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Saturday, August 26, 2017

A Protestant Pilgrimage to the Marian Shrine of Walsingham

Pope Leo XIII memorably stated that when England returns to Walsingham, Our Lady would return to England.

In the east of England lies its National Marian Shrine, Walsingham. From the Middle Ages it was a place of pilgrimage until Henry VIII suppressed the shrine. Forgotten for centuries, it was restored in the 20th Century. Today, it is a place of pilgrimage for Catholics, Anglicans and Orthodox Christians.

Walsingham boasts not one shrine but two – Catholic and Anglican. Despite ecumenical relations, each shrine, needless to say, attracts different pilgrims. It is the Anglican presence, however, which attracts the most vociferous opposition. A number come each year to protest. They must do so; after all, they are Protestants.

Each May sees the occasion for this: the annual Anglican pilgrimage. In years gone by, this act of piety attracted 15,000 souls. Today that number is less than a third. Nevertheless, since the early 1970s, the pilgrimage has also attracted a counter-demonstration. Around fifty people gather at the site of the village pump, having travelled from far and wide, some from East Anglia, others from Lancashire, as well as several from Ulster.

As the banners are unfurled, pleasantries are exchanged between those assembling. Some have been coming to demonstrate for decades. Most know each other; there is a sense of a common cause among this band, no doubt sharpened by the knowledge that they are heavily outnumbered. Their banners have Biblical tracts emblazoned upon them of the type that one would expect. Many of the protestors clutch large, black Bibles in their hands. Only the King James Version is in evidence, however. Whatever they may say about Tradition and Scripture, these Protestants have their own traditions too.

Read more at National Catholic Register >>

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