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Walsingham Pilgrimage cancelled due to coronavirus lockdown, church confirms

PUBLISHED: 16:56 02 April 2020 | UPDATED: 17:10 02 April 2020

The Archbishop of Canterbury attended the National Pilgrimage to the Anglican Shrine of our Lady of Walsingham. Photo: Graham Howard

The Archbishop of Canterbury attended the National Pilgrimage to the Anglican Shrine of our Lady of Walsingham. Photo: Graham Howard

Graham Howard

A religious pilgrimage which brings in people from all over the country and Europe has been cancelled.

The Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham
Thousands of visitors attend the 2009 National Pilgrimage
Pictures taken during midday mass
For:EDP
Copy:Chris HillThe Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham Thousands of visitors attend the 2009 National Pilgrimage Pictures taken during midday mass For:EDP Copy:Chris Hill

Every May bank holiday thousands of pilgrims flock to to Walsingham to honour Our Lady of Walsingham. The day includes a picnic in the Abbey Grounds and a procession through the village.

However, the event has been cancelled this year due to the coronavirus crisis.

Norfolk councillor, Thomas Fitzpatrick, said: “I’m sorry for a lot of people.

“People come here for loads of reasons. From spiritual, while others use it as a chance to relax.

Tom FitzPatrick, Conservative candidate for Walsingham in the 2019 North Norfolk District Council election. Picture: SUPPLIED BY THE CANDIDATETom FitzPatrick, Conservative candidate for Walsingham in the 2019 North Norfolk District Council election. Picture: SUPPLIED BY THE CANDIDATE

“It does a lot of people a lot of good and it’s a great shame it has been cancelled.”

MORE: Priests and pints: Religious landmark and brewery unite to launch pilgrim beer

The event brings the whole town together, as both religious and non-religious people celebrate the national event.

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People travel to Norfolk for what is described as a highlight of the pilgrimage season at the Anglican shrine. Last year’s event saw the Archbishop of Canterbury in attendance.

The Archbishop of Canterbury attended the National Pilgrimage to the Anglican Shrine of our Lady of Walsingham. Photo: Graham HowardThe Archbishop of Canterbury attended the National Pilgrimage to the Anglican Shrine of our Lady of Walsingham. Photo: Graham Howard

Fr Kevin Smith, Priest Administrator of the Shrine, said: “We are extremely saddened that the National Pilgrimage has been cancelled. The disappointment of pilgrims, staff, friends and neighbours, and our colleagues in the Diocese of Norwich is palpable.”

Mr Fitzpatrick said there would be an economic impact from the cancellation.

Mr Smith echoed this concern. “Unfortunately we - and many local businesses - will be hit financially but we are looking at ways in which we can mark the event in other ways,” he said.

The councillor added that some people may see environmental benefits from the event being cancelled, due to the number of cars and coaches that bring people to the area. However, he added that a lot of jobs depend on the pilgrims.

Fr Kevin Smith, the newly appointed Priest Administrator to the Anglican Shrine.Fr Kevin Smith, the newly appointed Priest Administrator to the Anglican Shrine.

He did credit the rise in the number of green pilgrims, travelling via bike to the village.

However, Mr Fitzpatrick believes the cancellation was the right choice, he said: “Crowds of people from all over the country are the last thing needed.”

MORE - Age UK launches urgent funding appeal to help combat ‘extreme isolation’ of older people.


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