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Holywell, the oldest continually visited pilgrim site in Britain

Order of Malta’s thirtieth annual pilgrimage to the shrine

Holywell, 16 July 2017

The Shrine Church, Holywell

The Shrine Church, HolywellOrder of Malta pilgrims gathered for a special Mass at Holywell, north Wales, celebrated in the mediaeval Shrine Church, in which there is no record of a Catholic Mass having been celebrated since the 16th century.

The Shrine Church literally sits on top of St.Winefride’s Well, famed for its miraculous healing waters. It is supported by an elaborate structure of columns and arches which surround the Well basin.

The pilgrims

The pilgrimsThe Well itself is the only pre-Reformation place of pilgrimage in Britain which has known no break in the public visit of pilgrims, and was indeed visited by King James II and his Catholic Queen Mary of Modena. The Order’s pilgrimage to the shrine has been an annual event for well over thirty years. 

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The mission of the Order of Malta is inspired by its tradition of ‘Tuitio Fidei et Obsequium Pauperum', to assist the poor and the sick, and bear witness to the Christian faith.


The Sovereign Order of Malta is a sovereign subject of international law. The Order - which is based in Rome, in via Condotti - has its own Government, an independent magistracy, and bilateral diplomatic relations with 110 countries.


The Order of St John of Jerusalem is one of the oldest institutions of Western and Christian civilisation. Present in Palestine in around 1048, it is a lay religious Order, traditionally of military, chivalrous, noble nature.