“This is a real milestone in the history of the Catholic Church in King’s Lynn,” said Bishop Alan who was joined on June 10 by a large congregation and priests from across the King’s Lynn Deanery, including former parish priests of Our Lady’s Fr Tony Shryane and Fr David Finegan.
“The Shrine of Our Lady was restored by Pope Leo XIII and set up here in King’s Lynn in 1897, the town where pilgrims before the Reformation would land before making the rest of their journey by foot to Walsingham – and this many years before it was possible to restore the National Shrine of Our Lady in Walsingham.”
The stone altar was originally put in at the consecration of the church, 75 years ago in 1947, but when the church was reordered in the 1970s the reduced altar was never consecrated, hence its dedication by Bishop Alan on Friday.
During the altar dedication, a relic of St Crescentius of Rome, who was beheaded aged 11 when he refused to deny his faith in 303AD, was re-placed inside the altar by Bishop Alan and was then sealed in by a stonemason and anointed with the oil of chrism.
In his homily, Bishop Alan said: The solemn rite of dedication recalls for us the very roots of our holy faith and the great love that God has for us, the holy people of God.
“For Christians, the altar is a sacred meeting place between God and his people. The anointing of the altar makes it the very symbol of Christ in our midst for he is the anointed One of the Father. It also reminds us that we too have been anointed with the sacred oil of chrism at our baptism and confirmation. Through our anointing we too are signs of Christ to our world.
“As we offer Mass on the newly dedicated altar we will commend to God’s love and mercy the whole people of this Catholic community, together with all our benefactors, living and departed,” said Bishop Alan.
“May God continue to inspire us all in this community, to serve and glorify him in our words and deeds and so be true witnesses of his love and mercy in our world for many more years to come.”
Present when the original church and altar were consecrated in 1947 was retired Catholic teacher Pauline McSherry, who was also present on Friday. In 1947, Pauline was visiting King’s Lynn while on holiday from Ireland, but a few years later, in 1955, she moved to the town and taught generations of children in Catholic schools there.
“I remember in 1947 being over on holiday aged 14 and there being soil down the aisle in which the bishop wrote with his finger.”
Now aged 89, Pauline said: “The Catholic community here is very important to me because of the friendship they offer to me as I am on my own – and we have great clergy here.”
After the Mass and altar dedication the congregation enjoyed a reception in the Wrigglesworth Room and Rectory garden.
See a full picture gallery of the dedication here or below:
Read more about the church’s history at www.catholicparish-kingslynn.org.uk
Pictured top is Bishop Alan Hopes anointing the altar with the oil of Chrism.