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Category Archives: Prayers to Our Lady

OUR LADY OF WALSINGHAM – OUR LADY RETURNS TO ENGLAND

OUR LADY OF WALSINGHAM – OUR LADY RETURNS TO ENGLAND

OUR LADY OF WALSINGHAM, MEMORIAL: SEPTEMBER 24

MEDIEVAL BEGINNINGS

In the eleventh century, five years before the Norman Conquest, there lived in the little village of Walsingham, England, a pious widow, Richeldis de Faverches. One day, according to the ancient tradition, Richeldis had a vision in which the Blessed Virgin took her to Nazareth and showed her the Holy House of the Annunciation. It was here that the Angel Gabriel had announced to Mary that she was to be the Mother of God. In this house the Holy Family had lived until our Lord was ready to begin His public life. The vision was repeated three times. Each time, our Lady told Richeldis to note carefully the dimensions of the little house so she could build a replica of it on her estate of Walsingham.

Richeldis hastened to obey. Acting under her instruction, a group of workmen built a house similar to the one she had seen in her vision. After the house was constructed, Richeldis did not know where she should put it. Then she received what she considered a sign from heaven. A heavy fall of dew soaked the meadow where Richeldis had planned to put the house, but two small rectangles were left dry.

It was decided to erect a stone foundation on one of these rectangles. Try as they might, however, the workmen could not make the foundation fit the house. They worked all day and at night went home “all sorry and sad.” Richeldis spent the entire night praying that the difficulties might be solved and the shrine erected.

The next morning Richeldis and the workmen found that the house had been moved more than 200 feet to the other space and was on a stone foundation. Thus, says the legend, England received its most celebrated shrine.

WALSINGHAM AND LORETO

There is a great similarity between the story of Walsingham in England and that of Loreto in Italy. The Holy House of Loreto is said to be the very house in which our Lady lived, while the house at Walsingham was a replica of it. The house at Loreto was said to have been moved by the angels from Nazareth to various parts of Italy until it took up its present location. The house at Walsingham was moved 200 feet.

Of the two legends, that of Walsingham is the older. The date given for the foundation of Loreto is 1291, that for Walsingham is 1061. The first written record of the Loreto tradition dates from 1472; that of Walsingham from 1465. Walsingham therefore was not a copy of Loreto. For at least two centuries before Loreto was heard of, thousands of pilgrims were making their way to Walsingham, or New Nazareth as it was called. Whether or not these legends are true, there is no doubt of the sanctity of both shrines nor of the number of miracles and favours granted there.

Richeldis died, and her son, before going off on one of the Crusades, put the house, which had by then become a shrine, under the protection of the Canons of St Augustine. This was a religious order which has since become extinct. The canons built a large church around the house, and they erected many other buildings. There was also a hospice for sick pilgrims. The roads to the great shrine were marked by wayside crosses. There were also a number of wayside chapels at which the pilgrims stopped to pray. Among the thousands who made the pilgrimage to Walsingham were many kings and queens of England. Nobles vied with each other in making generous donations to the shrine. Such was the love Englishmen had for our Blessed Mother in medieval times.

New Nazareth became known throughout all Christian Europe. Because of it, England was called “the Holy Land, Our Lady’s Dowry.”

KING HENRY VIII 

King Henry VIII at first had great devotion to the Blessed Virgin. He made a pilgrimage to Walsingham, walking the last mile barefooted in the snow. He also made many generous donations to the shrine. When he broke with Rome in order to take a new wife, he had the buildings razed. So the shrine was destroyed after being in existence almost 500 years. An anonymous sixteenth-century author wrote this Lament Over Walsingham:

Bitter bitter Oh to behold the grass to grow

Where the walls of Walsingham so stately did show;

Such were the works of Walsingham while she did stand:

Such are the wrecks as now do show of that holy land.

Level level with the ground the towers do lie

Which their golden glittering tops pierced once the sky…

Weep weep O Walsingham whose days and nights

Blessings turned to blasphemies holy deeds to dispites,

Sin is where Our Lady sat Heaven turned to Hell,

Satan sits where our Lord did sway, Walsingham O farewell.

As England became more firmly Protestant the memory of Walsingham faded from the minds of most men, but not all. Among those who cherished the tradition of Walsingham there was a saying: “When England goes back to Walsingham, our Lady will come back to England.” That day, however, seemed very remote.

THE REVIVAL 

In the nineteenth century there was a reawakened interest in medieval times. Men began digging in the ruins of old churches and abbeys. England was rediscovering its Catholic past. Along with this came the Oxford Movement and its numerous conversions of prominent Anglicans to the Roman Catholic Church. Outstanding among these converts was John Henry Newman, later Cardinal Newman.

