According to tradition, in 1061 Richeldis de Faverches, a devout Saxon noblewoman, had an extraordinary prayer experience.
The Blessed Mother came to her three times and mystically transported her to the house of the Annunciation. Richeldis was told to take careful note of the dimensions of the house and to reproduce it on her estate in Walsingham, England, which she promptly did. After Richeldis' death, Augustinian canons built a priory around the tiny replica of the "Holy House."
The shrine became a popular place of pilgrimage. A number of English kings made their way to the "Slipper Chapel," one mile from the priory. Shedding their shoes, they proceeded barefoot to the Holy House, where they knelt in prayer before a simple wooden statue of the Virgin. Henry VIII made the pilgrimage three times. Then, in 1538, having declared himself the head of the Church of England, he had the priory destroyed. The statue of our Lady was taken to London and burned.
In 1896, Charlotte Pearson Boyd, a convert, obtained the Slipper House, then a cow shed, and restored it to its status as a chapel. A year later, on August 20, 1897, the first Catholic pilgrimage since the Reformation was made to Walsingham. In 1934, the Slipper Chapel was named the English National Shrine of Our Lady. Today, the shrine rivals Canterbury in popularity. Merciful Father, through the intercession of Our Lady of Walsingham, reignite the flame of faith among your people.
Magnificat "Our Lady of Walsingham." Magnificat (July, 2017): 196.
Reprinted with permission of Magnificat.
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