Vandaag is het eerste Ordinariaat opgericht voor anglicanen die in volle gemeenschap met de katholieke Kerk willen treden, en het heet "Our Lady of Walsingham". Wie of wat is dat? Een tekst van Joanna Bogle:
Walsingham is England’s national shrine to Our Lady, and a major place of pilgrimage and prayer. It is in Norfolk, a few miles from the North Sea, and is a small village set in the green countryside characteristic of this corner of Britain. The shrine dates back to the 12th century, when the local lady of the manor, Richeldis, had a vision of the Holy House – the home of the Holy family at Nazareth – on this spot. For centuries, pilgrims visited here and Our Lady of Walsingham was honoured with countless processions and prayers. Springs of water – they still exist today – were said to have healing powers. A great priory drew men who devoted themselves to the religious life. At the shrine itself, the image was always surrounded by candles, flowers, and gifts left by grateful pilgrims who had knelt there in prayer.
In the early 16th century, among those who came were the young king Henry [VIII], and his wife Catherine. They were praying that God would grant them a son. England had seen terrifying wars in an earlier generation as the houses of Lancaster and York battled out their struggle for supremacy, and now stability was needed for the new ruling house of Tudor. It was not to be. Catherine bore several children, but all died in infancy except one daughter, Mary. Henry, angry and disappointed, decided to marry his mistress Anne Boleyn. He sought an annulment of his marriage through the Church, but failed to obtain it. Divorcing Catherine unilaterally, he married Anne – who by then was carrying his child – and announced himself head of the Church. The Lord Chancellor, Thomas More, and the Bishop of Rochester, John Fisher, were beheaded at the Tower of London in 1534 for refusing to affirm him in his claims, maintaining instead that only the Pope, the successor of Saint Peter, could hold that office. Needing funds, Henry turned on the Church and crushed monasteries and priories. On the excuse of its being idolatrous, the shrine at Walsingham was destroyed and the statue burned. For some 400 years, there were no more pilgrimages, processions, or signs of devotion to Mary in this quiet village.
The shrine was revived in the early 20th century – an Anglican vicar researched the history and re-created the Holy House in a new shrine, and a Catholic lady obtained the old “Slipper Chapel” just outside the village and this became the revived Catholic centre of devotion. Today, there are pilgrimages throughout the summer and the Catholic shrine has its own large church built of attractive local stone. Pilgrims pray and sing as they walk the “Holy Mile” – traditionally barefoot – from the village. Schools, parish groups, Catholic organisations – all come with their banners and their choirs, their sandwiches and their children, to greet Our Lady at a place which combines the pleasures of unusually beautiful countryside with an atmosphere of real devotion and joy. Some groups stay for days – a local farmer rents out fields in which large groups of young pilgrims and families can camp – and in recent years Walsingham has seen a revival of Eucharistic adoration and confession, promoted by “Youth 2000”, a major initiative of the “John Paul 11 generation”.
When Pope John Paul visited Britain in 1982 the image of Our Lady of Walsingham was brought to London where it was the centrepiece of a major rally attended by the Holy Father. Many Catholic families, churches and schools, have copies of the image: it is an unusual one in which Mary is seen seated, as a dignified queen wearing a simple Saxon-style crown and carrying the Christ-child seated upright on her lap. Honour to Our Lady of Walsingham is linked to prayer that the people of England may once again return to the practice of the Catholic Faith: Our Lady of Walsingham, pray for us!