extracts fromWalsingham Review Number 3 December1961
Walsingham NotesThis year there have been nearly twenty more organized pilgrimages than last year and that was a record. Now that we are getting so many more pilgrims we are finding space rather restricted, and it is not easy to ensure the peace and quietness one would like to have in the Shrine Church. The sound of regular prayer should not be distracting, and therefore, I very much hope groups of pilgrims will start saying the Rosary aloud together. At the time of a big pilgrimage this sound should arise almost continuously from those in the Holy House and those waiting at the Holy Well and would be much more edifying than the sound of social chatter. There is also the duty of witness, and I have been told by more than one person that on Whit Monday there were people behaving in a frivolous way in the procession. I feel sure everyone will realise what damage such behaviour can do, and I hope fellow pilgrims will feel moved to rebuke in charity any unseemliness of that sort.Amongst many distinguished visitors this year, we have welcome Bishop Vernon, home on leave from Honduras, who has our deep sympathy at the terrible destruction and loss of life there in his absence; Bishop Lickfield and a whole battery of American Canons; the Bishop of Carpentaria, and the Archdeacon-elect of Norwich, who came on pilgrimage with almost 300 of his people from King’s Lynn.By next year we hope to have a hut in the Courtyard of the Shrine during the Pilgrimage season, where one of the priests will be on duty most of the time to help visitors in every way possible.We have been joined at the College by Fr Michael McLean and Fr Leo Franklin, so this brings our membership up to five resident Oblates. We have been able to give a good deal of help in surrounding parishes which has made us many friends.Amongst projects that we have in hand is the making of a path to the Shrine doors across the cobbles which, although suitably penitential, are not quite fair to the infirm and ladies in high heels; and the letting of more air and light into the Shrine by the insertion of dormer windows in the roof.Amongst projects which have been fulfilled is the installation of a very nice small pipe organ generally voted to be of a very sweet tone; and the provision of kneelers for the Holy House and Shrine Church, which represent hours of labour on the part of many devoted friends.I am still very conscious that I do not see as much of pilgrims as I would like and hope that now we have more staff, we may be able to organise this better next year.Orthodox Pilgrimage to WalsinghamSunday 15th October, the closing day of the ninth centenary celebrations, was also marked by the largest Orthodox pilgrimage yet, when over 170 members of the three Greek parishes in London – Holy Wisdom Cathedral, Bayswater; All Saints, Camden Town; SS Andrew and Barnabas, Kentish Town – together with a sprinkling of Russian and English Orthodox, assisted at a Pontifical Liturgy followed by the visit to the well and the Holy House, and later at the Paracletic Canon (a liturgical office of Our Lady which plays a prominent part in the devotions at Orthodox pilgrimage shrines).Despite the first heavy fog of the autumn which, combined with other hindrances to make the arrival of the coaches over ninety minutes late, the pilgrimage programme was adhered to, only the time allowed for sightseeing having, unfortunately, to be curtailed. The liturgy was celebrated by Bishop James of Apameia, parish priest of the cathedral, assisted by the Very Revd Aristarchos Mavrakis, of the cathedral staff, and the Revd George Kykkotis, deacon of All Saints’, Camden Town; somehow or other the whole congregation was squeezed into the tiny Orthodox chapel, the stairs leading to it, and the vestibule below, the weather having made it impossible to have the liturgy at the altar in the garden, as had been hoped. After a picnic lunch, accompanied by the wonderful soup, together with tea and coffee, provided by Sister Julian and her helpers, the sun did break through in time for the afternoon service to be held outside, to the great pleasure of all.That the pilgrimage was greatly enjoyed by nearly all the participants – most of whom had never heard of Walsingham until a few weeks before – was evident. Large numbers of Orthodox faithful – including many who were among the pilgrims on 15th October, and many more who have been given glowing accounts by their friends and relations – have already expressed their desire to take part in the pilgrimages it is hoped to arrange next year.Readers will be aware that Orthodox pilgrimages have in the past been few and far between, and that the present temporary Orthodox chapel has been largely unused for the last ten years or so. A tiny group of Orthodox clients of Our Lady of Walsingham – mostly English – has for some time been hoping and praying, and quietly working for the flowering of devotion to the Mother of God under that title among their brethren. That their prayer has been answered has been made clear beyond all doubt by the unexpectedly great response to this first attempt at organising an inter-parochial pilgrimage.If, as we pray, this response is maintained, the Orthodox arrangements at Walsingham will clearly have to be expanded. Meanwhile, Messrs W Jardine Grisbrooke and Timothy R Ware have been appointed to act as Wardens of the Orthodox Chapel, responsible on the one hand to the Orthodox ecclesiastical authorities, and on the other to the Shrine authorities, and it is their hope that before long it will be found possible to furnish and adorn the present chapel in a fitting manner, as a first fruit of the revival of Orthodox interest in England’s Nazareth.