Those responsible for some of the Catholic Church’s most famous and well-visited shrines in Europe gathered in England for a historic meeting at the end of last month.
Shrine directors from Germany, Slovenia, Romania, England, Poland, France, Ireland, Portugal and other countries, attended the conference in Norfolk and discussed why it is that shrines seem more popular than ever in the present age.
The theme of the gathering was “Evangelisation and gestures of popular piety” and it was hosted at one of England’s oldest shrines to Mary the Mother of God in Walsingham.
This year the shrine is celebrating its 950th anniversary and has had one of its busiest pilgrimage seasons ever, having received approximately 100,000 pilgrims. The number of pilgrims to Walsingham has risen for the past three years running.
An important part of life at Walsingham is the complementarity of the Anglican and Catholic shrines in the village. To that end, Bishop Lindsay Urwin, administrator of the Anglican shrine, joined the conference and the delegates to part in Evensong at the Anglican cathedral in Norwich.
The chairman of the gathering was Bishop Jacques Perrier of Tarbes and Lourdes, which receives millions of pilgrims each year. Archbishop Kevin McDonald also attended part of the conference, representing
the Bishops of England and Wales.