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Knock, Ireland: The Silent Apparition

About the apparitions at knock:.

On August 21, 1879 an event took place that would forever have a profound impact on the tiny and relatively unknown town of Knock, Ireland.

Around 7:00 p.m. one of the villagers was passing by the church and saw an unusually bright light nearby. When another villager joined her they gazed in amazement at what appeared to be statues on the side of the church. The night was dark and rainy and yet these images appeared with bright lights as plain as under the noon day sun.

Soon, 15 people stood in silence……gazing spellbound at the strange apparition that had appeared at the gable wall of their church. The apparition, consisted of three figures: The Blessed Virgin Mary, Saint Joseph, and Saint John the Evangelist.

The Blessed Virgin Mary was dressed in white robes and wore a golden crown.  She had her hands raised in prayer. On her right stood Saint Joseph and on her left, Saint John. Saint Joseph was described by witnesses as an old man with grey whiskers, with his head bent in the direction of The Blessed Virgin Mary.  Saint John was described as wearing a Mitre and holding a book in one hand, which the townspeople recognized easily as St. John the Evangelist.  His other hand seemed to be indicating an altar behind him on which a young lamb could be clearly seen. And behind the lamb was a cross.

Here was all of Christianity in a nutshell perhaps: The Virgin Mary, Saint Joseph, Saint John and most importantly the lamb….the symbol of Jesus Christ. It was assumed by the villagers, according to their testimonies, that the apparition was to bring them solace at a time when famine and oppression were felt throughout Ireland.

They watched for over two hours in the pouring rain.  Most of those who witnessed this apparition were adults, but the youngest of these was only 5 at the time. He had to be lifted up by his older cousin so that he could witness the apparition.  More about this 5-year old below. 

Although there was only one apparition, and it was silent, the meaning behind this appearance was so significant to the downtrodden people of Ireland  that Knock became Ireland’s most famous and popular pilgrim destination.   It is interesting that after this the visionaries went about living ordinary lives, and attracting little attention.

Some 10 days after the apparition, the first miracle was recorded: a 12-year-old girl from nearby Claremorris, Delia Gordon, was cured from deafness and violent pains in her left ear.

Check out this Youtube video for a great rendition of the song “Our Lady of Knock, Queen of Ireland”.

The Shrine at Knock:

In the 1970’s a new church was built, which Pope John Paul II visited in 1979. It was during the centenary celebrations that the pope raised the church to the status of Basilica of Our Lady Queen of Ireland.

Mass at the Shrine in Knock, Ireland

Shown here is Mass being celebrated in the chapel that encompasses one of the walls of the original church.

During the months of May through September there are candlelight processions each evening.

The Shrine at Knock draws almost two million people each year and many healings have been reported there.

The Feast of Our Lady of Knock is now celebrated in the Roman Calendar on August 17.   The reason it is not celebrated on the 21st is that the date is reserved for the Feast of Saint Pius X on the Roman Calendar.  In Knock, however, they celebrate on August 21st , the date of the apparition.

A note about one of the visionaries:  The youngest of those who saw the vision, John Curry, who was 5 at the time, is buried on the grounds of Saint Patrick’s Old Cathedral in New York City’s Little Italy area.   Here is an interesting story about him.

You can find a great selection of Knock devotionals in our online store .

Traveling to Knock:

Most group pilgrimages to Ireland include Knock, and of course if you are traveling independently, it is easy to fit that into your itinerary. It is a little under 3 hours driving time if you are leaving from Dublin.  There is bus service direct from Dublin. There is no direct train service although you can take a combination of train and bus from Dublin.  Knock has its own airport, with limited service from cities in the U.K. Italy, Croatia and other countries.   Here is the airport website.

Address: Main Street, Knock, Co. Mayo

GPS coordinates: 53° 47′ 31.6320” N, 8° 55′ 1.7436” W

Tel:    +353 (0) 94 93 88100     Fax: +353 (0) 94 9388295

email:       [email protected]

Click here for the official website for the Shrine of Knock.

Find restaurants, hotels, B&B’s in Knock, compare prices, and read what other travelers have to say at TripAdvisor

Other apparitions of St. Joseph:

Although few apparitions of St. Joseph have been reported, he also appeared in Fatima, Portugal and Contignac, France .

⇐ Back to Catholic Shrines and places of interest in Ireland

1 thought on “knock, ireland: the silent apparition”.

I am a member of the Hibernians in Glen Cove, new York and I wonder how can I get prayer cards or info cards on Our Lady of Knock to give out to my 60 members. This is a lovely story of her that I will share today after Mass with my sister’s. Thank you

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An apparition or a magic lantern: What happened at Knock 140 years ago?

Co mayo site is one of few marian shrines worldwide to be visited by two popes.

apparitions knock

Pope Francis lights a candle at the Knock Shrine in Co Mayo last year. It is 140 years today since 15 local people said they saw an apparition of Mary, St Joseph, St John the Evangelist, and a lamb in the village. Photograph: Ciro Fusco/AFP/Getty Images.

It was very wet that evening in Knock on August 21st, 1879, 140 years ago today, when 15 local people saw the apparition of Mary, St Joseph, St John the Evangelist, and a lamb standing on an altar before a cross, on the parish church's gable wall.

It was a potato blight year in Mayo, one of the worst in the area since 1847 during the Famine.

First to see the vision at about 8pm were Mary Beirne (26) and Mary McLoughlin, housekeeper to Knock parish priest Archdeacon Bartholomew Cavanagh.

Beirne ran home to tell her parents and soon other locals were alerted. All stood staring at the silent vision on the gable wall for about two hours while reciting the rosary.

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The following October Archbishop of Tuam John McHale set up an inquiry into the apparations. It was made up of three parish priests, including Archdeacon Cavanagh, and six curates. All 15 witnesses were interviewed and their testimony was found to be "trustworthy and satisfactory." It found no explanation of the apparitions from natural causes and dismissed suggestions fraud may have been involved.

In her witness statement, Beirne identified St John the Evangelist in the apparition from “ a statue at the chapel of Lecanvey near Westport, Co Mayo”.

She said “it was this coincidence of figure and pose that made me surmise, for it is only an opinion, that the third figure was that of St John, the beloved disciple of Our Lord, but I am not in any way sure what saint or character the figure represented. I said, as I now expressed, that it was St John the Evangelist, and then all the others present said the same – said what I stated.”

On seeing the apparition McLoughlin first thought “that possibly the Archdeacon had been supplied with these beautiful figures from Dublin or somewhere else, and that he had said nothing about them; but had left them in the open air.”

‘Beautiful things’

After looking at the apparition for about half an hour she “went to the priest’s house and told what I had beheld, and spoke of the beautiful things that were to be seen at the gable of the chapel. I asked him or said, rather, it would be worth his while to go to witness them. He appeared to make nothing of what I said, and consequently he did not go.”

She “did not return to behold the visions again after that, remaining at my house. I saw the sight for fully an hour.”

The first recorded cure at Knock after the apparitions - a deaf person recovering their hearing - took place 12 days later. Over a year later, in October 1880, Archdeacon Cavanagh had recorded 637 cures.

A second inquiry into Knock was set up in 1935 by then Archbishop of Tuam Thomas Gilmartin. It examined the two surviving witnesses of the apparition living in Knock, Mary O’Connell (formerly Mary Beirne) then aged 86, as well as Patrick Byrne, then 71.

As part of this inquiry, a special tribunal was set-up by the Archbishop of New York to formally question John Curry, a Knock witness then living in New York.

He was five when the apparition took place, and had been lifted up by fellow witness Patrick Hill to see the vision.

In their final report the 1936 Commission, as it became known, stated that all witnesses examined were “upright” and their testimonies “satisfactory”. It added that Mary O’Connell (formerly Beirne), in particular, had left “a most favourable impression.”

‘Magic lantern’

Sceptics have argued that, as the apparitions did not move or speak during the entire period they were seen on the church’s gable wall, it was most likely they resulted from from “the projection of a magic lantern slide”, as former Trinity College Dublin professor of philosophy David Berman put it in a 1979 article. It also pointed to contradictions in witness statements.

He has also claimed that “there is a letter in the Tuam diocesan archive from a Michael McConnell from Belfast, who says that a friend of his called Constable McDermott, who had been stationed at Knock, had told him that the apparition had been produced by a magic lantern operated by a Protestant policeman stationed at Knock”.

Prof Berman continued that “this of, course, is hearsay,” as was a statement he had heard some years previously “from a senior member of the Irish judiciary, to the effect that a solicitor of his aquaintance told him that his grandfather hired a magic lantern to Archdeacon Cavanagh during the week in question”.

Scepticism aside, two popes have visited Knock and two saints: Pope St John Paul, who visited in 1979 to mark the centenary of the apparitions; St Teresa of Calcutta was there in June 1993, and Pope Francis visited last August.

This year marks the 140th anniversary of the apparitions and that will be marked on Wednesday at special ceremonies in Knock led by Archbishop of Tuam Michael Neary.

Included will be the unveiling of a Knock Village Model at Knock Museum, which details what the village looked like 140 years ago with miniatures of the old church of St John the Baptist, as it was then, as well as the houses the apparition witnesses lived in, schools of the time, people, animals, roads, pathways and farmland.

A new processional statue of Our Lady of Knock, hand carved at the Stuflesser Ortisei studios in northern Italy, will be dedicated. It was blessed in Rome by Pope Francis earlier this month at an audience attended by Knock parish priest Fr Richard Gibbons.

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry is a contributor to The Irish Times

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H.M. Magazine H.M. is a bi-monthly magazine published in English, Spanish and Italian. It includes articles on formation, liturgy, values, with lively interviews and impressive testimonies of faith.

  • Selected Articles

The History of the Apparition of Our Lady of Knock

Spiritual life.

  • Friday, June 7, 2019

KNOCK

By Fr. Dominic Feehan, SHM

On August 21, 1879, at approximately 8 o’clock in the evening, fifteen people from the village of Knock in Coounty Mayo, Ireland, witnessed an apparition of Our Lady, St. Joseph, St. John the Evangelist, a Lamb and a cross on an altar at the gable wall of their Parish Church. The witnesses watched the apparition in the pouring rain for two hours, reciting the Rosary. Although they themselves were drenched, not a single drop of rain fell on the gable wall or vision.

There were fifteen official witnesses to the apparition, most of whom were from the village of Knock and surrounding areas, and ranged from the ages of 5 to 74. Each of the witnesses gave testimonies to a Commission of Enquiry in October 1879. The findings of the Commission were that the testimonies were both trustworthy and satisfactory.

Here is a combined account from those witnesses: “The entire back wall of the church was bathed in a brilliant light, which could be seen from quite a distance away. Everything was raised about two feet off the ground . There was an altar, on top of which stood a Lamb with a Cross. The altar and Lamb were surrounded by Angels, hovering above. Around them were golden stars or small brilliant lights, glittering like glass balls.”

KNOCK1

“To the left of the altar were the three figures: St. Joseph on the left, Our Lady in the middle, and St. John the Evangelist on the right. St Joseph’s hair and beard were gray and he leaned in a respectful manner toward Mary. St. John was dressed in Mass vestments with a bishop’s miter on his head, a book in his left hand, and his right hand raised in blessing. Our Lady was life-sized; the other two were smaller.”

“The Virgin’s eyes were raised toward heaven with hands outstretched. Mary was beautiful . She wore a white gown and sash. A veil flowed from the back of her head to her feet. On top of her head was a gold crown. Between the crown and the edge of the veil was a gold rose. Mary was almost iridescent.”

Many miracles such as healing miracles have been documented at the Shrine . Miracles began as soon as ten days after the apparition. A young girl, Delia Gordon, had experienced deafness and pain in her left ear. While visiting the apparition site, her mother put a small piece of cement from the wall of the church into her ear. Afterward, during Mass, Delia experienced an excruciating pain in her ear, followed by a complete healing of her deafness and no further pain . This is just one case of over six hundred documented miracles, which took place over many years at Knock. It is further proof of the powerful miraculous intercession of Our Heavenly Mother.

Archdeacon Cavanagh was the parish priest of Knock at the time of the Apparition until his death in 1897. He was known to practice special devotion to Our Lady and he worked tirelessly to serve the ever-growing number of pilgrims. Some months before the Apparition, Archdeacon Cavanagh made known to his parishioners his plan to say one hundred Masses for the souls in purgatory which our Blessed Mother wished released. These Masses were completed shortly before the Apparition.

The Archdeacon’s workload increased significantly following the Apparition. His number of daily Masses and confessions grew, and his correspondence increased greatly. He kept a diary of the cures and healing miracles that took place and gave regular talks. Archdeacon Cavanagh was widely known for his humility, gentleness and piety. He died a holy death on December 8, 1897.

Knock Shrine is located in County Mayo in the west of Ireland. It is the National Marian Shrine where over 1.5 million pilgrims visit each year. From the time of the apparitions, huge numbers of pilgrims from all walks of life have made their way to the Shrine in order to seek the heavenly assistance of Our Lady. Numerous cures and conversions have been and continue to be experienced by many pilgrims. It is a place of great peace where one can rest away from the busy affairs of life. The apparition of Knock is a powerful message of hope for all Christians. It invites us to reflect on the importance of the Eucharist, on living the message of the Gospel and on raising our eyes towards heaven in humble and confident prayer . Our Lady of Knock continues to give hope and healing to many pilgrims.

© HM Magazine Nº207 March-April 2019

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Q&A: What is the story of Knock Marian shrine?

  • Published 24 August 2018

Apparition

As the final plans are set in motion for Pope Francis' visit to Ireland, the people of Knock are bracing themselves for thousands of visitors.

Knock was once a small village in the rural west of Ireland.

But when villagers said they had saw an apparition on the gable wall of a Catholic church 140 years ago, all that changed.

In 1979, Pope John Paul II visited Knock.

Now, Pope Francis follows in his footsteps. He is due to arrive on Sunday 26 August.

What will Pope Francis do at Knock?

Pope Francis is due to arrive by plane at Knock at about 09:45 local time. He will spend about an hour there.

He will travel through the crowds in the pope mobile before going into the chapel to pray privately.

He will then say the Angelus outside the shrine with the crowds gathered for his visit.

A total of 45,000 people secured tickets for Pope Francis' visit to Knock.

The Pope will then return to Dublin to say Mass in Phoenix Park.

What is special about Knock?

The Marian Shrine of Knock is a well-known place of Catholic pilgrimage in County Mayo in the west of Ireland.

An estimated 1.5m pilgrims from across Ireland and across the world flock to the shrine every year to pray at the place where an apparition of Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, is said to have appeared in August 1879.

Rosary procession at Knock

Following the apparition, miraculous cures were reported. The first was that of Delia Gordon, a 12-year-old girl who had been deaf and suffered horrific pain.

It is said that her parents took her to the shrine where she knelt before the place where the apparition was seen. Her mother picked a piece of cement from the gable wall, blessed it and put it on her daughter's ear. The pain went immediately and she was no longer deaf.

Since the apparition, pilgrims have come to Knock in search of healing, reconciliation and peace. Some of them are praying for a cure.

Pope Francis is to visit the shrine on Sunday 26 August and 45,000 people have secured tickets to see him there.

That morning, the bells of Knock Shrine will ring out to signal his arrival and the Pope will spend some time in silent prayer before addressing the crowds gathered outside and praying with them.

What happened at Knock?

Knock Church of the Apparition

The story begins on 21 August 1879, when 15 people from the village witnessed an apparition of Mary on the gable wall of the parish church.

They said she appeared with St Joseph, St John the Evangelist, a lamb and a cross. They watched in pouring rain for two hours, reciting the Rosary, a Marian prayer.

The story goes that the watchers were soaked in rain but the gable wall and the apparition remained dry.

The witnesses, aged between five and 74, gave their testimony to a Commission of Enquiry later in 1879. It found their words "trustworthy and satisfactory".

In 1936, a second Commission of Enquiry heard from the two surviving witnesses, Mary O'Connell and Patrick Byrne.

Mary O'Connell ended her sworn statement with the words: "I am clear about everything I have said and I make this statement knowing I am going before my God." She died later that year.

Who was the 'Builder of Knock'?

Monsignor James Horan, a native of County Mayo, is often called the Builder of Knock.

Monsignor Horan on opening day

He was a spiritual leader to his congregation from the 1960s, but was also wily and lobbied persistently to raise finances for the shrine.

He even persuaded the powers-that-be to build an international airport close by - on top of a bog - to serve not only the needs of pilgrims but also the population of the west of Ireland.

Songs have been written about the monsignor and his miracle of an airport, completed in 1985.

The monsignor also had a major role in preparing for John Paul II's visit to Knock in September 1979.

He died suddenly while on pilgrimage in Lourdes in 1986.

What do pilgrims hope to gain from Knock?

Knock is a traditional annual pilgrimage for thousands: visiting the shrine is a tradition passed down through generations of families.

People spend a day in prayer, taking part in the Stations of the Cross or joining in candlelit vigils at the site.

They carry away Blessed Holy Water to share with family and friends. Many say they find Knock a place of peace and that they derive great consolation from their visit.

What happened at the last Pope's visit?

Pope John Paul II's visit marked the centenary of the apparition at Knock.

Pope John Paul II in Knock in 1979

He said the shrine was "the goal of my journey to Ireland".

He said an outdoor Mass there on Sunday 30 September which was attended by an estimated 450,000 people.

He met the sick, made the chapel a basilica and lit a candle at the gable wall, the scene of the apparition, for the families for Ireland.

What else happens at Knock?

People also travel to Knock to find the right partner in life.

The Knock Marriage Bureau opened in 1968 with the aim of helping people meet suitable spouses.

It is a Catholic organisation based on Main Street and offers its services with the assurance of "strictest confidence".

It is now known as Knock Marriage Introductions.

It has been responsible for nearly 1,000 marriages down the years.

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Knock‌ ‌Shrine‌ ‌In‌ ‌Mayo‌: The Story Of The Apparition (+ What To Do In Knock)

By Author Emma Baird

Posted on Last updated: January 2, 2024

Knock‌ ‌Shrine‌ ‌In‌ ‌Mayo‌: The Story Of The Apparition (+ What To Do In Knock)

Religious or not, visiting a modern-day shrine is a fascinating thing to do, and Knock Shrine in County Mayo offers plenty for the interested day tripper.

Knock is arguably one of the more iconic Mayo attractions , and people have been visiting the town from across the world since the 19th century after an apparition was reported.

In the guide below, you’ll discover the history of Knock, the story of the apparition and you’ll find info on the tour and other things to do nearby.

Table of Contents

Some quick need-to-knows about Knock Shrine in Mayo

visiting Knock museum

Photo by A G Baxter (Shutterstock)

Although a visit to Knock Shrine in Mayo is fairly straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.

1. Location

You’ll find Knock Shrine in the village of Knock in Mayo, a 45-minute drive from the lively town of Westport . Today, it welcomes more than 1 million visitors every year, many of them pilgrims.

2. The Apparition

Knock Shrine came to prominence in the late 19th century after villagers reported seeing an apparition at the church. 

3. Opening hours

Knock Parish Church is open for private prayer from 1pm to 6pm daily (note: opening hours may change).

You can take guided tours of the Knock Shrine as outlined further down, but there are self-guided audio handsets available to hire for €3. There are trigger posts scattered throughout the grounds and by pointing the guide at the posts, you’ll hear commentary. Hire of the guides includes a complementary visit to the museum.

