Hot date at Walsingham
Posted: 02 Nov 2006 @ 00:00
by Glyn Paflin
THOUSANDS of pilgrims thronged to Walsingham on Monday, when the Archbishop
of Canterbury preached at the National Pilgrimage, led the singing of the
Angelus, and gave benediction with the Blessed Sacrament at the Anglican
The Shrine authorities’ estimate was of 4000 people around the Abbey
grounds, where 17 bishops attended the concelebrated mass led by the Bishop in
Europe, Dr Geoffrey Rowell, for the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
To mark the Archbishop’s visit, commenorative mugs were on sale in the
Shrine shop; and Dr Williams was applauded when the Revd Philip North, the
Shrine Administrator, observed that, though some of Dr Williams’s predecessors
had been to Walsingham, "never before has a pilgrim been made Archbishop of
Canterbury. You are an inspiration to us all as the leader of our Church."
Dr Williams urged the pilgrims to give more room in their lives to God. They
would be "magnified", he said, "not by rushing around in panic defending
ourselves and standing on our dignity, but by being still enough to reflect and
absorb the light flowing from God the Holy Trinity, something so wonderful that
it can put into perspective the fears and pettinesses that we think are real
Then: "At a time when we are forced to confront daily the images of wilful
human blasphemy against the image of God in others . . . we need to hear Our
Lady’s challenge: she sings for the insulted and injured everywhere — in Iraq
and Zimbabwe and her own Holy Land.
"And she calls us in her Son’s name not only to be still and let God flower
in us, but to let God’s justice work in us and through us also, as we seek to
make room for each other with love and respect in our tormented and petrified
There were three "Rs", he said. "Relate — be in the company of God and God’s
friends to be reminded of what faith is; relinquish — let go of what stops you
being human, fear and prejudice, and the longing to be known to be always in
the right; receive — welcome with gratitude and reverence what God gives you
through each other, through friend and stranger."
By common consent, this year’s programme was improved by the introduction of
a lunch interval after the mass. It lent an appearance of Glyndebourne to
"Stiffkey’s fair vale", as picnics unfolded at leisure in the Abbey grounds.
Umbrellas were brought out as protection from the sunshine, which relented only
when the day’s devotions were over.
By then, the small group of Protestants with placards, whose witness by the
village pump this year was subdued, had melted away, leaving some of The Bull’s
most splendidly attired customers in possession of the Common Place.