Aid to the Church in Need organises pilgrimages to the national Marian shrines of Scotland and England

Aid to the Church in Need has organised two pilgrimages, held on the same day, at the national Marian shrines of both Scotland and England.

ACN, which supports persecuted and other suffering Christians, organised the “Pilgrimage of Hope” events at Carfin Grotto, Motherwell and Walsingham, Norfolk on Saturday, April 30.

The charity’s day of prayer for the suffering Church followed reports of violence and intimidation against Christians in parts of Africa, the Middle East and Pakistan.

Lorraine McMahon, ACN head of operations in Scotland, said the Carfin pilgrimage began with a rosary procession around the grotto.

She said: “The Knights of St Columba carried the Madonna and we prayed for every continent in the world and the work we do in various countries.”

This was followed by Mass in St Francis Xavier’s church.

Ms McMahon said: “The Mass was focused on hope in the suffering Church and the new rector of Carfin shrine, Fr McGachey, spoke very well about events in China.”

After Mass the charity’s UK Director Neville Kyrke-Smith reflected on the words of the Pope John Paul II’s inaugural homily: “Be not afraid – open the doors to Christ.”

Speaking the day before the John Paul II’s beatification Mr Kyrke-Smith said the late Pope’s message was “still relevant today for Christians enduring so much for their faith”. The pilgrimage to Walsingham also attracted a wide range of ages, with the youngest pilgrim under two and the oldest more than 80.

Michael Cowie, organiser of the Walsingham pilgrimage, said: “We were blessed by a lovely group of pilgrims, and a profound spirit of prayer, as we met together to commend the needs of our suffering brothers and sisters to Our Lady.”

On the coach to Walsingham Catholic writer and ACN trustee Joanna Bogle gave a talk on the history of Walsingham.

After Mass in the Catholic shrine to Our Lady at 1.30 pm Fr Phillip-Michael Tangorra from New Jersey led a rosary procession from the English national shrine of Our Lady to the Church of the Annunciation in Walsingham village, where Benediction was held.

ACN first held events for the persecuted Church at Walsingham and Carfin in the 1970s.