Friday, 15 August 2008

Pictures at Walsingham.

Part of the gardens.



Processing Franciscans.


The Shrine itself.

Walsingham Manor.

The Cure d'Ars.

Sisters by the Holy Souls Chapel.

A Wandering Anglican.

The back of the High Altar showing stones from Abbeys all over the country which went into building it.

The tabernacle.

The Assumption Altar.

Brother Maximilian in the Bull.

Fr Philip Barnes, Shrine Priest, preaching.

I thought I might share some pictures of the Shrine of Our Lady at Walsingham with you, which I took over the past week. I have yet to slip back into serious blogging mode, the lightness of the Assumption and the afterglow of a holiday are still with me. For those of you who have not visited, Walsingham is in Norfolk and there has been a shrine here for many hundreds of years, although it was destroyed in the Henrecian horror and only restored in the past hundred years by Fr Alfred Hope Patten, who was parish Priest of this tiny place. There had been a small trickle of pilgrims from the medieval times, when this place was a major pilgrimage destination, keeping the faith, as it were. Fr Hope Patten rebuilt the shrine however and the well was refound, now the site of many healings and miracles, if the same is due for other Churches as it is for this little one in North Manchester. It is a place which bears the indelible footprint of God, from the religious walking around the streets, the processions, the houses all with little statues in the window (where else in the country would you find a pub with a large picture of the Sacred Heart on the wall?) and it bears the hallmarks of generations of love. It is dear to the Anglican Church, as it is our biggest shrine and it gives many of us the support we need from one year to the next.

There is also an Orthodox Chapel in the Shrine Church, itself packed with many little Chapels and turrets. For many of us the stations of the cross are special, or the sepulchre, or the little Blessed Sacrament Chapel above the High Altar, or the Cure Chapel, or the little Chapel to Maria Desolata hidden around the back of the main Church. The place itself (here) is peaceful and vital to the heart of Catholic Anglicanism. Alongside the Shrine is the Priory of the Sisters of St Margaret as well as a small house of Franciscans, who are very quickly being incorporated into the work of the shrine. There is a ruined Abbey, village with two pubs (the Oxford Stores now being closed) , a restaurant, farm shop and the other paraphernalia of a small village full of very expensive houses. There is a Guild of All Souls Chapel for the daily masses offered for the dead, with a chantry Priest, another two Orthodox Churches and a Marist Sisters house. There are also Roman Catholics who have a small church associated with King Henry VIII up the road and there are Methodists, against all the odds. A spiritual disneyland, almost, but too suffused with faith and love for that.

For those of us who know the place, there will be a lifetime of visits, for those of you who do not know it, I hope one day you shall. This is the hymn we sung at Fr Hope Patten's Requiem, and it sums up the place for me perfectly....

In our day of thanksgiving one psalm let us offer
for the saints who before us have found their reward;
when the shadow of death fell upon them, we sorrowed,
but now we rejoice that they rest in the Lord.

In the morning of life, and at noon, and at even,
he called them away from our worship below;
but not till his love, at the font and the altar,
had girt them with grace for the way they should go.

These stones that have echoed their praises are holy,
and dear is the ground where their feet have once trod;
yet here they confessed they were strangers and pilgrims,
and still they were seeking the city of God.

Sing praise, then, for all who here sought and here found him,
whose journey is ended, whose perils are past:
they believed in the Light; and its glory is round them,
where the clouds of earth's sorrow are lifted at last.