Photo Essay: The Dowry of Mary Pilgrimage in Walsingham, Norfolk-Guide

One of my favourite months of the year is May. It’s the month (at least here in Europe) when spring really erupts. So fresh and vibrant are the green colours of the trees, and so bright are the colours of the flowers. In England, everything really points to “this green and pleasant land.” The season is especially beautiful this year as the Easter Season falls entirely in May. This is a rare occurrence, possible only due to the lateness of Easter in the Church this year. But there is another reason why I like May, which is even more important. In the Catholic Church calendar, it is the month dedicated to Our Lady. For more info click here.

Devotions to Our Lady, the Mother of God, take place every day during May in many Christian churches. Litanies are said in certain places, special blessings are celebrated, the rosary is recited, and prayers are said. It is always a special joy to visit Poland or other Catholic countries during May, to see processions taking place with statues of Our Lady, flowers, and Marian banners. A large May procession through the town is held in Krakow, during which a statue of Our Lady is venerated by the faithful.

There are even more processions and pilgrimages during May at many of the shrines dedicated to Our Lady than there are in other months of the year. On the 1st day of May, a community of faithful Catholics devoted to the Divine Grace in England made a pilgrimage to Walsingham in Norfolk. Often Walsingham is regarded as ‘Nazareth of England’. Lady Richeldis was brought to Nazareth in spirit by Our Lady in the eleventh century. In Walsingham, she was told to create a model house like that in which the Annunciation occurred.

Recently, Blessed Pope John Paul II was beatified by his successor, 1 May being the date selected. It is entirely fitting that, on the first day of Our Lady’s month of May, this devoted priest, who came from modest origins in Krakow, Poland, was beatified. Pope John Paul has always shown great devotion to Mary, Our Lady. Mary had been present for his whole life. When he survived the 1981 assassination attempt, the date was the anniversary of Our Lady’s apparition. The bullet that saved his life was sent to Our Lady of Fatima shrine, where future pilgrims would remember Our Lady and offer thanks.

Throughout the nation, during this special Easter month of May 2011, Christians will pay additional homage to Our Lady. Time spent dwelling on these issues must be a good thing in this fast-moving world of today.