forget to keep those two separate that have to go to Hong Kong and Belgrade, and must remember that the Secretary of one of the Cells wants seventeen Mirrors, and another Secretary wants fifteen. She has typed half-a- dozen addresses when the telephone buzzes again. Really, we could do with one person sitting by the telephone and one sitting by the front door on a morning like this. She picks up the receiver: “Walsingham 255”, “Blissland Farm speaking. Can you let me know what vegetables you want for the week-end?” “Oh, you want the Hospice. I will ring through and get them for you”. Fanny turns the handle of No. 2 Extension patiently for five minutes, and a little less patiently for another five. “I’m sorry, there is no answer. Can you ring again later?” Six more envelopes are typed, and the Administrator comes in. “Will you please send this telegram, and will you type out the copy for the Mirror, and will you take this to be registered, and have you done my notices????” Fanny sighs. Things are not turning out as she had hoped. Incidentally, it is her morning for entering the intercessions in the Shrine Book. What a pity it is she keeps thinking of something else to do! And – Burrrr goes the ’phone (“A telegram for the Sister-in-charge. Will you take it?”), and rat-tat goes the front door (someone to pay the rent). In the meanwhile, where is the owner of this Office, the Bursar? He has gone off to a meeting, or else he has gone out to see someone and will be back “in a few minutes” (meaning an hour). At last he returns, “Please take down some letters, and then get me Whitehall 3176 and after that pack up Lent Savings Boxes”. He starts “Dear Father ….” A bell rings: not the telephone this time, but the Angelus. And so we go on till he disappears at 12.30 for Evening Prayer. Just half-an-hour left, and nothing seems to have been finished. Some people think the Office is a little untidy. But perhaps this can be understood when one considers the number of jobs that are started in the course of a day. It can also be explained by the fact that (a) the Administrator has a periodic turn-out, and anything he wants to get rid of is dumped in the Office, and (b) the Sister Sacristan does likewise. It is all very confusing, but we get through somehow, and tidy up from time to time. So, gentle reader, think kindly of poor Fanny. And come and visit her sometimes in the asylum. articles: S J F, 'Pilgrim Shrines of Rutland'; Br Peter, 'On Trees and Shrubs'; S J F, 'The Rhyme of Our Lady of Leighton Cross' [written for the feast of the Visitation, 1946, to the metre of the Walsingham hymn] photographs: the Beadle's staff and new processional cross [above]; In the College Quad; At the Window of Our Lady's House (The Holy House); 'And - Burr goes the 'phone' [cartoon accompanying the paragraphs above about a morning in the Shrine Office]; Shrine of OLW, St Edmund's, Northampton; Feretory of St Thomas, at the Shrine