On Sunday September 3, the Catholic National Shrine of Our Lady in Walsingham hosted the Dowry of Mary Pilgrimage. Led by Bishop Emeritus Alan Hopes and accompanied by Father Robert Billing, the new Rector of the Shrine, the event drew a crowd of around 3,500 people, from over 30 nationalities.
The day began with a flag presentation, where representatives from various nationalities and chaplaincies around the country offered their flags to Bishop Alan, symbolizing the universal nature of the Church. Immediately after, Bishop Alan celebrated Mass and delivered a significant homily.
In the homily, he traced the history of the pilgrimage site, saying, “Nearly 1,000 years ago, in 1061, Mary asked Richeldis, the lady of the manor here in Walsingham, to build a copy of the Holy House of Nazareth.” He further expanded on Mary’s role as the Ark of the Covenant: “She is the house of God; she is the Ark of the Covenant. From all eternity, God prepared Mary, preserving her from original sin, filling her with His grace so that His Son might have a fitting dwelling place on Earth from the moment of His conception.”
He emphasized Mary’s role as a dwelling place for Jesus, stating, “Mary not only kept the Lord Jesus Christ safe and warm in her womb; her interior beauty of spirit gave Him glory and honour, as no place built by men could ever hope to do.”
Bishop Alan went on to connect the significance of the Holy House with the Eucharist: “Our love for Our Lady leads us naturally to the love of the Holy Eucharist, of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. For the Eucharist is an extension of the Incarnation, when God in Jesus walked upon Earth. Here in the Eucharist is the real presence of God amongst us until the end of time.”
“At the end of Mass, we are sent out to be the very presence of Jesus Christ in our world. We are to proclaim His Gospel; we are to live as those who have experienced His love and mercy in our own lives. We are sent out to commit ourselves to love and serve those who are in need, and to bring others to know and to love the Lord”, Bishop Alan concluded.
Following Mass and lunch, attendees processed down the Holy Mile to the Abbey grounds, the original site of the Holy House. There, Bishop Alan performed Benediction in front of the Lonely Arch.
The Dowry of Mary Pilgrimage was not just an event but an enriching experience, serving as a reminder of the deep roots of faith and community at this venerable site.
See full photo gallery below.