Sign-up for free e-newsletter

 Viewpoint from Father Adrian Ling

Father Adrian Ling is Priest-in-Charge of Hemsby, Winterton, Somerton and Horsey
Fviewpoints cross logo jpegr Hope Patten, the restorer of the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham in Norfolk died 50 years ago this August. He had been entertaining foreign bishops over for the Lambeth Conference on a hot summer’s evening,  Having given Benediction at the high altar and climbed the stairs to replace the Blessed Sacrament he collapsed and was carried over to his cottage where he expired in his four-poster bed. He could hardly have planned a more dramatic death. Fr Hope Patten was a traditionalist. He valued tradition as the link between the present and the past that connects us to the time of the early church and to Jesus.
Traditionalists are sometimes seen as crusty old fuddy-duddies who are allergic to change. They are frequently misunderstood, such as over the consecration of women as bishops. Knowing where we have come from helps us to understand better where we are now and where we might be going. It is important to hold in balance progress in the church with respect for the past. The balance should not tip too heavily either way. Some changes are just too radical for all to accept.
Jesus is sometimes considered to be a radical reformer, but he also upheld the importance of the traditions of the Jewish faith. He said had not come to abolish the old Law but to fulfill it. Any teacher of the Law who has been instructed about the kingdom of heaven, he said, is like the untitledowner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.
Such a man was Fr Hope Patten who in restoring Walsingham as a site of pilgrimage recreated a place of priceless spiritual value.  Many thousands of people, including several from the churches of this area, journey there for spiritual refreshment and to draw near to Christ every year. It is the site of great youth and children’s pilgrimages. For many it has been the place where faith has been revived or has begun. Fr Hope Patten’s mission was to rebuild Walsingham, and restore life, colour, and a sense of mystery and reverence to the church. When he was praised for what he had achieved he simply said that he had had a statue carved and God did the rest. If you’ve never been to Walsingham, it’s well worth a visit to see the fruits of his labours.