The appearance of Our Lady of Walsingham is one of the earliest Marian apparitions in history. Richeldis de Faverches, a noble widow living in Norfolk during the reign of Edward the Confessor, petitioned the Blessed Virgin to inspire her to a notable work of charity. In answer, Our Lady gave her a vision, taking Richeldis to the house in Nazareth where the Annunciation occurred. She instructed her to build a replica in Walsingham to commemorate Mary's joy at the Angelic Salutation of Gabriel, the heralding of the Incarnation.
The Holy House became a shrine, a place of pilgrimage and miracles. Ballads were penned in praise of Our Lady of Walsingham, and many kings made pilgrimage there. This included Henry VIII, but after his break with the Church he ordered the shrine destroyed. This event too became the subject of ballads, now of lament. The place lay silent until the 1890s, when the ruins of the wayside Slipper Chapel were restored for Catholic use. Then in the 1930s, the Anglican Church built a new shrine and Catholic Slipper Chapel was declared the English National Shrine of Our Lady.
When the Word was made Flesh, the universality of God came into the particularity of a little house in the village of Nazareth. The Incarnation means that God meets us not in an abstracted existence, but directly, within the particular places and circumstances of our lives. As Our Lady guided Richeldis to make a Nazareth in England, every chapel and shrine to Our Lady of Walsingham is a particular, local Nazareth, an encounter with the joy of the Incarnation in that special place.
The Canterbury Cathedral is one of the oldest and most famous Christian structures in England and forms part of a World Heritage Site. Founded in 597, the cathedral was completely rebuilt from 1070 to 1077. The east end was greatly enlarged at the beginning of the twelfth century, and largely rebuilt in the Gothic style following a fire in 1174, with significant eastward extensions to accommodate the flow of pilgrims visiting the shrine of Thomas Becket.
A pivotal moment in the history of the Cathedral was the murder of the archbishop, Thomas Becket, in the north-west transept on Tuesday 29 December 1170 by knights of King Henry II. The king had frequent conflicts with the strong-willed Becket and is said to have exclaimed in frustration, "Who will rid me of this turbulent priest?" The knights took it literally and murdered Becket in his own cathedral. The posthumous veneration of Becket made the Cathedral a place of pilgrimage. This brought both the need to expand the Cathedral, and the wealth that made it possible.
Visit Amesbury, the UK’s oldest occupied settlement and home to Stonehenge, one of the biggest wonders of the world. See the best-preserved manuscripts of the Magna Carta at Salisbury Cathedral as well as beautiful scenes of the stories of Genesis and Exodus. In Bath, celebrate Mass at St. John the Evangelist’s Church. In Birmingham visit St. Philip’s Cathedral and the Oratory Church which was visited by Pope Benedict XVI. In London visit St. Etheldreda’s Church in Ely Place, the oldest Catholic Church in England which served as a safe-haven for Catholics who were persecuted in the 17th century as well as many famous landmarks of this magnificent city. In Walsingham visit the Roman Catholic National Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham which was established in 1061, here you will celebrate Mass at the Slipper Chapel which is dedicated to the patron Saint of Pilgrims to the Holy Land, Saint Catherine of Alexandria.