Our Lady of Walsingham
The first modern statue was designed by Professor E. W. Tristram from details on the 15th Century seal of the Priory. It was enthroned on 19th August 1934 at the first National Pilgrimage and on that occasion the Bishops of England and Wales, with the approval of the Pope, designated the Slipper Chapel as the National Shrine of Our Lady for England.
In 1954, Bishop Parker of Northampton commissioned Monsieur Marcel Barbeau to carve a new statue. Marcel used as his model Mme. Marcelle Mandar who has since died in 1964. On 15th August 1954, this statue was solemnly crowned near the site of the original Shrine on behalf of Pope Pius XII by his Apostolic Delegate, Archbishop O’Hara. The crown was made by Mr. W. F. Knight of Wellingborough and is now used only on special occasions. The Statue stands on a special throne in the Slipper Chapel.
Our Lady, as she is venerated at Walsingham, is depicted as a simple woman, a mother. She is seated on the throne of Wisdom, in the midst of the Church which is represented by the two pillars symbolic of the Gate of Heaven, with seven rings to signify the seven sacraments and the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. The arched back of the throne reminds us of the rainbow which was set as a sign of God’s fidelity to his creation. Our Lady is clothed in the blue of divinity, the white of motherhood and the red of virginity. In her hand she holds a lily-sceptre with three blooms because she was virginal before, during and after the Saviour’s birth. As the Woman of the New Creation, the New Eve, she crushes beneath her feet a toadstone, symbolic of the power of evil. As the Queen of Heaven and of England, her Dowry, she is crowned with a Saxon crown. On his mother’s knee is the child Jesus who, as the Word of God made Flesh, holds the book of the Gospels. He extends his right arm in a double gesture of blessing and protection of his mother.