William Tyndale is remembered on 6 October. Tyndale championed the use of the Bible in the vernacular, and translated all of the New Testament, and parts of the Old Testament into English. Many of the famous King James Version renderings of Jesus’ saying find their origin in Tyndale’s translation. He was executed in 1536, with his dying words being, “Lord, open the eyes of the king of England!”
October 15 and 16 provide an interesting contrast. On the 15th we remember St. Teresa of Avila (d. 1582), the Spanish mystic and founder of the Carmelite order. Teresa is considered a “Doctor of the Church” by Rome. On the 16th we remember the Anglican martyrs Hugh Latimer, Nicholas Ridley, and Thomas Cranmer, burned at the stake in 1555 and 1556. Cranmer was the compiler and author of the first Book of Common Prayer (1549), and the 1552 revision. Latimer’s last words (quoted originally in the Protestant apologetic work Fox’s Book of Martyrs) were made famous again in Ray Bradbury’s novel Fahrenheit 451, “Be of good cheer, Ridley; and play the man. We shall this day, by God’s grace, light up such a candle in England, as, I trust, shall never be put out.”
The October calendar includes, of course, the feast of Our Lady of Walsingham. By calendar date this feast falls on 15 October, but we will transfer the feast to Saturday the 17th, as a part of our pilgrimage festival. The Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to Lady Richeldis de Faverches, a devout English noblewoman in the village of Walsingham, in Norfolk, England, in 1061. Lady Richeldis had built a Holy House in 1053, modeled upon the structure in which Our Lady received the annunciation of Jesus’ conception from the angel Gabriel. It was in this Holy House that Richeldis received her vision, and the site became a focus for pilgrimage, with this cult increased due to the popular devotion that England was itself under the special protection of Mary, with the land being her dowry. The cult also was popularized by reports of healings from the water from the spring in the Holy House, and by royal patronage.
The shrine at Walsingham was destroyed in 1538, during the suppression of the monasteries under Henry VIII. Revival of the site occurred first in 1897, by order of Pope Leo XIII, with the Anglican shrine being revived in 1921. Just ten years later, the North American shrine to Our Lady was established here, at Grace Church. The details of this establishment may be found on our parish website. See the separate article in this newsletter for details of the pilgrimage festival to be held on Friday and Saturday, 16 and 17 October.
The Feast of Our Lady of Walsingham falls, actually, on 24 September. We observe the 15 October date (as transferred) because this is the feast of the translation of Our Lady’s image (i.e., the reëstablishment of her cult in 1897, 1921 and [here] in 1931).