Friday 25 January 2019

Message of Walsingham - R.W. Connelly - CTS Christian Shrines Series

Message of Walsingham
The Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham
CTS Christian Shrines Series
R.W. Connelly
Catholic Truth Society
ISBN 9781860820304
eISBN 9781784693565
CTS Booklet D646

This book was originally written in 1973 and was expanded in 1998 and again in 2015. Some of the expansions are devotional guides and collection of prayers. Of all the Marian shrines in the CTS Christian Shrines Series or even the pilgrimage sites with the subtitle ‘A Pilgrim's Companion’ this book is about the location I am least familiar with. And that might be the reason I start with this book. I wanted to approach the series and this book with fresh eyes. I am thankful for the book and this message contained.

The sections in this book are:

Walsingham Ever Ancient - Ever New

     Origins Of Walsingham
     Growth Of Walsingham
     The Dowry Of Mary
     The Reformation
     The Desolation
     1897: Annus Mirabilis
Modern Times
     First National Pilgrimage
     England’s National Shrine
     Years Of Progress
     Slipper Chapel Statue
     Site Of The Original Shrine
Devotions For Pilgrimage

     Departure For A Safe Pilgrimage
     During The Journey And On The Holy Mile
     Visit To The Holy Ghost Chapel
     Visit To The Slipper Chapel
     Visit To The Chapel Of Reconciliation
Message Of Walsingham
     Mary Of Nazareth
     The Word Of God
     What Do Pilgrims Seek?
     Walsingham Today
     Walsingham Association

I was fascinated to read about the history of Walsingham. Some of the history that was of particular interest was:

“Walsingham has been a place of pilgrimage since 1061. This is the traditional date and is based upon the statement in the Pynson Ballad published in the last years of the fifteenth century.

In that year, when St Edward the Confessor was King of England, five years before the Norman Conquest, a lady of the village, Richeldis de Faverches, received a vision from Our Lady. The Pynson Ballad relates how Richeldis was ‘led in spirit’ to the Holy Land and shown the house where Mary was told she was to be the Mother of God. Richeldis was then requested by Our Lady to build another house like this at Walsingham and was promised: ‘Whoever seeks my help there will not go away empty-handed’.

This vision is the start of the Walsingham story. It shows that Mary herself selected Walsingham as a holy place, and invited people to visit her and seek her aid.”


“For over 350 years Walsingham was to be a land of desolation. With the Priory in ruins, the village seemed to forget its religious heritage. The vast majority of Englishmen had no interest in Our Lady of Walsingham. Even many Catholics through the difficult days of persecution found it difficult to preserve the memory of a shrine they could not visit. Yet it is remarkable that despite all the vicissitudes of English Catholics they never completely forgot the Lady of Walsingham.”

I am very intrigued by the resurrection of this shrine and pilgrimage site. Also, of the dray not only to Catholics but those of the Anglican persuasions. It is interesting that the current shrine is not on the original site, but near by. The original site being under private ownership. We are told:

“There has been some discussion in recent years as to whether the present Shrine should be sited in the Slipper Chapel, which after all is one mile outside Walsingham. At one time it was understood that this was merely a temporary site and that eventually the Shrine would return to Walsingham.

Perhaps in the distant future it will be possible for the Shrine to return to the village, but for the moment it is accepted that there are no practical possibilities for this. The cost of a new shrine would be prohibitive; the provision of land impossible. The old Catholic dream of rebuilding on the ancient site remains a dream. The Priory is in private hands and the owner has no wish to sell his family home.

It may be that future generations will have the privilege of restoring Our Lady to her old home, but in the meantime development will continue at the Slipper Chapel. It will not be in vain. No matter what the future may hold, the Slipper Chapel will always be a place for pilgrims to congregate either as the centre of the Shrine or as the starting point for processions into Walsingham.”

I have never been to Walsingham and have not been to the UK in almost 30 years. The section of prayers to be used while on pilgrimage and on site are intriguing. I copied the Prayer of Erasmus to my prayer journal and see my self praying it often. But even with never expecting to visit this shrine I have been blessed and benefited from reading this book.

The CTS Christian Shrines Series seems to have two main styles of books. Pilgrimage companions and books focusing on the message from the shrine. This book is from the second category. I loved reading this book and look forward to exploring more in the Christian Shrines Series.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2019 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.

Other Books in the CTS Christian Shrines Series:
Message of Assisi
Message of Fatima
Message of Guadalupe
Message of Walsingham
Santiago: Santiago de Compostela - The Pilgrim Way of St James

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