The Archdiocese has not had a pilgrimage to the National Shrine for about thirty years and so it was a very special day and the pilgrimage was led by His Eminence Cardinal Vincent Nichols.
The stewards and marshals were the Westminster Lourdes pilgrimage team and along with the shrine staff ensured a very smoothly run pilgrimage negotiating the logistics of parking almost 70 coaches and welcoming about 4,000 pilgrims.
Sadly the weather was far from kind in the morning: the rain was torrential! Despite the rain pilgrims remained good humoured and the rain eased off at the start of Mass celebrated by Cardinal Nichols, thankfully as many pilgrims were outside.
The day was also remarkable in that the statue of Our Lady of Willesden came to Walsingham and so statues of both Our Lady of Walsingham and Our Lady of Willesden were on the sanctuary. Our Lady of Willesden was escorted through the grounds by some pilgrims who had walked from Palmers Green, where pilgrims set off from London in the Middle Ages.
By the time the procession to the priory grounds started in the afternoon the sun was out though it was not possible to process along the Holy Mile as parts were flooded and so pilgrims went up onto the Pilgrims Way.
The day concluded with Benediction and prayers at the site of the original shrine. All the coaches had left the village coach park by six o’clock and a date is already being made for next year’s pilgrimage.
The day did show the real need for more covered areas such as a covered cloister and larger tea room and lounge area as outlined in the development plan.
Watch the Archdiocese of Westminster Pilgrimage Holy Mass celebrated by Cardinal Vincent Nichols.
"Two statues of Our Lady together again, first time since 1538". Watch the homily preached by Cardinal Vincent Nichols.
Visit our Walsingham Blog page to see some photos.