Our Lady's Mirror

Spring 1951

Whitsun Pilgrimage 1951
This quarter has been a chapter of accidents, or has it been three months of Satanic endeavour as we were preparing for our Parochial Mission? On Passion Sunday during the early Mass a pillar of fire ran up the Shrine of Our Lady in the Parish Church – the veil had caught alight; it was quickly extinguished but such a thing had never happened all these years before. On Monday in Holy Week we discovered that S. Augustine’s was on fire; a strange smell as of dead rats had been noticed the night before and it became stifling during the night. When the wall was opened we were told it had been smouldering for days; perhaps weeks. On Maundy Thursday after Office while the altars were being stripped, another pillar of fire leapt up almost to the roof of the Church, a curtain beside the altar of Repose had caught alight; this too was promptly extinguished. Then there were three mishaps with the car. Returning from a lecture and travelling about 60 m.p.h., we had to slow up for some railway lines and had just crossed them when – phuff, a tyre went off. In the same week, returning from Norwich driving well on our side of the road, a tractor suddenly turned and went right into the side of the car, doing injury which took a month to repair. Then the week before the Mission, something happened to the brakes which were supposed to be in good order and the car slid into the back of a fair-van and crushed the lights and radiator. And finally (we hope) a boy from the Home sent to make up a fire at his work, was caught by a flame – a careless person having put on petrol – and his face and hands were terribly burnt. So you see we have been rather in a bad patch. The Chapel of St Augustine is slowly being got into shape and we hope to have it in use by the early summer. The Guild of the Servants of the Sanctuary to whom the Chapel of the Holy Spirit (St Columba and all the Celtic Saints) has been assigned have presented a lovely frontal to the altar, and the Church Union which has recently accepted the offer of the Guardians and has taken over the Chapel of the Ascension (SS Francis and Clare) has also done the same and in addition a dossel has been hung upon the hitherto bare wall behind the altar. An Icon of the Visitation which was painted in Ain Karem in Palestine, and was used as the focal point of the Confraternity of the Visitation in the Middle East during the 1939-45 war, has been presented to the Shrine and is to be set up near the Chapel of that Mystery which happens to be the Chantry Chapel of Edward I and all pilgrims to Walsingham. It is under the patronage of St Edward the Confessor. The background of the Icon depicts the actual scene of the Visitation with the Anglican Chapel of Peace on the hilltop. It was painted by Mother Alexia and presented to the Sanctuary by A.S.H. in memory of his mother – Isabella. On Saturday, the Vigil of Pentecost, the annual Catholic League pilgrimage led by Fr Fynes-Clinton came to the Shrine. Fr Dalby, the Superior of the Society of St John the Evangelist, was the preacher, both before Benediction on Saturday night and at the Parish Mass on Sunday, sung in St Mary’s. On Whit-Monday about 1,000 pilgrims visited the Holy House, and still the Pilgrimage Church had plenty of space to spare. High Mass was sung by Father Lingwood, with Fr. Bales as Deacon and Fr. Smith, Sub- deacon; among the pilgrims was the Archimandrite Nicholas Gibbes and Fr. Dalby, S.S.J.E., while buses came from places as far apart as Nottingham, Bradford, Grimsby, London and Norwich. Father Roger Wodehouse, of S. Thomas’, Shepherds Bush, one of the Guardians of the Shrine, delivered the oration in the afternoon, which was followed by the annual procession through the village via the Common Place, High Street, Market Place and back by the High Street. On returning to the Shrine, Solemn Benediction was given. The pilgrims from Bradford stayed over until Tuesday. We are very grateful to the men of the Catholic League and others who helped us so much in carrying banners and collecting, etc. Our usual faithful and reliable band of helpers under the able direction of William (whom we all know) was as efficient as ever and is much to be commended. As we go to press, a notice reaches us that Archbishop Savva of Grodno has died. He was hoping to come to the Whitsun pilgrimage but was not well enough Here are two photographs of the College entrance which is now boarded up, one from Knight Street showing the tower of the Pilgrimage Church and the other looking from the quad in the reverse way. This closure is a temporary boarded arrangement set up when the Shrine was being built in 1938 and is fast disintegrating. It is very important to put up a gate-house at this point and so provide for our privacy and a proper way into the College. What a fine memorial to a friend or relative this could make. The drawings and estimates are all ready, but every year’s delay means an increase in prices. At last we are able to print a photograph of the first section of the stalls in the Choir of the Pilgrimage Church. They are in dark oak, each panel having the arms of their original occupier. As readers know, a place in choir is assigned to each Guardian upon his installation. The stall at the end is that of the Master of the College and so the shield is surrounded by his chain of office: the next is that of Bishop O’Rorke, then Father Kingdon (now Guardian emeritus) and the fourth, that of Bishop Vernon. Above each panel is the title which consists of the name of the patron of the Chapel in the Shrine served by the Guardian occupying the stall. Our picture also shows the nave statue of S. Joseph and the Holy Child. There is another figure of the Saint in his Chapel, the entrance to which is seen at the further end of the stalls, beyond the window above is the Orthodox Chapel on the first floor. articles: '1951 Jubilee Year of the Mirror - Back over the years'; P F, 'The College of Ashridge'; S John Forrest, 'Our Lady of Melford' photographs: Whitsun Pilgrimage 1951 [above]; 8 photographs of the Shrine including of the first Shrine in the parish church and of a 1922 pilgrimage; OLW window in St Thomas' Episcopal Church, Farmingdale, New York; two photographs and a plan of Long Melford church Lady Chapel