Once again it was time for the South Wales Pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham in Norfolk.
This year there were again 7 of us from Porthcawl: Linda Fletcher, Carol, Lynda Britton with her friend Jane, Doreen Lewis with her granddaughter, and myself. We were ferried to and from Sarn where we were picked up by one of the coaches about 8am. Kevin, Julia and Sue were very helpful here.
On the way there, we were told of two intrepid priests who, starting on Thursday 19th July, were cycling to Walsingham intending to arrive about 5pm on 23rd. They were Fr Rhun ap Robert from Aberdare in aid of Pancreatic Cancer and Fr Richard Green from St Fagans, in aid of the Shrine.
We had a comfortable journey with good air-conditioning and arrived about 3pm with just one stop on the way and were all soon settled into our rooms ready for supper at 6pm followed at 7.45 by the first visit to the Holy House, the centre of the Shrine building; a replica of Mary’s home in Nazareth built after the vision of the Lady Richeldis.
After breakfast at 8am on Tuesday, there were stations of the cross around the lovely Shrine gardens accompanied by the buzzing of bees on the many lavender bushes followed by a concelebrated mass at 11am. In the evening there was a liturgy of healing service, a most moving and impressive service with anointing and the laying on of hands.
On Wednesday the mass was at St Mary’s, the Parish Church, a short walk from the village with a free afternoon when one of the coaches took people to Wells-next-the-Sea and in the evening a Benediction with a procession of the Blessed Sacrament.
All too soon it was Thursday morning when, after a service at 9.30, we were back on the coaches for our return journey.
We were pleased to have this year the Rt Rev’d Jonathan, the Bishop of Ebbsfleet, who preached on Tuesday and Wednesday there with his wife Sarah.
As this was my 54th Pilgrimage, there have been some changes, as on my first two visits meals were served in the Pilgrim’s Hall at long tables and seated on benches whereas now there is a modern refectory with a choice of two hot meals or salad at lunch and supper and also a cooked breakfast. There are also rooms too in the new Milner building which are en suite. The chapel of All Souls was also new on my third visit. Luckily gone are the days when to break down, mostly on the return journey and also take so long on the way that sometimes it was 10pm when we arrived so we had to forgo supper!
Walsingham is a truly unique place, so we hope more people will come along next year. Anyone interested should get in touch with Linda Fletcher who does all the arranging from Porthcawl.