5. The museum

Knock Museum tells the compelling story of the apparition and the 15 people who witnessed it. The museum also details the story of Knock from its earliest days and you’ll be able to look at a historical model of the village showing what it looked like on the day of the apparition in 1879.

6. Mass times

Currently, all masses are taking part online. From Monday to Saturday, mass is held at 2pm, then 7pm for the rosary and 7.30pm for mass. On Sundays, during the pilgrimage season, mass is at 12pm, the rosary at 2.30pm, mass at 3pm, 7pm the rosary and 7.30pm mass (times may change).

The story of Knock Shrine: The apparition and the investigation

Knock Shrine history

Photo by Thoom (Shutterstock)

Knock Shrine is a site where observers noted the appearance of an apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Saint Joseph, Saint John the Evangelist, angels, and Jesus Christ (the Lamb of God) in 1879.

The evening of 21 August 1879 had been very wet, and Knock’s villagers retreated to their homes to take shelter after a day’s gathering in of the harvest. At about 8pm, villager Mary Byrne and the priest’s housekeeper, Mary McLoughlin, were returning home when Byrne stopped suddenly.

She claimed to see three life-size figures at the gable of the Church of Saint John the Baptist and ran home to tell her parents.

Other witnesses gathered, claiming to see an apparition of Our Lady, Saint Joseph and Saint John the Evangelist at the south gable end of the church. Behind them was a plain altar upon which was a cross and a lamb with angels. 

The investigation

In October 1879, the Archbishop of Tuam, Most Rev. Dr John MacHale established an ecclesiastical commission of inquiry, consisting of the Irish scholar and historian, Canon Ulick Bourke, Canon James Waldron, and the parish priest of Ballyhaunis and Archdeacon Bartholomew Aloysius Cavanagh. 

They took statements from each of the witnesses and determined that no natural causes could have been mistaken for the apparition. The commission concluded that the testimony of the witnesses as a whole was satisfactory and trustworthy.

The expansion of railways at the time, and the growth in local and national newspapers created interest in the village and Knock was developed as a national Marian pilgrimage site.

Things to do at Knock Shrine

what to see near Knock Shrine

Photo left: A G Baxter. Photo right: Panda17 (Shutterstock)

There are a handful of things to do in Knock that make it well-worth a visit, especially if you’re staying in Castlebar (30 minutes away), Ballina (40 minutes away) or Newport (50 minutes away).

1. Take a guided tour

Let the experts tell you the story of the Knock Shrine and point out what you should look out for. The tour takes you through the grounds and visits all the places of interest, such as the Apparition Chapel and the original gable wall, the Papal Cross and the Chapel of Reconciliation. 

You will also hear about the witnesses’ testimonies. Those witnesses who were still alive in the 1930s gave evidence once more, confirming their original stories. The guided tours are available on request for groups of 10 and upwards.

2. Discover the story at the museum

When you arrive, start your visit at Knock Museum. It details the unique story of Knock, covering more than 140 years of history, and shows how the site went on to become such a popular pilgrimage, with more than 1 million people travelling there every year.

3. Stroll around the grounds

Knock Shrine is set in over 100 acres, and the gardens are around the Apparition Chapel, which is at the heart of Knock. The grounds have lots of benches where you can sit and admire the views, and every year the gardens are replanted with seeds, making them especially beautiful in the summer months.

There is also a wide variety of native Irish trees including mature oaks, copper beeches, ash, birch and rowan. Visit in September and October for stunning autumn leaves displays.

4. Keep an eye out for the artwork

As you might expect, Knock Shrine has some magnificent artwork on show. The Apparition mosaic is a representation of the evening of 21 August 1879 and features more than 1.5 million individual pieces of coloured glass.

The mosaic is one of the largest of its kind in Europe and is based on an artistic representation by the Irish illustrator, PJ Lynch.

The Stations of the Cross in the Basilica were created by Ger Sweeney. Large raw linen panels are said to encourage contemplative engagement in the final journey of Christ on earth.

Things to see and do near Knock in Mayo

One of the beauties of Knock is that it’s a short spin away from many of the best places to visit in Mayo .

Below, you’ll find a handful of things to see and do a stone’s throw from Knock Shrine (plus places to eat and where to grab a post-adventure pint!).

1. McMahon Park (13-minute drive)

McMahon Park

Photo via Clare Lake / McMahon Park on Facebook

McMahon Park is a nine-acre park on the south side of Claremorris. It’s a great place for a walk with or without the kids, offering up fresh air, peace and quiet.

2. Michael Davitt Museum (25-minute drive)

Michael Davitt Museum

Photo via Michael Davitt Museum on Facebook

The Michael Davitt Museum celebrates the life of Mayo’s most famous son Michael Davitt, social reformer, Member of Parliament, author, patron of Glasgow Celtic FC, labour leader and international humanitarian. The museum contains extensive historical artefacts relating to his life and campaign work with the National Land League, from documents to photos, letters, rosary beads and more.

3. National Museum of Ireland Country Life (27-minute drive)

National Museum of Ireland Country Life

Photo via National Museum of Ireland Country Life

Founded in 1731, the Royal Dublin Society collected plaster casts, geological minerals, fine art and ethnographical material, in order to train artists and encourage industry. Other organisations also encouraged similar goals, and in 1877, the Science and Art Museum brought all the collections together right here .

4. Westport (45-minute drive)

Westport Village

Photo bia Susanne Pommer on shutterstock

This lively little town offers lots of places to eat and is right next to Croagh Patrick , Ireland’s holiest mountain where St Patrick fasted for 40 days. There are plenty of things to do in Westport and there are lots of great restaurants in Westport if you fancy a post-Knock feed.

FAQs about visiting Knock Shrine

We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from whether it’s worth visiting to what to do nearby.

In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.

Is Knock worth visiting?

Yes, even if you’re not Religious, it’s worth visiting to hear the story of what happened here many years ago.

What happened at Knock Shrine?

What is there to do in knock.

You can 1, take a guided tour, 2, discover the story at Knock museum, 3, stroll around the grounds and 4, see the artwork.

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Q&A: What is the story of Knock Marian shrine?

  • Published 24 August 2018

Apparition

As the final plans are set in motion for Pope Francis' visit to Ireland, the people of Knock are bracing themselves for thousands of visitors.

Knock was once a small village in the rural west of Ireland.

But when villagers said they had saw an apparition on the gable wall of a Catholic church 140 years ago, all that changed.

In 1979, Pope John Paul II visited Knock.

Now, Pope Francis follows in his footsteps. He is due to arrive on Sunday 26 August.

What will Pope Francis do at Knock?

Pope Francis is due to arrive by plane at Knock at about 09:45 local time. He will spend about an hour there.

He will travel through the crowds in the pope mobile before going into the chapel to pray privately.

He will then say the Angelus outside the shrine with the crowds gathered for his visit.

A total of 45,000 people secured tickets for Pope Francis' visit to Knock.

The Pope will then return to Dublin to say Mass in Phoenix Park.

What is special about Knock?

The Marian Shrine of Knock is a well-known place of Catholic pilgrimage in County Mayo in the west of Ireland.

An estimated 1.5m pilgrims from across Ireland and across the world flock to the shrine every year to pray at the place where an apparition of Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, is said to have appeared in August 1879.

Rosary procession at Knock

Following the apparition, miraculous cures were reported. The first was that of Delia Gordon, a 12-year-old girl who had been deaf and suffered horrific pain.

It is said that her parents took her to the shrine where she knelt before the place where the apparition was seen. Her mother picked a piece of cement from the gable wall, blessed it and put it on her daughter's ear. The pain went immediately and she was no longer deaf.

Since the apparition, pilgrims have come to Knock in search of healing, reconciliation and peace. Some of them are praying for a cure.

Pope Francis is to visit the shrine on Sunday 26 August and 45,000 people have secured tickets to see him there.

That morning, the bells of Knock Shrine will ring out to signal his arrival and the Pope will spend some time in silent prayer before addressing the crowds gathered outside and praying with them.

What happened at Knock?

Knock Church of the Apparition

The story begins on 21 August 1879, when 15 people from the village witnessed an apparition of Mary on the gable wall of the parish church.

They said she appeared with St Joseph, St John the Evangelist, a lamb and a cross. They watched in pouring rain for two hours, reciting the Rosary, a Marian prayer.

The story goes that the watchers were soaked in rain but the gable wall and the apparition remained dry.

The witnesses, aged between five and 74, gave their testimony to a Commission of Enquiry later in 1879. It found their words "trustworthy and satisfactory".

In 1936, a second Commission of Enquiry heard from the two surviving witnesses, Mary O'Connell and Patrick Byrne.

Mary O'Connell ended her sworn statement with the words: "I am clear about everything I have said and I make this statement knowing I am going before my God." She died later that year.

Who was the 'Builder of Knock'?

Monsignor James Horan, a native of County Mayo, is often called the Builder of Knock.

Monsignor Horan on opening day

He was a spiritual leader to his congregation from the 1960s, but was also wily and lobbied persistently to raise finances for the shrine.

He even persuaded the powers-that-be to build an international airport close by - on top of a bog - to serve not only the needs of pilgrims but also the population of the west of Ireland.

Songs have been written about the monsignor and his miracle of an airport, completed in 1985.

The monsignor also had a major role in preparing for John Paul II's visit to Knock in September 1979.

He died suddenly while on pilgrimage in Lourdes in 1986.

What do pilgrims hope to gain from Knock?

Knock is a traditional annual pilgrimage for thousands: visiting the shrine is a tradition passed down through generations of families.

People spend a day in prayer, taking part in the Stations of the Cross or joining in candlelit vigils at the site.

They carry away Blessed Holy Water to share with family and friends. Many say they find Knock a place of peace and that they derive great consolation from their visit.

What happened at the last Pope's visit?

Pope John Paul II's visit marked the centenary of the apparition at Knock.

Pope John Paul II in Knock in 1979

He said the shrine was "the goal of my journey to Ireland".

He said an outdoor Mass there on Sunday 30 September which was attended by an estimated 450,000 people.

He met the sick, made the chapel a basilica and lit a candle at the gable wall, the scene of the apparition, for the families for Ireland.

What else happens at Knock?

People also travel to Knock to find the right partner in life.

The Knock Marriage Bureau opened in 1968 with the aim of helping people meet suitable spouses.

It is a Catholic organisation based on Main Street and offers its services with the assurance of "strictest confidence".

It is now known as Knock Marriage Introductions.

It has been responsible for nearly 1,000 marriages down the years.

apparitions knock

apparitions knock

Key Places to visit

Apparition Witness Graves

The knock apparition witnesses were local people whose families have lived in the village of knock for many generations. 10 of the witnesses are interred in their family plots in the old knock graveyard which is located adjacent to knock shrine. visitors are welcome to pay their respects at the graves, which are clearly marked on the large entrance sign to the graveyard and on directional signs to each individual grave. you will also see the ruin of a pre-reformation church in this graveyard which gave its name to the townland ‘churchfield’ in which it stands..

The witnesses who are interred in Knock Graveyard  are:

Witness | Judy Campbell

Headstone Inscription | In loving memory of Judith Salmon nee Campbell, Knock died 10 th  February 1893, aged 36 years

Witness | Dominick Byrne (senior)

Headstone Inscription | O Lord have mercy on the soul of Thomas Byrne, who died on the 18 th  of December 1891 aged 42 years. Also his father Bryan Byrne who died on the 9 th  of December 1892 aged 84 years RIP. Erected by his father Bryan Byrne. (Father of Witness Dominick who died on 23 rd  March 1915)

Witnesses | Margaret Byrne (mother), daughter Margaret and son Dominick (junior)

Headstone Inscription | In loving memory of Margaret Byrne, Knock, died 4 th  March 1909. Her daughter Margaret, died 1 st  June 1880, aged 22 years. Her son Dominick, died 2 nd  Jan. 1895.

Witness | Bridget Trench

Headstone Inscription | In loving memory of Bridget Trench, Carrowmore, died 3oth Sept. 1886

Witness | Mary Byrne

Headstone Inscription | In loving memory of James O’Connell, J.P., Knock who died 20 th  May 1926 and his wife Mary (nee Byrne) died 19 th  Oct. 1936

Witness | Patrick Walsh

Headstone Inscription | Pray for the soul of Patrick Walsh (Ballinderris), who died 8th April 1928, aged 80 years. And his wife Mary J. Walsh died 15 th  June 1933 aged 78 yrs. (Son and daughter-in-law of Patrick Walsh, Witness, who died on 5 th  March 1889)

Witness | Patrick Byrne

Headstone Inscription | In loving memory of Patrick Byrne Carrowmore, died 29 th  April 1943.

Witness | Mrs. Hugh Flatley

Headstone Inscription | In loving memory of John T. Leetch Cloonlee died Aug. 14 th  1927, his wife Bridget nee Flately died March 10 th  1935. Their son John died May 5 th  1969, Bridget Leetch Flatley died 21 August 1923. Erected by their daughter Delia Fallon.

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Mary’s Major Message in the Silent Apparition at Knock

apparitions knock

Although not a word was spoken by Our Lady, St. Joseph and St. John during the silent apparition at Knock, the vision spoke louder than words with an eloquent message uniting earth and heaven.

Father Stan Smolenski, August 22, 2021

On the rainy evening of Aug. 21, 1879, 15 persons saw a two-hour vision on the gable of St. John the Baptist church in the humble village of Knock, County Mayo, Ireland. Whoever came, saw. Ranging from 5-75 years of age, they acknowledged seeing the same religious tableaux.

The figures, all robed in white, were raised a couple of feet above the perfectly dry ground.  In the center of the gable was a simple altar with a young lamb standing in front of a cross. Angels encircled this area.

To the left were three figures. In the center was Mary, robed and mantled in white with a crown on her unveiled head. There was a rose where the crown touched her forehead. Her eyes were looking upward while her arms were outstretched in the  orans  position, similar to that of the priest at Mass.

To her right was a side view of St. Joseph, slight bowing toward her. To her left was St. John the Apostle, robed as a mitered bishop, looking forward, holding an open book in one hand and pointing heavenward with the other.

Understanding the Message

None of these figures spoke. Does that mean that there was no message? None verbally, but much in biblical and liturgical symbolic language. These are dimensions that are rich in meaning but poorly understood. Icons are noted for such messages and therefore are frequently said to be written and not painted.

Lourdes is notable for its biblical message. For example, the roses on Our Lady’s feet. Who puts a rose in their toes? Isaiah 52:7 gives the explanation clearly: “How beautiful are the feet of the messenger of peace on the mountainside.” As for the massive rock, St. Paul states in 1 Corinthians 10:4 that Christ is the rock. Mary Immaculate, standing in the cleft of the rock, is the New Eve, being born from the pierced side of Christ.

The Fatima miracle consisted of a night of torrential rain, a twirling sun during which a variety of colors were reflected on the immense crowd, after which the earth was instantaneously dry. This easily brings to mind the story of Noah, the flood, the rainbow and the restored earth.

At Guadalupe, Our Lady came clothed with the sun and the moon under her feet as given in Revelations 12:1. Her star-spangled mantle and flowered robe can symbolize Isaiah 65:17. “Behold, I make a new heaven and a new earth.”

Knock Symbolism

The Knock symbolism is varied, biblically and liturgically. The four figures can represent the four parts of the Rosary. St.  Joseph, of course, represents the joyful mysteries since he lived during the infancy of Jesus, St. John can symbolize the luminous mysteries that recall Our Lord’s ministry of preaching and healing. The Lamb, obviously, brings to mind the sacrificial sorrowful mysteries, and Mary brings forth the glorious mysteries. These mysteries are formally celebrated during the liturgical year. St. Peter Julian Eymard said that there is a Eucharistic kernel in each mystery of Our Lord’s life. St. John Paul II pointed out that celebrating and meditating on these mysteries releases their power.

Also, St. Joseph represents the laity, sanctifying labor and family life. St. John represents the hierarchy, evangelizing by word and sacrament. Mary is the model of the Church in its perfection — as indicated by the teaching of Vatican II and recent papal developments of those subjects.

But, because of the importance of the Lamb, the symbolism is primarily liturgical. The whole theme of the Lamb is presented, beginning with the patron of the parish, St. John the Baptist, who points to the Lamb in each of the Gospels, up to the eternal vision of the Lamb in the final book, Revelation. All are dressed in white which recalls those who follow the Lamb in heaven.

St. John the Apostle is in liturgical garb with an open book. His gospel is uniquely Eucharistic, the center and source of our life of faith. Whereas the synoptic evangelists devote only a few verses to the Eucharist — Matthew 25:17-25; Mark 14:12-25; Luke 21:7-20 — St. John devotes four chapters out of 21 to the institution of the Holy Eucharist and its meaning.

A recent 30-year groundbreaking study of this was published by a Vatican official of 26 years, Msgr. Anthony A. La Femina, entitled Eucharist and Covenant in John’s Last Supper Account  (New Hope Publishers). The seven-page foreword by Cardinal Raymond Burke extolling this exclusive scholarship is a study in itself.

Centrality of Mary

Since Mary is portrayed as the main worshiper, her symbolism is extensive.  St. John Paul II devoted the last section of his encyclical  Ecclesia de Eucharistia,  entirely to Mary’s relationship to the Eucharist. He presents her as the ideal model which the Church is called to imitate. Therefore, there is a growth process wherein Mary develops the eyes and hearts of each Catholic, to appreciate Christ’s presence, sacrifice and communion in each Mass.

This principle can be extended to Pope Benedict XVI’s apostolic letter on the Eucharist,  Sacramentum Caritatis  (Sacrament of Love) in which he presents the Eucharist as the mystery to be believed, to be celebrated and to be lived. These complement the three elements that St. John Paul II emphasized: presence requires belief, sacrifice is to be celebrated and communion is to be lived.

As Mother of the Church, Mary has the responsibility of forming our minds, hearts and actions according to the Eucharist, the Paschal Mystery of the Altar. Pope St. John Paul II says in  Ecclesia de Eucharistia  that her life was totally Eucharistic. Therefore, she enables us to live a Eucharistic life as directed by  Sacramentum Caritatis.

The Mass of “The Blessed Virgin Mary, Image and Mother of the Church, II” in the Collection of Masses of the Blessed Virgin Mary  presents her as “the model of worship in spirit.” expressing “our duty to offer ourselves as a holy victim, pleasing in God’s eyes.” As “the model of liturgical worship,” she is the “exemplar of that sense of reverent devotion with which the Church celebrates the divine mysteries and expresses them in its life.”

In a series of conferences on the Mass as the Heart of the Church in 2017,   Pope Francis said, “At every celebration of Mass our lives, offered in union with Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, become in him, an offering of praise and thanksgiving pleasing to God the Father, for the salvation of the world.”

Knock ( Cnoc  in Gaelic) means “hill.” And so, Our Lady of Knock is Our Lady of the Hill. The Eucharistic atmosphere of this apparition has us think of the hill of Calvary and therefore of the liturgy of the Church. Because of the crown and the rose on her head, her mystical title could be Queen of the Liturgy both in heaven and on earth. The Mass unites the two as one. That is the unique school of spirituality that Our Lady offers us at that Irish shrine.

Using the words of Benedict XVI, we can pray: “Mary, you in a totally unique way lived communion with God and the sacrifice of your Son on Calvary. Obtain that we may live ever more intensely, devoutly and wisely the mystery of the Eucharist in order to proclaim with our words and our life the love that God has for every human being.”