Excavations were made on the site of the old shrine. Remains were found which tallied with ancient descriptions. A pilgrim’s badge was unearthed. Catholics began to yearn for a return to Walsingham, but such a return seemed impossible. All the land that had once belonged to the shrine now belonged to non-Catholics. There was, in fact, not a single Catholic resident in the village of Walsingham.

It was decided to build a shrine to Our Lady of Walsingham at the parish church of King’s Lynn, some miles away. A statue blessed by Pope Leo XIII was enshrined in the new sanctuary on August 19, 1897.

Most of the wayside shrines had been destroyed, but one of the most important ones was still standing. This was St Catherine’s Chapel, which had popularly been known as the Slipper Chapel. This was the last chapel on the way to Walsingham. Here pilgrims stopped to remove their shoes or slippers in order to walk the last Holy Mile in their bare feet.

The Slipper Chapel was built in the middle of the fourteenth century and is a gem of Gothic architecture. It is built in such a way that the sun rises behind the east window on the feast of St Catherine, according to the old-style calendar. The chapel is small, measuring only 28 feet 6 inches by 12 feet 5 inches.

After the destruction of the shrine proper, the Slipper Chapel was no longer needed. For a time it was used as a forge, then as a poorhouse, and finally as a barn in which cows were kept.

About 1894 this chapel was discovered by an Anglican woman, Miss Charlotte Boys. She wished to purchase it and to restore it. While negotiations were going on, she received the gift if faith. She completed the purchase and employed a noted architect to do the work of restoration. In 1897, the day after the inauguration of the shrine at King’s Lynn, Walsingham had its first official pilgrimage since the Reformation. The Slipper Chapel, the entrance to the Holy Land of Walsingham, was reopened and in Catholic hands after a lapse of three and a half centuries.

The Slipper Chapel was made a shrine in 1934. From that time pilgrimages have been made from every part of England. Many people travel on foot from London, 117 miles away. In 1938, the fourth centenary of the desecration of Walsingham, Cardinal Hinsley led the gigantic pilgrimage of Catholic youth to the Slipper Chapel…

Little by little, England is returning to Walsingham.

– From: “The Woman Shall Conquer” by Don Sharkey, Prow Books/Franciscan Marytown Press, Libertyville, IL, 1954

 

 
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Posted by on September 24, 2019 in Devotions, Prayers to Our Lady

 

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LITANY OF THE IMMACULATE HEART OF MARY

LITANY OF THE IMMACULATE HEART OF MARY

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MAY – A MONTH OF MARY

MAY – A MONTH OF MARY

From Paul VI: Encylical on the Month of May:

“May is the ‘month which the piety of the faithful has especially dedicated to Our Blessed Lady,’ and it is the occasion for a ‘moving tribute of faith and love which Catholics in every part of the world [pay] to the Queen of Heaven.

During this month Christians, both in church and in the privacy of the home, offer up to Mary from their hearts an especially fervent and loving homage of prayer and veneration. In this month, too, the benefits of God’s mercy come down to us from her throne in greater abundance.”

 
 

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PRAYER ON THE SOLEMNITY OF MARY, THE MOTHER OF GOD

PRAYER ON THE SOLEMNITY OF MARY, THE MOTHER OF GOD

O God, you so lovingly offered us eternal life through Mary’s maternal virginity; grant us to feel the power of her intercession, for it was through her we received the author of life, Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 
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Posted by on January 1, 2019 in Prayers to Our Lady

 

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TAKING ON BOARD THE OPINIONS OF OTHERS PARALYSES THE POWERS OF ACTION

TAKING ON BOARD THE OPINIONS OF OTHERS PARALYSES THE POWERS OF ACTION

MARY’S ARMY

Previous chapter: THE QUICKEST METHOD OF EMPTYING ONESELF OF “SELF”

HOLINESS THROUGH MARY

Human respect, often called common prudence, respect for the opinions of others, and the like, paralyses the powers of action of those who are called to be apostles and reduces works for souls to triviality.

Living in the midst of great communities of pagans or non-Catholics or the lapsed, the faithful make little or no effort to convert them and the graces God offers are returned unused.

Aware of this, the Army of Mary sets itself to a deliberate campaign against the operation of the spirit of human approval in its members. The principal means employed are insistence upon sound and strict discipline and constant indoctrination of the fact that human respect in a Child of Mary is comparable to cowardice in a soldier. Love, loyalty and discipline, if they are genuine, will certainly result in sacrifice and courage. “What a shame to be the delicate member of a Thorn-crowned Head!”  … words of St Bernard which the member must constantly apply to himself.

