“Offer it up!” – Pro-Life pilgrims undaunted by rain at Walsingham.
“What are you going to do about getting wet today? Moan and groan or offer it up?” asked Shrine Rector Monsignor John Armitage to the pilgrims crammed into the basilica, many of them standing. The heavy rain had prevented anyone sitting outdoors and indeed some pilgrims were in the adjoining halls where the Mass was relayed to them.
To add to the inclement weather, Bishop Mark O’Toole of Plymouth, who was to have been the celebrant and give the homily, was unwell. He had sent his homily to Monsignor John and it was duly read out. It had a strong pro-life message, asking us to do whatever we could to support the most vulnerable in our society. Particularly moving was an account Bishop Mark gave of a lady who had come to him having had an abortion ten years earlier, who wished to name and seek forgiveness from her baby, and whom he was able to help.
The weather meant that the whole day’s events were different from previous years. Fr Jeremy Davies led the Stations of the Cross inside the basilica. Disappointly for some, the Holy Mile was reported to be flooded in places and therefore not suitable for walking. The pilgrims joined their coaches straight after Adoration and Benediction and were driven to the coach park in the village. From there, if they wished, they were able to walk the last few hundred yards to the Priory for the last two Sorrowful Mysteries before boarding their coaches for the journey home.
As always, the Guardians of the Shrine in Bedford had been invited to bring the Miraculous Relic Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe to Walsingham for the Pilgrimage. This year because of the rain, the Relic Image was situated within the basilica, and a very long, orderly queue lined up to venerate. Several Guardians assisted with this, and they were joined for the first time by Deacon Kevin Ryan who is now on the clergy team at the Shrine in Bedford.
As in previous years, coaches had come from afar afield as Leeds and Herne Bay, various parts of London and many other places. Despite the rain, spirits were high and everyone went home refreshed and inspired by Our Lady.