Today is a very special day for the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, since we mark the Solemnity of Our Lady of Walsingham.
Those who have come into the Catholic Church from the Church of England will usually have an existing devotion to Our Lady of Walsingham, and will have visited the Anglican Shrine and most probably the Catholic Shrine too, the Slipper Chapel, on a number of occasions. Devotion to Our Lady of Walsingham is something that is most definitely not unfamiliar to former Anglo-Catholics.
Indeed, when I was one of those running the Facebook site of St Mary's Bourne Street, I posted some albums that highlighted some of the strong connections that had existed between St Mary's and Walsingham. The two albums in question are of Fr Humphrey Whitby and of Lord Halifax.
Here is a hymn called Mary of Walsingham, sung a few years ago by the choir of the Anglican Parish Church in Wantage, Oxfordshire.
This year, the annual Pilgrimage of Reparation and Consecration in Walsingham was joined by a large number of members of the Ordinariate, and was led by Monsignor Newton.
Here is a link to a very informative set of personal reflections on that day written by Angela Moffat, the organiser of the pilgrimage. In particular, it shows that there is more to Anglican Patrimony than singing hymns, and that perhaps one of the things that former Anglicans can bring is a familiarity with certain devotional practices that have somehow retained greater popularity in Anglo-Catholic circles than they have managed to do in the wider Catholic Church that gave birth to them.
Angela Moffatt's reflections also include an account of the moment when the Pilgrimage reached the Anglican Shrine. The Anglican Shrine was of course very familiar to many of the Ordinariate members on the pilgrimage, and by all accounts it seems that many felt deeply moved by what was happening. A joint prayer service was held with our Anglican friends, and the rite of sprinkling was carried out. All prayed for the Unity of Christians.
Photos of the Ordinariate's Pilgrimage of Reconciliation to Walsingham
Pope Leo XIII, who authorised the re-opening of the Slipper Chapel as the Catholic Shrine in Walsingham in 1894, prophesied that "When England goes back to Walsingham, Our Lady will come back to England." Let us pray for the Unity of all Christians, and that aided by the unending intercession of Our Most Blessed Mother, Our Lady of Walsingham, England may once again be known as Our Lady's Dowry.
It now seems appropriate to provide a link to this footage of Pope Leo XIII in 1896, accompanied by a recording of him chanting the Ave Maria.
Last but not least, if you are in or near Oxford, don't forget that the Oxford Ordinariate Group is marking today's Solemnity with a special programme of events.
Oxford Ordinariate - Solemnity of Our Lady of Walsingham
O Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, Our Lady of Walsingham, Mother of Reconciliation, pray for us.