Diocesan crest

It all began at 8:30 on a very warm and sunny Sunday morning picking up a group of pilgrim's from St John's, and then on to The Assumption to pick up the other group making eighteen pilgrims in total. Off we went, journeying in the footsteps of the countless number of pilgrims who have visited Walsingham in its thousand year history, complete with parish banners. 

As we travelled to Walsingham, along the roads of Lincolnshire and Norfolk with various crops on either side, the weather became increasingly hot and sunny. By the time we reached Walsingham, it must have been in the 90's Fahrenheit (or the 30's centigrade for those of us born in the metric era!). We couldn't have asked for better weather. Lunch was had in the shade of the trees at the Shrine. 

Walsingham Statue

Those of you, who have been to Walsingham since the Chapel of Reconciliation was built, will know that part of one wall can be removed, enabling people to participate in the Mass, either inside or out, when there are large numbers; we, of course, were sat outside in the arboreal shade. Mass began, the organ struck up with 'Alleluia, sing to Jesus,' and we saw the top of Bishop Malcolm's mitre as the procession made its way around the Shrine. Monsignor Moore preached a moving homily about pilgrimage, quoting John Bunyan and Julian of Norwich, particularly mentioning Mary's pilgrimage in the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary, which will hopefully move people to make future pilgrimages to various other sites. Mass then continued, as normal, ending with the hymn 'Love divine, all loves excelling.' It was wonderful to be able to participate in the Mass outside in the fresh air on such a beautiful day. 

The party were joined by the Support Team who very kindly brought the packed lunches and some more much needed water. Together, they all enjoyed a picnic and played in the park before setting off once more passing horses and some very protective new-mother cows with their calves on the walk back to Ilkeston. Fr Colin met us and very kindly opened up the hall before the drive back to Beeston. 

Walsingham Slipper Chapel

There was some free time before the pilgrims assembled to walk the Holy Mile (and a half!) into Walsingham village. There were people from all four corners of the Diocese, schools as well as parishes. The walk was undertaken in a spirit of silence; so many people on a journey, with a common purpose, walking in silence. Bishop Malcolm led us along the Holy Mile and into the garden behind the Pilgrim Bureau, where we prayed the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary, the Litany of Our Lady of Walsingham and sang the Salve Regina. 

The trip to Walsingham wouldn't have been complete without a visit to the lovely little Russian Orthodox Church of St Seraphim on the way to the coach park. This little gem, with its ikons of Our Lord, Our Lady and various saints, is a most inspiring place and well worth a visit. Finally, we embarked on the final stage of our pilgrimage - the journey home back along the roads of Norfolk and Lincolnshire towards Nottingham. 

We arrived first at St John's, and then The Assumption. The journey is over, but this is only a small stage on the Great Pilgrimage towards our heavenly home where we will one day bask in the presence of God. No doubt we will all make further pilgrimages, sometimes in a group and sometimes alone, which will mean different things to different people, at all sorts of spiritual levels.

For more information on The Catholic Shrine at Walsingham click here

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