Eccles and friends on the pilgrimage.
For me the pilgrimage was an opportunity of meeting several legendary figures for the first time. Dr Joseph Shaw, the LMS Chairman, had invited along his great friend Mgr Basil Loftus - at 103 he was the oldest participant - although Basil is no friend of Latin! "A priori, I may be persona non grata!" he admitted. "But I am coming along to meet the dramatis personæ, and, at the end, to say Veni, Vidi, Vici! even though the use of Latin is infra dignitatem!" He went on to say that God, having no supernatural language-learning abilities, could not possibly understand Latin.
The shirt I was wearing.
Another surprise participant was Michael Campbell, the bishop of Lancaster. He was very keen on having his photograph taken dozens of times, so that he could post the results on his blog, along with all the other remarkably devout things he had been doing in August (Blackpool is such a spiritually nourishing place for a holiday). However, our friend +Campbell dropped out at an early stage, saying that he needed a spot of prayer and reflection.
A place for prayer and reflection!
I had hoped to see Fr Tim Finigan, but he sent his apologies, as he was packing in readiness for his move to Margate. I tried to persuade him that there was no need to take his vast collection of old copies of the Tablet with him, but he felt he could not live without them. Luckily, we did have Father John Zuhlsdorf walking with is, toting his trusty automatic, so that we received no attacks from those vicious gangs of Anglican ladies that roam the Norfolk countryside.
We were really honoured to see Professor Tina Beattie on our expedition. Admittedly, she complained non-stop about the absence of women priests on the pilgrimage, and asked Dr Shaw whether adequate arrangement for contraception and abortion on the walk had been made. I did not hear Dr Shaw's reply.
Walsingham! We ask a local resident for directions.
Well, that's it, really. A good time was had by all, and Damian Thompson - a mere spectator - was waiting in Walsingham to welcome us with a supply of nourishing cupcakes and custard. I think all this circumstantial detail proves that I was definitely present, even if I had doffed my usual red biretta for the occasion.