|Our Lady of Walsingham, Pray for us to God!|
The first Anglican Ordinariate in England is named in honour of Our Lady of Walsingham and is under the patronage of Blessed John Henry Newman. But what does the title of Walsingham mean?
Visions are the origin of most shrines to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Mary has appeared to people who never expected her. In 1061, the Virgin appeared three time to the Lady Richeldis (a noblewoman in the town of Walsingham). Mary showed to Richeldis a vision of her house in Nazareth and requested that Richeldis build a replica of this house. Mary told Richeldis
"Do all this unto my special praise and honor. And all who are in any way distressed or in need, let them seek me here in that little house you have made at Walsingham. To all that seek me there shall be given succor. And there at Walsingham in this little house shall be held in remembrance the great joy of my salutation when Saint Gabriel told me I should through humility become the Mother of God's Son."
Richeldis fulfilled Mary's request and this became the Shrine of our Lady of Walsingham. Soon thousands of pilgrims went to Walsingham, Many of them were healed. Medieval Walsingham became one of Europe's major pilgrimage sites together with Rome, Santiago de Compostela and Jerusalem. The English people had a strong devotion to the Virgin Mary and for that the country was known as the "Dowry of Mary"
When Henry VIII separated the English Church from Rome in 1534 by assuming the title Supreme Head of the Church in England, he initiated the Dissolution of the Monasteries, which transferred the monastery properties to the Crown. The Walsingham shrine was dissolved, the Holy House burned, the treasures confiscated and the statue of the Virgin burned in London. For more than 300 years, a Protestant England forgot what the Shrine was all about. Of the places of worship associated with the medieval shrine, only the Slipper Chapel survived and that was used as a cowshed, until an English lady named Charlotte Boyd who converted to Catholicism bought it in 1896. She donated the property to the Downside Fathers. The chapel was restored and in 1897 Pope Leo XIII refounded the shrine and the first Catholic Mass was celebrated there. The image of the Virgin was copied from a depiction on a pilgrim's badge. The pilgrimage was then revived
|Inside the Holy House at Walsingham|
Anglicans were also drawn to Walsingham and in 1922 revived the Procession of the Virgin. Thereafter the Church of England revived the Shrine in 1931. Today Walsingham has two Shrines. The Anglican one and the Catholic Slipper chapel. There is a strong ecumenical dimension to Walsingham. Pilgrims begin their pilgrimage at the Catholic shrine and end it at the Anglican shrine. Thousands still make the journey.
Very few Filipinos know of Our Lady the Annunciation of Walsingham. Her appearance to the Lady Richeldis is one of the first recorded apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Walsingham commemorates the Fiat of Mary. If she had said "No", then we wouldn't have been ransomed.
Our Lady of Walsingham has healed many in the physical sense and many more in the spiritual sense. Many have been reconciled with their families and with God, through her intercession. I hope that this short blog post will introduce Filipinos to Our Lady under in this title.