The statue of Our Lady of Walsingham has been at our cathedral as part of a tour of England. St Clare's called in to see her!
The shrine at Walsingham is almost a thousand years old. In 1061 a local lady, Richeldis de Faverches, had a vision in which Mary showed her the holy house at Nazareth where the Annunciation had taken place. She told Richeldis to build a replica of the house, and over the years this replica became one of Europe's most important shrines. For over three hundred years after the Reformation the shrine was all but forgotten, but in the last century or so pilgrims have been returning to Walsingham, which is England's national shrine of Our Lady.
The 'Dowry Tour' which has been taking place over the last eighteen months is in preparation for the rededication of England to Our Lady at the end of March. Visiting all the Catholic cathedrals of the land, the statue draws us to come close to Mary and ask her intercession for our own needs, for our country and for our Church. We are also encouraged to imitate her faithfulness and openness to God's will.
On Friday morning Year 5 from our primary school joined several hundred pupils from other schools in the diocese, spending time praying by the statue and learning more about Our Lady and about the history of Walsingham. It was great to see the children so enthusiastic and respectful around the cathedral. They then attended the lunchtime Mass.
In the evening the rest of the parish had chance to call in, and a coach load headed to Lancaster for the evening Mass. After time for some private prayers and to look at the exhibition accompanying the tour, we gathered for a short time of prayer together at Our Lady's statue. It was a very peaceful and grace-filled time for all of us who were able to go, and we prayed for our whole parish community.