Our Lady of Walsingham

I wonder if William Shakespeare was inspired by his Catholicism to make ghosts such a prominent part of several of his works.  The ghost of the title-character's murdered father in Hamlet propels the young man into action.  The spirits of the murdered victims appear in Richard III, Brutus sees a ghost on the eve of battle in Julius Caesar, and the ghost of Banquo haunts Macbeth in Macbeth

An apparition is a paranormal appearance.  Shakespeare clearly was impacted by them.  Perhaps it was Our Lady of Walsingham that was the source of the Bard's influence. 

In 1061, the Blessed Mother appeared to a young woman named Richeldis de Faverches in the town of Norfolk, north of London.  A house was miraculously built on Richeldis' property, modeled exactly after the house of the Holy Family in Nazareth.  Thousands of pilgrims each year would visit the house, known as the shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham, and hundreds of miracles would be reported.  This lasted until Henry VIII, who had once paid homage to the shrine so dear to the hearts of the English, had the house torn down and the image of Our Lady of Walsingham burned. 

Shakespeare was born after the destruction of Walsingham, but the memory and affinity of the shrine still lived on in his, and other Englishmen's hearts.  During World War II, servicemen, stationed in the restricted zone near the North Sea, in which Walsingham was located, organized to have a Mass celebrated, the first Mass in over four hundred years. Catholic pilgrimages to the site would begin once again after the war, and the British Forces would present a statue of Our Lady of Walsingham to Pope Pius XII in 1946.  The 15th Century prayer by Richard Pynson at last was prayed and fulfilled:

O gracious Lady, glory of Jerusalem, Cypress of Sion and Joy of Israel, Rose of Jericho and Star of Bethlehem, O gracious Lady, our asking do not repel, in mercy all women ever thou dost excel. Therefore, Blessed Lady, grant then thy great grace, to all that thee devoutly visit in this place. Amen. 



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