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Saturday, September 23, 2017

After Centuries of Exile, a Grey Friar Returns to Walsingham


Once more at Walsingham Friary, if now to an open sky, the Blessed Sacrament was held aloft.
 
If you have ever visited Walsingham, England’s National Marian Shrine, you may have seen the poignant sight of a ruined friary standing upon a small hill just outside the village. It forms part of a private property now, and so is not normally accessible to the public.

At the entrance gate, one July day, there stood a figure dressed in dark gray, a member of the Order of Friars Minor Conventual, more commonly known as Grey Friars. This was the order that used to live and worship at the Walsingham Friary centuries earlier.

The Grey Friar in question was Fr. James Mary. Each day of his Walsingham pilgrimage, he would stand at the gate that leads to the ruins. He would gaze upon the ruined friary offering supplication for the friars buried there, and also for those who had caused the destruction of this once holy place. He also offered a unique prayer for a specific intention: namely that, one day, the Grey Friars would return to Walsingham.

Upon his arrival in the village, I had noted this friar. With Fr. James Mary, it was immediately observable how he talked to everyone and anyone he met, to say nothing of his gift for disarming even the most confirmed atheist. There was the woman who owns a local teashop. No believer, she was obviously so charmed by the tall, gentle friar who came each day for coffee that when the friar offered to bless her shop, she agreed. Perhaps she thought: ‘Why not?’ The day after she had something to tell the friar. He could ‘bless her shop any day’ because following its blessing, the teashop had enjoyed its busiest custom yet.

It was not just shops that were blessed; souls were touched. I saw pregnant women upon the street having their unborn babies very gently but very publicly blessed. Seemingly, no one refused Fr. James Mary’s offer to impart a blessing. Some, I know, were non-believers; some were Anglicans; many were Catholics.

Read more at National Catholic Register >>

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