On Wednesday i reached yet another famous Shrine; that of the miraculous Icon of Our Lady of Zarvanitsa, which appeared in a dream to a monk fleeing the Mongol invaders in 1240. It was especially nice to be there yesterday morning for the celebration of the Byzantine-Rite Annunciation (they accept the Primacy of Rome but still follow the Orthodox calendar - it gets rather complicated...), not least because our own national Shrine to Mary, at Walsingham, is imbued with a particular orientation to this Feast:
|Statue of Our Lady of Walsingham with Cardinal Basil Hume and Pope John Paul II, Wembley Stadium, 29 May 1982|
"All who are in any way distressed or in need, let them seek me there in that little house you have made at Walsingham. To all that seek me there shall be given succour. And there at Walsingham in this little house shall be held in remembrance the great joy of my 'Salutation', when St. Gabriel told me that I should through humility become the Mother of God's Son."*
Hence actually, it seems that although pilgrimage doesn't look like an exact science at first, we may hope that in the Divine plan there is extraordinary precision in the timing and pathways which Our Lord is preparing for us.
Before finishing i must mention my tremendous gratitude to Sir Richard Beresford-Wylie, who very kindly donated a battery-powered 'Dazer' canine deterrent device, which i haven't actually needed to use yet, but which enables me to walk with greater confidence - not least as only the other day i had my first "Little-Red-Riding-Hood-esque warning about wolves! Incidentally, a few years ago there was a great deal of negative press in Britain about 'Hoodies' - yet Robin Hood and Little Red Riding Hood (cousins?) are two of our most enduring and important cultural icons!
*to 'Richeldis de Faverches', Lady of the Manor of Walsingham, c.1061AD.