ACC Parishes in US and UK celebrate Walsingham Pilgrimage

June 15, 2015 by Jonathan Foggin

Members of Our Lady and St Edward carry the Madonna and Child at the 2015 UK Walsingham Pilgrimage.

Earlier this month, a congregation of Anglicans from the Mission of Our Lady and St Edward, Bolton, Lancashire, went on pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham.  In doing so they followed the paths that countless British Christians have trod since the shrine to the Virgin Mary and her Son was first founded in 1061.  

The Holy House of Walsingham was, for nearly five-hundred years, one of the most important pilgrimage sites in the British Isles, rivalled only by Thomas à Becket's shrine in Canterbury.  Though the Augustinian Priory that housed the objects of veneration was plundered at the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1537, the shrine was refounded by the Roman Church in 1897, and by the Church of England in 1931 under the direction of Father Alfred Hope Patten.

Father Howard Marsh, Priest in Charge of the Bolton Mission, who led the Pilgrimage writes:

We were once more as a party, and myself as a priest warmly welcomed to the Shrine of Walsingham for our three day Pilgrimage last week. Being there is a highlight of the year - to be in England's Nazareth one more, but to attend the Service of Reconciliation on the Tuesday and the torch light procession on the Wednesday evening are such beautiful experiences for any pilgrim, that no matter how many times you are there the Holy Spirit really comes to the hearts and minds of the congregation assembled.

Also joining in the Walsingham celebrations was the Parish of St. James in, Cleveland, Ohio.  In 1923, Canon Vivian Peterson, then rector of St. James, made his first pilgrimage to the Walsingham shrine, where he became a close friend of Father Patten.  This friendship developed to the point that during World War II, Father Patten charged Canon Peterson with the restoration of the Shrine, in the event that it was destroyed by German bombs. 

While this proved not to be necessary, Canon Peterson later oversaw the erection of an image of Our Lady of Walsingham in St. James Church, and instituted a US pilgrimage that has taken place at St. James every year.  The 51st Annual US pilgrimage occurred on June 2nd, and was attended by  Archbishop Mark Haverland.