Hello, I’m Bishop Philip and I’m the Master of the Guardians at Walsingham, and I’m here to introduce to you a very special year of thanksgiving.
In 1922, a priest called Father Alfred Hope Patten had a beautiful image of Our Lady carved and set up in the parish church of St Mary in Walsingham. People began to travel to that church, to pray there, and to be inspired by Mary’s example, because she always shows us how we can be better disciples of her Son, Jesus Christ.
Something remarkable had happened. The pilgrimage to Walsingham, suppressed in 1538 under the orders of Henry VIII, had been restored; and so, in 2022, we can rejoice and give thanks for the centenary of that restoration.
In this special year, we’ll be giving thanks for Walsingham as a place of conversion, because as pilgrims step into the Holy House – the replica of the place where Mary received the Angel’s visit – they’re challenged to make Mary’s bold and radical ‘Yes’ to God their own, and so offer their lives wholly to Him.
We’ll be giving thanks for Walsingham as a place of prayer, because as pilgrims join in with the programme of worship, so lives are changed through encounter with God in the stillness and tranquillity of holy ground. And we’ll be giving thanks for Walsingham as a place of healing, because as pilgrims receive the water from the well, they receive a potent reminder that we have a God, who in Christ, heals us forever. A message perhaps that we need to hear now more than ever before in this time of pandemic.
A year of thanksgiving.
And what’s the best way to join in? Well, of course, it’s to make the journey. It’s to be a pilgrim. The motto of the Shrine is Domus Dei, Porta Coeli – House of God, Gate of Heaven. In this year of thanksgiving, why not step through the gates of Walsingham, catch a glimpse of heaven, and so see afresh your own preciousness as a child of God.
The Right Reverend Philip North CMP
Bishop of Burnley