Contraception and Infallibility —...

From grateful dead agnostic to cat....

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The Story of Knock

THE STORY OF KNOCK

Father James, O.F.M. Cap,

"And he took me up in spirit to a great and high mountain: and he showed me the holy city...coming down out of heaven from God. Having the glory of God..." (Apoc. XXI, 10.)

I. SPIRITUAL ODYSSEY

The more we reflect upon the mystery of the Church on earth the more convinced shall we become of the eternal youth of Christianity. Christianity gathers up into a living Church the significant moments of universal history. It offers us the vision of that tremendous truth that man's passage through time, which is the essential meaning of history, is the great spiritual Odyssey of his return to God. Ever since the day (<Gen.> XII, 1-4) when a certain Abraham was commanded by the Most High to go forth from a city of culture and civilization and received the promise of a posterity as numerous as the sands of the sea, ever since that day the real history of man began to take shape, and moved, under the direction of God Himself, towards a definite culmination and achievement. Between Judaism and Christianity there was continuity, a continuity realized in the Virgin who was the flower of humanity as she was the glory of Israel, and the movement of history, in the very center of which she stands, was taken up by the Church as she advanced into the future with a hope that was indefectible.

Never before was it so imperative as it is now to proclaim to the world this conviction that the secret of universal history is in the keeping of the Church. The Church, because she is of God, must triumph. The Church belongs to Christ, the eternal and immortal Christ, and in her eyes there is the light of a celestial vision. She knows, with a certitude that is unwavering, that the plan of God for life cannot finally be thwarted or resisted. There is a painful sense of crisis in our time which it is impossible to ignore.

Progress A Religion!

For a hundred years and more men have been making a religion of Progress. Even now when the myth of Progress has been shattered before their eyes, they are asked to believe that, despite appearances to the contrary, it is possible to make a heaven of earth if only men will abandon Christianity and its dream of a future heaven. But it is only for a time that some can be deceived by this alternative of a man-made vision. The Church of Christ is able to look beneath the surface and see that the City of God is being formed and fashioned, silently and mysteriously, in the womb of time in preparation for the final apocalypse of the Church in heaven.

If we would enter more profoundly into this mystery of the Church on earth, in virtue of which she is in time the sacrament of an eternal Presence, we must recall the intimacy of her relation to Christ. There is no final way of expressing this relation except to say that the Church on earth is the bride of Christ Who is the eternal Bridegroom of heaven. That is precisely the vision to which St. Paul in so many passages of his Epistles invites us and which has been faithfully treasured by Tradition. For Christ loved the Church, St. Paul tells us, and laid down His life that He might present it to Himself, " a glorious Church not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish." The same idea was preached in every century by men like St. Ireanaeus and St. Augustine, and Tradition on the point was summed up by the immortal Pope Leo XIII when he said that the Church, like another Eve, was born of the sacred side of the dying Christ on Calvary (<Eph.> V, 26).

At Pentecost the Church celebrated her birth when, in bonds indissoluble, she was wedded to her Lord and Master, the risen Christ. It was then the Spirit of God came to her, over-shadowed her with His presence, and sent her forth as the unfailing source of life, of eternal life, for humanity. Either men would accept her, be born of water and the holy Spirit, and find a place within her bosom; or would perish in their sins. But accepted or not she would endure until the end of time. Because she was instinct with life, the life of the Spirit, she would beget children to God: she would hide them, if need be, in dungeon and catacomb; she would suffer them to be wrested from her by the ruthless hand of tyranny; the very blood of her martyrs would flow freely into the earth of time. But fail she could not. She would wait, suffering and persecuted, for the voice of the Bridegroom and the final espousals of heaven: " And the spirit and the bride say: Come."

300 Years Persecution

The Church on earth is not the bride of a suffering Christ for nothing. Of this we have proof, if proof were needed, in the history of the Church in our land. There was a glorious period in which she held her rightful place, the inspiration of all that was fine and noble and spiritual in culture and civilization, but a moment came when it seemed that the very powers of hell were loosed against her. Ecclesiastical possessions were plundered; religious houses were suppressed; a price was placed upon the head of priest and bishop; she was stripped of all that was visible or tangible; the Church entered upon a dark night with nothing but a naked faith to sustain and guide her. For almost three centuries that dark night endured and when a partial emancipation came in 1829 it heralded but an uncertain dawn.

No single act of a grudging Parliament could undo work of centuries. The flame of the spirit was still alight, but the body of the people was starved and sick and poor. In 1835, only six years after emancipation a Poor Law Commission Report could state that " Mayo alone could furnish beggars to all England." That stark statement summons up a tragic picture of poverty and desolation, of evictions on the roadside, of empty cabins that would hide their emptiness by barred doors, and of living spectres of men and women and children in the last stages of starvation. To add to the misery, successive famines of which there was one in 1879 reduced the people to a perilous edge when an infamous option was held out to them: they might live: they might keep body and soul together; but they must deny the faith of their fathers. Deny the faith ? For a starving people it meant heaven on earth; but it also meant, for them, an empty heaven. It was then that the people of God made their choice, a choice that was never in doubt; and heaven itself ratified their choice in the miracle of Knock. Knock entered history. It was chosen by our Lady to reveal the celestial city as it is seen through her own eyes. It is not too much to say that, since the Apocalypse was written, no more spectacular or significant visit has ever been offered to humanity.

II. EVENTS AT KNOCK

The humble people of the Knock of 1879, hidden away here in the West of Ireland, could not possibly have foreseen the climax of that day in August, when throughout the day the very elements seemed to be at war. Tradition has it that Knock had been blessed by St. Patrick, that he had prophesied that one day it would be a holy place, but the people were scarcely thinking of that as they looked out at the rains that beat furiously down upon their little village of a dozen houses. Towards evening a little girl of the village, accompanying the priest's housekeeper home, stopped suddenly as she came in sight of the gable of the little church. She must have rubbed her eyes in astonishment at what she saw. For there, standing a little out from the gable, were three life-size figures. Her spontaneous exclamation at the sight is significant. " Oh, look," said she, " they are moving." Movement is a sign of life. It was living beings she was gazing at, living beings with a presence, and that is the significance of her next gesture. She ran home to her mother, her family, that they might see what she saw, and verify her vision. The priest's housekeeper, who remained, suddenly remembered something. She had passed this way a little while ago when going to her neighbors. She had seen what she took to be statues: she had not taken much notice of them. But these were no statues-that moved and that had a presence.

It is not difficult to imagine the scene at the house of the Beirnes when the young girl returned so unexpectedly. She was breathless and excited. She told them of what had happened. The mother listened; her brother was skeptical. But when the girl dashed out again, as quickly as she had entered, the brother asked the mother to follow her; something was the matter; of this he was certain, because, despite his original attitude to the news, he followed in a moment. So convinced was he, on arrival at the scene, that he became the messenger who brought others. Soon there was a little knot of people, fourteen in all, standing or kneeling in front of the gable, and gazing at the Apparition. The night was very wet. The rain was still beating angrily down; the wind was sending it in driving sheets against the gable of the church. It was as if the very elements would obliterate, extinguish, the light that emanated from the object of their gaze. But the Apparition showed no sign of disappearing. It was immune to the attack of wind and rain and storm. It did not extend protection to the onlookers, one of whom described his condition as that of being drenched, but the gable of the church and the ground beneath the vision was dry, dry as if not a drop of rain was falling.

The Apparition

The Apparition may be easily re-constructed from the accounts of the various witnesses. The central figure, holding prominence of position, slightly in advance of the others, and somewhat taller in appearance, was recognized as our blessed Lady. " I was so taken up with the blessed Virgin," remarks one of the witnesses, that I did not pay much attention to the others." But there were others; and they were seen. As the witnesses looked, they saw to the left of our Lady, and inclined before her, one whom they had no difficulty in identifying as St. Joseph; actually he was on the right. On her left there was a figure clothed in priestly vestments with whom there was a little difficulty. But one of the witnesses identified the figure as that of Saint John the Evangelist. The only way in which she could do this, on her own avowal, was by a comparison with a statue of him already seen. But there was a difference; she noted it. The person in the Apparition wore a mitre, not the usual kind but a short-set kind of one which we know to be the characteristic of the Eastern Church. She it was who whispered that it was Saint John; the others were satisfied that it could only be he.

From the Apparition a mysterious light seemed to emanate, sparkling at various points like diamonds, and flowing out from the figures to extend itself almost to the height and width of the gable. But it was a soft light, though bright, and it was silvery. It was such a light as held the attention without strain. It could easily have escaped the notice of chance-on-lookers from the houses of the village which were faced away from the gable of the church. But it did happen, on that night, that a farmer in the distance, about half a mile away from the scene, went out to have a look at his land. He saw something that attracted his attention; he described what he saw as a large globe of golden light. " I never saw, I thought," he tells us, " so brilliant a light before; it appeared high up, above and around, the gable, and it was circular in appearance." In this way a fifteenth witness was drawn into the circle. He would testify, as an independent witness, to what the little group were now gazing at, with different emotions, each attracted by some different aspect of their common apparition.

Full-Sized Altar

To the left of St. John and somewhat behind him there was an altar, a full-sized altar without ornaments of any kind, and upon the altar stood a lamb of some five or six weeks old; behind the lamb and away from him, standing erect upon the altar, was a large cross without any figures on it. The lamb seemed to be looking towards our Lady. But one witness, a little boy, saw that the lamb was surrounded by angels whose wings, he said, were fluttering, though he could not see their faces because they were not turned towards him. The lamb seemed to be radiating light; around him this witness saw what he described as a " halo of stars "; glittering jets of light seemed to be shooting out from his body; the lamb, he said, seemed to be " reflecting light ".

Between this altar and our Lady stood the Evangelist, St. John, whose right hand was raised and inclined in the direction of our blessed Lady; in his left hand he held a book "the lines and letters" of which the little boy saw; and he seemed to be preaching and impressing something upon the audience.

Everything in the apparition points to the fact that our blessed Lady is the central figure. She seems to be its very focus. But her attitude as they saw it was striking. Her hands were raised to the height of the shoulders; the palms of them were facing inwards and inclined towards her breast; her eyes were looking heavenwards. So minutely did the little boy observe things that he could describe, in his own way, the parts of her eyes in detail. She wore white robes, fastened at the neck, and there was a golden crown upon her head, a crown that seemed high, the upper parts of it being alive with sparkling crosses; immediately beneath the crown, where it fitted her brow, was a rose. The atmosphere of the scene was one of stillness not incompatible with a gentle movement as the apparition seemed to advance and recede before their eyes. There was just enough to show that it was no tableau or static picture that they were contemplating. The spontaneous gesture of the old woman of seventy-five was to throw herself at the feet of our Lady to embrace them. But her sense of touch was not gratified. She returned to her place: " I continued to recite the rosary on my beads while there, and I felt great delight and pleasure in looking at the blessed Virgin. I could think of nothing else . . .". Such is the true account of that memorable evening of August 21st, 1879, when some fifteen people or more were privileged to find themselves in presence of our Lady of Knock.

III. EVIDENCE FOR APPARITION

Within seven weeks a Commission composed of eminent ecclesiastics from the surrounding district was set up by the Archbishop of Tuam to investigate the event. The result of their deliberations, after taking the testimony of the witnesses, was that " the testimony of all, taken as a whole, was trustworthy and satisfactory." This declaration on the part of men to whom the witnesses were known, and who were qualified to pass judgment, is in itself an evidence by no means negligible. Not a single one of the original witnesses of the apparition ever doubted or recanted, not one of them ever denied the original testimony given, and the witness who first saw the apparition re-affirmed on her death-bed in 1936 her testimony of 1879. When her statement was read over to her, she made the following remarkable addition: " I make this statement on my death-bed, knowing I am about to go before my God." She was then an aged woman. But with her dying breath she affirmed the truth of what she had seen.

Devotion And Fact

It may seem superfluous, after all these years, to refer to evidence for the apparition of our blessed Lady at Knock. It is true that there is a distinction between the fact itself and the devotion associated with it: the fact belongs to the realm of history; the devotion has for its source the faith of the people; and a certain independence of devotion and fact must be recognized. The fact can only be the object of human belief; the devotion takes its rise in faith; and its aspiration must not be arrested until it finds the blessed Virgin herself, the Virgin-Mother of the Gospels and Tradition. But it is necessary to bear in mind the fact as an introduction to the devotion so that the devotion, which must transcend the fact, may find its free and full expansion. It would be a shock, to say the least, to find that devotion should be associated with a fact of so slender a foundation that it could not, humanly speaking, be authenticated. That authentication must come finally from the Church, the ultimate judge in matters that concern directly or indirectly the Faith. But we are not forbidden, rather we are encouraged, to use our reason prudently in order to make certain of a fact so significant that, should it be even merely probable, it cannot be ignored. Suppose for a moment that our blessed Lady did manifest herself at Knock ? Is it prudent, is it without reproach, to stand passively by, as if our Lady's coming were of no concern to us ?

Opposition And Indifference

It was inevitable that the apparition of our Lady at Knock, like her other apparitions, should have awakened hostility and opposition on the part of many. It would seem that humanity has built up for itself a kind of defense-mechanism against intrusions from another world. It is in the walls of this defense that a breach must be made if the stream of grace is to flow through. The opposition of an unbelieving world, dominated by pride and prejudice, we can ignore. But there is an opposition, if such it can be called, of indifference more difficult to explain. It is evident that the representatives of the Church must be on their guard. On their part, prudent reserve is a necessity. Archdeacon Cavanagh said the wise thing when he declared: " God may will that the testimony to His Blessed Mother's presence should come from the simple faithful and not through His priests." At least it could not be said by a public foreign press of the time that this holy priest was at the source of what can be described as an impossible collusion. That fifteen persons, of different ages varying from childhood to old age, should have invented the unanimous story of Knock is simply out of the question. That somebody contrived, by mechanical means, to deceive the little group, as well as the isolated watcher of the fields, was examined at the time and excluded as an impossible hypothesis. But the voice of opposition is not easily stilled, and indifference is almost invulnerable.

Since it is natural for man to justify his actions and to find reasons for his attitude, particularly when it is one of indifference, it is conceivable that many should react to the news of the apparition much in the same way as Dominic Beirne did when his sister first broke into the kitchen with her extraordinary story. The people as a whole, it will be argued, are attracted more by the poetry of their religion than by its hidden essentials, their attention is naturally captivated by the spectacular, the extraordinary. The results is that their devotion is in danger of running ahead of their reason. This is a common, and perhaps comprehensible, attitude. But it is not a final attitude. It is no more final than that of the boy who was at first skeptical and then went to see for himself, and remained because he was convinced. Now the devotion of Knock, increasing with the passage of the years, is not lightly to be dismissed. One can be reasonably certain that many a soul, by no means riveted to the externals of religion, has come to Knock and benefited by its experience there. It is erroneous to think that, in all these years, enthusiasm has been confined to the people. Archbishops, Bishops and priests have mingled with the crowds and have not hesitated to express their unequivocal belief in Knock.

It would be easy to exaggerate this attitude of false superiority where popular devotion is concerned. The people of God, and by such I do not necessarily mean a church of saints, have instinctive ways of appreciating the things of the spirit; and the approval of the successive Archbishops of the diocese is a factor not to be neglected. It is not a thing unknown or unheard of that people, on their own, have been deceived for a relatively short period. But Knock has stood the test of time, during which the devotion has taken root and spread. The bare suspicion of deception would have been enough to arrest this development; the reaction against Knock would have been as violent as enthusiasm for it has been strong; the apparition of Knock would have been buried in that deep oblivion reserved for great and popular deception. But it has not been so. Almost on the morrow of the apparition a pilgrimage came from Limerick to Knock; the City of Cork soon followed; and the first organized pilgrimage from the United States arrives this year (1949).

Essentials And Externals

There may be some who will insist upon this difference that exists between the essentials of our religion, accessible to faith, and the externals or accessories in the form of miraculous and extraordinary phenomena. That is a valid distinction. It is true that faith is the essential thing, that the apparitions of our Lady are not intended to increase the content of divine revelation confided to the Church, but it does not follow that apparitions serve no purpose. Granted that the life of charity, nourished by the sacraments and prayers, is the very life of the Church and the essential thing in Catholic holiness, it must also be conceded, in the concrete, that He draws men to Him by the very cords of Adam. Man is a composite of flesh and spirit; he has senses as well as mind; he is a being of feeling as well as thought.

One has only to think of the Incarnation itself to realize that Almighty God takes account of this. He offers Himself to us to be seen and touched and felt. Did not our blessed Lord, the Living Sacrament of the Godhead, institute those sacred signs, the sacraments, by which body and soul are sanctified? It is exactly on the same principle that the Church, in her liturgy, brings eternity into time and that in her apparitions our Blessed Lady shows herself the Mother that she is.

Who would sustain, for instance, that the revelations of our Blessed Lord Himself to St. Margaret Mary made no difference in the historical development of devotion to the Sacred Heart? Was it the theology of the theologians and the preaching of the preachers, and not the apparitions, that made the difference? And to find the impulse for a particular devotion in an apparition or a private revelation is no objection to a sacred theology which, the while it has the right to examine the new devotion, may also benefit by it. If we turn our attention to the interventions of our blessed Lady at La Salette or Lourdes, it is clear that they have influenced the growth of that attention to her place and prerogatives which is a characteristic of this age of Mary. It is one thing to know theoretically that Mary is a mother; it is another to have sensible evidence of her motherhood. It is one thing to know theoretically that she was the associate of the Redeemer in His passion; it is another to have the shattering memory of her tears. And in each case Mary was herself, the perfect Mother, speaking dialect at La Salette, because the children did not fully understand French; and at Lourdes she gave her name in a French phrase that Bernadette could neither forget nor change.

IV. SYMBOLISM OF KNOCK

Our blessed Lady spoke at La Salette; she told the children to make known her wishes; and at Lourdes she gave a verbal message; but at Knock she did not speak. Here is the ultimate objection, the one that has exercised the minds of many, and it is kept alive by the continued silence, the enigma of Knock. It matters little, for those who are arrested by it, that it was never the intention of our blessed Lady to add to that revelation committed to the Church or that when all her precious words have been carefully gathered up they resolve themselves into the two great words of Prayer and Penance which she has constantly mentioned in her apparitions. The fact remains that at La Salette she spoke and that at Lourdes she gave a verbal message; but at Knock she spoke not. Those who repeat this difficulty, and who are not stunned by the majestic silence of Knock, forget one very simple thing. Language is a means of communication; it is made up of sounds that are bearers of a spiritual meaning; and it is perfectly adapted to the material world of space and time. But there are times, even in this world of space and time, when language fails us; and silence is our only adequate means of communication.

Communication is the central thing in language; but there are different kinds of communication; and this is particularly true of communications received from a sphere that is beyond space and time. Amongst the witnesses at Knock there was the old woman of seventy-five who, with naive enthusiasm, endeavored to kiss the feet of our blessed Lady. She was frustrated in her attempt. But was she entirely disappointed? She received from the Queen of Heaven a communication in the delight she experienced in simply looking at her. One is reminded of the Catholic poet who went into a wayside church simply to gaze:

<To say nothing, to gaze upon your face To let the heart sing in its own speech.>

The poor Irish woman, for whose faith the invisible world was as real as the things around her, wanted perhaps to feel the very touch of her Lady's feet. The gesture was a natural one. But it was not the first time in history that the sense of touch has been denied. On the morrow of the Resurrection the risen Saviour, wishing to take the Magdalene's sense of His presence beyond the senses into a higher realm, simply said: "Do not touch Me." The injunction has never been forgotten by souls of great spiritual insight.

