Friday 12 October 2012

Report on the 2012 Ely to Walsingham pilgrimage

In August members of Juventutem London (and the Guild of Blessed Titus Brandsma) assisted in the organisation of the Latin Mass Society's three day walking pilgrimage from Ely to Walsingham. Here is an inspiring report from a first time pilgrim.

We look forward to seeing you on the 2013 pilgrimage for the conversion of England!


By Rhoslyn Thomas

The pilgrimage to Walsingham was recommended to me by numerous people, some of whom had only become interested in Latin Mass a couple of years ago. I was somewhat sceptical as I had been taken to Latin Mass as a teenager by my mother, and, being a rather rebellious 13 year old, I was determined not to enjoy it. Though I do remember that I noted the reverence shown not only by the priest, but also by the women and men who were attending the Mass. I had never seen a mantilla before and I had certainly never seen anyone kneel to receive communion!

Mass at Oxburgh Hall on Saturday morning.
In the past year or so, I have left numerous parishes because I was frustrated by the liberal approach adopted by the priests celebrating Mass and the way some people seemed to stuff the Eucharist in their mouth. I am no saint, but if we, as Catholics, truly believe in transubstantiation, this belief is not being reflected in the majority of the ordinary Masses that I was attending. Nevertheless, switching from ordinary to Latin Mass (though I will still attend ordinary Mass for the most part) felt like a giant leap and I was embarrassed of my ignorance, having only attended Latin Mass a few times in the past year.

The Holy Mile procession from The Slipper Chapel to the site of the original shrine in Walsingham.
The pilgrimage, being my first, felt like a good opportunity to throw myself in the deep end. I knew there would be daily Mass, singing of the rosary and the opportunity to chat to priests who celebrate the old rite. I was given a sizeable booklet with all the prayers I would need to know, both in Latin and English, and lots of songs to sing whilst walking. During Mass, we were also given a slim red book, again in Latin and English, which outlines the order of the Mass, with explanations and pointers which help you to work out where you are in the Mass, when to kneel etc.

Pilgrims enjoying a well earned meal on Saturday evening!
During the Mass, I felt it was far easier to concentrate and I felt reassured by the reverence shown by others in the congregation. Nobody was afraid to show respect and kneel or bow their heads, which is quite different from what I was used to!
Canon Olivier Meney ICKSP joined the pilgrimage for the final day's walk.
As for the walking, yes it is 55 miles over about two and a half days, but it’s almost all flat and when you are singing the Rosary in Latin, French and English (all in your booklet), it is much easier to keep going. You also know that you are walking with a purpose, that is for the conversion of England! This is not a Duke of Edinburgh expedition, you are not walking to nowhere. You have the shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham as your goal and the journey is vital to the experience. The priests who were with us, Father Bede, Father Cahill and a seminarian, James, were all fantastic, warm, approachable, humble and above all reverent people. I felt at ease with them and everyone else on the trip. I didn’t hide the fact that I knew very little about Latin Mass and people helped me out, pointing to where we were on the page, explaining certain aspects of the Mass and chatting away to me about their conversion to Latin Mass. Very few people had been raised in the old rite. There were quite a few very recent converts on the pilgrimage and it was inspiring to see how open they were to something which was even more foreign to them, than it was to me!

Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury blessed the pilgrims before they began the final Holy Mile.
By the end, I knew most of the prayers that we had sung off by heart, in Latin, French and English, I felt much more confident about attending Latin Mass and I had visited some truly stunning churches and tiny chapels along the route. I won’t lie - there were blisters and aching muscles as well as some torrential rain, but this is a pilgrimage after all! It’s challenging, but far from impossible. I encourage anyone who thinks they might enjoy it to go for it. Prepare your feet well and be open to a new experience of Mass!

The Latin Mass Society (on whose website this report was first published) are very grateful for all of the walkers, particularly Rhoslyn for her above report, all the volunteers,  particularly the cooks, and all those that helped make the Walsingham Pilgrimage the success that it was. 
They are particularly pleased to report that we have been informed by people that the submitted intentions which were carried by the walkers to Walsingham have been answered. Some very directly, including Mr M. H. who had his petition answered within days of the completion of the Pilgrimage. The LMS welcome news of people who have had their prayers answered after submitting a request to the Walsingham pilgrimage, just email

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