Alison Hilliard grew up a Protestant in Ian Paisley’s Northern Ireland, where any devotion to Mary was scorned; Mark Dowd is a cradle Catholic and former friar; and Remona Aly is a Muslim who loves Christmas, but approaches Mary very much from a Qur’anic perspective.
In this Christmas programme, these three very different people go on pilgrimage together to experience the mother of the Christ child. Their destination is Walsingham in North Norfolk, “England’s Nazareth” and its most important shrine to Mary.
All three are Things Unseen presenters and, by background, critical journalists.
Yet as they meet Mary through each other and the people they encounter in Walsingham, astonishing stories emerge: stories of visions and prayers answered, of motherly love and comfort – and of Mary as a strong woman and disciple who has none of the sugary, sentimental qualities so often attributed to her.
“I see you in a thousand pictures”, the Romantic poet Novalis says of Mary, “yet none can describe you as I see you in my soul.” This programme focuses not on what we know about Mary historically or theologically, but on how, in the 21st century, three very different people experience Mary and let themselves be challenged by her.
More information about the Catholic National Shrine of Our Lady at Walsingham is here: http://www.walsingham.org.uk/home
Details about the Anglican Shrine of our Lady of Walsingham can be found here: http://www.walsinghamanglican.org.uk/intro.htm
We are grateful to the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization for their permission to use The Mercy Hymn in this programme.