However, the annual Latin Mass Society pilgrimage to Holywell gives cause for hope and sends out a message that the Catholic Church and its rich traditional heritage is, to coin a post Brexit political phrase, ‘open for business’.
News of parish rationalisations and a wholesale restructure of the diocese has made the column inches of the press, Catholic and secular and does not make encouraging reading. Pray for this small diocese, the bishop and it’s all too few priests.
The pilgrimage attracts impressive numbers each year and even though our 2016 attendance was a little reduced on previous years, it was still an impressive number especially when a High Mass in the region is now common place at nearby the Traditional strongholds of New Brighton and Warrington. Not that long ago, Holywell would be likely the only opportunity to attend such a Mass from one year to the next.
Yet again, pilgrims made the journey from far and wide, to gain many graces and spiritual nourishment at the Shrine of St Winefride.
Very little is known about her except that she lived in the 6th or 7th century near Treffynon (Holywell) in Wales. Various miraculous stories are told about her, and her cult has been widespread since the Middle Ages. Its main centres were Shrewsbury, where her remains were enshrined in 1138, and the well at Holywell that sprang up where, according to one version of her life, she was beheaded and then restored to life by her uncle, St Beuno. The well has remained a place of healing and pilgrimage through the Reformation to the present day.
Despite little being known of this Virgin Martyr, people still flock to her shrine, each and every day of the year – all with a deposit of faith that proves Wales is still a country in which the Catholic faith perseveres in these testing times.
I am grateful to Canon Tanner (priest celebrant), Canon Altiere (deacon), Father Wadsworth (sub deacon), Mr Philip Russell (MC), Mr Christian Spence (Musical Director), the Choir of St Mary’s, Warrington, the Servers, Mr and Mrs Lloyd, Mr John Axon (Photography) and each and all who made the journey to North Wales to demonstrate their own personal faith in ‘a little known’ Saint who inspires many.