In A.D. 1061 a vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to Richeldis de Faverches, a devout Saxon noblewoman. In the vision Lady Richeldis was shown the house in which Mary received the Annunciation from the Archangel Gabriel, Mary asked Lady Richeldis to build an exact replica of the house in Walsingham.
The de Faverches family had the Holy House built with provisions for it's upkeep and the building of a priory next to it. The Chapel and priory came under the care of the Augustinian Canons in the mid-12th century. The chapel became a destination for pilgrims from all over England, eventually winning Royal patronage and Royal pilgrims. The fame and wealth of the site grew to immense proportions, that it was a target of thieves from without and embezzlers from within.
In A.D. 1538, one of the chapel's greatest patrons became it's nemesis when King Henry VIII ordered the confiscation of the site's wealth along with the destruction of chapel and priory, even though two years before the Prior had accepted the King's supremacy as head of the Church of England, it would not save them. The sub-prior was executed and eleven other men from the area that complained as to the sites fate were also executed.
In the early 20th century Walsingham once again became a destination for pilgrims, Anglican, Roman, and Orthodox. In 1897 Pope Leo XIII re-established a restored Slipper Chapel as a Roman Catholic Shrine and in 1921 Fr. A.H. Patten, the CofE Vicar for Walsingham sparked Anglican interest in the pre-Reformation pilgrimage. Since then Walsingham has become a centre for ecumenical co-operation, with pilgrims from different denominations making the pilgrimage to both the Roman and Anglican shrines.
Propers for the Feast of Our Lady of Walsingham - 24 September
Almighty God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hast revealed the beauty of thy power by exalting the lowly virgin of Nazareth and making her the mother of our Saviour: May the prayers of Our Lady of Walsingham bring Jesus to the waiting world and fill the hearts of all thy people with the presence of her child, who liveth and reigneth with thee and Holy Ghost, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
The Lesson - Isaiah 7:10-16.
The Gospel - St. Luke 1:26-38
Reference and Resources:
The Orthodox Christian Society of Our Lady of Walsingham