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Why Walsingham?

The Shrine of Our Lady at Walsingham was established in 1061, in response to an vision in which Our Lady led a woman named Richeldis in spirit to Nazareth, showed her the house where the Annunciation occurred, and asked her to build a replica in Walsingham to serve as a perpetual memorial of the Annunciation. Since then it has become one of the UK's primary pilgrimage sites, loved throughout the country and abroad. Indeed, Walsingham became one of the greatest Shrines in Medieval Christendom, when England was known as Our Lady's Dowry.

In 1538 the Reformation compelled Walsingham to be handed over to the King's Commission, and the statue of Our Lady is believed to have been taken to London and burnt. All pilgrimage stopped and devotion was necessarily secret until the emancipation in 1829 when Catholics were once again allowed to publicly express their faith.

In 1896, the Slipper Chapel - the last of the Wayside Chapels on the way to Walsingham - was purchased for Catholic use. It became once more a sight of Pilgrimage, and this is the main focus of Catholic devotion today. As England's only approved Apparition site, Walsingham is a site of special significance for Catholics in the UK. It is both extremely English and extremely Catholic, which is beautiful.

During WWII, Walsingham was a restricted zone and closed to visitors, but many service men and women showed interest in the Shrine. On May 17th 1945, the American Forces organised the first Mass in the Priory grounds since the Reformation. It is, then, a site of particular significance for Military Catholics. The weight of the history is heavy, and prayers said here have real depth.

The first Pilgrimage the CMA undertook was to Walsingham, and our links to the Shrine remain strong. To have the opportunity to go on Pilgrimage to Walsingham as UK Military Catholics is profound, and to have the Bishop of the Forces agree to Consecrate the CMA to Our Lady in this historic site is a great Grace. ☩

A Member of the CMA undertaking the pilgrimage walk between Little Walsingham and the Slipper Chapel barefoot, as is traditional, during the CMA's first pilgrimage in 2019.

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