How wonderful it was to be back in that special place of England’s Nazareth. We were very fortunate that the Shrine was open for our annual pilgrimage. We were led this year by Fr Tom Barnfather who is covering in the Parish during the current interregnum and although we were depleted in numbers it was still a wonderful experience and we were especially blessed with sunny weather.
The weekend retreat began with the first visit to the Holy House on Friday afternoon.
We then met on Saturday morning, bright and early at 8am in the Barn Chapel for Morning Prayer and Mass. At 11am we gathered in the Shrine to begin Stations of the Cross and then followed the stations through the beautiful grounds in the lovely late summer sunshine.
After lunch we had free time until Shrine Prayers at 5pm and the Pilgrimage Mass at 6pm, followed by supper and then back in the Shrine for Benediction, Healing of Hands (which due to restrictions was actually ‘hovering’ of hands) and Anointing.
As usual the candle-lit procession through the grounds as darkness fell was very atmospheric and moving.
Sunday morning began with Morning Prayer in the Barn Chapel before breakfast. We then made our way to the village Church of St Mary for the Sunday Service before returning to the Shrine grounds for lunch. After lunch we went back into the Shrine for the Sprinkling which was slightly different this year. The water from the well was poured into the pilgrims’ hands and then it was the individual’s decision if they wished to drink it or make the sign of the cross on their own foreheads or just let it run through their hands.
We were then back to our seats to prepare for the procession through the grounds and Benediction. For those of us who were ending our pilgrimage the final visit to the Holy House completed the weekend.
I hope all those who attended the retreat returned refreshed and renewed until next year when, God willing, we meet there again.
If anyone is interested in joining next year’s pilgrimage, please contact Blossom Thompson.