In 1061 Our Lady appeared to Richeldis de Faverche who was the widow of the Lord of the Manor of Walsingham and asked her to build a replica of the Holy House where Joseph, Mary and Jesus lived in Nazareth. During the middle ages it was believed the duty of every Englishman to visit 'Little Nazareth' which became one of the four major shrines in Christendom, ranking alongside Jerusalem, Rome and Compostella.
During the time of Henry VIII the ‘Holy House’ and the huge Abbey which then surrounded it, were destroyed but Walsingham has remained a site of pilgrimage.
So it was that on Friday 27 September, 22 Y11 and 12 students and staff travelled to Walsingham to camp overnight and then join with our Diocese on Pilgrimage.
We set up our camp at Fakenham in the bright sunlight and then went to Walsingham where we joined in praying the Holy Rosary at the Anglican Shrine; a Fish Supper was followed by social time before we returned to camp for Night Prayer, Hot Chocolate and a ‘Camp Fire Sing Song’. Then under a million stars on a crystal clear night we went into our tents as the temperature dropped rapidly.
An exceptionally cold night followed but soon the sun was up and melting the ice which had formed on the outside of the tents. A busy morning followed of making breakfasts, packing lunches and breaking camp but by 11am we were ready to depart for Walsingham where we were joined by coaches full of pilgrims from across our Diocese, ready for the Pilgrimage Mass.
At Mass, our students played their part, by distributing the mass booklets, by taking up the collection and with Isaac Oldcorn serving and Amy Alinson doing the reading. Mass was followed by a picnic with our fellow pilgrims; quite a few of whom were from our school but had travelled with their families.
Now came the Pilgrimage Procession, with hundreds of pilgrims walking from the Catholic Shrine to the ruins of the Abbey in Walsingham town. This Procession was led by the Walsingham Cross carried by Isaac, by four Y12 students carrying the Statue of Our Lady of Walsingham, by our own Cross carried by Y11 students and by the St Benedict’s Banner. Our students really led the diocese!
After a service of Benediction at the site of the Holy House, our pilgrimage was over and we set off for home, arriving back in Bradford late on the Saturday evening – happy but tired.
I would like to thank all of the students and staff who went on pilgrimage for the way they showed our college, in an excellent light.