On Saturday, 6th April about thirty people went from the Island to St. John’s Cathedral in Portsmouth for the visit of the Statue of Our Lady of Walsingham. This statue from England’s National shrine to Mary, the Mother of Christ in Norfolk is visiting all the Catholic cathedrals of England. Walsingham ranked alongside Jerusalem, Rome and Compostella in Medieval times as a major pilgrimage destination for Christians. It also resonates with our Island in that the only secondary school in England to be dedicated to Our Lady of Walsingham is here on the Island at Whippingham. Ed Matyjaszek, the school’s Principal, gave an interesting, impassioned and informative talk in the cathedral on the origin of the shrine, its development and its significance today, especially in light of the re-dedication of England as the “Dowry” of Mary – a land consecrated to her alone – that is to take place in Spring 2020 in Westminster Cathedral in London. It is the first such re-dedication since the original dedication by King Richard II in 1381, which has never been revoked.
There were four days of celebration and veneration in the cathedral, alongside a very informative exhibition detailing the history of the Marian shrine and the meaning of England as Mary’s “Dowry” or Dower land.
In this photo (right) some of the people can be seen in Portsmouth en route to the cathedral. With them are Fr. Joe Gruszkiewicz, Fr. Emmanuel Odoemene and Fr. Jonathan Redvers Harris. As a priest of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, who goes on pilgrimage to Walsingham frequently, Fr. Jonathan remarked:- “It was wonderful to find Our Lady on pilgrimage herself, travelling around her country, England’s green and pleasant land“.
The group was joined in the cathedral by other Isle of Wight pilgrims together with two monks from Quarr Abbey, Fr. Luke and Fr. Brian, and four of the current interns, – young men testing their vocation to the monastic life. The Island priests joined Abbot Cuthbert Brogan OSB from Farnborough Abbey in the concelebration of the Mass. Most people took the opportunity to study the excellent exhibition on display boards around the cathedral (Picture – left). Everything was well organised with a series of talks and other Services including Exposition, Benediction, Holy Rosary, Divine Mercy and the opportunity for Confession.
Two days earlier, the Rector of the Walsingham Shrine and Basilica, Mgr. John Armitage, visited the Isle of Wight. He was given a guided tour of St. Mary’s, Ryde and was particularly interested in the church’s unique Lady Chapel with its Pugin altar with a carved central panel depicting Our Lady, which is similar to that of Our Lady of Walsingham. Afterwards, he went to visit the Priory School of Our Lady of Walsingham at Whippingham and was shown around the school by the Principal, Ed Matyjaszek.
It is hoped that through the intercession of Our Lady of Walsingham, our Island, its parishes, schools and families will receive many blessings and through Our Blessed Lady, the faithful will be drawn closer to her Son, Jesus.
Our Lady of Walsingham – Pray for us and Pray for England