With so much talk about the increasing secularisation in European countries nowadays it may come as quite a surprise to learn that Catholic shrines in the continent are experiencing a rise in popularity. That’s the message that emerges as shrine directors from across Europe begin a meeting this week at one of England’s oldest Marian Shrines, the National Shrine of Walsingham in Norfolk.
The theme of the 2-day meeting is "Evangelisation and Gestures of Popular Piety." This year, the Walsingham Shrine of Our Lady is celebrating its 950th anniversary and has had one of its busiest pilgrimage seasons ever. It’s Director is Father Alan Williams and Susy Hodges spoke to him about why shrines are growing in popularity despite our secularised societies in Europe:
Father Williams says "there's a general attraction to Catholic shrines across the board" even from people who are not Catholic or who rarely go to church and the reasons for this "are highly variable." He talks of how many of the pilgrims have experienced a spiritual "reawakening" and says "the grace of God" definitely abounds in the Walsingham Shrine.
Father Williams says given the fact that more and more people are making their ways to shrines, "the challenge for the Church is how to welcome them and of course, how to evangelise them."
Listen to the full interview with Father Williams by Susy Hodges (Vatican Radio) : >>