In recent years, a strong tradition of pilgrimages to destinations
home and abroad has been built up at St Faith's.
In previous years, many individuals
and small groups had gone on pilgrimage, but when Fr Neil led a party
from the United Benefice to the Shrinme of our Lady of Walsingham in
Norfolk, a tradition was established. After several other visits to
Walsingham, 2005 saw a party travelling to Conques, in France, to the
shrine of St Faith, our patron, at the Abbey there.
By following the links below, you will
be able to read articles about the significance and importance of
pilgrimage in the life of the Church, as well as accessing illustrated
reports on the various visits we have made, from 2000 to the present
In July, 2006, in our parish magazine Newslink Fr Neil wrote about the
pourpose and value of Walsingham, and reproduced Chris Price's article
written following the first parish pilgrimage in 2000.
Why Walsingham? Why Not?
Archbishop William Temple once said, ‘The Church is the only
organisation that exists for the benefit of those who are not (yet) its
That belief certainly underpins the parochial system of the Church of
England where, at S. Mary’s and S. Faith’s for example, the
congregation forms only some 1.87% of the total number of people the
Vicar could potentially minister to at any one time. Indeed a great
deal of the working week for any incumbent is spent (or should be
spent) dealing with those who don’t come to church on a regular basis
but nonetheless require the ministry of the church for whatever reason.
They (non church-goers) don’t necessarily have access to the automatic
support of a church family as many of us do. Very often when someone at
S. Faith’s has been bereaved, or been seriously ill, the first thing
they do is to thank the members of the ‘church family’ who have looked
after them. Many people bear their sufferings, loneliness and anxiety
on their own, without that inbuilt support network which the church
family, at its very best, offers.
It is perhaps with something of that sentiment in mind that the Shrine
of Our Lady of Walsingham meets not only the needs of regular paid-up
Christians but many more people beyond. People of very deep faith,
wavering faith, or no faith at all, find at Walsingham a peace and
tranquility which is rarely found in their own homes or workplaces, and
dare I say, even in their own churches! No wonder then that in 2003
Walsingham was voted the nations most favourite spiritual place.
We live in a society obsessed with paper-work and figures – and the
church is no different. Forms come to us regularly asking attendances
for this or that in an attempt to see where the church is (or isn’t)
moving. We can so easily fall into the trap of thinking that growth
simply means more numbers on a piece of paper or more people in church.
Rarely do we talk of the importance of spiritual growth; it is
difficult to quantify. But it is important. If we are not growing
spiritually we are not moving in our relationship with God or living a
faith which is dynamic and life-changing. A faith which is stuck in a
rut is not a faith to commend to others!
Walsingham provides ‘safe space’ or ‘sanctuary’ where talk about God or
and/or prayer is a most natural way of conversation (when did you last
talk about prayer to someone in church or in your own family?).
Walsingham provides a setting where no prayer is too trivial or unheard.
For that reason I am so pleased that the concert we held recently for
the Walsingham Appeal was such a great success. The presence of the
Archbishop of York certainly gave the event a high profile. I said to
the Archbishop at the reception how grateful we were that he could find
time in his busy diary to be with us. He said in reply: ‘But I had to
come. The work of Walsingham is so very important’. And he meant it!
The support for the Walsingham Appeal from so many different traditions
of church backgrounds demonstrates clearly that the power of a place
like Walsingham very much transcends human boundaries of churchmanship!
A lesson for us all to learn.
Walsingham, for me at any rate, is wonderfully summed up in the article
written by Chris Price back in 2000 when St. Faith’s made its first
parish pilgrimage. And it’s not just me who thinks that! Chris Price’s
article can be found on the Walsingham Website under the heading “why
Chris says this:
“48 hours of rich and varied
experiences. Worship in forms familiar and strange. Fellowship in the
refectory queue and around the bars of the welcoming village
hostelries. A fascinating mixture of prayerful devotion and shared
laughter, not all of it always entirely reverent. The mysteries of the
rosary... for many a focus of prayer, for others, even by the end,
about forty Hail Marys too many. The intense and wondrous silence of
the Holy House, bedecked with blue and gold and a myriad of burning
lights, the most moving of backgrounds to a parish at worship and in
intercessory prayer. A singularly moving and spectacular Procession of
Our Lady around the dark grounds, by candle-light and to the
enthusiastic accompaniment of a hymn with more verses (and certainly
more Ave Marias) than you could shake a stick at, and punctuated by
dubious descants and just a little departure from devotion in places.
