Thursday 23 September 2010

Our Lady of Walsingham

Here is a photo of our little outdoor shrine to Our Lady of Walsingham at St Catherine's.

As we celebrate today's feast I am always saddened that so little is made of it. Our own unique national feast in honour of Our Blessed Mother where there is still a physical place of pilgrimage (and one that is shared by our Anglican confreres) would seem to warrant a little more Umph!

Some weeks ago I visited Walsingham for the first time since the new parish church in honour of Our Lady's Annunciation was built. While the approach is charming (although not much like a church) in that it is constructed in vernacular rustic style, the interior is most disappointing. There are architects who have an understanding of modern church architecture and who approach their projects through the prism of the Faith. The interior is yet another one of those churches that look seem to have more in common with the waiting rooms and other public service facilities that the same architects have designed. The church owes more to Star Trek than pointing the way on the heavenly pilgrimage. In fact, looking at some photos the great desire to "look modern" (and therefore almost immediately out of date) is what strikes me!
In fact, the corona above the altar appears to be modelled directly on this image of the Star ship Enterprise below...
Here is another view of the chapel... oops, sorry the bridge of the Star Ship Enterprise - although it does have three comfy sedelia ready for Priest, Deacon and Sub-deacon.
Someone I know did originally propose paying for the tabernacle but when he saw the plans to mount it at the side of the sanctuary on top of a rocket launcher he changed his mind.

I'm always surprised that so much is made of the Reconciliation chapel just outside Walsingham being built in the local vernacular style - that of a barn. There is a local vernacular style for churches as well - the slipper chapel is one of many examples all over Norfolk. Why do we not build churches in the style of... o... say ... a church?
The Slipper Chapel

I'm reminded that some time ago I had the pleasure of having dinner in Rome with Duncan Stroik - although he is American - who designs modern churches recognisably in continuity with our past traditions, with a hermeneutic of continuity, one might say. As well as being charming, he is a practising Catholic with a large family. You can view some of his work here:

Beholde and se, ye goostly folkes all,
Which to this place have devocyon
When ye to Our Lady askynge socoure call
Desyrynge here hir helpe in your trybulacyon:
Of this hir chapell ye may se the fundacyon.

From the Walsingham Ballad

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