Page 6, 2nd September 1938

2nd September 1938
Page 6
Page 6, 2nd September 1938 — CONFUSION OF THE TWO SHRINES OF ALSINGHAM
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CONFUSION OF THE TWO SHRINES OF ALSINGHAM

Anglo-Catholic Reply SIR.—May I add a few words to what has already been so well expressed by Mr. M. W. Burns in regard to the urgent need to clear up the misunderstanding and confusion which have arisen in connection with the various shrines of Our Lady of Walsingham-Catholic and Anglican?

In my ignorance of the topography of this corner of Norfolk I consulted a map before making my first visit to this district. Having discovered that there are two adjacent villages—Great Walsingham and Little Walsingham, and having noted in the Post Office Guide that the former is officially known as Old Walsingham, which gave me the impression that this must be the site of the pre-Reformation priory, I arrived at this sleepy hamlet where the only shrine seemed to be a Non-conformist chapel, and whose fine old parish church was locked up. On inquiry from one of the natives I learned that I had come to the wrong village, and was directed to Little Walsingham, which proved to be about three-quarters of a mile away.

Here I was immediately confronted by an imposing-looking building which, having entered and gazed around, I naturally mistook for the Catholic shrine, for who like myself, being brought up in the Household of the Faith, with little or no experience of the many shades of English Protestantism, would have guessed that there would be a replica of the Santa Casa of Loreto in an Anglican church, or that there would be fifteen altars dedicated to the mysteries of the Rosary? Even more liable to mislead rue was a Latin inscription which stated that this building had been erected in the pontificate of Pius Xl. It was only later that I discovered my mistake.

I continued my tour of Little Walsingham, visited the scanty ruins of the ancient priory where once stood the shrine described by Erasmus, and then to my delight discovered the humble chapel dedicated to St. Aelred, the Cistercian abbot of Rievaulx, located in an upper room of the dwelling house at present occupied by the Capuchin Franciscan fathers. Here I found a very devotional shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham, and felt that at last I had reached the goal of my pilgrimage.

But I was told that I must now visit the Slipper Chapel, and this turned out to be more than a mile and a half from Little Walsingham, a pilgrimage in itself on that hot afternoon, for one who is getting on in years—since my friends had dropped me in their car at Great Walsingham and was to meet them on their return later on in the evening. Having reached the tiny village of Houghton St. Giles, I paid my devotions at this other shrine of Our Lady in the lovely little chapel which has now come back into Catholic ownership.

Since that afternoon I have read that there is yet one more shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham—this to be found in the Catholic church at Kings Lynn. Some of my friends tell me that the " official " shrine is the one at Houghton, others that it is at Kings Lynn, but in your current issue I see that " a new Franciscan pilgrim church and basilica " are to be erected in Walsingham itself. So I am more confused than ever. Our Lady of Walsingham would certainly seem to be gifted with the power of bilocation!

MIDDLE-AGED PILGRIM.

The Official Anglican View SIR,—In reply to Mr. M. W. Burns's letter in the CATHOLIC HERALD. I hasten to state how anxious we all are to clear up any confusion which exists between the two Shrines of our Lady of Walsingham. There has been some difficulty in deciding upon a form to be placed upon the road signs. which both Roman and English Catholics could accept without sacrificing what each considered to be important principles; if in this case we would not agree to " Anglican," neither would your representatives put up " Roman Catholic " to distinguish the Shrine at the Slipper Chapel!

However a solution has now been found. That confusion still exists to some extent is inevitable so long as Roman Catholics continue to write of the Slipper Chapel as if it is in Walsingham, and not, as Mr. Burns points out, in another village separated from Walsingham by a mile of open country.

Moreover the Shrine in Walsingham was rebuilt and in use three years before the Slipper Chapel was opened as your Shrine, while ours has from the beginning been known, written and spoken of as " the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham."

Forgive me for saying that I fear you have come rather late into the field, and it seems to many that you are " pirating " I title which was in use by Anglicans in Walsingham a dozen years or more before any Roman Catholics revived the Shrine here.

When, and if, we set up a chapel at Barsham, we certainly shall not call it " the Slipper Chapel. Houghton," neither if we translate the Shrine to St. Giles. Houghton, should we designate it " The Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham," since that is the title you use at Houghton. If you wish to avoid confusion this can be done by using your official title, " Woman Catholic Shrine " and the name " Houghton."

A. HOPE PATER,

Administrator of the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham. Walsingham, Norfolk.

V. Rather late into the field " seems an odd way of putting it. The Priory WA, founded by St. Edward the Confessor an,' IIP chapel of Our lady of Walsingham confirmed a century later to the Augustin jai) Canons—the latter sound " Roman " Catholic anough.—Eneroal




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