Tuesday 27 July 2010

Fraternity of Our Lady de Salve Regina in Walsingham

Good Walsingham Procession...

Bad Walsingham Procession - I don't see why pilgrims should have to carry Our Lady of Ronseal around, rather than an image that looks more like the real McCoy. Unrobed image-bearers and those funny little pen-lights around the statue. Oh dear.....

Just wanted to share a few photos from this year's pilgrimage to Walsingham with the Fraternity of Our Lady de Salve Regina, which happened this weekend.

The Fraternity has a very interesting history, which you can read below. In common with the Shrine at Walsingham, the Fraternity was a 20th century revival of a medieval institution, and in many ways the modern history of the Fraternity is intimately linked with the Walsingham shrine, reflecting the close partnership between Fr Hope Patten and Fr Fynes-Clinton in the 20th century Catholic movement. The Walsingham shrine at S. Magnus is maintained by the Fraternity, and is an official starting point for pilgrimages to Walsingham. The Fraternity is also represented in the church's fabric by a stained glass window above the Lady Chapel of S. Magnus, which features the Fraternity's badge.

Tat-spotters will notice that in the photos I am wearing a blue sash or ribbon around my neck when robed for serving liturgical or devotional functions. This blue and gold band is the privilege of members of the Court that governs the Fraternity, and it is worn at all Fraternity events and by Court Members whenever they serve or celebrate the Sacraments. If you'd like more information about the Fraternity, or you'd like to join, then please contact me.

From the S. Magnus website :

Fraternity of Our Lady De Salve Regina

A Fraternity was founded in 1343 for the purpose of singing the hymn Salve Regina - a practice that was repeated in a number of other churches of medieval London. Records of neighbouring churches show that they too observe this practice with entries in several wills leaving property and money for the purpose.

Here at St. Magnus the image took the form of the Salutation of the Virgin by the Archangel Gabriel. Subscriptions of the members were devoted towards the five candles that were burnt before the statue during the singing of the hymn. Further allotments of money were used to provide altar cloths, plate and other accessories for the maintenance of the chapel. The architect of Westminster Hall, Henry Yevele, left in his will money to maintain a lamp that was to burn perpetually in front of the statue. Yevele, who died in 1400, was buried in the nearby chapel.

At the time of the Reformation in the 16th century the Fraternity was dissolved, and not reformed again until 1922. Currently [1994] there are some fifty to sixty members. The hymn with petitioning prayers is said or sung after the Eucharist throughout the year. The Fraternity's badge is shown in the stained glass window at the East end of the North wall of the church above the reredos of the Lady Chapel altar.

Five wax candles were burnt in honour of the Five Joys of Mary: 1 The Annunciation St. Luke i, 26-38 2 The Visitation St. Luke i, 39-56 3 The Birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ St. Luke ii, 1-19 4 The Presentation in the Temple St. Luke ii, 22- 39 5 The Finding in the Temple St. Luke ii, 41-51 As recited in the Rosary.


  1. I thought it customary and certainly more reverential for thurifers to walk backwards before the Blessed Sacrament.

  2. Dear Anonymous,

    Yes quite. My understanding is that for these Processions it's best for the two thurifers to take turns in turning around to cense the Sacrament with three doubles. Mind you, given the average age and competence of servers on pilgrimages to Walsingham (no offence), it's probably best that they don't.

    In fact, in Walsingham I try to avoid the Mass at the Parish Church, since the clergy there a)Concelebrate for no just cause and b) enthrone themselves on chairs behind a free-standing altar, invariably with their backs to the Blessed Sacrament. I don't know how they think we laity are supposed to assimilate their eloquently phrased intercessions before the BS during exposition with their arrogant disregard for the Reserved Sacrament during Mass. A good argument for Reservation at a side altar.

  3. I go to Walsingham for the weekend several times a year and always carefully avoid services in the Parish church. Apart from the Holy House my favourite place for Mass is the Guild of All Souls' Chapel, especially on Sunday morning. In the 50s and 60s it was customary in Catholic minded churches for both thurifers to walk backwards continually censing the Sacrament and in the 70s and 80s I perfected the art of conducting a choir whilst walking backwards in procession. Generations of young choristers - male and female - waited eagerly for me to fall over, but it never happened. A girl I was going out with at the time asked why, when leading the choir round in procession, I always looked utterly bored and as if I was aware of a nearby horrid smell. I took great delight in explaining it was the correct attitude to adopt and so she went off and married a low church ordinand!

    Under recent management only plain cottas were permitted for servers at Walsingham. This seems, predictably, to have been relaxed and hopefully a similar relaxing of the custom of using only Novus Ordo might ensue.

    I hate concelebration, Mass facing the people, chasubles that look like flimsy marquees, responsorial Psalms and endless, self indulgent intercessions led by the laity. All these iniquities seem to be perpetrated in Walsingham Parish Church. Yet Fr Banks is a nice person to talk to and a very witty after dinner speaker (as at the Partnership Weekend in February this year.)

  4. Anonymous, Fortescue says (for Maundy Thursday and Corpus Christi) that it is best to walk in the normal way, although he does allow for them to be half-turned to the Sacrament.

    Personally I think this whole not turning your back unnecessarily on the Blessed Sacrament rule to be rather much. I would be more concerned about people communicating too frequently (and without observing the traditional fasts) as a form of profanation than accidently turning one way or the other.

    Joseph, I have always been in favour of reservation in a side chapel (if we are to have them that is) since it seems a sort of half-way house between the ancestral (and certainly more traditional) reservation in the household of lay people or the presbytery, and the ''traditionalist'' reservation at the High Altar. The Tabernacle has traditionally nothing whatsoever to do with the High Altar...

  5. In the first photograph it appears as though the ombrellino is being held over Ex Fide himself!

  6. Members of the Court, well, well, ex-fide has come a long way!

  7. Well, he's such a delicate thing, you see? :-)

    Of course, it's always possible that he's wearing a bespok version of this.

  8. Couple of thoughts:
    I have heard conflicting opinions re thurifers walking backwards censing the Blessed Sacrament, these varying views are reflected above. As a thurifer myself, unless there was a LOT of space and a smooth route, I wouldn't try it. It seems a niceity rather than a necessity. More importantly you risk being a distraction, taking attention away from Our Lord - surely of more concern than which way you are facing. The more competent an Altar server, the less you should be noticed.
    Secondly - Ex Fide, is the Salve really sung all year round, or do seasonal anthems ever replace it? (Regina Coeli etc)


  9. It gives me great comfort to know that as I sit in my pew in Phoenix, AZ...under the jurisdiction of the Very Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, archheretic/archbishop - I am at least only two degrees (by measure of the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game) from Our Lady of Walsingham. ;-) Thanks, Joseph. A very happy (and belated) Walsingham day to you!