Messages By Signs

It is essential, therefore, to distinguish between a verbal message, communicated by words, and a message that may be communicated in other ways. It must also be noted, where verbal messages themselves are concerned, that the popular notion of the speech of our Lady is entirely inadequate. Many good people imagine that when the blessed Virgin spoke, as she is reported to have done in the various apparitions, her words must have fallen, like any other words, upon the external ear. But it is at least remarkable that people standing quite as close to our Lady as her privileged seers were quite unable to hear. What is even more remarkable is that the verbal messages at La Salette and Lourdes were not received in the way in which ordinary verbal messages are heard. Few people advert to this, but it is true. When the shepherd of La Salette was asked whether the sounds of our Lady's voice made an impression on his ears, he replied that he knew not how to express it; but that the Lady's voice seemed to strike his heart rather than the drum of his ear. A similar question was put to St. Bernadette concerning the secrets she had received. But she had no hesitation in saying that the secrets could not have been heard by others because, as she explained, it was not like we are talking now. " When the blessed Virgin entrusted me with her secrets she spoke to me here (pointing to her heart) and not through the ear." It is lawful to infer, even when our Lady elects to speak, it is to the heart she addresses herself; and it is in the heart she must be heard. Language is, on past analysis, made up of signs. But at Knock the apparition is itself the sign; the very silence speaks.

When a message is too great for words, and its import too significant to be limited to the language of any single people, there is left the language of Catholicity in the silence of the apparition. The apparition itself speaks, the symbolism of Knock is shattering, and it is an apparition and a symbolism such that no human artist, much less fifteen people of the countryside, could have brought together in the unity of a single design. The artistry is that of Mary. She would have us see, in the apocalypse of Knock, the eternal issue of that struggle which is the crisis within every other crisis that takes place in time. There are many who do not even know in what that crisis consists; and that is part of the tragedy of the present situation. But it is nothing less than the eternal struggle of the archenemy of mankind for the possession, body and mind and spirit, of a humanity that belongs to Mary. This country cannot say that it has not been warned or that the Queen of Ireland has not given the sign of her presence.

There is one obvious reason why our blessed Lady did not speak, in the ordinary way, at Knock. In the eyes of all these humble witnesses she manifested herself as one in prayer. There was about her the stillness of that contemplative vision, the symbol of which was the mystical rose upon her brow, as she stood there in all her beauty interceding before the Throne of God. Remember that the liturgy of the Church in time is an extension of the liturgy of heaven and realize that the Gospel of the Assumption, read throughout the Octave, was the one in which it is said that Mary has chosen " the best part." The reference is to the scene in the Gospel when another Mary sat at the Master's feet while Martha busied herself about many things. But the significance of that scene as explained by St. Augustine is that Martha represents the Church militant on earth while Mary represents the Church triumphant in heaven. But our blessed Lady is the Church in person. She is crowned because, before her Assumption, she had submitted to that death by which she shared in the redemption of mankind. It was not because of her own sins she died; she had none. It was precisely for the sake of that humanity for which the Saviour Himself had laid His life. Hence she is crowned Queen, Queen of the Church in heaven and on earth.

Patron Of The Church

If we look for a moment at the apparition we find, on the right hand of our Lady, the Spouse and Guardian of her virginity, St. Joseph. Remember it is the year 1879. Only seven years before, at a moment when the Church seemed in the greatest peril, Pope Pius IX had declared St. Joseph Patron of the Universal Church. He is now seen at Knock. He is inclined before his Queen in the knowledge that all that he is and all that he has he owes to her with whom, in life, he was united by God himself. Saint Joseph does not speak. He is the man of silence. But the whole attitude of reverence speaks and tells us of the meditation of our blessed Lady for that Church of which he has been declared the Patron and Protector. It is inevitable that the glory of this man, whose silence we have taken all too literally, should increase and extend as that of Mary is emphasized. St. Joseph is a great Saint. No other Saint in heaven has approached so closely to the dignity of the Queen of heaven as St. Joseph did; he occupies a place apart above and beyond the body of the Church, and this gives to him a power of influence and intercession unequaled by others.

So much might be said, in presence of the apparition, that the subject is inexhaustible. But if we wish to find the message of Knock, while awaiting the authentic interpretation of the Church, we must approach St. John. To him, in life, was Mary committed by her dying Son; from Mary he learned much. But St. John, Bishop, is the official preacher and that is how the simple people of Knock beheld him. He seemed, they said, to be impressing something forcibly upon an audience. Our blessed Lady was included in his sermon. Now that message has been committed to writing. Therefore he held a book in his hands. But if you would find the message of Knock you must open the Apocalypse. It is a mighty book. It is, for very many, a sealed book. But it is the book that contains the key to universal history. Running through it, like a streak of flashing light, is the great theme of redemption in its three cosmic stages. There is, first, the mystery of " the Lamb which was slain from the beginning of the world." That is how St. John describes, in the thirteenth chapter, the eternal plan of redemption so simply and touchingly symbolized by the lamb of five or six weeks old that was seen at Knock. There is, secondly, the mystery of the woman " clothed with the sun " that is seen in travail on the earth where the mind of the seer of Patmos passes naturally from the Virgin-Mother to the suffering Church on earth of which she is the prototype. There is, finally, the City of God of which it is said that it has the glory of God and that the Lamb is the light thereof.

This is the City of God of which St. John has said: " And he showed me the holy city . . . coming down out of heaven from God. Having the glory of God." It is the city whose ensign is the Cross standing behind the Lamb as the instrument by which salvation was wrought and by which judgment will finally be passed upon the world. A glimpse of its splendor, through the eyes of their Queen was given at Knock. To the people of that time, emerging out of a dark night when they had proved their fidelity to the Mass, the sacrifice of Redemption, it was given as a consolation and the poor old woman who expressed her gratitude was the voice of Ireland. But to the people of the present time, confronted with a new menace, the apparition at Knock is a challenge. It is no longer a question of offering the sacrifice of Redemption upon a bare rock, without the externals of religion, but of extending this very sacrifice of Redemption into lives that are fully and militantly Catholic. Catholic in the true balance of prayer and action, of contemplation and apostolate; Catholic in their social as well as their individual activities. To be worthy of the faith of our Fathers, and of the Queen of heaven who has come to us, Knock must become a school where we shall learn the secret of true sanctity; then we shall go forth from it in the secure and conscious protection of Mary who is Queen of the Church on earth as she is Queen of the Church in heaven.

End Note: The editor wishes to say that the statements and opinions recorded in these pages are based on human testimony only.

The Story of Knock. The Apparition at Knock, 21st August, 1879. This article was written in 1950 for "Knock Shrine Annual" by the late V. Rev. Fr. James, O.F.M. Cap., M.A., Ph.D., D. Litt., Agrege, Louvain, Professor of Philosophy in University College, Cork. Printed in the Republic of Ireland by FNT-MAYO NEWS.

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The Cusack Papers; new evidence on the Knock apparition

Margaret Anna Cusack, aka Sister Mary Francis Clare, aka 'The Nun of Kenmare'.

Margaret Anna Cusack, aka Sister Mary Francis Clare, aka ‘The Nun of Kenmare’.

‘Well, I never knew how good I was ’till now’, Dominick Beirne was quoted as saying on the evening of 21 August 1879. Beirne and at least fourteen of his friends and relations had just witnessed what they reported as an apparition of the Virgin Mary, Saint Joseph and Saint John the Evangelist by the south gable of their parish chapel in Knock, County Mayo. For nearly two hours a group that fluctuated between two and perhaps as many as twenty-five stood or knelt gazing at the figures as rain lashed them in the gathering darkness. Sign of favour

Beirne’s statement, although perhaps apocryphal, is more than a quaint bit of innocence written to make the reader smile. As word of Knock spread across the Irish world, writers and proponents of the developing cult of Our Lady of Knock took Beirne’s assessment as to why the Virgin came to Knock and applied it to the Irish nation as a whole. She came to Ireland in order that the Irish people might know that they were good and had found favour with God. As silent visions continued at Knock throughout the next three years, it was determined that Mary was appearing at Knock for the benefit of the entire Irish nation rather than as a sign of favour to any one person or group. As the series of visions was silent, the Irish people were provided with a blank slate upon which they could compose their own message from heaven. Historians and devotional writers who have sought to understand Knock have also had to deal with a certain silence. Most of the documents from the early years at Knock were assumed to have been lost. In 1936, when, Archbishop Gilmartin of Tuam, reopened the investigation into the events of 1879, investigators were forced to rely upon interviews with the last of the living witnesses, their children, and press reports and devotional works printed in the 1880s, which portrayed the developing cult in a positive light. As Knock occurred at the beginning of the Land War, and in the same area, many devotional writers were careful not to make explicit connections between the pilgrimage and the land movement. In their desire to see the pilgrimage approved by the then Archbishop of Tuam, John McEvilly, they thought it best to keep political messages away from the visions. The archbishop had a reputation for being ambivalent about the agitation, and he was known to be in the episcopal camp of Edward Cardinal McCabe of Dublin, who was openly hostile to the agitation. What is perhaps more significant than the lack of explicit statements linking the Virgin with the Land League is the failure of anyone to insert anti-Land League rhetoric into the mouth of the Virgin. Original depositions discovered

I was always intrigued by the coincidence of Knock with the Land War, but, like most writers interested in the topic, the lack of sources meant that I had to work with printed materials. In the summer of 1995, while doing research in Washington, DC among the papers of Margaret Anna Cusack (Sister Mary Francis Clare), foundress of the Sisters of St Joseph of Peace, I enquired about the contents of a large box marked ‘pre-foundation papers’. As the purpose of the archive is to facilitate research into the development and the history of the order, with the foundation of the order being the principal event around which the archive is organised, I was told that the box did not really contain much of interest, but that I was welcome to take a look if I wanted to. Upon opening the box, I had some small sense of what it might feel like to find a chalice in a bog or a Caravaggio on Great Denmark Street. The box contained the original, unedited depositions of several of the 21 August 1879 witnesses, the original manuscript of the parish priest’s account of cures, depositions and statements taken from witnesses in 1880, and hundreds of other documents and letters from people seeking or claiming cures through the intercession of Our Lady of Knock. These records promise to challenge our present understanding of Knock, the relationship between religion and nationalism in nineteenth century Ireland, and the progress of the Devotional Revolution in creating the Irish Catholicism of the twentieth century.

In 1936 Archbishop Thomas Gilmartin of Tuam reopenedinvestigation into the events of 1879.

In 1936 Archbishop Thomas Gilmartin of Tuam reopened investigation into the events of 1879.

Knock and the Land War

Scholars have sought to explain the visions at Knock as a reaction to the modernising effect of the land war. Some see Knock as a conservative social movement supported by the clergy as an alternative to the Land League, while others claim that Knock draws on an older tradition of millenarian peasant prophecy. In light of the documents found among the Cusack papers, neither of these theories is satisfactory. Knock was not a rearguard reaction against the forces of modernity: it was itself a force and a manifestation of modernity. The Land League and the pilgrimage developed in parallel and simultaneous ways, involving many of the same characters, and utilising similar techniques of popularisation and propagation. Both movements began in Mayo but quickly succumbed to control from outside as they became part of a larger, international Irish world that was bringing a new social, economic, and religious culture to Mayo. Writers like T.D. Sullivan of The Nation, John McPhilpin of the Tuam News, which first broke the Knock story in January 1880, and the ‘Nun of Kenmare’, as the devotional writer Sister Mary Francis Clare Cusack was known, all avoided making explicit reference to the land agitation in their writings about Knock. Yet Sullivan and McPhilpin found themselves in prison during the Land War, and Cusack made her way from Kenmare to Knock in 1881 after receiving death threats upon publication of her book outlining the abuse of tenants on the Landsdowne and Kenmare estates in Kerry. Andrew Higgins, who developed a profound dislike for Cusack while he was parish priest in Kenmare, was the government choice to fill the Kerry see precisely because of his opposition to the tenants’ cause. Sister Mary Francis Clare quit Kerry less than a week after Higgins was named bishop. While she denied any official connection to the Land League, the ‘Nun of Kenmare’s Relief Fund’ collected over £20,000 in 1880, distributing large sums through local Land League branches. The popular perception that the Nun was a member of the Land League was so pervasive that Tobias Kirby, Rector of the Irish College in Rome, wrote to Archbishop Thomas Croke of Cashel late in 1881 saying that the Nun would be able to collect large sums for Knock as she was President of the Ladies’ Land League. The press played a critical role in the land and Knock movements. As the land agitation grew and spread, the press was the most influential factor in disseminating Land League ideology. Reports from Ireland were picked up by the emigrant press and published in the Irish World of New York or the Boston Pilot. The active involvement of the American Irish press meant that the ideas, aspirations and the experience of the Irish living abroad would help determine the outlook of Mayo peasants and would shape events in Ireland during the land war. Similarly, the pilgrimage and message of Knock came to represent ideas originating far from Mayo. As reporters came to Knock beginning in 1880, stories from Knock found their way into papers all over the Irish world. Archdeacon Cavanagh, the parish priest at Knock, sent bits of plaster from the gable of the church to every land where English was spoken and then saw to the publication of cures wrought by the plaster. As people from an ever widening circle had recourse to Knock, events there were increasingly interpreted as being of national rather than local significance. This meant that Knock would not primarily represent the interests of the locality but those of the Irish everywhere. Even if there were connections in the minds of Mayo villagers between the visions and earlier millenarian tradition, the public image, interpretation, and message of Knock was composed by people living abroad or in Irish cities, whose world view and contextual framework was much broader than that of rural Mayo. The Cusack papers show how many figures from moderate nationalists to Land Leaguers and Fenians were actively involved with Knock. We find requests for prayers and favours and letters that contained donations from local Land League branches in British cities and on the American frontier, from Irishmen serving in the British army throughout the empire, and from such figures as James Redpath of the New York Tribune, a Protestant and a major American proponent of the Land League. Redpath and New York’s Tammany Hall boss ‘Honest John’ Kelly raised thousands of dollars for the Nun of Kenmare at Knock by giving lectures in New York. Cusack also enlisted support from prominent figures in the church whose sympathy was known to lie with nationalists or with the Land League. Archbishop Croke was a regular supporter of Knock and Cusack, donating relics for the altar stone in the convent and protecting the Nun from her detractors among the Irish episcopacy. She also had the support of Edward Cardinal Manning of Westminster and Bishop Bagshawe of Nottingham, who often displayed sympathy for Irish causes.

An open air Mass at the shrine c.1880. Note the rows of crutches abandoned by disabled people who believed themselves cured and the extent to which the wall has been denuded of plaster by pilgrims eager for relics.(Sean Sexton collection)

An open air Mass at the shrine c.1880. Note the rows of crutches abandoned by disabled people who believed themselves cured and the extent to which the wall has been denuded of plaster by pilgrims eager for relics. (Sean Sexton collection)

Canon Ulick Bourke

Knock was also given support by Mayo priests active in the Land League. Canons Waldron of Ballyhaunis and Corbett of Claremorris assisted the Archbishop of Tuam’s commission to investigate Knock. They were among the first Mayo priests to support the tenants’ agitation. The ‘Godfather of Mayo politics’, Canon Ulick Bourke of Claremorris, was also on the commission. While Bourke may have had some difficulty sharing the social leadership of Mayo with some of the lay leaders of the Land League, there is little doubt about his nationalist credentials. As president of St Jarlath’s College, Tuam, he had a reputation as a Fenian fellow traveller. A member of the Royal Irish Academy and the author of several philological works on the Irish language, Bourke was one of the leading lights of the early language revival. John McPhilpin of the Tuam News was his nephew, and the paper was considered to reflect Bourke’s personal views. Accustomed to thinking nationally, Canon Bourke joined T.D. Sullivan and the Nun of Kenmare in developing Knock as a national Marian pilgrimage. Other priests associated with the Fenian movement often led organised pilgrimages to Knock. We find Canon Monahan, a close advisor of Bishop Bagshawe of Nottingham, claiming to have seen visions at Knock in 1880. The beloved former prior of the Augustinian convent at Ballyhaunis, James Anderson, recently transferred to Drogheda, led a group of pilgrims from there to Knock in 1880. Fr. Quick, the confessor to the Manchester Martyrs, was allegedly healed of a hand ailment while leading a group of Lancashire pilgrims that same year. The second meeting of the land agitation was held at Knock on 1 June 1879 to protest a sermon by Archdeacon Cavanagh in which he condemned local Fenians who were instrumental in the 15 April Irishtown meeting considered to be the birth of the land war. The principal Fenians involved in the Knock protest were John O’Kane and P.J. Gordon of Claremorris. Gordon later appeared on nearly every Land League platform in Galway and Mayo, and was arrested with Parnell, Davitt, T.D. Sullivan, and other leaders of the League in 1880. Gordon was not a tenant farmer by occupation but was a cobbler and shoemaker in Claremorris. As the pilgrimage grew, Gordon saw to the quite profitable operation of outside cars between the railway station at Claremorris and Knock, about five miles distant. By August, 1880, the number of outside cars in the town had increased from five to over fifty.

This nineteenth century engraving by the artist Karl Ulhemann captures something of the excitment in the village as the news spread.

This nineteenth century engraving by the artist Karl Ulhemann captures something of the excitment in the village as the news spread.

First cure claimed

Gordon had an even more vital connection to Knock than his business interest. His twelve year old daughter Delia was subject to violent pain in her left ear. Ten days after the 21 August apparition, Gordon’s wife and daughter were at Mass at Knock. At the elevation, Delia screamed as the pain became intolerable. Hurrying the girl outside the church to the spot where Mary had appeared, Mrs Gordon picked or scraped a bit of plaster from the gable wall, and after making the sign of the cross over her daughter with the fragment, touched it to the child’s afflicted ear. The cure, the first at Knock, was instantaneous. Delia’s cure was given tremendous publicity by T.D. Sullivan in 1880, and thus was born the belief that the plaster had a powerful thaumaturgic effect. The development of the pilgrimage to Knock is part of that same incursion of modern life into rural Connacht as the railroad, which came to Claremorris and Ballyhaunis in 1862, the same year that the Royal Irish Constabulary opened its Knock barracks. Archdeacon Cavanagh saw to the creation of eleven national schools in the combined parishes of Knock and Aghamore between 1867 and 1883, and the Nun of Kenmare opened a kindergarten for infants, national schools for boys and girls, and a school to teach industrial and domestic skills to girls bound for emigration, another fact of modern life in Mayo. It was necessary for Cavanagh to preach in English and Irish each Sunday as the schools saw to the replacement of Irish with English as the language of the young. This linguistic crisis may be connected with the silence of the Knock visions, as the oldest witness, Bridget Trench, had no English, while the youngest, six year old John Curry, was being educated with no Irish. The triumph of this cultural shift can be seen in the way that Canon Bourke directed the curious not to the villagers who witnessed the 21 August visions but to subconstables Fraher and Collins of the RIC, who saw lights on the gable on 5 January 1880, and to the national school teacher Miss Anderson, who saw an eighteen-inch high Virgin that same evening. Canon Bourke characterised one of the policemen as a ‘witness worth hearing’, thus reinforcing the power, prestige, and authority of these figures of cultural change.

