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  • A noble widow sometime lady of this town
  • Called Richeldis, living full virtuous,
  • Desired of Our Lady a
  • petition,
  • Her to honour with some work bounteous.
  • This Blessed Virgin and Lady most gracious
  • Granted her petition, as I shall after tell
  • Unto her worship to edify this chapel.
  • In spirit Our Lady to Nazareth her led,
  • And showed her the place where Gabriel her greet.
  • Lo daughter consider, to her Our Lady said,
  • Of this place take accurately the measurement
  • Another like this at Walsingham thou set
  • Unto my laud and singular honor,
  • All that me seek there shall find succor.
  • Where shall be had in a memorial,
  • The great joy of my salutation.
  • First of my joy’s ground and original,
  • Root of mankind’s gracious redemption
  • When Gabriel gave to me relation
  • To be a mother through humility
  • And God’s son conceived in virginity.

— Anonymous, printed by Richard Pynson

Richard Pynson (1448–1529) was an English printer who contributed to the standardization of the English language and introduced Roman type to English printing (which until this time had employed only variations of Gothic type). He printed around 500 books, many of them law texts and devotional works, including this selection from the anonymous poem that recounts the origins of England’s most famous shrine to Our Lady — renowned throughout the world until Henry VIII destroyed it in 1538 during the English Protestant Revolt.

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