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Lift up The Lowly

The theme of this year’s pilgrimage to Walsingham was ‘Lift up the Lowly’. This is to focus our reflection on the first World Day of the Poor on 19th Nov, which was announced by Pope Francis in 2016. The pilgrimage took place on 7th October, the month of Mary and an apt time for pilgrimage. So often we rush into September and do not stop until Christmas. We should make time always for Our Lady. The pilgrimage began with a long journey from London, and the pilgrims were welcomed in Walsingham with cloudy skies and warm tea. We were given time to wander around the shrine and visit the Slipper chapel. Priests were also on hand to hear confession. Mass began at 12, celebrated by Cardinal Vincent and concelebrated by priests from across the Diocese who had come with their parishes. Before Mass began Mgr Armitage assured the pilgrims that it wasn’t going to rain, and it was was safe to sit outside, fortunately he was right and the rain held off throughout Mass.

After Mass was lunch, and pilgrims were invited to use the new Pilgrim Hall and eat their lunch undercover.

After lunch we gathered to begin our procession toward the site of Walsingham Abbey, the way is known as the holy mile. We were led by our Lady of Walsingham and Fr Chris Vipers began the rosary as we left the shrine. The procession goes along the old railway track and on either side is fields. For a largely urban diocese this was welcome sight. To be surrounded by God’s creation and in praise of his mother. Before we reached the Abbey the procession snakes past the many shops dedicated to religious paraphernalia and some residences. The Cardinal himself noted that we had gathered onlookers in upstairs windows.

During the procession it had begun to drizzle, but nonetheless the faithful took to their knees for benediction, done by Bishop John Wilson. A beautiful liturgy with the back drop of the ruins of the Abbey

After benediction, it was back to the coaches which thankfully had come to meet us.