The 2019 National Pilgrimage
The National Pilgrimage is one of the highlights of the pilgrimage season at the Anglican Shrine.
It is 60 years since the Earl of Lauderdale, one of the Guardians of the Holy House, wrote to the Church Times a year after the death of Fr Hope Patten, the Restorer of the Shrine. In his letter he urged everyone to come to Walsingham on Whit Monday so as to make it a truly “national” pilgrimage. Many heeded that call in 1959, and 60 years later pilgrims from all over the country continue to gather every Spring Bank Holiday for a wonderful day of celebration, and worship and devotion in England’s Nazareth.
The preacher this year was the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd and Rt Hon Justin Welby. In his sermon, he described Mary as being “God’s place-maker”, who made a place in her body for the Incarnation and for God in her mind and heart. He reminded us that Mary welcomed the gift of being the Theotokos, the God-bearer, but that “she did not consider in any way that to be something for herself. She existed for others, for you and for me, and she still prays for us”. (Click here for a PDF copy of the Archbishop's sermon.)
The Archbishop met many of the pilgrims during the lunch break and he commented that he had the sense that the Shrine was a “thin place”, where pilgrims can truly encounter the love and presence of God.
As well as the times of worship and devotion, there was a festive atmosphere to the day, with the village decorated with bunting and the young pilgrims carrying balloons in the Procession. Pilgrims were also entertained during the picnic lunch break in the Abbey Grounds by the West Yorkshire Police Band. This was their first visit to Walsingham and they have the date for next year’s National in the diary.
Walsingham is unique as a place which draws people of all ages, backgrounds and traditions together. Unexpected showers failed to dampen the spirits of all who were present who saw Walsingham and the Shrine at their best.
Our Lady of Walsingham, pray for us.
Click here to visit the Shrine Photo Gallery for photographs of the event.