“If you fought only when you felt ready for the fray, where would be your merit?” asks St Therese of Lisieux.

“What does it matter even if you have no courage, provided you behave as though you were really brave? If you feel too lazy to pick up a bit of thread, and yet do so for the love of Jesus, you gain more merit than for a much nobler action done on an impulse of fervour. Instead of grieving, be glad that, by allowing you to feel your own weakness, Our Lord is furnishing you with an occasion of saving a greater number of souls.”

– Excerpts from “Holiness Through Mary” by Fr Francis Ripley, copied from a pamphlet by the Universal Rosary Association. For the Association’s details, please visit the link above (Part 1)

 
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Posted by on March 27, 2017 in Prayers to Our Lady

 

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THE QUICKEST METHOD OF EMPTYING ONESELF OF “SELF”

THE QUICKEST METHOD OF EMPTYING ONESELF OF “SELF”

MARY’S ARMY

Previous chapter: WITHOUT HUMILITY, LIKENESS TO MARY IS IMPOSSIBLE

HOLINESS THROUGH MARY

As an Army of Mary, we are engaged in the battle for souls. The first battle begins in our own soul, and it is the battle against pride and self. It never ceases, no matter how exhausting it is.

To the end of his earthly life, the Child of Mary strives to conquer the root of evil within himself, ever purifying his intention more and more. Unaided, he is quite unable to succeed in even this first battle. So he leans on Mary with complete trust. He soon learns that the quickest method of emptying himself of self and filling himself with God, is through true devotion to Mary.

Our dependence on God’s grace

United with Mary, we rid ourselves of self-exultation. In Mary, we see the Mirror of Justice endowed with unbounded power in the realms of grace.

The perfect purity of intention exemplified in Mary drives from the soul of the Child of Mary any feelings of smug self I satisfaction and any desire for self-advancement. He works only that God may triumph in souls through Mary. His dependence on grace makes him distrust the prompting of his own inclinations and so rids him of self-will and every other impediment to the maternal influences of Mary. She takes over, developing in him from day to day the supernatural energies and sacrifices She expects from a good soldier of Christ.

– Excerpts from “Holiness Through Mary” by Fr Francis Ripley, copied from a pamphlet by the Universal Rosary Association. For the Association’s details, please visit the link above (Part 1)

 
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Posted by on March 23, 2017 in Prayers to Our Lady

 

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OUR WARFARE IS NOT OF THIS WORLD

OUR WARFARE IS NOT OF THIS WORLD

MARY’S ARMY

Previous chapter: TOWARDS THE PASTORS OF THE CHURCH, WE SHOW ALWAYS THAT LOYALTY AND OBEDIENCE WHICH SPRING FROM GENUINE CHARITY

HOLINESS THROUGH MARY

If personal holiness, the perfection of charity, is the object of the Child of Mary, humility is the root and instrument of his apostolic action. The Children of Mary are an army and speak to their members in terms of battles and warfare; they are dedicated to Her who is terrible as an army set in battle array.

They are stimulated to carry out all their work with the seriousness of trained and faithful soldiers. Nevertheless, the warfare in which they engage is not of this world; it must be waged according to the tactics of Heaven. The whole system of this army is designed to implant in hearts lowly and unworldly qualities, the chief of which is true humility. Rightly understood, it confers a strange nobility and unique strength upon all who join it.

A strange nobility and unique strength

Only from true humility of heart does the Child of Mary derive the gentle, unassuming manners upon which he relies for the effecting and developing of the personal approach to souls that is such an essential factor in his work.

True humility of heart

In humility, he sees a virtue from which all others derive their value. One and all, they depend on grace and grace will not be given to the proud. When virtue is claimed as the result of one’s own efforts unaided by grace, it ceases to be virtue. Just as Mary’s lowliness brought the Saviour into Her womb, so the humility of Her children brings His Spirit and His Graces into their souls. The holier they are, the more they acknowledge their dependence on God; the more they receive, the greater is their debt to the Almighty. Gradually, the apostolate drives home even into the heart that is naturally proudest the hard lesson that only one’s worthlessness is one’s own. Everything else is God’s free gift. He gives it freely; He can increase it or diminish it or withdraw it entirely just as He wishes. The recognition of what one really is before God is the essence of true humility. “Behold, the handmaid of the Lord.” Humble and little-sought tasks are preferred; contempt and rebuffs are readily borne and God’s holy Will is generously accepted, especially when compliance means rigorous suppression of self.

– Excerpts from “Holiness Through Mary” by Fr Francis Ripley, copied from a pamphlet by the Universal Rosary Association. For the Association’s details, please visit the link above (Part 1).

 
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Posted by on March 17, 2017 in Prayers to Our Lady

 

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