The building of this Chapel of Our Lady of Reconciliation began in September 1980 to replace an open-air altar. The Chapel was blessed by Cardinal Hume in 1981 at the National Pilgrimage and it was consecrated by Bishop Alan Clark of East Anglia on May 22nd 1982.
The style of this Chapel is taken from a typical Norfolk barn. Together with the cloister, the intention was to blend with the simplicity of local farms around the Shrine.
The large roof is supported by steel beams, which also give strength to the atmosphere of prayer. The architects were Michael Wingate and Henry Rolph of the Norwich firm Purcell, Miller and Tritton.
The stained glass was made locally at Langham. The benches and woodwork by Rob Corbett, a local cabinet-maker; the pipe organ was built by Stephen Schumacher of Belgium and the electronic Organ by Norwich Organs and was installed in 1997.
The Altar is the focal point of every Catholic Church. Here the Eucharistic Sacrifice is offered. It is made of polished Aberdeen granite, and was a gift of the Union of Catholic Mothers.
During the consecration of the Chapel, the relics of Saint Laurence of Rome (martyred 258), Saint Thomas Becket (martyred 1170), and Saint Thomas More (martyred 1535) were sealed in the altar.
To the side of the Altar is the tabernacle. Here, the Sacrament of the Eucharist is reserved for silent prayer and adoration and for the sacrament of the sick. Originally this tabernacle was made for the Chapel at Craig Lockhart College, Edinburgh (1948) and was acquired by the Shrine in 1986.
At Christmas the crib is displayed here for visitors to see the “word made flesh”, the Eucharist that is also contained in the tabernacle.
The 12.00 noon Mass is the focal point of the Liturgy at the Shrine each day; and each afternoon, there is a period of adoration before the Blessed Sacrament exposed on the altar in the Chapel of Reconciliation. This is a blessed time at the Shrine when people can appreciate the peace of Walsingham, for everyone is invited here by Mary who directs them towards Jesus her Son in the Eucharist.
As part of the Golden Jubilee Celebrations of 1984, the icon of “The Mother of God of Walsingham” was commissioned by the Director Fr Clive Birch sm.
It was painted by Archimandrite David, of the Russian Orthodox community of St. Seraphim, Walsingham. In reminding us of the Eastern tradition, this icon is a call to unity between East and West. Unity between all Christians is the constant prayer of the Shrines in Walsingham.
At the end of the morning procession from the village, the pilgrims gather at the Icon and recite a prayer of dedication written by the late Holy Father. After Benediction in the afternoon, the celebrant moves over to the Icon and it becomes the focus of our prayers for our country when the Prayer for England is recited and the Marian Anthem proper to the liturgical season is sung.
When the number of pilgrims exceeds the capacity of the Chapel, the panelling at the back of the sanctuary can be opened up and the altar becomes the focal point for pilgrims gathered in the Shrine grounds. The Celebrant on these occasions faces out towards the crowd gathered in the grounds.
The Shrine really comes to life with large pilgrimages and the atmosphere is one of great activity and joy. The altar calls these large groups into unity for the Eucharistic gatherings and Sacraments of Christ.