FOUR THOUSAND pilgrims gathered at Walsingham on Sunday for the consecration of the chapel of Our Lady of Reconciliation during the National Pilgrimage led by His Eminence, Cardinal Hume, shared in a new vision' of Mary as the champion of Justice and reconciliation.
For many years in Walsingham there has been the 'scandal' of two shrines to Mary, one Anglican, one Catholic. The heart of English devotion to the Mother of God has until recently been a sharp expression of the rift between the two churches.
"Each day", said Mrs Sayer, an Anglican who lives in the village, "some pilgrim will ask you the way to the Anglican or Catholic Shrine. You tell them", she said, "pointing 180 degrees in the opposite direction and it hurts dreadfully".
However. the past two years have seen a quiet revolution taking place in Will singham. In fact, since Fr Clive Birch became director of the shrine the different denominations represented at Walsingham and staff from both shrines have been praying together. once a week.
They meet at the Maris( sisters or at the Little sisters or perhaps at Mother Julian's with the Anglican sisters of St Margaret.
Sometimes it might be the Anglican parish priest's home or the Catholic presbytery. At the start of this year's Pilgrim Season, the staff of both shrines joined in a joint day of retreat to pray for an increase in love and unity, "There", they say. we had a 'little vision' of the 'One Church'. Much has changed in Walsingham.
The feeling of competition has died away and a common purpose has emerged and as Mr Robin Sayer, Guardian of the Anglican Shrine put it: "The One Shrine to the One Mary. Mother of God, seems just around the
Bishop Alan Clark who was last week presented with the highest Anglican award, the Lambeth Cross, for his contribution to unity, led the rosary and the readings.
Bishop Clarke urged all the pilgrims to be of one heart and one mindaround the Cardinal so that the words "May they all be onemight he embedded in the
new chapel and in the hearts of all present.
• Those who went to Walsingham to nurture an exclusive private devotion would have been sorely disappointed as Cardinal Hume opened new and revolutionary dimensions to the Virgin Mary.
He pointed out the "great absence of peace because there is an absence of justice". 'We live in a world," he said. "which has wandered away from God, rejected God and which has now lost its way-.
Mr Robin Sayer, guardian of the Anglican Shrine commented later: "This is the image of Our Lady that we accept".
Mr Sayer added: "Walsingham is pointing the way to a new understanding of a Mother who doesn't care about which child struck the first blow but who is more anxious than ever to unite her household in the lace of mounting pressure outside".