On Monday 8th October ten pilgrims from St Nicholas’ set off for the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham.
Activities were in part combined with the resident priests and the hundred-or-so pilgrims currently at Walsingham and in part within our own group. Fr David celebrated Mass with us and gave us two thought-provoking addresses.
The three combined services took place in the Shrine Church.
Following supper on Tuesday we met for the Liturgy of Healing, a very moving service. Following a homily each pilgrim descended the steps to the holy well, where a drink of the water was offered, the forehead was signed with a cross and more water poured through the fingers. Climbing the steps from the well felt like a renewal, rendered even more meaningful by the subsequent laying-on of hands and anointing with oil, concluding prayers and a blessing.
On the Wednesday morning we joined the other pilgrims for the main Pilgrimage Mass, a beautiful service (Thurible expertly swung by Paul Wilkinson, but with the strict admonition not to perform any 360s in the main aisle).
The Wednesday evening service was the Procession of Our Lady, with the image carried shoulder-high round the Church, all around the grounds and back to the Church followed by the entire congregation, all bearing small candles and singing the Walsingham processional hymn. The service concluded in the Church with a benediction veiled in dramatic clouds of incense, the hymn, Let all the world in every corner sing, and a thunderous organ finale.
We left the church inspired and elated, repairing to a mediaeval room in Richeldis House to wind down and discuss our thoughts over a glass of wine. We resolved to form a Walsingham Cell at Arundel to keep our link with the shrine alive between return visits.
On Thursday morning before departure we met with Father David in the intimate calm of the Holy House for our final Mass.
To sum up, our pilgrimage to England’s Nazareth was an exhausting whirlwind of new insights but also a refreshing, healing, spiritually uplifting and faith-strengthening experience.