England: Pilgrimage to Walsingham
On March 19-20, 2018, Friar Marco TASCA, the Minister General, Friar Jude WINKLER, the Assistant General for the Conventual Franciscan Federation (CFF), Friar Ciprian BUDĂU, the Custos of the Provincial Custody of Blessed Agnellus of Pisa in Great Britain-Ireland and several friars and postulants from the formation community in Oxford made a pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham in East Anglia, England.
This is England’s national Marian Shrine, dating back to 1061. All of the English monarchs up to and including Henry VIII made a pilgrimage to this shrine.
The friars established a large friary there in the 14th century to host pilgrims, and they remained there for almost two centuries until the dissolution of religious houses under Henry VIII. This past fall, the friars of the Custody accepted the invitation of Monsignor John Armitage, the director of the Shrine, to come to Walsingham and serve the pastoral needs of the pilgrims coming from all over England to this famous historic shrine. The first friars will shortly arrive to host pilgrimages, celebrate Mass, listen to confessions, work with the local Travelers community, etc.
The Minister General and the other friars made the pilgrimage to Walsingham to pray for the blessing of this new initiative through the intercession of St. Joseph (on whose feast day they arrived in Walsingham) and the Blessed Virgin Mary. The main devotion of the Shrine is the Joy of Our Lady at the Incarnation of Jesus. In times past, pilgrims would visit the holy house which replicated the house of the Holy Family in Nazareth and they would venerate the statue of Our Lady of Walsingham.
There is both a Catholic and an Anglican worship site in Walsingham. It is hoped Walsingham will serve as a center for ecumenical dialogue under the guidance of Our Lady.
Friar Jude WINKLER, Assistant General for the CFF