A non-stop live stream of church services has been attended by people from 135 countries.
The Basilica of Our Lady of Walsingham, a Catholic National Shrine of England, has reported great success with its online efforts, which have drawn more faithful to their Catholic services than ever before, even with the ongoing pandemic.
Catholic News Agency reports that when the coronavirus forced the basilica to shut its doors to the faithful, the church began offering live-streamed church events. With the help of EWTN, they have been streaming from the shrine’s walls for several months, drawing in viewers from 135 countries. CNA spoke with shrine rector Msgr. John Armitage, who commented:
“We’ve probably had the biggest pilgrimage season so far in the history of Walsingham because we’ve had thousands upon thousands of people every day joining us for our program.”
The priest said that feedback has been very positive, with families who watch together writing in with encouraging words of praise. Msgr. Armitage went on to note that he feels the live stream is especially valuable to the elderly. He said:
“It’s given a spiritual framework for those who’ve been in lockdown for years. The elderly, the disabled, those who are never going to come out again.” He added, “And I don’t say we forgot them, but what’s happened is that we’ve discovered a way to connect that we kind of missed.”
On the website, three different feeds to are offered to watch. The first is in the main shrine area, where the camera is placed before the Blessed Sacrament. The second feed is in the Chapel of Reconciliation, which gives a beautiful view of their altar with the grounds visible through the glass wall behind it, and the third is a view of the Slipper Chapel, a much smaller room with an altar that is adorned with a gorgeous reredos.
The Basilica of Our Lady of Walsingham offers an extensive schedule that opens with morning prayer at 8:00 a.m. (British Summer Time) and follows a daily schedule of morning Mass, Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, recitation of the Holy Rosary, afternoon Mass, Benediction, the Angelus and Vespers, and finally a whole night of viewing the Blessed Sacrament. The streams are continuous and can be visited even when there is no active event.
The website even has a place where the faithful can make Mass or pilgrimage offerings, donate to the live-stream effort, or request a Mass intention. Intentions are read during the streamed Masses before a virtual congregation of thousands of faithful viewers. Also available is a archive of past streams, so that the community can explore the catalog, which goes back to February.
Msgr. Armitage told CNA that he hopes the online efforts can continue, even after churches are allowed to open their doors to the public once more. He said:
“It’s such a privilege to be able to play a very small but very significant part in helping them to bear the agony and the loneliness in these last months,” he said. “That’s not something we can stop. Prayer sustains people. And that is essential. That’s why — not wishing to be political — the government needs to recognize that for many people they need that presence in their life.”