Published on 08/09/23
Year 10 students Amalia SV and Elanaz M tell us about the Year 10 GCSE RS trip to Walsingham.
As part of our GCSE Religious Studies course, we have been learning about pilgrimage. One of the most famous pilgrimage sites in the UK is Walsingham or ‘Little Nazareth’, as it is also known, which we, as Year 10 students, visited on 26 April. The main focus of pilgrimage is the Anglican Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham which remembers the vision of the Saxon noblewoman, Richeldis de Faverches. In this vision Richeldis was taken to Mary’s home in Nazareth and saw Gabriel promise Mary that she would give birth to Jesus. Mary asked Richeldis to build a replica of the house in Nazareth, which now lies in Walsingham.
The trip enabled us to explore a variety of churches in Walsingham, including Methodist, Roman Catholic and Russian orthodox. This helped us develop a clearer understanding of these denominations by being able to visually observe how differences in belief are reflected in the physical features of the Churches. For example, the Russian Orthodox chapel of St Seraphim was very small and filled with brightly coloured icons. However, we were surprised by the exterior of the Methodist Church which resembled a simple house, and did not have icons or stained glass. After visiting all the different churches, we returned to the main Saint Mary & All Saints Church and visited the Holy House. This is a replica of Jesus’ house in Nazareth and is therefore considered a space of great importance and spiritual focus.
In the Holy House, we lit candles and made a prayer in order to experience what pilgrims might do when they visit. Experiencing this gave us a better understanding why people specifically come to Walsingham to pray in order to focus better on prayer when in a holy and meaningful place. The last thing we did was take part in a sprinkling service (unique to Walsingham) at the Holy Well. There was first a short service which was led by a priest and included communal prayer. Then, we congregated at the Holy Well where the priest blessed those that wanted it with holy water. He offered us a sip to drink and then marked the sign of the cross on our forehead and poured some into our hand. The water is believed to have miraculous healing powers and the sprinkling reminds pilgrims of the gift of life and the generosity of God’s love. This service was very exciting to be a part of and gave us an interesting insight into the personal importance of Walsingham for pilgrims.
Overall, it was a fantastic trip and we all came back with an in-depth understanding of Christian practices that surpasses what we could have learnt in the classroom.