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Pilgrimage marks start of East Anglia anniversary

Celebrations to mark the 40th anniversary of the Diocese of East Anglia got off on the right foot when over 1,000 people joined the annual Diocesan Pilgrimage to the National Catholic Shrine at Walsingham on Bank Holiday Monday, May 2.

The Pilgrimage began with the crowning with flowers of the statue of Our Lady of Walsingham by Bishop Alan Hopes in the Friday Market Place at the village of Walsingham, watched by pilgrims from right across the Diocese.

They were joined by a group of 150 plus young people who had spent the weekend at the Ignite Youth Festival in Swaffham. Around 60 of them had, that morning, walked six miles to Walsingham.

The procession set off along the Holy Mile to the Basilica and Catholic Shrine, accompanied by singing and reciting the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary.

Pilgrims then gathered outside the Sanctuary at Walsingham where Bishop Alan led a penitential service, followed by the sacrament of reconciliation and the opportunity for individual confession.

There was a lunch break and the opportunity to pass through the Holy Door at the Slipper Chapel before Bishop Alan led a Solemn Mass of Mary, Queen and Mother of Mercy with pilgrims both inside and braving some showery weather outside.

During his homily Bishop Alan said: "The desire to share one's life with others and to share communion is at the heart of every individual life and in every generation. It is also at the heart of our Christian life. We are made for communion, for friendship. None of us should be alone in living the Christian life. Christian friendship is a grace of God we cannot afford to do without.

"Through the love and support of others we learn how to love and be loved by God. Mary knew this and the first disciples knew this, which is why they chose to live life in common and hold all things in common.

"This pilgrimage today is a wonderful opportunity to strengthen and encourage one another because on pilgrimage our faith is always buoyed up by the joy and faith and prayers of each one of us.

"This is even more so at World Youth Day, which takes place in Krakow at the end of July. Our young people will discover the beauty of their Catholic faith in a whole new way in communion with Pope Francis and millions of other young people from around the world," said Bishop Alan.

He then commissioned many of the young people and adults who will be attending the World Youth Day, before the concluding rites.

See a full picture gallery of the pilgrimage below.

RCDEA Walsingham Pilgrimage May 2016