Yesterday was the National Pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham in this its 950th year. We left Romford in the minibus at 7.00 a.m. and picked up some passengers at Barkingside, heading up the M11 and then the A11 etc. to Barton Mills for breakfast and a comfort stop. One of the highlights for me is stopping and having the famous bacon butty in the woods.
Suitably refreshed it was straight on to Walsingham and after a quick look round the various shops, a purchase of some Rose Mystica; I went to the Pilgrims Hall as I was assisting with the administration of the Blessed Sacrament. We formed in procession to walk to the Abbey Grounds for the Pontifical Concelebrated Mass presided over by Visitor to the Shrine Father Tony Robinson., the Bishop of Pontefract. The Diocesan Bishop Graham James sat in choir. A number of other Bishops were present including the Bishop of Chichester, the Bishop of Horsham, the Bishop of Burnley, and the Bishop of Beverley (I can’t put names to the rest I’m afraid). After Mass I was supposed to go to the Shrine Church to help with the Anointing but there was some sort of mix up and as I didn’t seem to be needed I returned to my wife and friends for lunch.
After lunch the Bishop of Whitby Father Martin Warner preached the sermon and then it was off in procession to the praying of the rosary and, this year, back to the Abbey Grounds for Benediction. I thought this change from the usual venue in the Shrine Grounds and Shrine Church was excellent and I hope this will be something that can be repeated in the future.
Quite a few of the familiar faces were, of course, missing as they have gone to the Ordinariate but I did see one of the new Ordinariate present amongst the congregation. Overall I think there were as many people present as previously and there seemed to be as many priests as well with a good sprinkling of birettas including one of Spanish design which I rather liked.
After Benediction it was back to the minibus and the short drive to Mother Hubbard’s Fish and Chip Shop in Swaffham for supper prior to the long drive back home. It was a wonderful day and the weather was quite reasonable despite the forecast of rain. Many thanks to Father Martin for organising and driving the minibus. We now look forward to the visit the Redbridge and Havering Ordinariate Exploratory Group will be making on the 16th July for the Pilgrimage of Reparation and Consecration which is being led by Monsignor Keith Newton. We will celebrate Mass at 12 noon in the Shrine joining with the others after Mass.