“A visit to the Roman
Catholic Shrine (the Slipper Chapel down the road), and moving words in
their official handbook commending a visit to ‘our’ Shrine and ‘our’
Parish Church and asking for prayers for the Anglican Diocese and its
priests and people - how far and wonderfully we have come in recent
years! Conversations in corridors, coffee brewed in little rooms,
bonding between people who may scarcely have spoken to one another
before. No sense (at least not for long) of anything alien or
frightening ... and no pressure to accept anything you weren’t happy
about, nor to feel left out if you chose to snooze or stroll rather
than join in things.
“Parish Mass in the Parish
Church in the village, packed with pilgrims and locals - a building
gloriously light and airy, with acres of clear grass, after the intense
and sometimes stifling weight of the shrine church. Strolling back
after coffee at the back of that church through sunny, still streets
lined with flint-set, pantiled-roofed cottages.
“Drinks outside the Bull in
God’s providential lunchtime sunshine. The transporting experience of
going down into the well in the shrine in a new baptism for the
blessing of pure, cold water in the mouth, on the forehead and
splashing over the hands.
“And, on the road home,
abiding memories of...
Peace and a deep silence of
prayer made simple and appealing.
Fellowship made stronger and
laughter more ready than ever (where even the old jokes sounded new)
A place to which to bring
doubts and scepticism, but where, even where those reservations
remained, it did not matter.
A place where it seemed
overwhelmingly and satisfyingly normal to be a Christian and an
Anglican and to live a life founded in the sacraments and prayer; a
place where to believe and to practise the faith was simple and
A place where the unlikely
became possible, the flamboyant and even the absurd were at home with
the beauty of the holiness and where we could all be ourselves for a
A lovely place and a lovely
time, together for a time out of time with our fellow Christians and,
without a shadow of doubt, with our God.”
here for the 'Why Pilgrimage' feature on the shrine website
(including the article reproduced above, in its context on the shrine
Click here for
the home page of the Walsingham shrine
Saint Faith's and
Since the first visit in 2000, the
people of Saint Faith's and St Mary's have strengthened their ties with
the shrine. A Walisgham Circle has been formed, and you can access
pages about the group by following the index page link below, as well
as seeing pictures and words from the 2000 and the 2004 visits.
for our Walsingham index page
here for the 2000 visit
here for the 2004 visit
The Patronal Pilgrimage to Conques
Our church was named for Saint Faith,
a French girl martyred for refusing to renounce her Christian faith. In
2005, a group from our two churches travelled to Conques, in southern
France, to visit her shrine. The links below lead to several pages
recording this memorable visit in words, pictures and worship, as well
as to pages which tell her story, and that of the Conques Abbey, and
which list all the churches in this country and throughout the
world dedicated in her name.
here for the Conques pilgrimages index page
here for the story of Saint Faith
and information about churches dedicated in her name.
October 2006: The Road to Rome and Assisi
October 22nd and 28th, a group from our churches travelled to
Italy on pilgrimage to Rome and Assisi, with the theme 'Jesus Christ
yesterday, today and forever'.
for pages of pictures from the returning pilgrims;
as well as reproducing the text of Fr Neil's
pilgrimage addresses and pilgrims' diaries (in preparation). Below you
can read the itinerary for the visit.
Pilgrimage Mass in S.
Faith’s to include the blessing of those beginning a journey and
followed by ‘Italian-style’ Supper in the Upper Room.
Coach leave S. Faith’s
Ryanair flight FR9644 departs Liverpool
Arrive in Rome, coach to Domus Nova Bethlem
Lunch at Nuova Stella
Afternoon visit to the Anglican Centre with tea and talk by the
Director, Bishop John Flack
Mass (in Anglican Centre) and first address: Jesus Christ
basilicas or free day
Coach to Vatican for Papal
Lunch at La
Pilotta and free afternoon (or visit Sistine
'Rome by Night' coach tour
(coach to collect us)
Day trip to Assisi (coach to collect us from Domus)
(in Assisi) and second address: Jesus Christ Today
Mass (in Domus) and third address: Jesus Christ Forever
Dinner at Nuova Stella
Morning Prayer and blessing of those returning
Coach from Domus to Ciampino Airport
Ryanair Flight FR9643 departs for Liverpool
Arrive in Liverpool and coach to Crosby
October 2008: The Santiago Swingers
The most recent continental pilgrimage by members of the United
Benefice (and friends) took place in the week of the 2008 Patronal
Festival, and journeyed to Spain, to the shrine of St James at Santiago
de Compostela, home of the famous giant swinging incense burner.
To access pages of pictures, the background story, and the diaries of
pilgrims, follow THIS LINK.
Return to our home page
God of our
you have led us
to the living water:
as we go
forward on our journey,
in the name of
Jesus Christ our Lord.
our home page