Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) has held another successful pilgrimage to the ancient shrine of Walsingham to raise awareness of the suffering Church around the world, writes John Newton

The Catholic charity’s annual pilgrimage to Walsingham on Saturday, May 22, followed reports of continuing violence and intimidation of Christians, especially in parts of the Middle East, Sudan and Pakistan.

The event began with Mass at the national shrine to Our Lady, celebrated by ACN’s national chaplain, Fr Martin Edwards.

During his homily he said the pilgrimage was a way of showing prayerful solidarity with the millions of persecuted Christians around the world. Afterwards, Fr Edwards led pilgrims along the holy mile to Walsingham, following the route of the old railway line.

Pilgrims prayed the rosary on the way – and Fr Edwards heard Confessions – as a statue of Our Lady of Walsingham was carried to the church of the Annunciation. Benediction took place in the church on arrival in Walsingham.

Pilgrimage organiser Margaret Regan said: “At England’s Nazareth we sought the Queen of Heaven’s intercession for the persecuted Church.”

ACN first started Walsingham pilgrimages for the persecuted Church in the 1970s; this year was the fourth consecutive event since its revival in 2007. This year for the first time the charity also organised a pilgrimage to Carfin Grotto, Motherwell – Scotland’s national shrine to Our Lady – on the same day.

Directly under the Holy See, Aid to the Church in Need supports the faithful wherever they are persecuted, oppressed or in pastoral need. ACN is a Catholic charity helping to bring Christ to the world through prayer, information and action.

Founded in 1947 by Fr Werenfried van Straaten, whom Pope John Paul II named “an Outstanding Apostle of Charity”, the organisation is now at work in about 130 countries throughout the world.

The charity undertakes thousands of projects every year, including providing transport for clergy and lay Church workers, construction of church buildings, funding for priests and nuns and helping to train seminarians.

Since the initiative’s launch in 1979 Aid to the Church in Need’s Child’s Bible, God Speaks to his Children, has been translated into 162 languages.