Pilgrimage is an essential part of life and living. Christians see
life itself in terms of a journey, coming from God and returning to
God. This is true of other world religions where pilgrimage is also
A pilgrimage is a symbol in action. It represents the journey of the
Christian life from earth to heaven. The Church is sometimes
described as a pilgrim people.
Back in the Middle Ages pilgrimages were very popular. It was not
like going on holiday. Pilgrimages often took years. Journeys were
long and dangerous and many died en route. They usually travelled in
groups and would stay in monasteries or hostels on the way.
Pilgrims undertook these journeys to holy places because it was
important for their faith. If they had committed sins they believed
that by going on a pilgrimage they could show God how sorry they
were. Sometimes they were sent on such journeys by a priest as a
penance. Sometimes they went for healing of a physical condition.
It is a strange phenomenon of the late twentieth century that
pilgrimage should again have become popular. Thousands of visitors
come to Walsingham each year.
The particular emphasis of pilgrimage to Walsingham is concerned
with the Incarnation of Jesus - this is the belief central to the
Christian faith that at a definite date in history, in a certain
place, God himself was born of a woman into a human family.
The Holy House is a reminder of Nazareth, of the house in which
Jesus lived as a child and young man. By visiting it and praying
within it, pilgrims believe that they are identifying with those
influences which were formative as Jesus grew through childhood to
adolescence and adulthood.
The much-loved statue of Our Lady of Walsingham is enthroned within
the Holy House. It is important to understand that the statue is a
focus for devotion - a visual aid - and not something to be
worshipped in itself. Down through the years Christians have sought
the prayers of Mary to support them in their pilgrimage through
life. At times in the history of the church there has been
controversy about devotion to Mary but in these ecumenical days
there are few who would deny a right respect and love to the Mother
Thousands of Pilgrims representing hundreds of parishes come on
pilgrimage to Walsingham every year.
We focus on one, the pilgrimage of St Faith’s Parish Church,