A second Lourdes

The theory that Knock was a modern and national phenomenon is also borne out by the way in which clergy, devotional writers, and pilgrims sought to pattern Knock on the Lourdes pilgrimage. The original press account in Canon Bourke’s Tuam News described how the west of Ireland was the ‘trysting place’ of all who sought to improve small farmers’ positions, the flames from which were embracing all four provinces. Similarly, the west presented another attraction, a ‘second Lourdes’, attracting not only the Irish but Catholics from Europe and America. References to Knock as another Lourdes continued to appear in press reports and pilgrims’ accounts throughout the eighties. In associating Knock with Lourdes, and by seeing Knock as an international phenomenon, writers and pilgrims were making a clear statement about a shift in Irish piety. Lourdes is a modern, national pilgrimage through which the French nation expresses its solidarity and its desire to have the Virgin as patroness. It differs from a local pilgrimage in significant ways. Nearly every parish or village in Ireland has a local pilgrimage, usually a well or a site associated with an Irish saint. These pilgrimages seek to create or reinforce local solidarity. Ancient national pilgrimages like Croagh Patrick and Lough Derg continued to draw well throughout the nineteenth century, but these are essentially ascetic or penitential in nature. The Knock pilgrimage combined traditional Irish practices like rounds of the church and all night vigils with neo-Tridentine devotions like stations of the cross, benediction, and processions with the pageantry of coloured torches, silken banners, and the recitation or singing of long litanies. Brought to Knock by urban pilgrims who came as members of sodalities and confraternities, these devotions clearly impressed the local clergy who incorporated them into the pilgrimage on a regular basis. By May 1880 the parish’s national school teachers had introduced the Children of Mary as a regular part of the pilgrims’ procession, with their matching dresses and veils adorned with flowers. The teachers had also organised the young men of the parish to act as guides, and had even developed a fifty-voice choir.

Controlled by the clergy

The focal point of the pilgrimage was confession and the reception of the Eucharist. In August 1880 three priests sat beneath umbrellas in the rain while crowds gathered around them seeking to be shriven, while later that same month a woman who was watching the eyes of the Virgin’s statue move left the statue because it was her turn to go to confession. The prioritisation of spiritual values evidenced by the central role of confession and communion in the pilgrimage was not only appealing to the clergy but also ensured that despite the continuing reports of visions, the pilgrimage would ultimately be controlled by the clergy. The devotional examples set by organised pilgrimages had an impact on local piety similar to that which policemen and schoolteachers had on social relations. The regular contact between urban and rural people furthered the progress and consolidation of what has come to be called the Devotional Revolution, that process by which continental European devotions became the standard spiritual fare of Ireland’s Catholic population. Seeing the laity making frequent and regular approaches to the sacraments and seeing the pilgrimage as a vehicle to consolidate and regularise devotional practise encouraged the clergy to validate the developing cult and pilgrimage. The silent visions were interpreted as either confirming the Irish in their present practise of Catholicism or as the Virgin’s offer of succour and support in the struggle against disasters occasioned upon the Irish by Britain. One pilgrim wrote how the apparitions were a result of God’s love for the poor, who are His first care. He adds, ‘We wish the English government could learn this lesson in reference to Ireland, where the poor have been by them the least, instead of the first considered’. The Nun of Kenmare often compared Knock with Lourdes and Lasallette, where Mary is seen tempering God’s justice by holding back Christ’s hand raised in punishment. Unlike France, where national Marian pilgrimages were offered as reparation for the sins of the nation, there was no sense of national sinfulness connected with Knock. Although Ireland was a nation of sinners, it was not a sinful nation, and the Irish were being rewarded for their faithfulness, while the French, Cusack wrote, had failed in this regard, ‘Perhaps if Catholics in France had received the favour which the Mother of God bestowed on them at Lourdes with more faith and fervour and thought more of God’s grace and love, then France would not be as it is today’.

Our Lady of Knock by Currier and lves.

Our Lady of Knock by Currier and lves.

Cusack’s apostasy

The Cusack papers can also help us to understand why Knock failed to continue developing after 1883. Sister M.F. Clare considered herself a latter day Catherine of Sienna, and she quickly lost patience with Archbishop McEvilly’s failure to take her counsel. She believed that as a vessel through which God communicated His will, she should be allowed to go to Rome to communicate her intimate messages to the Holy Father. By his refusal to assent to her wishes, McEvilly was seen by Cusack as a sinful, erring bishop who was persecuting a saintly woman and interfering with God’s desires. Leaving Knock late in 1883, Cusack took not only most of Knock’s documents but also the money subscribed to build a convent there. This caused an international scandal and gave Knock a tainted reputation from which it took over fifty years to recover. The Nun of Kenmare never recovered from the wounds she thought were inflicted upon her at Knock, as rumours and innuendo about her departure from Knock followed her to America, where they contributed to her eventual apostasy from Roman Catholicism. Without the capital needed to build comfortable accommodations for middle class pilgrims, Knock withered until Dr. Gilmartin and Dr. Walsh expressed interest in the 1930s and ‘40s. Material comforts began to be provided for pilgrims, culminating in the new basilica and the airport. The fact that pilgrims in 1883 saw taking the train to Mayo as a sufficient move outside of life’s routine to satisfy the desire for liminality which is at the heart of the pilgrimage experience is itself evidence of an increasingly modern mentality. Ironically, it was the ultimate triumph of middle class values and the Devotional Revolution that led to the decline of the pilgrimage, as the pilgrimage failed to stay the pace that it had helped to set. The apparitions at Knock are certainly related to the excitement generated by agrarian distress, the land agitation, and the steady incursion of the modern world into Connacht. The Cusack papers promise to show that the Land League and the pilgrimage were not alternative movements developing in opposition to each other. They are, in fact, complementary movements, and Knock presented Irish people with a way to sacralise and make sense of the new world that they themselves were trying to create.

John White is writing a doctoral thesis on Knock, nationalism and popular religion at Boston College. Further reading:

C. Rynne, Knock: 1879-1979 ( Dublin 1979).

M. Walsh, The Apparition at Knock (Tuam 1959).

M.F.C. Cusack, The Nun of Kenmare: an autobiography (London 1889).

D. Jordan, Land and Popular Politics in Ireland: County Mayo from the Plantation to the Land War (Cambridge 1994).

apparitions knock

Personal Histories

On this day.

  • 1922 Dáil Éireann approved the Anglo-Irish Treaty (64–57).
  • 1928 Francis Ball, historian, author notably of The Judges in Ireland, 1221–1921 (1926), an important source since the documents on which it was based were destroyed when the Public Record Office was blown up in 1922, died.
  • 1922 Dáil Éireann approved the Anglo-Irish Treaty by 64 votes to 57.
  • 1914 Patrick Weston Joyce, historian and musicologist, notably author of Origin and history of Irish names of places, died. He was the older brother of Robert Dwyer Joyce (1830–83), physician and songwriter, whose verses included ‘The boys of Wexford’.

Pilgrim-info.com

Knock Shrine – Ireland’s Marian Apparition site

Knock Shrine, Knock, Irska

Website of the Sanctuary

+353 94 9388100

Every day: 8.00 am – 9.00 pm

info@knock-shrine.ie

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Knock Shrine, located in co. Mayo is Ireland;s National Marian Shrine where over 1.5 million pilgrims visit each year.

The Pilgrimage Season at Knock runs from April -October each year with daily Masses and Confessions, Anointing of the Sick and Stations of the Cross. Groups are always welcome and can avail of guided tours, private Mass and a visit to the award-winning Knock Museum.

History of Apparitions in Knock Shrine

The Story of Knock began on the 21st August, 1879 when, at approximately 8 O’ clock in the evening, fifteen people from the village of Knock in Co. Mayo, witnessed an Apparition of Our Lady, St. Joseph, St. John the Evangelist, a Lamb and cross on an altar at the gable wall of the Parish Church.

The witnesses watched the Apparition in the pouring rain for two hours, reciting the Rosary. Although they themselves were saturated not a single drop of rain fell on the gable or vision.

There were fifteen official witnesses to the Apparition, most of whom were from the village of Knock and surrounding areas and ranged in age from just 5 years old to 74 years old. Each of the witnesses gave testimonies to a Commission of Enquiry in October 1879. The findings of the Commission were that the testimonies were both trustworthy and satisfactory.

1880 – Knock Church is extended by the addition of two aisles 1920 – Knock Church is further extended with the addition of the sacristy 1938 – Outdoor Stations of the Cross are erected 1940 – First oratory is built onto gable wall of parish Church 1968 – Processional Square is developed in front of Apparition Gable 1971 – St. Joseph’s Rest Home opens as a residential hostel for the sick 1973 – Knock Museum opens to the public 1974 – The Way of the Cross is constructed on a hill, now called Calvary Hill 1976 – The Church Our Lady Queen of Ireland (Basilica) is completed and opens for public 1978 – St. John’s Rest and Care Centre opens to provide welcome and hospitality to visiting pilgrims 1979 – Knock village and Knock Shrine is improved and upgraded for Papal Visit

Knock Shrine, Ireland

The 15 Official Witnesses

1. Dominick Byrne (senior) Drum, Knock, aged thirty-six years

2. Dominick Byrne (junior) Drum, Knock, aged twenty years approximately

3. Margaret Byrne , Drum, Knock, aged twenty-one years

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4. Mary Byrne , Drum, Knock, aged twenty-nine years approximately

5. Mrs. Margaret Byrne (widow), Drum, Knock, aged sixty-eight years

6. Patrick Byrne , Carrowmore, Knock, aged sixteen years

7. Judith Campbell, Carrowmore, Knock, aged twenty-two years

8. John Curry , Lecarrow, Knock, aged five years

9. John Durkan , Casual Labourer, aged twenty-four years approximately

10. Mrs. Hugh Flatley , Cloonlee, Knock, aged forty-four years

11. Patrick Hill , Claremorris, aged eleven years

12. Mary McLoughlin , Archdeacon Cavanagh’s housekeeper,Knock, aged forty-five years

13. Catherine Murray , Lisaniskea, Bekan, aged eight years

14. Bridget Trench , Carrowmore, Knock, aged seventy-four years approximately

15. Patrick Walsh , Ballindorris, Knock, aged sixty-five years approximately

Mary Byrne Testimony of Apparition – 1st Commission of Enquiry, 1879

‘I beheld, all at once, standing out from the gable, and rather to the west of it, three figures which, on more attentive inspection, appeared to be that of the Blessed Virgin, St. Joseph and St. John. That of the Blessed Virgin was life-size, the others apparently either not so big or not so high as her figure. They stood a little distance out from the gable wall and, as well as I could judge, a foot and a half or two feet from the ground. The Virgin stood erect, with eyes raised to heaven, her hands elevated to the shoulders or a little higher, the palms inclined slightly towards the shoulders or bosom. She wore a large cloak of a white colour, hanging in full folds and somewhat loosely around her shoulders, and fastened to the neck. She wore a crown on the head, rather a large crown, and it appeared to me somewhat yellower than the dress or robes worn by Our Blessed Lady.

In the figure of St. Joseph the head was slightly bent, and inclined towards the Blessed Virgin, as if paying her respect. It represented the saint as somewhat aged, with grey whiskers and greyish hair. The third figure appeared to be that of St. John the Evangelist…..Above the altar and resting on it was a lamb and around it I saw golden stars, or small brilliant lights, glittering like jets or glass balls, reflecting the light of some luminous body. I remained from a quarter past eight to half past nine o’clock. At the time it was raining.’

Our Lady of Knock Prayer

Our Lady of Knock , Queen of Ireland, you gave hope to your people in a time of distress and comforted them in sorrow. You have inspired countless pilgrims to pray with confidence to your divine Son, remembering His promise, “Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find”.

Help me to remember that we are all pilgrims on the road to Heaven. Fill me with love and concern for my brothers and sisters in Christ, especially those who live with me. Comfort me when I am sick, lonely or depressed. Teach me how to take part ever more reverently in the Holy Mass. Give me a greater love of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.

Pray for me now and at the end of my death. Amen.

Novena to Our Lady of Knock

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. Give praise to the Father Almighty, To His Son, Jesus Christ the Lord, To the Spirit who lives in our hearts, both now and forever. Amen.

Our Lady of Knock, Queen of Ireland, you gave hope to your people in a time of distress, and comforted them in sorrow. You have inspired countless pilgrims to pray with confidence to your divine Son, remembering His promise, “Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find.” Help me to remember that we are all pilgrims on the road to heaven. Fill me with love and concern for my brothers and sisters in Christ, especially those who live with me. Comfort me when I am sick, lonely or depressed. Teach me how to take part ever more reverently in the Holy Mass. Give me a greater love of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Pray for me now, and at the hour of my death. Amen.

Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world; Have mercy on us. Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world; Have mercy on us. Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world; Grant us peace.

ST. JOSEPH, Chosen by God to be The Husband of Mary, The Protector of the Holy Family, The Guardian of the Church. Protect all families In their work and recreation And Guard us on our journey through life. (Repeat – Lamb of God, etc.)

ST. JOHN, Beloved Disciple of the Lord, Faithful priest. Teacher of the Word of God. Help us to hunger for the Word. To be loyal to the Mass And to love one another. (Repeat – Lamb of God, etc.) Our Lady of Knock Pray for Us Refuge of Sinners Pray for Us Queen Assumed into Heaven Pray for Us Queen of the Rosary Pray for Us Mother of Nazareth Pray for Us Queen of Virgins Pray for Us Help of Christians Pray for Us Health of the Sick Pray for Us Queen of Peace Pray for Us Our Lady, Queen and Mother Pray for Us Our Lady, Mother of the Church Pray for Us (Here mention your own special intentions)

With the Angels and Saints let us pray: Give praise to the Father Almighty, To His Son, Jesus Christ the Lord, To the Spirit who lives in our hearts, Both now and forever. Amen.

Instruction: The Rosary or Mass and Holy Communion is recommended each day.

Coming to Knock and having the best stay:

  • Compare prices of hotels in Knock , for all pockets or view hotel deals at the bottom of the page that we have for you.
  • Find cheap flights to Ireland. Ireland West Airport Knock is 12 miles/20 Km from Knock) with scheduled services from Birmingham, Bristol, Dublin, East Midlands, Leeds/Bradford, Liverpool, Liverpool, London Gatwick, London Luton, London Stansted and Manchester. Because you don’t want to overpay for your flight! 🙂

apparitions knock

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Today, there are many customs and traditions observed in Knock. Many pilgrims like to get Holy Water from Knock, this tradition is still strongly practiced as many pilgrims like to bring the Holy Water home with them or pass it on to a loved-one.

Pilgrims also like to circle the Parish Church while praying the Rosary, Pray the Stations of the Cross, enroll themselves or a loved one in the Knock Shrine Friends Association, attend Confessions or simply taking a few moments for contemplative prayer in Knock Shrine.

View hotel deals in Knock:

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  • The Croagh Patrick mountain – Pilgrimage and Climb
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  • San Juan basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle
  • Saint Lucy’s Church & National Shrine of Saint Gerard
  • St Padre Pio of Pietrelcina Prayer, Feast Day, Patron of, Novena, Shrine, Tomb, Canonization
  • Ladyewell Shrine, Fernyhalgh

Let us remain close in the same prayer! May the Lord bless you abundantly!

Knock Shrine

By Air Ireland West Airport Knock 12 miles/20 Km from Knock) with scheduled services from Birmingham, Bristol, Dublin, East Midlands, Leeds/Bradford, Liverpool, Liverpool, London Gatwick, London Luton, London Stansted and Manchester.

By Car Knock is 140 miles/220 Km from Dublin and 45 miles/70 Km from Galway. It is located on the N17 road, midway between Galway and Sligo. Main Car Park GPS Co-Ordinates: N: 53.79391 W: 008.91387 For Car Hire Visit Auto Reservation Plus

By Bus Bus services are available from all major towns and cities. All bus stops in Knock are within a short walking distance of the Shrine Grounds. For full information including timetables visit Bus Eireann. The Services which travel through Knock are:

No. 21 Dublin – Athlone Westport No. 52 Galway – Castlebar – Westport – Ballina No. 64 Galway – Ireland West Airport Knock – Sligo – Derry These service stop at either Main Street or Ballyhaunis Road. Download Map of Knock. Special discount fares are available if tickets are booked online, visit www.buseireann.ie .

By Train The nearest railway station is Claremorris (7miles/11 km), which is on the Dublin Heuston – Westport Line. For full information including timetables visit Irish Rail. Special discount fares are available if tickets are booked online, visit www.irishrail.ie . A return Shuttle Service runs from Claremorris Train Station to Knock during the pilgrimage season, please contact Knock Shrine Office for details (094) 9388100.

  • Mass in the Parish Church at 8am, 9am & 7.30pm
  • Mass in the Basilica at 10.30am, 12 noon & 3pm
  • Mass on Eve of Sundays and Holydays at 7.30pm in the Parish Church
  • The 3pm Concelebrated Mass is followed by Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, Rosary Procession to the Shrine and Blessing of Religious Objects
  • Mass in the Parish Church at 9am, 12 noon & 7.30pm
  • Mass in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel at 11am
  • Mass in the Basilica at 12 noon & 3pm
  • Sunday: 11am to 5pm in the Chapel of Reconciliation
  • Weekdays: Confessions 11am to 5pm in the Chapel of Reconciliation
  • Sunday: Anointing of the Sick 2.30pm
  • Stations of the Cross & Rosary Procession 2pm
  • Candlelight Rosary Procession each Thursday evening at 9pm for June, July and August
  • 11.30 am to 6.30 pm in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel
  • 7 to 9.00 pm in the Apparition Chapel

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apparitions knock

  • Official Website of the
  • Order of the Carmelites of the Holy Face
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The Apparitions of Knock

apparitions knock

The Apparitions of Guadalupe

apparitions knock

The Apparitions of La Salette

apparitions knock

The Apparitions of Lourdes

apparitions knock

The Apparitions of Fatima

apparitions knock

The Apparitions of Ezquioga

In Knock (‘Cnoc Mhuire’ in Gaelic, ‘Mary’s hill’), in County Mayo, in the west of Ireland, the Most Holy Virgin Mary, Most Holy Joseph, Saint John the Evangelist and Our Lord Jesus Christ as Lamb of God, all appeared to fifteen persons.

It was not an ordinary day; for just on that same day, the 21 st of August 1879, Pope Saint Leo XIII formally granted canonical coronation to the image of Our Lady in Her Basilica of La Salette. This coincidence indicates a relation between Knock and the Message of La Salette, where the Virgin Most Holy foretold in 1846 the famine and potato shortage over the whole of Europe, but above all in Ireland, where more than a million died between 1845 and 1850.

apparitions knock

Later, together with Mary McLoughlin, she went back to see this wonder better, and with even greater stupor realized that the statues… were moving! It is the Virgin! – one of them cried out, and they ran off to tell family and friends. Thirteen persons joined them to complete the group of fifteen witnesses who were the basis of the testimony God wished to leave there.

This was how this very unusual Apparition appeared in all its reality: the entire side wall of the Church was illuminated by an intense light visible from afar. The figures were suspended in the air half a metre from the ground. Mary, the largest figure, was dressed in a white coloured mantle and had on a long veil from head to feet. The witnesses described the Most Holy Virgin Mary as very beautiful; She wore a white cape fastened at the collar. Upon Her head covered by the veil was a brilliant, extraordinary crown. The crown had a golden radiance; and yet more brilliant was the remarkable whiteness of Her dress. The upper part of the crown seemed to be a series of gleaming crosses. Between the crown and the edge of the veil She wore a brilliant rose. She was immersed in deep prayer, with eyes raised up to Heaven, hands raised to shoulder height in prayer, like the Priest’s hands in the traditional Mass, and Her gaze, absorbed in prayer, was turned heavenwards.

