Each year pilgrims from St C’s go on pilgrimage to Walsingham Fr Chris tells us why he goes.
Walsingham, in North Norfolk, has been a place of pilgrimage for many hundreds of years. Why pilgrimage and why Walsingham?
Walsingham is a centre of prayer and devotion. Like many shrines it’s off the beaten track, and perhaps that’s all part of it!
A pilgrimage is about many things, but for me it’s about the preparation, the journey and the arrival.
A pilgrim in many ways goes on holiday – but a holiday with a purpose. As with all holiday makers there is the sense of adventure, the excitement of doing something out of the ordinary, and of meeting with others. But, it isn’t only that, it is also expecting to encounter something of the living God in our prayers, and in our interaction one with another.
Walsingham is about remembering Mary, the young Jewish woman, who in response to the Angel Gabriel says Yes to God. It is obedience to do God’s will, and the result is the birth of the Saviour of the World.
We might go to Walsingham to experience colourful religion. We might go because of the delightful charm of a Norfolk Village with its leafy lanes which are a far cry from inner-city Manchester. We might go for a relaxing time with other people, enjoying friendship and conversation. All of these rings true for Walsingham.
But, to answer the question, I go because I can relax with God, and can renew my spiritual batteries, I can connect with a God who is a God who surprises. It is so often in travelling, or journeying, that we encounter folk in differing ways – even, I might say ourselves.
Whilst staying at the Shrine Pilgrims are “sprinkled” which is a quaint term for a special act of devotion. Each pilgrim is invited to receive water from the holy well. The pilgrim receives a sip of water, has the sign of the cross traced with the water on their forehead, and then has the water poured into their hands. This act of “sprinkling” is accompanied by the words “May Almighty God, through the intercession of our Lady of Walsingham, grant you health and peace”
In a short answer, I go to Walsingham to share that health and peace which comes from God and which I glimpse at Walsingham.