The Slipper Chapel (the Shrine)


Built in the mid-14th century, and dedicated to Saint Catherine of Alexandria, this chapel served pilgrims on their way to England’s Nazareth. Saint Catherine was the patron saint of pilgrims to the Holy Land and her knights kept open the road to Nazareth during the Crusades.

Her tomb lies in the Monastery on Mount Sinai, within the Basilica of the Annunciation. Just as on Mount Sinai, Moses took off his shoes because he was on holy ground, so the pilgrims to England’s Holy Land used to remove their shoes and walk the Holy Mile into Walsingham.

Cow shed?


After the Reformation, the Chapel was used as a poor house, a forge, a cow shed and a barn. It was restored to the Catholic Church in 1896 by Charlotte Pearson Boyd.

Slipper chapel interior e325f57833dc208afb315bf6d4b411ef8dd749e31722e07787f469900e96344e
The Altar and Shrine in the Slipper Chapel

Re-consecration


The first Mass since the Reformation was celebrated here in August 1934 and on 8th September 1938 the Shrine was re-consecrated by Bishop Youens of Northampton.

Chapel Imagery


As well as the Statue of Our Lady, several images of Mary decorate the Slipper Chapel. Over the altar is the east window, the work of Geoffrey Webb in 1953 to commemorate the definition of the Dogma of the Assumption of 1950. The centenary window of the Annunciation is over the doors at the west end.

Reredos c694c0bf0d64bbfa898137474fcf391249944f1034de86abd4347ac6521e4c1b
A detail of the Reredos

The Reredos


As well as the Statue of Our Lady, several images of Mary decorate the Slipper Chapel. Over the altar is the east window, the work of Geoffrey Webb in 1953 to commemorate the definition of the Dogma of the Assumption of 1950. The centenary window of the Annunciation is over the doors at the west end.

Outside


Over the West door of the Chapel below the image of the Holy Trinity, are the statues of Mary and the Archangel Gabriel, (given by Chorley K.S.C in 1958), reminding us of the words of the 15th century Pynson ballad of Walsingham:

"Where shall be had in a memorial the great joy of my Salutation"

Cloister gardens bb6b5c4bfa3f7fcfe9fde8e0988e887250af1235639bc2744cd0c183d08b6c87
The Cloister Gardens at the Roman Catholic National Shrine

The Cloister Garden


In the Cloister Garden is the Holy Water fountain, with its centrepiece, the baptismal font from the disused church of Forncett St. Mary, near Norwich. The four panels, depicting events in scripture in which water is given a special prominence are:

  1. Moses and the Red Sea with the Hebrew text from Exodus 15:19 The Israelites went on dry ground right through the sea"
  2. The Good Shepherd with the Latin text from Psalm 22 "He led me beside restful waters"
  3. The Baptism of Jesus with the Greek text Luke 3:22 "This is my beloved son"
  4. The woman at the well with the English text John 4:14 - "I will give you living water"

The Easter ceremony of the Blessing of the Font is celebrated here and occasionally, the Sacrament of Baptism. The Font is much used by pilgrims to fill their bottles with Holy Water to take away with them.

Cardinal Bourne


In the cloister, is a bust of Cardinal Bourne who was prominent in the re-establishment of the Shrine in 1934 and led the first great pilgrimage of over 10,000 people in that year.

Permanent exhibition


There is also a permanent exhibition illustrating the history of the Shrine since 1061. Also within the cloister is the Mass Intentions Office, a Gift and Bookshop and a Tea room, much sought after by weary pilgrims and visitors.

Shrine grounds 96d9128863424e7463d5099bbf68c864c61134ef345278014a973ebc0aeeed3e

Way of The Cross


The 14 oak crosses of the great Cross-carrying Pilgrimage of 1948 form a Way of the Cross in the Shrine grounds. There is a notice listing the places they were carried from and the distances covered.

The 15th Station (The Resurrection) was carried by the Bletchley youth walkers in 1982, and is near the road-side door of the Chapel of Reconciliation.