Most Holy Joseph, also dressed in white, was at Mary’s right, inclining his head towards Her and with hands joined, also in prayer. Saint John the Evangelist wore a Bishop’s mitre and long garments, and was at Mary’s left. His right hand was upraised and in his left arm held what seemed a Holy Bible. At Saint John’s left there was an Altar, and upon it a Lamb, and a Cross stood upon the Altar behind the Lamb. The Altar with the Lamb and the Cross were surrounded by Angels, circling.

While the group knelt before the Apparition in devout prayer, the heavenly visitors remained silent. Not a single word was spoken. The witnesses to the Apparition stayed out in the pouring rain for some two hours praying the Rosary. When the Apparition began it was twilight; but despite the darkness when night fell, the witnesses said that they could still see the figures quite clearly, seemingly the colour of a brilliant whitish light. The ground under the figures stayed completely dry during the Apparition, though a south wind blew. Nonetheless, after the Apparition, the ground became soaked and the wall was dark. Other villagers, who had not been at the Apparition, declared that they had seen a brilliant radiance lighting up the area around the Church.

apparitions knock

The Apparition, in this corner of Ireland hit by poverty and hunger, was a symbol of hope, consolation and strength amid misfortune, for it was a place in which unemployment and emigration were the order of the day.

What will the Lord have wanted to tell us with this scenario? The explanation, and the Message, of this Apparition could lie in the Apocalypse. Saint John bore a Book in his hands, and to discover Knock’s message, the Book of the Apocalypse must be studied. It is the book which contains the interpretation of Universal History. It is full of the great theme of Redemption in all its phases. There is the mystery of the “Lamb immolated from the beginning of the world,” the eternal plan of Redemption, so described by Saint John and represented by the Lamb upon the Altar seen in Knock.

Knock is a warning that chastisements are on the way: the cups of Divine Wrath and everything else announced in the Apocalypse. It also shows us the way to salvation, and indicates the Church’s fundamental doctrines for apocalyptic times. If in Lourdes the Most Holy Virgin highlighted the Dogma of Her Immaculate Conception, in Knock She ratifies Palmarian Teaching; for Mary Most Holy appears as Queen and as Co-Priest of Christ, in the posture of offering the Holy Sacrifice of Mass. Most Holy Joseph, assumed into Heaven, is there, teaching us to venerate his Most Holy Spouse; and Saint John the Evangelist announcing the imminent fulfilment of the Apocalypse. Our Lord Jesus Christ appears in Knock, as in the Apocalypse, as the Immolated Lamb, thus highlighting the central teachings of Palmarian Doctrine laid out in the Treatise on the Holy Mass, so that the Apparition at Knock is one more confirmation that the true Church of Christ is this one now sheltered in the mystical desert of Palmar.

apparitions knock

The Apparition of Knock was all in silence, and appeared to give no message, but in reality it was not so. At times silence is more eloquent than words. We must analyze the Apparition attentively to be able to discover the silent message it hides. Mary appears with Her earthly spouse, Saint Joseph, and with Her adopted son, Saint John the Evangelist. The Virgin wore the brilliant crown of Queen of Heaven. The Immolated Lamb shone out in the centre of the Altar, as seen by Saint John in the Apocalypse, upon the Altar of Heaven.

Knock is a Call to prayer and penance, as it highlights the importance of Holy Mass as perpetuation of the Sacrifice of the Cross on Calvary. The Apparition at Knock is a summary of the Treatise on the Holy Mass, with the Immolated Lamb, the Divine Victim on the Altar and on the Cross; Mary is there, Co-Victim, Co-Priest and Mediatrix of all Graces; Glorious Patriarch Saint Joseph is there, Co-Priest of Mary and Universal Mediator between Mary and all other creatures; Most Holy Joseph is indispensable in the Work of Reparation and Redemption, for at each Mass he has to hand over the finite sacrifices of the Church to be offered, and perpetuated or united; and the Ministerial Priest is there, who on Calvary was Saint John.

Each Apparition of the Most Holy Virgin has a different meaning, specially adapted to each circumstance and place. She, sent by Her Son, well knows our needs at each moment of history. And in this case She wanted to appear together with Her earthly Spouse, Saint Joseph, and Saint John the Evangelist, disciple so beloved of Jesus and of Herself.

Joseph is a symbol of heroism in purity, and John, an extraordinary sign of spiritual elevation, of faith lived in the form of passion and love. Joseph and John united, one as Virginal Father of Jesus and Virginal Spouse of the Mother of God, and the other as Priest, Bishop and Evangelist.

But the Apparition was also illumined by the presence of Angels, as a symbol of the accompaniment of God’s hosts, surrounding and unceasingly adoring the Word. The Angels surrounding the Altar indicate the great faith and reverence we should have when attending Holy Mass. It is all a clear reminder of the Apocalypse and of the times we are living in.

As from the first news of the Apparition, pilgrims continuously visited the Sanctuary, and hundreds of cures have been reported of the sick and disabled who made the journey. The fame of Knock thus spread beyond the coasts of Ireland.

apparitions knock

A few weeks after the Apparition, the Archbishop of Tuam, Saint John McHale, set up a Commission of Investigation. The fifteen witnesses were interrogated and the commission gave the verdict that the testimony of all, taken together, was trustworthy and satisfactory, so that worship by the faithful was not prevented at the site, which in time began to transform the village into a pilgrimage centre. The commission confirmed that no natural cause was possible, nor was there any fraud. The witnesses showed good faith at all times, and their testimonies were consistent. Nothing contrary to doctrine was found, quite the opposite; their account has a deep ecclesiastical sense. In 1936 another commission interrogated the three surviving witnesses, and definitively ratified that their evidence was honest and trustworthy. In 1945 Pope Saint Pius XII blessed the Knock banner and issued a special decorative medal.

The old church was enlarged and transformed into a Sanctuary, and a group of images representing the scene of the Apparition was set up close to the site of the old Church wall where the Apparition took place.

apparitions knock

Ten days after the Apparition, the first cure occurred, that of a girl of twelve who had severe hearing difficulties. The girl’s mother related: “After the Apparition, I brought Delia. While we were in the Church, the pain in her ear grew so violent that she began to cry out. It was then that I took her outside, to the wall, scraped a little cement off the wall of the Apparition and placed it in her ear. She never felt the pain again from then on.” This account led to a multitude of pilgrims crowding the Church and beginning to break down the wall of the Apparition, since they took away bits of cement for cures and pieces of stone as mementos.

The Parish Priest of Knock, namely archdeacon Saint Bartholomew Louis Cavanagh, annotated details both of the extraordinary Apparition as also of the many miracles and cures taking place afterwards. These details were published, and produced great interest in the transcendent events at Knock, which soon became an important pilgrimage centre. Towards the end of 1880, some three hundred cures, seemingly miraculous, had already been registered in the Parish Priest’s diary. He is an ‘Apostle of Mary Immaculate and of Christian Charity’, and his feastday is the 8 th of December.

Among Marian Apparitions, the case of the Knock Apparition has notable peculiarities which set it apart from other apparitions of the Virgin Mary. We will highlight some: The Virgin Mary did not come alone. She appeared accompanied by Most Holy Joseph and Saint John, with an Altar appearing too, surrounded by Angels and upon it a Lamb, and a great Cross behind the Altar. In this Apparition neither the Virgin nor anyone else spoke. Contrary to the more frequent apparitions of the Virgin to some children, generally humble and ignorant, in this case the Apparition was seen uninterruptedly during some three hours by all who began to arrive there, of all ages, from five to seventy-five, a total of fifteen seers. Without any explicit message, the Apparition itself links up with several Gospel and Apocalyptic passages, essentially with the Mystery of Reparation and Redemption, expressed here and in the Bible by the Lamb upon the Altar and the mention of the “Lamb of God”, who is to be sacrificed for the sins of men, and links up with the Old Testament Sacrifice of the lamb for God to forgive sins. And in relation to this scenario, it is the first time that a great Cross appears, which clearly represents the Reparation and Redemption.

apparitions knock

In Knock that Thursday the 21 st of August 1879, it was a stormy night towards the end of the Irish summer. As usual, Mary Beirne, the lady in charge of the little Church, was about to lock the door. But something special called her attention: an intense light came from one side of the building, and there, at first sight, she seemed to see the statues of Mary Most Holy, of Saint Joseph and of Saint John, beside a new Altar on which there was a Lamb and a great Cross. She took little notice, since precisely on a stormy night like this one the previous year, two statues were damaged, so that she thought that the Parish Priest had bought them as replacements. But, why leave them out there under this heavy rain? – the woman asked herself.

Miracles: At once there were miraculous cures among visitors to the Sanctuary, such as occur in many other Marian centres, like Lourdes and Fatima. In this way, God placed His own seal of authenticity on Knock, as He always does and will do with His veridical works.

In August 1979, Knock’s Centenary month and year, Pope Saint Gregory XVII visited the sacred place, thus confirming Knock as one of the principal Marian Sanctuaries of the world. Pope Saint Gregory XVII’s visit to Knock is thus described in the book of his Messages: “6 th of August 1979: Monday. Ireland. First Anniversary of His Holiness Gregory XVII’s papal election. In the morning we set out to travel to the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Knock, proclaimed Exalted Patroness of Ireland by His Holiness Pope Gregory XVII on the 23 rd of November 1978, and whose Apparition centenary is commemorated on the 21 st of this month. His Holiness Pope Gregory XVII arrived at this Sanctuary at about 3 in the afternoon, and was received by the numerous faithful with cheers and applause. First he visited the old Sanctuary, and led a mystery of the Penitential Rosary before an Image of the Virgin of Knock. We sang some canticles in Her honour, and at the end the Holy Father gave the Apostolic Blessing, sung with all solemnity. He then went on to the exact spot of the Apparition, where there is a beautiful Image of the Titular Virgin, of Saint Joseph and of Saint John the Evangelist with the Apocalypse in his hand. There the Magnificat was sung, and at the end the Holy Father again gave the Apostolic Blessing, solemnly sung. All the faithful devotees who filled that Sacred Place broke out in cries of “Viva el Papa Gregorio XVII”, with enthusiastic applause for His Holiness. Many of the people there, not knowing of El Palmar, went up to kiss the Holy Father’s ring with all reverence. We returned to Dublin, and at 11.30 at night Pope Gregory XVII celebrated Holy Mass in our Chapel-Cathedral in that city. During Mass he had the following vision: He saw the Lord, the Most Holy Virgin, Saint Joseph, Saint Peter, Saint Paul and Saint Paul VI.”

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Photo Gallery Click here to view images from Knock. Description of the Virgin According to visionary Mary Beirne: "The Virgin stood erect, with eyes raised to heaven , her hands elevated to the shoulders or a little higher. the palms inclined slightly toward her shoulders or bosom; she wore a large cloak of a white color, hanging in full folds and somewhat loosely around her shoulders and fastened to the neck; she wore a crown on the head- a rather large crown- and it appeared to be somewhat yellower than the dress or robes worn by Our Blessed Lady." According to visionary Bridget Trench: Mary was described as "deep in prayer", with her eyes raised to heaven, her hands raised to the shoulders or a little higher, the palms inclined slightly to the shoulders. Bridget Trench "went in immediately to kiss, as I thought, the feet of the Blessed Virgin; but I felt nothing in the embrace but the wall, and I wondered why I could not feel with my hands the figures which I had so plainly and so distinctly seen". Visionaries There were 15 official eye- witnesses (three men, six women, two teenage boys and a girl, and two children) including: Patrick Hill, 11 Mary McLoughlin, 45 - Archbishop Cavanagh's housekeeper Mary Byrne, 29 - daughter of Margaret Byrne Patrick Walsh, 65 Patrick Byrne, 16 Mrs. Margaret Byrne, 68 - widow, friend of Mary McLoughlin Dominick Byrne, Junior, 19 - son of Margaret Byrne Mrs. Hugh Flatley, 44 Bridget Trench, 75 Catherine Murray, 8 - niece of Margaret Byrne John Curry, 5 Judith Campbell, 22 Margaret Byrne, 21 Dominick Byrne, Senior, 36 - husband of Margaret Byrne John Durkan, 24 Click here to read Patrick Hill's statement to the 1879 Commission of Enquiry. Messages There were no messages given at Knock. Miracles and Signs

Church Approval Two commissions of enquiry (1879 and 1936) were established. A Commission was set up within six weeks of the apparition by Most Rev. Dr. John MacHale, Archbishop of Tuam . Fifteen witnesses were examined and the Commission reported that their evidence was 'trustworthy and satisfactory'. The Report was published in the newspapers and immediately pilgrims began to flock from all parts of the country and overseas. The sick and disabled were taken along in great numbers and hundreds of cures were reported in the public press of that time . In 1936 Archbishop of Tuam, Dr. Thomas Patrick Gilmartin , instituted a new investigative commission which returned with a positive verdict. All three surviving witnesses confirmed their original statements of 1879. They confirmed the evidence they had given in 1879. One of the witnesses was Mary O'Connell (nee Mary Byrne). She confirmed her evidence, on her death-bed, under oath and added, 'I am perfectly clear about everything I have said and I make this statement knowing I am about to go before my God'. She died six weeks later. The verdict of the Commission determined that the "testimony of each of the fifteen official witnesses to the apparition was trustworthy and satisfactory" Click here to read Patrick Hill's statement to the 1879 Commission of Enquiry. In 1954, a Marian year for the whole Catholic world, courtesy of the Vatican Chapter, on December 18th, Our Lady of Knock was crowned with the rites followed by Pius XII in the crowning of the painting of Our Lady Salus Populi Romani, in Rome, on November first. Pope John Paul II visits the shrine for the 100th anniversary of the apparitions on September 30, 1979. Over 450,000 people came to Knock on that day. On this occasion he presented a Golden Rose, a seldom-bestowed token of papal honour and recognition. The Feast Day of Our Lady of Knock is celebrated on August 21st .

Prayer to Our Lady of Knock Our Lady of Knock , Queen of Ireland, you gave hope to your people in a time of distress and comforted them in sorrow. You have inspired countless pilgrims to pray with confidence to your divine Son, remembering His promise, “Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find”. Help me to remember that we are all pilgrims on the road to Heaven. Fill me with love and concern for my brothers and sisters in Christ, especially those who live with me. Comfort me when I am sick, lonely or depressed. Teach me how to take part ever more reverently in the Holy Mass. Give me a greater love of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Pray for me now and at the end of my death. Amen.

Novena to Our Lady of Knock In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. Give praise to the Father Almighty, To His Son, Jesus Christ the Lord, To the Spirit who lives in our hearts, both now and forever. Amen. Our Lady of Knock, Queen of Ireland, you gave hope to your people in a time of distress, and comforted them in sorrow. You have inspired countless pilgrims to pray with confidence to your divine Son, remembering His promise, “Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find.” Help me to remember that we are all pilgrims on the road to heaven. Fill me with love and concern for my brothers and sisters in Christ, especially those who live with me. Comfort me when I am sick, lonely or depressed. Teach me how to take part ever more reverently in the Holy Mass. Give me a greater love of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Pray for me now, and at the hour of my death. Amen. Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world; Have mercy on us. Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world; Have mercy on us. Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world; Grant us peace. ST. JOSEPH, Chosen by God to be The Husband of Mary, The Protector of the Holy Family, The Guardian of the Church. Protect all families In their work and recreation And Guard us on our journey through life. (Repeat – Lamb of God, etc.)

ST. JOHN, Beloved Disciple of the Lord, Faithful priest. Teacher of the Word of God. Help us to hunger for the Word. To be loyal to the Mass And to love one another. (Repeat – Lamb of God, etc.) Our Lady of Knock Pray for Us Refuge of Sinners Pray for Us Queen Assumed into Heaven Pray for Us Queen of the Rosary Pray for Us Mother of Nazareth Pray for Us Queen of Virgins Pray for Us Help of Christians Pray for Us Health of the Sick Pray for Us Queen of Peace Pray for Us Our Lady, Queen and Mother Pray for Us Our Lady, Mother of the Church Pray for Us (Here mention your own special intentions) With the Angels and Saints let us pray: Give praise to the Father Almighty, To His Son, Jesus Christ the Lord, To the Spirit who lives in our hearts, Both now and forever. Amen. Instruction: The Rosary or Mass and Holy Communion is recommended each day.

Source: Shrine of Our Lady of Knock

Cadhain, Liam Ua. Cnoc Mhuire or the Irish Shrine of the Holy Rosary . 6th ed. Dublin: The Anthonian Press, 1945.

Carey, F. Knock and its shrine . Dublin: Irish Messenger, 1946. Coyne, William D. Cnoc Muire in picture and story . Galway: O'Gorman, Ltd., 1945. Coyne, William D. Cnoc Muire in picture and story . Dublin: Frederick Press, 1957. Coyne, William D. The Irish shrine of the Holy Rosary (Knock, Co. Mayo), with some accounts of some remarkable cures. 6th ed. Dublin: Anthonian Press, 1945. Coyne, William D. The Irish shrine of the Holy Rosary (Knock, Co. Mayo), with some accounts of some remarkable cures. 13th ed. Dublin: Anthonian Press, 1953. Coyne, William D. Knock Shrine. Galway: O'Gorman Printing House, 1935. Coyne, William D. Our Lady of Knock in picture and story . New York: Catholic Book Pub. Co., 1948.

Coyne, William D. Venerable Archdeacon Cavanaugh: pastor of Knock (1867- 1897) . Dublin: Knock Shrine Society, 1979.

Curtayne, Alice. The story of Knock . New York: Scapular Press, 1956. Deevy, W. Notre-Dame apparît en Irlande a Melleray dans une grotte. Hauteville, Switzerland: Editions du Parvis, 1991.

Eugene Hynes. Knock: The Virgin's Apparition in Nineteenth-Century Ireland , Cork University Press, 2008. Knock Shrine Annual. The Society for promoting the cause of Knock Shrine , 1952.

Knock Shrine Society. Knock Shrine Annual . Dublin: Frederick Press, 1960.

McShane, John. Our Lady of Knock . Indianapolis, IN: Brigittine Press, 1948.

O'Carroll, Michael, C.S.SP. The Secret of Knock . Dublin: Holy Ghost Fathers, 1941.

O'Keefe, Daniel. The Story of Knock . Cork: The Mercier Press, 1949.

Orsini, Mathieu. The Life of the Blessed Virgin Mary . New York: Peter F. Collier, 1880.

Life of the Blessed Virgin Mary . New York: Thomas Kelly, n.d.

The Queen of Angels . New York: Catholic Publications, 1887.

Our Lady's Irish Shrine . Dublin: Frederick Press, 1951.

Smith, William. Novena in honor of Our Lady of Knock . New York: Paulist Press, 1954.

Smith, William, S.J. The mystery of Knock . New York: The Paulist Press, 1954.

Walsh, Rev. Michael. The apparition at Knock . A survey of facts and evidence. 2nd ed. Tuam: St. Jarlath's College, 1959.

Windeatt, Mary Fabyan. Our Lady of Knock Color Book . St. Meinrad: Grail, 1959.

