Sacred statue at Catholic church for first time in 905-year history

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A CANDLELIT procession guided a 950-year-old holy relic through town centre streets after it appeared in a Roman Catholic church for the first time.

The usual home of Our Lady of Walsingham is at an Anglican shrine in Norfolk – but the statue of Jesus Christ and his mother Mary is also sacred to Roman Catholics.

Both believe during a vision in 1061 Mary asked noblewoman Richeldis de Faverches to build a replica of the house where Angel Gabriel announced the birth of Jesus.

Anglican Bishop Linsay Urwin gave a talk on Friday at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Park Street, Berkhamsted.

He said: “Here we are in Berkhamsted, together. Mary knows what Jesus wants – for the Church to be one.

“Let our prayer united with hers, and our procession, to be a firm sign of God’s intention for his church.”

The statue was then carried down the High Street, which had one lane closed, to Berkhamsted School’s chapel in Castle Street.

It was carried by brother and sister Beatrice Limbert, 20, and Christopher Limbert, 15, as well as Phoebe Robertson, 20, and Jordan Dell, 15.

Christopher, of Lobardy Drive, Berkhamsted, said: “It was very heavy. I just did not want to drop it and kept thinking about how much it would cost if I did.”

The relic was in the town ahead of a trip to St Albans Abbey – one of four UK-wide trips to take place this year.