The Orthodox Chapel That Could Have Been

Though I have never seen photographs, some of the elders within our diocese recall the apse that was started in Walsingham, remaining incomplete – never to be part of an Orthodox Chapel that was conceived and planned to adjoin the south aisle of the Anglican shrine church, in the garden of St Augustine’s, where the confessional rooms now stand.

The ground had been blessed by Metropolitan Seraphim of the Russian Church in Exile (as our ROCOR was then called), though I am still searching in ‘Our Lady’s Mirror’ from the 1930’s to find when.

It would be wonderful to see drawings and plans of the intended chapel, whose construction was prevented by the outbreak of war.

The ‘temporary’ chapel within the shrine church – in which we are still celebrating – adjoins the proposed site, and has been in use since 1941, when it was used by both Eastern European prisoners of war from a nearby camp, and the Free-Polish armed forces.

It was consecrated by Archbishop Sava of Grodno on Trinity-Pentecost 1945) not 1944 as incorrectly repeated on the internet), and St Nikolaj Velimirovic served in this little chapel during his Walsingham convalescence, after the Second World War.

The original dedication of the chapel was in honour of the icon of ‘The Mother of God, of Perpetual Succour’, as can be seen on the foundation document. It was much later that the dedication was changed to the ‘Life-Giving Spring’, and this seems to have had no canonical sanction or official status.

Having celebrated the feast of the Holy Equal to the Apostles, St Vladimir in the ‘temporary’ chapel, yesterday, on the very hand-drawn antimension that was placed on the Holy Table on that day, we are aware of how blessed Orthodox pilgrims are to be continuing as part of the ‘Orthodox story’ of Walsingham, treading where holy men have gone before them.