Windeatt, Mary Fabyan. Cnoc Muire in picture and story . Dublin: Frederick Press, 1957.

Windeatt, Mary Fabyan. The Irish shrine of the Holy Rosary (Knock, Co. Mayo), with some accounts of some remarkable cures . 6th ed. Dublin: Anthonian Press, 1945.

Windeatt, Mary Fabyan. The Irish shrine of the Holy Rosary (Knock, Co. Mayo), with some accounts of some remarkable cures . 13th ed. Dublin: Anthonian Press, 1953.

Windeatt, Mary Fabyan. Knock Shrine. Galway: O'Gorman Printing House, 1935.

Windeatt, Mary Fabyan. Our Lady of Knock in picture and story . New York: Catholic Book Pub. Co., 1948. Articles Tassone, Susan. OUR LADY OF KNOCK HAD LARGELY UNKNOWN CONNECTION TO SOULS IN PURGATORY

Cooke, Kieran . Religious flame burns in Knock. BBC News 2009/05/30 Links Knock Folk Museum - Collection of witness accounts, details of cures, and photographs Ireland's National Marian Shrine - official Knock shrine located in County Mayo on the West Coast of Ireland and the Western edge of Europe

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apparitions knock

What happened at the Apparition in Knock Ireland

What happened at the Apparition in Knock Ireland

Our Lady of Knock

KNOCK, 1879: LISTEN WITH YOUR HEAR T

More info about Our Lady of Knock

Ireland is a magical land, famous for its shamrocks and harps, leprechauns, shillelaghs, and green eyed coleens with skin as white as milk. It is called the Emerald Isle, and the national color is green; Ireland is lush green, almost tropical in certain areas. The national drink is Guinness, although he’s a “damned Protestant”. Ireland is not only a country; it’s a state of mind, a way of life.

We think of the Irish people as being quite fanciful, partly because of Barry Fitzgerald, who gave us our unofficial description of what an Irishman should be, especially an Irish Pastor in the 1940’s, when he made the film with Bing Crosby, “GOING MY WAY”. We find ourselves completely beguiled by their marvelous brogues, their limericks and folk songs, their grand tales of days gone by.

However, we find that the history of this dear little country is anything but gay. These people are a contradiction of their background. Theirs has been a tale of domination and persecution from the hands of their nearest neighbor, and all in the name of Jesus. Their major problems began when Henry VIII broke from the Church of Rome, and formed the Church of England, just so he could divorce his wife. Ireland would not go along with the disgrace of Henry, and the persecution began.

The situation was at its worst when the Penal Laws were instituted in 1691. These laws were designed to destroy Catholicism in Ireland. Those who remained loyal to the Catholic Church were denied their basic rights as citizens in an effort to keep them ignorant and impoverished. Those who chose to go over to the Protestant camp were rewarded, and lived the good life. Most Irishmen remained loyal to the Church. Their faith and their loyalty, in the face of great persecution, has been the mainstay of their existence during the dark years.

There is a beautiful Church in Dublin, called “The Church of Adam and Eve”. During the days of persecution, when it was illegal to practise their religion, the Church of Adam and Eve was a pub, called the Adam and Eve Pub. Dubliners frequented this pub by the droves, especially on Sunday. Irishmen going into a pub seemed a natural enough thing to the police, so they never questioned the crowds that went into the bar. The people walked in the front door of the Adam and Eve Pub, and out the back door, to an underground Church. Mass was celebrated under the guise of bringing the family to the local pub. It’s very possible that after the Mass, they might have stopped off for a pint; as long as they were there, it would be a sin to waste the visit. They took their lives in their hands by disobeying the law in this way. But it was so important to these beautiful people, they took the chance, knowing He would protect them.

Although Ireland is a lush country, it is also very rocky. Many of the counties had very little farmable land, and yet agriculture was their main industry. The Great Potato Famine of 1845 almost dealt a death sentence to these people of faith. Between the economic situation and the persecution, many of them had to leave their homeland. They went to the New World, America, and today, there are more Irishmen, or rather people of Irish descent in the United States than in Ireland. A joke among Irishmen is that Boston should be made capital of Ireland, because there are more Irishmen living in that city than in all of Ireland.

County Mayo was one of the poorest areas in Ireland. The land was completely rocky. Those who had left the country were not aware of it, but they made it more difficult for those who remained. The work became harder, because there were fewer people to do it. The strength of solidarity was lost with the mass exodus. The morale of those who remained was very low. With the ensuing famines of 1847, 1877, 1878 and 1879, the people were devastated. All they had to hold onto was their love of their country, and their Faith. They held onto both, with a passion.

It’s necessary to give you this background to make you aware of what the Ireland of 1879 was like. We have to believe that Our Lord Jesus and Our Lady looked with great compassion on their faithful children in Ireland. The entire country was a giant Biblical Job holding onto, remaining faithful to, Jesus and Mary in the face of impossible odds.

August 21, 1879 was a rainy day in County Mayo, and particularly in the little village of Knock. The morning had given hope of a fair day; but as the afternoon progressed, the dark rainclouds gathered over the little hamlet. Winds from the east whipped up, darting back and forth, bristling through the meadows and fields. The rains began, and hammered down on the little area.

We believe the preparations made in Heaven for this glorious day, 6 days after the Feast of the Assumption, were to give honor and recognition to the faithful children of Ireland. Mary must have looked down on this land from up above and decided that the poorest, most deprived area she could find was the windswept, rock-filled land of Knock. We have to think that the howling wind and black rain clouds were Satan’s way of trying to prevent the visit from happening. By stirring up the weather, thus making it so miserable, no one would be able to go out to see Her. We can be sure he was having a fit, in anticipation of Our Lady’s visit to earth. She has always been his greatest enemy. He goes into a rage at the mere mention of her name.

She chose the side of a church, the village church in Knock. After the rains had started, one Margaret Beirne went over to lock up the church for the night. She noticed a bright light around the back of the church, and looked to see what was there. She saw what she thought were statues of Our Lady, St. Joseph, and a Bishop, standing alongside a new altar, on top of which was a statue of a Lamb with a Cross. Margaret didn’t pay too much attention to it; she left the Church, and went home, not saying a word to anyone about it.

Satan must have been whooping it up in Hell. If this girl didn’t tell anyone, no one would know about Our Lady’s visit, and consequently, no one would come. His plan might have worked. Even the priest’s housekeeper, Mary McLoughlin, passed by and noticed the apparition, but also thought they were statues. She went to the Bierne’s home for a visit. So far so good for Satan.

But at 8 o’clock or thereabouts, when Mary McLoughlin decided to go home, the older Bierne girl, Mary, decided to walk with her in the rain. So here we have two Marys, walking in the rain past the church again. When they passed the apparition, Mary McLoughlin casually mentioned that the pastor must have bought some new statues in Dublin. But the other Mary, more inquisitive, decided to take a closer look. She jumped back with a start. “They’re not statues. They’re moving. It’s the Blessed Virgin!”The two women didn’t know what to do. Mary Bierne ran home to tell her mother and brother.

Rain or no, the people flocked to the church. Fourteen people in all came to witness the gift of Our Lady’s presence on that brutal night. Their combined description of what they saw is as follows:

The entire back wall of the church was bathed in a brilliant light, which could be seen from quite a distance away. As they looked at the scene, everything was raised about two feet off the ground. There was an altar, on the top of which stood a Lamb with a Cross. The altar and the Lamb were surrounded by Angels, hovering above.

To the left of the Altar were three figures. On the left was St. Joseph; in the middle was Our Lady; to the right, closest to the Altar was St. John the Evangelist, his right hand raised, a book in his left. Our Lady was life sized. The other two were smaller.

Mary was lovely. She wore a white gown and sash. A veil flowed from the back of her head to her feet. On top of her head, above the veil, was a gold crown. Between the crown and the edge of the veil was a gold rose. She looked up towards heaven in prayer; her hands were raised to her shoulders, pointed inwards. She was almost iridescent.

At first, no one dared go very close to the images. They stood or knelt at a distance in the rain, becoming soaked, but not caring. One of the visionaries, fourteen year old Patrick Hill, gathered up courage to venture near to the apparition. He was able to get close enough to give a good description of what he saw. He could make out Our Lady’s eyes, the pupils as well as the iris. He could see the smooth texture of her milky skin. He mentioned that St. Joseph’s beard was grey. His head was bent slightly. He also saw lines on the pages of the book that St. John held. He reported that the three figures were full bodied, three dimensional, rather than images projected on the wall. He testified that they were a few feet out from the wall of the Church; but as he got too close, the images moved back, away from him. All the witnesses verified that the three figures moved during the hour and a half that they knelt before them. Patrick Hill also mentioned that he saw the wings of the angels fluttering.

Possibly because Patrick Hill had ventured so closely, and had not been struck dead by lightning, a lady gathered up enough courage to reach out to embrace Our Lady’s feet. Mary moved back, and the woman felt nothing. All the witnesses stated that, although it was raining heavily, and the wind was blowing wildly, the ground under the images never became wet, nor did the side of the church where they appeared.10

Judith Campbell was one of the visionaries. She had been adoring Our Lady and her heavenly entourage. She went back to her house at about 9 pm to see how her sickly mother was feeling. Judith found her mother lying on the floor of the house. She thought the ailing woman had died, trying to go to the church. At about 9:30, all the people who were venerating the apparition were called to the house of Mrs. Campbell. They left the scene of the apparition, and ran to the Campbell house. However, when they arrived, they found that she was not dead, but had swooned. They stayed with her for a few minutes, then rushed back to the Church. When they got there, the lights and images were gone. The apparition was over. They looked at one another. They didn’t say much; they went to their homes.

The following day, the news had spread all over the area. A farmer, Patrick Walsh, claimed to have seen the great light from a distance. He didn’t come to the Church, but the next day, when he heard what had happened, he related what he had seen. His testimony was very important during the investigation, because it ruled out the theory of Mass Hysteria or Hypnotism. He had been nearly a mile away from the scene when he had seen the light.

Mother Mary never said a word. She didn’t look at them. This caused many problems during the investigations which followed the apparition. It just didn’t make sense for Our Lady to come, spend 3 hours with her people, and never acknowledge their presence in any way. It was very frustrating, to say the least. But again, we’re thinking in human terms, not divine. We’re trying to demand that Mary conform to our standards, rather than we to hers. We should be down on our knees in thanksgiving for anygesture she makes towards us. Indeed, her faithful people of Ireland did just that.

The Church has not yet officially approved the apparition of Our Lady at Knock. But Our Lady’s visit has been venerated so sincerely by so many of our popes, we have to believe that officially or unofficially, Mary was there. It has also become a national shrine in Ireland. Perhaps the greatest endorsement of our Lady’s visit to Knock, Ireland, came from His Holiness, Pope John Paul II in 1979, for the Centenary. He came as a pilgrim to Knock. He celebrated Mass in the Basilica, anointed the sick, and went to the Shrine to pray. He also presented to Knock Shrine a gold rose, in commemoration of the gold rose that Mary wore during her apparition.

The fact that Mary didn’t say anything during her apparition was a problem in terms of authentication. But in terms of what She may have been saying to the people of Ireland,the door is wide open. There were no tears, as at La Salette. There were no recriminations, as at Lourdes, Fatima, Banneux and Medjugorje. Mary didn’t impress on them the need for prayer, fasting and penance. In this, isn’t it possible that she recognized that their entire lives were prayer, fasting and penance? Weren’t they the suffering servants of Christ? Perhaps she was acknowledging their suffering.

There was peace and serenity at Knock. There was an altar, on top of which was the Lamb of God, the perfect sacrifice for remission of our sins, and the Cross. We believe very strongly that this symbol, was in honor of her Blessed Son, Jesus, in the Mass, and in the Eucharist. In the Mass, we reenact, in memory of Him, the Last Supper, Calvary, and the Resurrection. We are given the Gift, the ongoing gift of the Body and Blood of Christ, for our nourishment and salvation. In the apparition at Knock, Mary, St. John, and St. Joseph were not the center of attention. They stood off to the side, while the Lamb of God, the Cross, and the Altar, captured our attention immediately. She always does this. From the days when Jesus and Mary were with us on earth, she always deferred to her Son. At all the Marian shrines in the world, she takes second place to Jesus. Knock was no different.

Another aspect of this apparition is that St. John and St. Joseph were with her. St. Joseph is Jesus’ foster father. During the life of Our Dear Lord, St. Joseph was His mentor, His teacher. They had to have been very close. Then there is St. John, beloved of Jesus. While Peter was the right arm of Jesus, His strength on earth, St. John was His heart. If Jesus ever had a brother, it would have been John. It was to John that Jesus gave His Mother. It was to His 12

Mother, through John, that Jesus gave us, the Church.

There have been reports in 1984-5-6 that Our Lady has appeared to different people in various parts of Ireland. At a little shrine devoted to Our Lady of Lourdes in Cappoquin, Waterford County, which we visited a year before the reported apparitions, Our Lady allegedly complained about the loss of faith that was being experienced by the people in Ireland. We are not going to attempt to speculate as to the veracity of these reports. We will say, however, that if they were true, they give more credence to the silent, approving apparition of Mary at Knock in 1879.

She was not upset with her Irish children in 1879. She was proud of them. She felt compassion for them. In the 100 years that have lapsed since that time, Satan has been able to accomplish something with a small box, containing a picture tube, that he was not able to accomplish with 300 years of Persecution. American television has come to Ireland, and not the best, but the worst. They are a beautiful people, for the most part. They are trying to hold on. They are still one of the few countries in the world where Divorce is outlawed.

Miracles began to take place at Knock as early as ten days after the Apparition. A young girl, Delia Gordon, had experienced deafness and pain in her left ear. While visiting the place of the Apparition, her mother put a small piece of cement from the wall of the church, into her ear. Afterward, during the Mass, Delia experienced an excruciating pain in her ear. It was followed by complete healing of her deafness; the pain never returned. She lived out her life in good health. When she died in 1930, in San Francisco, California, the same piece of cement which her mother had placed in her ear in 1879, was buried with her.

In A Centenary issue of the Miracle of Knock, by Fr. Tom Neary, 687 cures are chronicled from 1879 to 1880, the span of a year. Our Lady used the faith of the people and the cement or grouting from the back wall of the Church as a means of healing. This presented a slight problem to the Pastor of the Church. Every pilgrim who 13

came to Knock wanted some of the gravel or cement. This meant that the walls would have to come tumbling down; there was just so much material there. Wooden planks were put up, so that the cement could not be pulled off the walls, in an effort to save the Church from being ripped apart by zealous pilgrims.

From the days when Our Lord Jesus walked the earth, spiritual healings were more important than physicalcures. He told the people “Your sins are forgiven.” before He said “Take up your mat and walk”. The same applies to the healings at Knock. For every account of physical cures, there are twice as many reports of conversions, reconciliation, and return to the Church and the Sacraments. Our Lady was able to touch her children through this apparition. She wanted the lost sheep back, and back they came.

The people of Ireland had been waiting for hundreds of years for a sign. Knock became that sign. In a very short period of time, the floodgates were opened. Pilgrims poured into Knock by the thousands, and tens of thousands. At first they were from Ireland, but very quickly, the rest of the British Isles followed suit. Then Europe began to come, pilgrims from France, Italy, Germany, and finally, a pilgrim group carrying a large flag with the Stars and Stripes emblazoned on it from the United States. The world was paying tribute to Mary at this special place.

One has only to go to Knock Shrine to be aware of the devotion of the people of Ireland to Our Lord Jesus and His Mother Mary. Every parish in the country makes at least one Pilgrimage a year to this shrine. There is such reverence here! The great number of pilgrims outgrew the little shrine area in the original church, and in back of the church where Our Lady appeared to the people. A resplendent church was built to accommodate the pilgrims, which was later raised to the level of a Basilica.

There is a grand Mass every day, a healing Mass. All the sick are anointed at that time. There is never ending faith and hope at the Shrine. Our Lady never said a word to the visionaries at Knock, yet they know just what she wants here. Every day there is the Stations of the Cross. People can pray the Stations inside the main Basilica, or at the shorter Way of the Cross, between the old Church and the Basilica. There is PERPETUAL ADORATION OF THE EUCHARIST in a special Chapel, as well as monthly all night vigils. How were these dear people able to hear and act on the words of Our Lady if she said nothing to them? Why has Knock Shrine become a worldwide place of Pilgrimage, of healings and conversion?

The people Our Lady chose to gift with her presence at Knock were simple people. It’s hard to believe that they could have made up such a story, and if they had, why didn’t they embellish it with great conversations with Mary, as many other reported visionaries have claimed? One of the greatest hindrances to the authentication by the Church of the Apparition of Mary at Knock was that she said nothing. But did she really say nothing? Again, we find ourselves limiting my dear Lady to human equation. The only means of communication we know are sounds that go from the mouth to the ear to the brain. But is that the only way to speak to people? What about words that go from one heart to another, one spirit to another spirit?

How did these dear people know to put cement or gravel from the walls of the church on the affected parts of their bodies? Who told them to institute Healing Masses, Eucharistic Adoration, the Way of the Cross, and All Night Vigils? I believe it was Mary. She speaks to all of us at various times in our lives. Don’t wait to hear with your ears. Your ears may be stuffed with the world’s wax. Listen with your heart. And when you feel a very special presence trying to reach you, you can be sure she is talking to you. She loves you very much. Trust her.

About the Authors:

Bob and Penny Lord are renowned Catholic authors of many best selling books about the Catholic Faith. They are hosts on EWTN Global Television and have written over 25 books. They are best known as the authors of “Miracles of the Eucharist books.” They have been dubbed, “Experts on the Saints.”

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apparitions knock

Visions of Heaven Hell and Purgatory

Joseph Freyaldenhoven

Image:Knock shrine.JPG

The Apparition of Saint Joseph at Knock: Its Context, Precedents and Meaning by Monsignor Arthur Burton Calkins

I. Introduction

Twenty years ago in March I first set foot in Ireland with my first major destination as the parish church of Knock in County Mayo for a wedding at which I was to officiate on the Feast of Saint Patrick.  That rather ordinary parish church in an otherwise undistinguished corner of the west of Ireland had been virtually lifted out of obscurity on the evening of Thursday, 21 August 1879, the eve of the Octave of the Assumption, by an extraordinary heavenly apparition against the background of the church gable.

            The apparition itself was a kind of tableau.

Three life-sized figures were seen to the west of [the gable], surrounded by light and standing out from it.  The one in the middle was immediately identifiable as Our Lady, her eyes lifted to heaven and her hands raised to the shoulders with palms inwards.  She was dressed in a full loose cloak and had a beautiful crown on her head.  To her right was St. Joseph, his head bowed respectfully towards her.  On her left was a figure like a bishop, wearing a small mitre, with one hand raised as if preaching.

  Mary Byrne identified him as St. John the Evangelist, adding further details in a private inter- view many years afterwards:  he looked young, was very handsome and wore garments falling in full folds from his neck.  He bore some resemblance to a statue of that saint in the seaside resort of Lecanvey ...

  To the left of St. John was an altar on which stood a cross and a lamb; around it some saw angels' wings.  When night fell, the gable was covered with a cloud of pleasing light, soft like moonlight rather than harsh or glaring.  The figures, again described much later by Mary Byrne, seemed themselves to be made of light, each giving out different degrees of brilliance.  The vision lasted for about two hours, from broad daylight to darkness, and was seen by, at the very least, twenty-two people.  At the time it was raining and the witnesses were drenched.

