Walsingham Pilgrimage planning 'restricted' return
- Credit: Graham Howard
A religious pilgrimage which brings in people from all over the country and Europe hopes to return this year.
The National Pilgrimage, which takes place in Walsingham over the May bank holiday, is due to go ahead this year, subject to government restrictions being eased.
Thousands of pilgrims flock to Norfolk to honour the Anglican Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham. The event was cancelled last year.
Director of Operations, Christopher Hamilton-Emery said, “Father Kevin tells me the current plan for the National Pilgrimage is to hold a Mass at 12 noon followed by Sermon, rosary and Benediction in the afternoon in the Shrine grounds on Monday, May 31.
“Numbers will be restricted to 400 and entrance by ticket only (free of charge).”
The shrine was planning to reopen with limited availability on January 11, but the third lockdown stopped that.
“Sadly, we will remain closed until the government’s necessary restrictions are lifted," Mr Hamilton-Emery said.
"We’re confident we’ll be here when things change: after all, we have survived for 1,000 years.”
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The church has continued to run events online and live stream services to the tens of thousands of pilgrims who have a connection to the shrine and North Norfolk, as well as to new audiences.
Prayers are live-streamed each evening and people join from around the world, something it says ‘unifies us and offers hope and solace.’
The interruption has allowed them to consider further developments, such as working closely with the Roman Catholic Shrine, and extending their work on Green Pilgrimage.
The Green Pilgrimage has focused on a walking route from Norwich to Walsingham, but there are additional plans to open further walking routes and improve signage.
All these discussions have been paused by the pandemic.
“We are deeply disappointed to be closed, and our hearts go out to those thousands of pilgrims wanting to visit,” Mr Hamilton-Emery said.
“We are also filled with hope for the effects of the vaccination programme, the efforts everyone is going through to control and suppress infections, and the work of our NHS to treat those affected.
“We remain committed to reopening and are prepared for that eventuality.”