On Saturday 15 October, hundreds travelled to Durham Cathedral from around the country to celebrate in honour of Our Lady Walsingham, with the festival marking the third and final Diocesan Festival of the shrine this year.
Walsingham Festival marks a century since the restoration of Our Lady Walsingham, an important religious shrine, with its pilgrimage to Durham marking the furthest point north the image has travelled in the lifetime of the shrine. The date of the festival, 15 October, signifies 90 years since the image of Our Lady was relocated from Father Patten’s parish church to the Holy House in Walsingham, where pilgrims continue to pray today. The Right Reverend Philip North CMP, Bishop of Burnley and Master of the Guardians, explains, “In 1922 a priest called Father Alfred Hope Patten had a beautiful image of Our Lady Carved and set up in the Parish Church of St Mary in Walsingham. People began to travel to that church to pray there and to be inspired by Mary’s example because she always shows us how we can be better disciples of her Son, Jesus Christ. Something remarkable had happened. The pilgrimage to Walsingham Suppressed in 1538 under the orders of Henry VIII, had been restored: and so, in 2022, we can rejoice and give thanks for the centenary of that restoration” The festival began at Durham Cathedral with Eucharist in the morning and welcomed pilgrims with organ music as they gathered around the image of Our Lady in the Galilee Chapel. The service included a procession around the cathedral with the Bishop of Durham and the Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle invited to present and the Bishop of Burnley and the Bishop of Chichester welcomed to Durham to preside and preach. The Reverend Canon Michael Hampel, Acting Dean of Durham, said, ‘We were delighted to welcome the Walsingham Pilgrimage to Durham. This was an historic moment and the sight of the Image of Our Lady of Walsingham in what was the Lady Chapel of the Cathedral was moving and inspiring. The tradition of Walsingham brings great faith to the Church and guides us on in our own pilgrimage of faith in Christ.’ In the afternoon, the entire congregation followed the image of Our Lady in a procession around Palace Green and back into the cathedral. The festival ended with the cathedral Evensong to conclude the monumental celebration. Durham Cathedral was founded as a place of hospitality and prayer for pilgrims visiting the resting place of St Cuthbert. Today it continues to welcome individuals and groups arriving on pilgrimage as well as special celebrations such as the Walsingham Festival. To find out more visit www.durhamcathedral.co.uk
For more information on the Walsingham Festival and The Shrine of Our Lady visit www.walsinghamanglican.org.uk Durham Cathedral is a Christian Church of the Anglican Communion, the shrine of St Cuthbert, the seat of the Bishop of Durham and a focus of pilgrimage and spirituality in North East England. It inhabits a treasured sacred space set in the natural and human landscape of the World Heritage Site. Its purpose is to worship God, share the gospel of Jesus Christ, welcome all who come, celebrate and pass on its rich Christian heritage and discover its place in God’s creation. The building of Durham Cathedral commenced in 1093 and took around 40 years to complete. It replaced a Saxon cathedral built by the Community of St Cuthbert after it arrived in Durham in 995 following its flight from the ‘Holy Island’ of Lindisfarne 80 miles North of Durham. The body of St Cuthbert is enshrined in the Feretory at Durham Cathedral and the Tomb of the Venerable Bede is in The Galilee Chapel. The Cathedral existed as a Benedictine Monastery until 1539 when it became one of the Church of England’s major Cathedrals. It continues to be a focus for pilgrimage and pre-covid saw around 750,000 visitors each year from all over the world. The Cathedral has internationally important collections of artefacts, manuscripts and books that include St Cuthbert’s coffin and his pectoral cross; superb examples of English early medieval craftsmanship. Durham Cathedral is often referred to as the best example of Romanesque architecture in Europe, or as American writer Bill Bryson put it, ‘the best Cathedral on planet earth.’ Since its construction Durham Cathedral has been alive with people and a centre for community activity. The Cathedral is home to a vibrant worshipping community and continues to celebrate the English Choral Tradition with sung services by its highly acclaimed Choir. As the new century unfolds Durham Cathedral aspires to enrich the many different ways in which it engages with people and organisations. It is cherished equally by those who live, work and study in the region and by those who come to visit. Find more information at www.durhamcathedral.co.uk