We will be celebrating the Liturgy of the Holy Eucharist at 11:55 AM, on Tuesday, October 30, for the Feast of Our Lady of Walsingham. This is a very important Feast for us as Orthodox Catholics, so please join us for Holy Mass if possible.
Our Lady of Walsingham is a title used for the Blessed Virgin Mary. The title derives from the appearance of Our Blessed Lady to Richeldis de Faverches, a devout Saxon noblewoman, in AD 1061 (when England was still part of the Orthodox Church), in the village of Walsingham in Norfolk, England. Let us never forget that when Rome fell away into heresy and schism in 1054, the Church in the British Isles remained Orthodox, and remained so until the Norman Invasion of 1066, which was preached as a Crusade to bring an “erring” English Church under Roman authority.
Lady Richeldis had a Holy House built in Walsingham which became a shrine and place of pilgrimage, — and the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham is the most renowned and beloved sanctuary of the Mother of God in the whole of the British Isles.
The Holy House, containing the simple wooden structure which Richeldis had been asked to build in imitation of the home in which the Annunciation occurred, became both a shrine and the focus of pilgrimage to Walsingham. The chapel was founded in the time of St. Edward the Confessor, about 1063, the earliest deeds naming Richeldis, the mother of Geoffrey of Favraches as the founder. An Augustinian priory was later established at the Shrine.
In 1538, at the direction of the Royal Tyrant Henry VIII, the priory was closed, the buildings were looted and largely destroyed, the sub-prior executed, and the image of Our Lady carried away to London and burned; but the memory of it was less easy to eradicate. Sir Roger Townshend wrote to Cromwell in 1564, that a woman of nearby Wells, had declared that a miracle had been done by the image of Our Lady after it had been carried away to London. He had her put in the stocks on market day to be abused by the village folk but concluded 'I cannot perceyve but the seyd image is not yett out of the sum of ther heddes’. The site of the priory with the churchyard and gardens was granted by the Crown to Thomas Sydney. All that remained of it was the gatehouse, the chancel arch and a few outbuildings.
Augustinian monk Fr. Alfred Hope Patten, appointed as the Anglican Vicar of Walsingham in 1921, ignited Anglican interest in the pre-Reformation pilgrimage. It was his idea to create a new image of Our Lady of Walsingham based on the image depicted on the seal of the medieval priory. In 1922, it was set up in the Parish Church of St Mary and regular pilgrimage devotion followed. From the first night that the image of Our Lady was placed there, people gathered around it to pray, asking the Mother of God to join her prayers with theirs.
Before the first World War, Russian Orthodox Archbishop Seraphim of Paris blessed a plot of land close to the nave of the Shrine Church, where it is hoped one day to establish a permanent place for Orthodox worship. Throughout the 1920s the trickle of pilgrims became a flood of large numbers for whom, eventually, the Pilgrim Hospice was opened (a hospice is the name of a place of hospitality for pilgrims) and, in 1931, a new Holy House encased in a small pilgrimage church was dedicated and the image of Our Lady translated there with great solemnity. In 1938 that church was enlarged to form the Anglican Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham. At the consecration of this enlarged church, a delegation from the Russian Church, led by Archbishop Nestor and Archimandrite Nicolas Gibbes, was present. Father Patten combined the posts of Vicar of Walsingham and Priest Administrator of the Anglican shrine until his death in 1958.
At Pentecost 1944, a small and temporary Chapel for Orthodox worship within the walls of the Anglican Shrine was established by Polish Orthodox Archbishop Sava of Grodno. It is still being used by Orthodox pilgrims. Despite the small size, it has an icon screen and everything necessary for Eastern Rite Orthodox worship.
Among the Orthodox who visited the Shrine after the war was the Serbian Orthodox bishop St. Nicholai Velimirovich. For several years, the Serbian Orthodox priest Fr. Nadjanovich lived permanently at Walsingham. Since 1961 there have been regular Orthodox pilgrimages to the Shrine. In 1964, the Orthodox Confraternity of Our Lady of Walsingham was set up, under the patronage of Metropolitan Athenagoras, with Greek, Russian, Serbian, and English Orthodox representatives on the Council. Today there are at least two Western Rite Orthodox parishes in America named after Our Lady of Walsingham.
The Feast of Our Lady of Walsingham falls on October 15 (October 28 on the Civil Calendar), but this year October 15/28 falls on a Sunday, so it has been transferred.
I hope that you will join us for Holy Mass for the Feast of Our Lady of Walsingham on Tuesday, October 30, at 11:55 AM.
Pray for us O Holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ. Our Lady of Walsingham — Pray for us!
HOLY CROSS ORTHODOX CHURCH
7545 Main Street
Ralston, Nebraska 68127