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Bishops to hold national collection for Walsingham

The statue of Our Lady of Walsingham is held aloft during a Year of Mercy pilgrimage attended by Cardinal Nichols (Photo: mazur/

A national collection for the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham is to be held in September.

The Bishops of England and Wales are launching a one-off collection for the shrine, which dates back to the 11th century, on the weekend of September 24 and 25. The feast of Our Lady of Walsingham is on September 24.

Last year the shrine launched a £10 million appeal. It is hoped that £6 million will pay for upgrading buildings, with a new cloister, refectory, conference and retreat centre, and new accommodation for the disabled. The rest of the money will focus on developing the work of the shrine.

News of the appeal came as it emerged that the Catholic television network EWTN is establishing a studio at Walsingham – its first in Britain.

Mgr John Armitage, the rector of Walsingham, said he was “delighted”, adding: “EWTN were looking for a place where they could be based and have an experience of a vibrant crossroads of Catholicism – that’s why they came to Walsingham. They have bought a building which will be a studio for the production of TV and radio programmes which will be broadcast on their global network.

“The programmes made in Walsingham will reflect the experience of the Church on this side of the Atlantic, and in particular look to expand programming for young people, and this will be undertaken by a group of young adults from the UK. In using the latest technology and social media, this new project will look to give people an experience of their Catholic faith, ‘ever ancient – ever new’.”

Mgr Armitage also said he hoped EWTN would be a partner in the new evangelisation and a place of hospitality for pilgrims in Walsingham.

He said: “The new studios will have a warm welcome for all who visit, facilities for TV and radio production, a hospitality lounge for pilgrims coming to Walsingham with internet access, regular showing of programmes, plus a suite of rooms for visiting pilgrims, and for those coming to help with the production of programmes. The use of media in the spread of the Gospel is strongly encouraged by the Church, and the shrine welcomes this new partner in its work for the new evangelisation.”

Mgr Armitage has also announced the opening of a new retreat centre in Walsingham called the Dowry Retreat.

He said: “The day-to-day running of the retreat will be carried out by the Community of Our Lady of Walsingham, a new religious community. It will be open to all, but a particular focus will be on young adults. We shall be working in partnership with EWTN, Youth 2000 and The Guild of Our Lady of Ransom.”