Few people in today’s godless England have heard of Our Lady of Walsingham. But there was a time that she was known and revered throughout the whole of Christendom, to such a degree that she could be said to have put England on the map, at least in spiritual terms.
During the Middle Ages, the shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham was one of the major pilgrimage sites in the world, ranking alongside Rome, Jerusalem, and Santiago de Compostela. It was the principal shrine to the Blessed Virgin, the place above all others that Christians flocked to pay homage to the Mother of God. And they flocked in such numbers that the Walsingham Way was also known as the Milky Way, suggesting poetically that the number of pilgrims rivaled the number of stars in the sky. A succession of English monarchs made pilgrimages there and pilgrims arrived from all over Europe. An anonymous poem, entitled “As Ye Came from the Holy Land”, sometimes attributed to Sir Walter Raleigh, refers not to Jerusalem but to “the holy land of Walsingham”.