Sunday, April 29, 2012

Walsingham... driving rain and wind. A pilgrimage with supporters of Aid to the Church in Need. We were small in numbers this year - just one coachload from London, and a few joining us from elsewhere. But, as always, it was beautiful to pray in the ancient shrine chapel, and to be at Mass in the big barn church. Walked with friends down the Holy Mile that links the Catholic shrine to the village...the planned procession was abandoned because of the high winds, and people went by coach , but we elected to enjoy the gusty challenge, and it was rather glorious. The surging and buffeting of the wind, the great beauty of the Norfolk landscape, and the reality of Walsingham with all its profound messages, drew us to talk of big things, and it was so good to do this with old and valued friends... Later, after a beautiful Benediction in the church in the village, I had a good meeting with Sister Camilla of the Community of Our Lady of Walsingham. They run a House of Prayer in the Brentwood diocese, but their aim has always been to be linked to Walsdingham. If you'd like to find out more, and help out, you can do so here... On a whim - and because J. was busy with various commitments over the weekend and there was no need for me to hurry home - I decided to stay overnight in Walsingham. The Pilgrim Bureau (Elmham House) is very comfortable.The village, on a wet and windy April night, was bleak, but that made being with other pilgrims in a cosy house all the more agreeable. There is a night-time Benediction for pilgrims in the church - which is right next to the pilgrim house - and this is usually followed by a candlelit procession into the garden and prayers by the statue of the Mary. It wasn't feasible to pray outside so we lit our candles and held them aloft as we turned towards the statue in the church instead. They are special candle-lanterns with little Walsingham scenes and the words of the "Ave, Ave, Ave Maria" hymn on them, so you gaze at your lantern and sing - it was all rather delightful. Later, a mug of tea with some Irish pilgrims who told me all about "Mass-pats" and answered my question about holy wells, with many stories of saints and miracles...and a long comfortable read in bed before a good restful sleep.

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