Every time we went on a pilgrimage to Walsingham, we travelled by coach or by car. But I felt a pilgrimage should be something that challenges you physically. I wanted to feel the hardship of the road under my feet, and get the sense of how people did pilgrimages hundreds of years ago.
I had important prayer intentions for one of my children and for the conversion of England. I also thought of the rededication of England as the Dowry of Mary which is to take place in March 2020.
Sixteen years ago, I converted to the Catholic Church (I was a Protestant before). I believe that when you take the Catholic faith seriously, you cannot do without devotion to Mary. As a convert I learnt a lot about the Catholic faith and gradually got rid of prejudices, such as those about the Catholic approach towards Mary.
The Marian apparitions in Medjugorje helped me to not only intellectually grasp the Catholic faith, but also to embrace it with my whole heart. Before we moved back from Switzerland to the UK in 2016, we implored the help of Our Lady of Walsingham to find a new home.
After our first visit in Walsingham, when we were living temporarily in a caravan, we soon found a family who was willing to rent us their house. From then on we were able to get established in the UK. We have visited Walsingham a few times with our parish and privately since then.
During the pilgrimage I felt free and I was motivated to walk on and on. Walking for hours in the glaring sun (it was the hottest part of the summer then), enduring hurting muscles and sometimes heavy road traffic, made the journey on foot at times challenging.
I thought about Jesus and Mary and life in general. That’s because on such a pilgrimage you have almost all day to think and pray; there are hardly any distractions, no household chores and hardly anyone talking to you.
Bernice was born in Gloucester and lived for over 30 years in Switzerland before returning to the UK. She now lives in Caxton, Cambridgeshire, and usually attends Mass at Our Lady and the English Martyrs in Cambridge and St John Fisher in Cambourne.
Her book is entitled From Home to Walsingham. A Mother’s Five-Day Pilgrimage on Foot and is available for £6.47 in paperback from Amazon at https://amzn.to/2KrILpv
The pictures above show the Zieba family in Walsingham, and Bernice with her book.