Shrine invites the Nation to celebrate 2020 National Pilgrimage at Home

19 May 2020 – Pilgims are today invited to celebrate the 2020 National Pilgrimage on Monday 25th May. Thousands of pilgrims from around the country would usually gather in Walsingham on this day, however, with lockdown measures still in place, Fr Kevin Smith, Priest Administrator, has announced a special programme and calls on all pilgrims to join The Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham in celebrating this historic event from their homes. The pilgrimage theme this year is Mary, Queen of All Creation.

Fr Kevin Smith said: “The National is always a great day of celebration at the Shrine and this year’s National Pilgrimage at Home will be no exception. While we sadly are unable to welcome pilgrims in person to this year’s event, it’s heart-warming that so many people have embraced digital platforms to keep in touch with the Shrine during the lockdown. Despite the challenging circumstances, we are determined to celebrate our flagship event with renewed zeal, and hope that pilgrims across the country will join us online for the celebrations next Monday”, he said.

National Pilgrimage at Home programme (bank holiday Monday):

  • 11.45am – Live stream starts
  • 11.55am – Fr Kevin Smith, Priest Administrator, greets pilgrims from the Holy House in the Shrine Church (live)
  • 12 noon – Sung Mass starts in the Nave (live)
  • 12.50pm – Homily by The Revd Tim Pike, CMP (broadcast from Croydon, London)
  • 6pm – Shrine Prayers live from the Holy House (live)

Fr Kevin comments, “I am delighted that Fr Tim Pike, CMP, will be giving the homily after the live-streamed Sung Mass.  Fr Tim is an excellent preacher, a regular pilgrim to Walsingham, and has served in parishes in the North East of England and in London. He is also the Superior of the Local Cell of Our Lady of Walsingham at S. Michael’s & All Angels, Croydon.

Starting at 11.45am on Monday 25th May, National Pilgrimage coverage can be accessed from the Shrine website (, Facebook, YouTube and Vimeo.

The Shrine has seen a surge in demand for its service of Shrine Prayers live-streamed at 6pm every evening as pilgrims seek intercessions from Our Lady of Walsingham during the COVID-19 pandemic. Facebook followers has leapt by 1,000 to 5,200 since the start of the lockdown, and the Shrine receives hundreds of applications to join its online prayer cell each month. The lockdown continues to be a catalyst for increased prayer and devotion to Our Lady of Walsingham.

The National Pilgrimage has been taking place on the late May bank holiday almost every year since the 1930’s.  Originally known as the Whit-Monday Pilgrimage, this great pilgrim gathering to honour Our Lady of Walsingham was renamed the National Pilgrimage in 1959.  The Shrine Church is not currently open for public worship or private prayer but the Shrine clergy are continuing to worship and pray.

– Ends –

Notes for editors

The Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham has been a place of pilgrimage since the 11th Century. Founded in 1061 by the Lady Richeldis who received a vision of Mary, the Mother of Jesus, the Shrine was destroyed by Henry VIII in 1538, and restored again in 1922 by Father Patten, the Anglican Vicar of Walsingham.  In medieval times, the Shrine was visited by Henry III, Edward I, Edward II, Edward III, Henry VI, Henry VII and finally Henry VIII (plus two of his wives).

Each year, the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham welcomes tens of thousands of pilgrims and visitors from all over the world to Walsingham. The historic Shrine Church, visitor centre, gardens, refectory and extensive accommodation provide a welcome sanctuary for pilgrims, tourists and first-time visitors making the journey to ‘England’s Nazareth’.