Monday, May 14, 2018

Our Lady of Walsingham

 The Blessed Mother has numerous titles to extoll her divine attributes. Many derive from Church-approved apparitions.  
In England  there is only one title to honor Mary based on an apparition-related occurrence in 1061.   It was then that Lady Richeldis de Faverches prayed to God asking how she should honor the Blessed Mother.

The story goes that Our Blessed Mother took her in spirit to Nazareth, showing her the house where the Angel Gabriel announced Mary would be the mother of Jesus and also where the Holy Family lived.  Our Blessed Mother asked that a replica of the house be built in Walsingham, England, promising that  “Whoever seeks my help there will not go away empty-handed.”  
Richeldis was a wealthy young widow able to afford to have the house built. Word of her mystical experience spread quickly. People came from all around to see the house which soon became known as the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham
Many miracles were reported at the Shrine. In 1340, the ,  Slipper Chapelwas built one mile from the Shrine so that pilgrims would stop there to leave their shoes and walk barefoot the final “Holy Mile,” to the Shrine.
For centuries, even the kings of England came to the house where miracles were reported.  In 1226, King Henry III visited, and King Edward I visited eleven times. King Henry VIII also came in 1511. But during his later anger at the Church for not receiving an annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon when he wanted to marry Anne Boleyn, he took revenge at anyone and anything connected to Rome. 
Declaring himself the head of the Church in England, King Henry VIII proceeded  in serial adultery, putting wives to death to make way for the next one while also killing thousands of priests, bishops and faithful Catholics who refused to give up their faith.  He also set fire to the  Shrine of Walsingham which by then included the Slipper Chapel, a Franciscan monastery, and statue of Our Lady.  Thus began the English Reformation. (Strange that later historical reflection did not deem such start as reason to nullify Anglicanism a not from God.) 
At any rate, nearly 900 years after the apparition, on February 6, 1897, a wealthy woman named Charlotte Boyd began restoration of the shrine. On August 15, 1934,  Mass was offered in the chapel. Shortly thereafter, Cardinal Francis Bourne led 10,000 people on a  pilgrimage to the chapel and declared it to be the Catholic National Shrine of Our Lady. 
Four popes recognized Our Lady of Walsingham  through pontifical approbation: Pope Leo XIII, in 1897; Pope Pius XII, in 1954; Pope St. John Paul II, in 1982; and Pope Francis, in 2015.
Our Lady of Walshingham in U.S.
In the United States  there is a replica of the house at  Our Lady of Walsingham Catholic Church and Shrineunder the Chair of St. Peter, in Houston, Texas.The church’s founding came about under the Pastoral Provision established by St. John Paul II in 1980 which allowed Anglicans to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church, while preserving some of their unique liturgical traditions. Their website explains: “This certainly was a welcome development for Anglo-Catholics. Anglicanism's drift from Christian orthodoxy accelerated substantially throughout the 20th century, and the 1976 General Convention allowing for the ordination of women was the last straw for many Anglo-Catholics. Among those who perceived that Anglicanism was lost at sea were the founders of Our Lady of Walsingham parish. In the end, the 1976 convention and the 1980 Pastoral Provision finally showed many of them that communion with St. Peter was their only safe harbor. “
The website also explains: “The Shrine is a place where the mystery of the Annunciation, the ‘root of mankind's graci ous redemption,’ will be remembered.  It is also a place of veneration of the Holy Family as an example of the sanctity of family life.  It is a place that calls the family to come out of the "...contemporary decadence and modern secularism to return to the Holy House of Nazareth that our homes might become what they are called to be:  'the domestic church.'"  
Our Lady of Walsingham is remembered by Roman Catholics on 24 September and by Anglicans on 15 October.  Read about the sequence of events at  The Miracle Hunter, and for more information on Our Lady of Walsingham, go Our Lady of Walsingham here.
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