Our Lady of Walsingham
Apparition of Our Lady that appeared and asked for a replica of the Holy Family’s house to be built in Walsingham, England
Feast Day, September 24
In 1061, Richeldis de Faverches a rich young widow, prayed for guidance in how she might honor Our Lady. Mary appeared to Faverches and took her in spirit to Nazareth and asked her to build a replica of the Holy Family’s house. Based on the dimensions given by Mary, Faverches scouted her property for a suitable location to build the house and soon hired workers to construct it, however they were unsuccessful in building the walls. After praying for help one evening, Faverches awoke to find the house moved to another empty spot on her property, more expertly constructed that what the previous craftsmen had been able to accomplish.
A ballad written the 14th century gives the most details of the apparition, the building process and the numerous miracles that occurred at the site.
Walsingham, ‘in thee is built New Nazareth’ Where shall be held in a memorial The great joy of my salutation, First of my joys, their foundation and origin Root of mankind’s gracious redemption, When Gabriel gave me this news: To be a Mother through humility And God’s Son conceive in virginity.
In 1145, the son of Faverches prepared to leave for the Crusades and left the house and grounds to his chaplain. The chaplain brought in the Augustine Cannons to help manage the property and in 1150 they built a priory. Two hundred years later they built a much larger priory and in the mid-14th century a chapel was built around the Holy Family’s house to protect it. A statue of Our Lady was added next to the altar at this time. Dutch historian Erasmus visited Walsingham in 1513 and wrote:
When you look in you would say it is the abode of saints, so brilliantly does it shine with gems, gold and silver … Our Lady stands in the dark at the right side of the altar … a little image, remarkable neither for its size, material or workmanship.
Unfortunately, despite the popularity of the pilgrimage site through the centuries, it was dissolved in July 1538 under the reign of Henry VIII. The statute of Our Lady was taken to London and burned along with religious images from other Catholic churches and religious houses. By August the priory, chapel, and house had been looted and burnt to the ground.
Devotion to Our Lady of Walsingham was not revived until after the Act of Emancipation of 1829 which finally allowed Catholics to openly practice their faith in England. A small chapel, one mile from the priory, had been a stop for pilgrims traveling to Walsingham. Since the destruction of the shrine, it had been used for various secular purposes, including as a barn, but in 1897 Pope Leo XIII re-established the chapel as a Catholic shrine, now known as the National Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham. The statue depicting Our Lady of Walsingham (as seen above) is based on a medieval seal of the priory. While all that exists of the orignal priory and pilgrimage grounds is a priory arch, the outline of the church and priory are marked on the ground for pilgrims to give an idea of the size. They are currently maintained by the Marist Fathers.
Litany of Our Lady of Walsingham
Our Lady of Walsingham, pray the Lord for us.
Mary conceived without sin, pray the Lord for us.
Mary the Virgin, pray the Lord for us.
Mary, the Mother of God, pray the Lord for us.
Mary, taken up to Heaven, pray the Lord for us.
Mary at Bethlehem, pray for all mothers.
Mary at Nazareth, pray for all families.
Mary at Cana, pray for all married couples.
Mary, who stood by the Cross, pray for all who suffer.
Mary in the Upper Room, pray for all who wait.
Mary, model of womanhood, pray for all women.
Woman of faith, keep us in mind.
Woman of hope, keep us in mind.
Woman of charity, keep us in mind.
Woman of suffering, keep us in mind.
Woman of anxiety, keep us in mind.
Woman of humility, keep us in mind.
Woman of poverty, keep us in mind.
Woman of purity, keep us in mind.
Woman of obedience, keep us in mind.
Woman who wondered, remember us to God.
Woman who listened, remember us to God.
Woman who followed, remember us to God.
Woman who longed for Him, remember us to God.
Woman who loved Him, remember us to God.
Our Lady of Walsingham, pray the Lord for us. (…)
Mother of God, be our mother always.
Mother of the Church, be our mother always.
Mother of the world, be our mother always.
Mother we need, be our mother always.
Mother who went on believing, we thank God for you.
Mother who never lost hope, we thank God for you.
Mother who loved to the end, we thank God for you.
All holy and ever-living God, in giving us Jesus Christ to be our Savior and Brother, you gave us Mary, His Mother, to be our Mother also. Grant, we pray you, that we may be worthy of so great a Brother and so dear a Mother. May we come at last to you the Father of us all through Jesus Christ your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever.
Next up- Our Lady of La Vang, Vietnam!