Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Our Lady of Walsingham

I've always wanted to go back to Walsingham and see what it was like. I have vague memories of staying there with my parents, brother and a friend of mine who was brought along with me to stop me being bored; it was 1963 if I remember correctly.

Today we returned. It's a strange place, full of graven images and gift shops, yet it has an strong medieval charm. The actual shrine had the same effect on me as it did way back then - I wasn't impressed. The grandiose decorations of Roman catholicism are not to my liking - it's all very high church even though the site of the shrine is Anglican. I could have drunk the water from the well but I concluded it would have had very little benefit given my lack of faith.

Henry VIII brought Walsingham's economics of pilgrimage to a suddent stop and so it remained for 300 years until the practice was revived. Of course pilgrim destinations attract a whole host of money-making enterprises much as they were in medieval times. Nothing ever really changes.

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