This year, the 4th annual diocesan pilgrimage saw more than one thousand pilgrims travel up to Walsingham on Saturday 21st September. The theme of the day was based on the words spoken by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount, ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of God is theirs.’ (Matthew 5). In his introduction to the pilgrimage booklet, the Cardinal expanded on this theme, reminding the pilgrims that, ‘when we recognise our dependence on God, rather than on our own success or strength, then we are in the right place to receive all that God wants to give to us.’
The pilgrimage took place on a bright and warm day, made even more so by the fellowship shared by the pilgrims at one of the holiest sites in England. After an early coach ride, the pilgrims spent the late morning exploring the grounds of the Basilica and visiting the Slipper Chapel, a place of worship which dates back to the Middle Ages. Many also took up the opportunity to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation outside in the September sunshine. In this time of quiet and prayerful reflection, individuals were able to light candles and pray for their own personal intentions, before gathering together for the open-air Pilgrim Mass in the Basilica.
Before the Mass started, the gathered pilgrims prayed the unique Litany of Our Lady of Walsingham, a fitting prequel to a Mass which was celebrated in her honour. Cardinal Vincent presided and focused his homily on the role of Mary. He told the pilgrims ‘We owe Mary our loyalty and our love’ and we should strive to ‘do our best to call other people to her side, because there is room for everyone there.’
The warm weather and green surroundings created a perfect backdrop for a picnic lunch. In the afternoon, the pilgrims processed along the Holy Mile from the Slipper Chapel to Little Walsingham. The Holy Mile marks the final mile of the ancient pilgrimage route to the Holy House in Walsingham, where Our Lady appeared to noblewoman Richeldis de Faverches in 1061. Pilgrims carried banners representing their parish groups and recited the Rosary as they processed along the Holy Mile. As they walked, the pilgrims also sang ‘Ave, Ave, Ave Maria’.
The day culminated with Adoration and Benediction in the Priory grounds.