"His mercy is from age to age ..."
When Elizabeth greeted Mary with the words, "Of all women you are the most blessed" (Luke 1: 42), she responded by proclaiming the Magnificat. The Magnificat is a collection of the Old Testament verses expressing the hope of the poor and downtrodden that God will fulfill the promises he made to their ancestors.
We fly to thy protection, O holy Mother of God. Despise not our petitions in our necessities, but deliver us from all dangers O glorious and blessed Virgin. Amen.
Today, on the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, a novena to Our Lady Of Walsingham begins. For the Catholic Church in England, Our Lady, under this title is especially relevant today.
Mgr Armitage, rector of the Catholic Walsingham Shrine said according to one report, “It is hoped that through this novena every part of the Church in England and Wales will deeply embrace Our Lady of Walsingham as the powerful intercessor for these lands.
It was a chance, he said, to reclaim “the great spiritual heritage which is ours of being the Dowry of Mary.”
Walsingham's Novena Invitation
This Novena in honour of Our Lady of Walsingham is the beginning of a National Novena of Prayer for our country which will help us prepare spiritually for the re-dedication of England as the Dowry of Mary in 2020 on the Solemnity of the Annunciation.
It may be prayed at any time, but especially in preparation for and celebration of the Feast of Our Lady of Walsingham on the 24th September, before a pilgrimage to Walsingham, and to prepare for the Feast of the Annunciation.
The Walsingham novena begins with the Annunciation, then each day after, introduces a different mystery in the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary as presented in the mysteries of the rosary. View the novena booklet below or read it online.
About Our Lady of Walsingham
From the website we read that "Our Lady when she appeared in Walsingham in 1061 asked that a replica of the Holy House of the Annunciation, the very first of her JOYS, be built in Walsingham as an everlasting memorial to the great moment when the Angel Gabriel brought the glad tidings that she was to be the Mother of God’s Son. Our Lady also promised 'that all who would seek me there in that little house” would be consoled and help given. So let us ask and place great trust in her powerful intercession with God. Our Blessed Lady of Walsingham knows before we even ask, our needs, our hopes and our desires. Our Lady is waiting to grant you many graces and blessings during this time of Novena and preparation for her Feast.'"
Another site explains that "Devotion to Our Lady of Walsingham is always centered on the Mystery of the Annunciation. It was at the Annunciation that Our Lady accepted God's invitation to be the Mother of God, the Theotokos. She gave herself over to God's will and conceived by the Holy Spirit. By this same Holy Spirit Mary always leads us to Jesus, and her prayers help us say "yes" to God's will in our lives even as she did at the Annunciation." link
The Two Walsinghams
It would be good to note here that there are TWO Walsingham Shrines, one belongs to the Roman Catholic Church and this is where the Slipper Chapel is located. "In 1538, After King Henry VIII's English Reformation, the chapel fell into disuse and was variously used as a poor house, a forge, a cowshed and a barnIn 1863, the chapel was identified by a wealthy local woman, Miss Charlotte Pearson Boyd (1837–1906), a convert to Catholicism from Anglicanism. She bought the building from the farm owner in 1896, restored it and then donated the chapel to Downside Abbey for Catholic use."
An Informational plaque located within the original slipper chapel explains:
The Shrine's Demise During the Reformation Period
The horrific persecution of Catholics which included but was not limited to the selling off or destruction of their holy sites and churches, had begun even earlier than the suppression of the Walsingham priory which happened in 1538, under the supervision of Sir Roger Townshend, a local landowner.
The statue of great revere, as shown in the badge above, was described as "a wooden image carved in Oberammergau, Germany, and was once associated with the Virgin of Mercy under the venerated Marian title of Our Lady of Ransom, sometimes locally worded as "Our Lady of the Dowry". The popularity of the Marian cult gradually localized the place of devotion as "Our Lady of Walsingham".
What happened to it?
John Hussey wrote to Lord Lisle in 1538: "July 18th: This day our late Lady of Walsingham (the statue of great revere) was brought to Lambhithe (Lambeth) where was both my Lord Chancellor and my Lord Privy Seal, with many virtuous prelates, but there was offered neither oblation nor candle: what shall become of her is not determined." Two chroniclers, Hall and Speed, suggest that the actual burning did not take place until September.
Rediscovery of it's Catholic Heritage
During a period of religious fervor and rediscovery, the Church of England (the Anglican Church), established a new Walsingham Shrine beginning about 1921 to serve their community and draw pilgrims.
The Anglican Walsingham Shrine is much larger (because the Church of England has deeper pockets) and it is quite lovely. You will even find statues of Catholic saints like St Therese of Lisieux and St John Vianney. I found that confusing at first although not surprising. After all, the Catholic great has great saints; worthy of emulation by all.
Although appearances might suggest otherwise, the Anglican and Episcopalian eucharistic theology is not the same as that of Roman Catholicism and there is no inter-communion between Catholics and Anglicans or Episcopalians.
On the Anglicans grounds, there is also now an Orthodox presence and was part of an outreach initiative begun many decades ago. All of this gets rather complicated and I would need to complete an additional post. You can begin by reading a summary in Wikipedia.
"Our Lady when she appeared in Walsingham in 1061 asked that a replica of the Holy House of the Annunciation, the very first of her JOYS, be built in Walsingham as an everlasting memorial to the great moment when the Angel Gabriel brought the glad tidings that she was to be the Mother of God’s Son. Our Lady also promised 'that all who would seek me there in that little house” would be consoled and help given.' " One such replica was constructed within the Anglican Walsingham Shrine (shown above) and the Slipper Chapel was once part of a larger complex.
"Let us remember the famous Prophecy of Pope Leo 13th when he signed the rescript for the Restoration of the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham in 1897: 'When England goes back to Walsingham, Our Lady will come back to England'. "
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