The meaning behind the celebration
+ The Blessed Mother is venerated by English Catholics under the title of “Our Lady of Walsingham.” Origins to the Virgin Mary under this title date back to a series of apparitions of the Mother of God to Richeldis de Faverches, an English noblewoman, in 1061. During the visions, Mary asked that a shrine—“the Holy House”—be built as a place of pilgrimage.
+ In time, a priory of Augustinian canons was built up around the shrine and they cared for the pilgrims who visited there until the time of the English Reformation.
+ The shrine was destroyed in 1538, during the reign of King Henry VIII. At the time, it stood alongside Canterbury and Glastonbury as the most popular destinations for pilgrims in England. In the months after the suppression of the shrine, the original image of Our Lady of Walsingham was burned and the chapel was looted of its jewels and treasures.
+ In 1897, Pope Leo XIII re-established a 14th century chapel located one mile from the original shrine. This became a place of pilgrimage for England’s Catholics and how serves as the National Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham. An Anglican shrine was established in 1938.
+ Today, devotion to Our Lady of Walsingham often has an ecumenical character, with pilgrims moving between the Catholic and Anglican shrines. Under this title, the Blessed Virgin is honored as a patron of England.
+ To learn more about the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham visit: http://www.walsingham.org.uk/.
For prayer and reflection
“Blessed are you, O Virgin Mary, by the Lord God Most High, above all women on the earth; for he has so exalted your name, that your praise shall be undying on our lips.”—Entrance Antiphon, Mass from the Common of the Blessed Virgin Mary
As we venerate the glorious memory of the most holy Virgin Mary, grant, we pray, O Lord, through her intercession, that we, too, may merit to receive from the fullness of your grace. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(from The Roman Missal: Common of the Blessed Virgin Mary)
Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.