The Union of Catholic Mothers Walsingham Pilgrimage has taken place annually on the first Tuesday in July since 1946. Members travel from all over England to pray for peace and reconciliation and to honour Our Lady at her shrine in England's Nazareth. It is organised by the Walsingham Committee and each Diocese is asked to lead in turn alphabetically.
Many pilgrims attend the Benediction and torchlight procession on the eve of the pilgrimage, when a large candle is lit by the National President and taken to the Slipper Chapel where it remains for the duration of the pilgrimage. The following day, the Pilgrimage Mass is offered in the Shrine Grounds after which the National Banner is carried at the head of the procession along the Holy Mile to the Abbey Grounds in the village, where the blessing of the sick and Benediction take place.
The UCM was asked to co-operate with the Cross Bearers in the Pilgrimage of Prayer and Penance for Peace which took place on 16th July 1948, when more than 10,000 people went to Walsingham. The fourteen crosses so reverently borne from all parts of the country remain to this day in the Shrine Grounds near to the Slipper Chapel. They stand as a memorial commemorating this great witness of faith of 1948.
Over the years The UCM has contributed many gifts to the shrine. In 1961, to commemorate the 900th anniversary of the apparition, members contributed towards the altar rails and a silver sanctuary lamp for the 14th century Slipper Chapel. To mark our Diamond Jubilee in 1973, we donated a granite altar for the Shrine Grounds which was incorporated into the Chapel of Our Lady of Reconciliation when it was built in 1981. This added to the Paschal candle stand given to celebrate the opening of the Chapel. In 1998, to commemorate the Centenary of the restoration of the shrine, we presented two inscribed chalices.
A new statue of Our Lady of Walsingham was commissioned for the 70th anniversary of the establishment of The UCM in 1983. It was carved from a solid piece of oak and was very heavy to carry. Eventually it was decided to use the Shrine statue and the beautiful wooden UCM statue was given a place of honour at Langham Priory by the Carmelite Sisters. In 2008 the Mother Prioress contacted us to say that sadly the Priory was closing and the Statue was returned to Walsingham where it remained for the next three years. In 2011 Bishop Hopes now of East Anglia, who was Auxiliary Bishop in Westminster at the time, suggested we present it to The Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham who were delighted to accept it. It was given to the Ordinariate's first religious community, now known as the Sisters of Our Lady of Reconciliation.
In 2006, The UCM raised funds for a beautiful "Liturgical Year" stained glass window in the newly built parish Church of the Annunciation in Friday Market.
Intentions that Pope Francis wants us to pray for this month