  No rain, however, fell on the figures or the wall behind them though the wind, from the south, should have driven the rain in that direction.  The meadow underneath (examined minutely by one elderly witness) remained bone-dry. 1

            Since I was still at Castlebar, County Mayo, two days after the wedding on the 19th of March, the Solemnity of Saint Joseph, I decided to return to the Knock parish church for the celebration of the feast.  I was somewhat taken aback by the fact that the significance of the feast for this privileged place seemed to be entirely ignored.  I asked one of the priests in the sacristy if I was right that Saint Joseph had appeared at Knock.  "Yes" was his reply, but the Mass at which I concelebrated was the same as it would have been on any other weekday of the year, or at least so it seemed.

            It is not really surprising that the "lion's share" of attention should go to Our Lady at Knock for Marian devotion is native to the Irish soul and this apparition may be seen as comprising part of a series of Marian apparitions which began on the Rue du Bac in Paris in 1830, continuing in 1846 at La Salette, in 1858 at Lourdes, in 1871 at Pontmain, in 1876 at Pellevoisin, in 1917 at Fatima, in 1932 and 1933 in Beauraing and in 1933 in Banneux.  Further, apparitions of Saint Joseph are not widely known or well documented.  Since he is so often characterized as "the silent saint", it is really not surprising that his presence at Knock has not attracted a great deal of attention.  Without wishing in any way to detract from the veneration which is due to Our Lady, however, I would like to investigate the place of Saint Joseph in this depiction, then to consider it in the context of his other known apparitions, and finally to ask about its meaning for us.

II.                    The Data of the Apparition about Saint Joseph

            The First Commission on the Knock Apparition was convened by Dr. John MacHale within two months of its taking place; it continued into the year 1880. 2   A second Commission was constituted in 1936 and continued its work until 1939.  At its request "a special tribunal was set up by the Archbishop of New York on 6 July 1937, to take sworn evidence from John Curry" 3 who was five and a half years old at the time of the apparition. 4   I will cite some of the testimonies about Saint Joseph.  What is to be noticed immediately is that the seers had no difficulty at all about his identity as they did to some extent about the figure eventually identified as Saint John the Evangelist. 5

            According Mary Byrne O'Connell 6 , who came to be the chief official witness,

In the figure of St. Joseph, the head was slightly bent, and inclined towards the Blessed Virgin, as if paying her respect; it represented the saint as somewhat aged, with gray whiskers and grayish hair. 7

When examined under oath by the Second Commission on Knock at the age of eighty-six, she said simply of Saint Joseph:  "But he looked old and his colour was not so white as the Blessed Virgin.  Anyone could know St. Joseph." 8   Dominick Beirne, Sr. added that "the whiskers of St. Joseph were an iron grey". 9

            Patrick Hill, a boy of eleven at the time of apparition, gave this testimony eighteen years later:

I saw St. Joseph to the Blessed Virgin's right hand; his head was bent from the shoulders, forward; he appeared to be paying his respects; I noticed his whiskers; they appeared slightly gray; there was line or dark mearing [Western term for division, as between farms or townlands] between the figure of the Blessed Virgin and that of St. Joseph, so that one could know St. Joseph, and the place where his figure appeared distinctly from that of the Blessed Virgin and the spot where she stood.  I saw the feet of St. Joseph, too; his hands were joined like a person at prayer. 1 0

            Finally, the seventy-five year-old Bridget Trench gave this testimony in the Irish language which had to be translated into English:

I was so taken with the Blessed Virgin that I did not pay much attention to any other; yet I saw also the two other figures -- St. Joseph standing to the right of the Blessed Virgin, or to the left, as I looked at him, his head bent towards her and his hands joined; and the other figure, which I took to be St. John the Evangelist, was standing at her left.  I heard those around me say that the image was St. John. 1 1

            It might simply be noted in passing that, while Mary Byrne O'Connell indicated that Saint Joseph appeared to be "somewhat aged" and in her old age described him as "old", the other descriptions such as "the whiskers of St. Joseph were an iron grey" and "they [the whiskers] appeared slightly gray" could also be taken as describing a man in his late thirties or forties.

III.                  The Nature of the Apparition

            Since the time of Saint Augustine, who made this now classical distinction, theologians of the spiritual life have classified visions as those which are (1) corporeal in which the bodily eyes perceive an object normally invisible; (2) imaginative in which the representation of an image is supernaturally produced on the imagination and (3) intellectual   in which the mind perceives a spiritual truth without the aid of sensible impressions. 1 2

            The great majority of the Marian apparitions recognized as worthy of credence by the Church in the past two centuries appear to have been of the second type, namely imaginative visions. 1 3   Hence onlookers at Fatima or Lourdes could not see the vision except in terms of the effects reflected in the visionaries.  But the phenomenon of Knock does not fit into this category.  What was seen in the dusk at Knock seems to have been a gift "given by Divine Providence to a random group of very ordinary souls" 1 4 which anyone who approached was able to see against the gable wall. 1 5   This is corroborated by a number of testimonies of those who saw the extraordinary light generated by the phenomenon at Knock church from the distance of a half mile or more away. 1 6   The vision at Knock, then, was a corporeal vision. 1 7

IV.                 The Church's Attitude Towards Knock

            In the ordinary course of events the authority to investigate alleged apparitions remains with the bishop of the diocese in which they have taken place.  After a thorough investigation the local ordinary (1) may declare that the apparition is consonant with the faith and worthy of credence, thereby permitting a local cultus or (2) he may declare that the apparition is not worthy of credence and is even false, forbidding any local cultus or (3) he may "acquiesce in the possibility of the truth of an apparition without expressing approval or disapproval of it, or making any formal decision about it." 1 8

            It was this third course which was followed by the Archbishops of Tuam and the Irish hierarchy with regard to Knock for a variety of complex reasons. 1 9   That attitude has been long since transmuted into equivalent or "informal acceptance" 2 0 or what another author calls "approval by omission". 2 1   If there remained any lingering doubts about the status of Knock, they were canceled by Pope John Paul II who

came for the centenary year, addressed a huge crowd, the sick, and the voluntary helpers.  He raised the new Church of Mary, Queen of Ireland, to the rank of a Basilica, and conferred the Golden Rose on the shrine. 2 2

V.                    The Meaning of the Knock Apparition

            Since no words were spoken at Knock, the meaning of the apparition remains to be determined by the discernment of the Church.  Unlike the apparitions of Our Lady at La Salette, Lourdes and Fatima, that at Knock seem to fall into the category of those of the Rue du Bac, Pontmain, Beauraing and Banneux whose primary thrust is to console and strengthen the people of God.  The position is put thus by Catherine Rynne:

Although the message of Knock is a question which still confuses some, it has been generally agreed that the Blessed Virgin, St. Joseph and the beloved disciple came to comfort representatives of a race which had suffered much.  This is what the official eye-witnesses themselves thought.  In Mayo at the time, famine and disease were still widespread, there was poverty, there were evictions.  Pontmain was in the throes of a war.  To both these places, within only eight years, Mary came in beauty and silence to bring solace to her people. 2 3

            It should also be noted that Knock, as few other visions, gives us a glimpse of the liturgy of heaven as described in the Book of Revelation (cf. Rev. 5:6 ff.).  Irish Catholics had been faithful for centuries, often at the cost of their lives, to the Mass, the liturgy of earth.  At Knock they were rewarded for their fidelity.  A corroborating and complementary position is presented by Father Francis Sullivan, S.J. who sees the vision of Knock as a "call to contemplation", an invitation which even the poor and illiterate can accept and enter into. 2 4

VI.                 Other Recorded Apparitions of Saint Joseph

            Before we can deal with the final question of the specific meaning of Saint Joseph's presence in the Knock tableau, we would do well to consider the question of other apparitions or manifestations of our saint.  The only extensive treatment of this subject of which I am aware occurs in Joseph Perrin's book, Un Juste Nommé Joseph 2 5 while Father Tarcisio Stramare, O.S.J. provides a brief list of what he calls the best known apparitions. 2 6   Perrin's first reference is to the tradition of an apparition of the Holy Family to a travelling monk in the vicinity of Montserrat two centuries before the foundation of the abbey, but no documentation is proffered. 2 7

            The first recorded apparition of Saint Joseph would seem to be that which took place on the night of 19 March 1448 in the besieged city of Novara. 2 8   Perrin relates in some detail Saint Joseph's apparition to a shepherd named Gaspard Ricard d'Estienne at Mont Bessillon near Cotignac on 7 June 1660. 2 9   In the midday heat d'Estienne was parched and had taken refuge with his sheep in the shadow of some trees when a man of impressive stature rose before him and said:  "I am Joseph.  Lift this rock and you will drink."  He objected that it was a great boulder, but the mysterious Joseph insisted and to his utter amazement he moved the huge stone easily and found a spring bubbling forth underneath it.  After he had slaked his thirst, the shepherd went to thank the mysterious stranger who had already disappeared.      From that time the cultus of Saint Joseph, which had not previously existed in that locale, began to flourish.  A chapel was soon built there and entrusted to the care of the Oratorians. 3 0   Louis XIV, who was returning from Spain the very day of the apparition, with his new Queen, Maria Teresa, was much struck by the coincidence since he felt providentially linked to the Shrine of Our Lady of Grace on a nearby hill also at Cotignac.  Consequently on 19 March 1661 he consecrated his kingdom to Saint Joseph just as his father had consecrated the kingdom to Our Lady twenty-three years before. 3 1

            Father Stramare informs us of an apparition of the Saint at Montagnaga di Pinè, Trento in 1729 without supplying further details. 3 2   Perrin also relates an alleged nineteenth century apparition of Saint Joseph to an unnamed peasant woman near Locminé, France in the area where the motherhouse of the Daughters of Jesus of Kermaria would be built, but is unable to supply any documented information. 3 3

            In that same century there is also the fascinating story of the building of the spiral staircase for the choir loft of the chapel of the Sisters of Loretto in Santa Fe, New Mexico in 1873.  The elderly carpenter arrived on the last day of a novena to Saint Joseph, volunteered to do the work which others said could not be done and left before he could be compensated in any way.  The construction of the staircase still baffles architects as it makes two 360° turns with no central pole, braces, clamps or nails and is of a type of wood not indigenous to the United States.  Some have suggested that the mysterious carpenter was none other than Saint Joseph himself. 3 4

            While many are aware of the apparitions of Our Lady at Fatima, on the 13th of the month from May to October in 1917, few recognize that, according to the testimony which Sister Lúcia gives in her fourth memoir, Saint Joseph also appeared there on 13 October 1917 during the "miracle of the sun".  Here are her words:

When Our Lady disappeared in the immense distance of the sky, next to the sun we saw Saint Joseph holding the Child Jesus and Our Lady dressed in white with a blue mantle.  Saint Joseph and the Child seemed to be blessing the world making the sign of the cross. 3 5

As at Knock, this scene was part of a tableau; no words were spoken.

            Finally, Saint Joseph appeared several times at the side of Our Lady and the Christ Child at about the age of twelve above the Coptic Orthodox Church in Zeitoun, a suburb of Cairo in 1968. 3 6   The apparitions were literally seen by millions and have been accepted as genuine by the Coptic Orthodox Church. 3 7   The Catholic Coptic Patriarch, Cardinal Stephanos I, stated that "It is no doubt a real appearance confirmed by many Coptic Catholic members who are fully trustworthy." 3 8   Interestingly, these apparitions, like those at Knock, were corporeal visions, "seemed to be made of light," could be seen by any who came and could be photographed. 3 9   Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, I could only find a one-sentence reference to Saint Joseph in each of the two sources available to me.

VII.               The Meaning of Apparitions of Saint Joseph

            Is there any pattern to be found in these appearances of Saint Joseph, separated by hundreds of years in time and in unexpected places?  At the risk of seeming too obvious, I would say that they emphasize the greatness (transcendence) of Saint Joseph in terms of his closeness to Jesus and Mary and his littleness (immanence) in his closeness to us.  I also believe that in these latter times by means of apparitions and the deepening awareness of the Church God is drawing our attention to the greatness of Saint Joseph in terms of his role in salvation history and the power of his intercession.

VIII.            The Meaning of Saint Joseph's Presence at Knock

            Having investigated the apparition at Knock in terms of its data and meaning, and apparitions of Saint Joseph in their ensemble, we now ask the final question:  Why is Joseph in this tableau?  What does his presence say to us?  In responding, while I recognize that I would be a fool to think that I could give an exhaustive answer, I defer in the first place to an eminent Irish Mariologist who has pondered this issue at length, Father Michael O'Carroll, C.S.Sp.

I see Knock as a providential means of focussing attention on the great saint [Joseph], of compelling us to reflect on him, to seek help in prayer towards an understanding of his role in the life of the Church and in our own personal lives.  I think that we have in the unique setting, which he has in the apparition, two things especially:  a corrective and positive enlightenment.

A corrective:  St. Joseph is shown at the very centre of the Christian mystery.  The heavenly tableau represents the Paschal Mystery, the Lamb on the altar, and the Mediatress beside him wearing the symbol of her power, as sovereign Queen of the universe, and of mediation before God.  To see the saint in the presence of Christ offering sacrifice and Mary established as an unfailing advocate is to know that his position in the communion of Saints, which rests on the Man-God, is, after that of Jesus and Mary, central, vital, necessary. ...

Enlightenment:  The saint's attitude to Our Lady very much impressed five witnesses who gave details about him to their depositions to the canonical inquiry on the apparition.  ...  I quote Mary Beirne (later Mrs. O'Connell), as I consider her one of the very best witnesses in the entire history of the apparitions:  "St. Joseph's head was slightly bent and inclined towards the Blessed Virgin, as if paying her respect."

What does this mean?  I suggest that it confirms the teaching ... that all St. Joseph's grace and glory come from his marriage bond with Mary.  It is also a potent lesson to us Christians to base our lives and conduct on the closest relationship possible with Mary, Queen of the Universe. 4 0

            Father O'Carroll also and -- I believe, rightly -- links Joseph's presence at Knock with the Eucharist.  Even though he evidently "did not live to assist at the Passover meal which would be the first Mass," here he nonetheless

enters into the great event which fulfilled the history of his people. ... No one after Mary has a closer relationship with Jesus Christ in his paschal victimhood and triumph (for the Paschal Mystery combines the Saviour's death and Resurrection) than Joseph, the soul of Jewish fidelity to law, tradition, ritual observance. 4 1

            There is another conclusion that the apparition of Saint Joseph at Knock would call to our attention:  heaven's confirmation of the solemn acts of the Vicar of Christ.  As the Venerable Pius IX declared the dogma of Mary's Immaculate Conception on 8 December 1854 and Our Lady herself confirmed this truth in her apparitions to Bernadette Soubirous at Lourdes four years later, so the same Pontiff solemnly declared Joseph "Patron of the Universal Church" on 8 December 1870, and the role of Joseph was highlighted at Knock nine years later.

            The Irish Capuchin Father Hubert offered a beautifully evocative meditation on "St. Joseph Sublime Contemplative of Mary as the divine ideal of the Church" 4 2 which specifically reflects on the role of Joseph in the Knock apparition as Protector of the Universal Church.  He said:

The apparition at Knock offers to the world a glimpse of Joseph continuing his important, yet unobtrusive, role in the work of our redemption.  There he is seen fulfilling his divinely appointed office in the silence and reserve of one intent on the completion of a great work.  This work is his constant intercession that the Church may ever tend and finally attain to that blest fulfillment and perfection which befit her.  ... Since St. Joseph sees that the Church has yet to be what Our Lady already is, how can his prayer be other than that the Church itself may ever grow in the likeness of his spouse and thus tend to the happy realization of its final destiny. 4 3

            Finally, I cannot help but believe that the two figures flanking Mary, Mediatrix of All Grace, at Knock are precisely the two men closest to the Heart of Christ and the Heart of Mary 4 4 :  first comes Joseph, the one chosen to take the Father's place on earth in his relationship to Christ and Mary -- and then John, the beloved disciple of Jesus and "son" of Mary by the will of her Firstborn Son (cf. Jn. 19:25-27; Lk. 2:7).  In the hidden ways of Providence, which are nonetheless recognizable to those who are led by the Spirit of God (cf. I Cor. 2:12-14), the apparition of Saint Joseph in the company of his Virginal Spouse, the beloved disciple and the Lamb is a revelation of the greatness in the Kingdom of him whom Matthew simply but with absolute precision described as "just" (Mt. 1:19).

See A lso:  Official Shrine of Our Lady of Knock....

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Miraculous healing at Knock Shrine confirmed by Irish bishops

Mosaic of the apparition of Our Lady of Knock Credit Thoom Shutterstock CNA

Tuam, Ireland, Sep 5, 2019 / 15:24 pm

The Catholic Church in Ireland has for the first time recognized a miracle attached to the Knock Shrine, where a woman was cured of multiple sclerosis thirty years ago.

Marion Carroll had been bedridden for years until she was healed in 1989 during a blessing with a monstrance at the shrine.

"I recognise that Marion was healed from her long-standing illness while on pilgrimage in this sacred place," Bishop Francis Duffy of Ardagh and Clonmacnois said in his homily during a Sept. 1 Mass at the shrine, located in Knock, about 20 miles north of Tuam.

"Many have attested to the dramatic change that came about in Marion here and on her return to Athlone in 1989. Without doubt there was a healing, a cure of the illness that beset Marion for several years. Marion was liberated from sickness and its impact on her and on her family. It is also a healing for which there is no medical explanation at present, it is definite and yet defies medical explanation."

Bishop Duffy was leading a diocesan pilgrimage to the shrine, in which Marion and her family participated.

Archbishop Michael Neary of Tuam also spoke at the Mass, saying, "today the Church formally acknowledges that this healing does not admit of any medical explanation and joins in prayer, praise and thanksgiving to God. In these situations, the Church must always be very cautious. This is illustrated by the fact that thirty years have elapsed since this took place, during which time the examination by the Medical Bureau testifies that there is no medical explanation for this healing."

While many visitors to the shrine have claimed cures or favors, this is the first cure which the Church in Ireland has recognized as miraculous.

Carroll was cured in 1989, when Bishop Colm O'Reilly, then Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnois, blessed her with a monstrance.

She had been taken to the shrine on a stretcher, as she was paralyzed. Her eyesight was also impaired, and she was epileptic.

After the Mass, she was taken to a rest and care centre, where she asked that her stretcher be opened; when it was, she stood up and was well.

Since her cure, Carroll has volunteered at the shrine, assisting pilgrims.

The Knock Shrine is built on the site of an 1879 apparition of the Virgin Mary, St. Joseph, St. John the Evangelist, angels, and the Lamb of God on the south gable of the town church. For a period of about two hours, a crowd gathered to adore the apparition and to pray the rosary. Despite a rainstorm, the ground around the gable did not get wet.

Unlike most other Marian apparitions, the Virgin Mary was silent the entire time and did not offer any sort of message or prophesy.

Vatican officials found the apparition at Knock to be "trustworthy and satisfactory" after two separate commissions, in 1879 and in 1936.

Shortly after the apparition, Knock became a site of pilgrimage. Pilgrims chipped away the original wall by taking away pieces of cement as relics.

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IMAGES

  1. The Apparitions of Knock

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  2. New film on Knock apparition asks: What kind of healing do we need?

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  3. Saint August 21 : Our Lady of Knock

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  4. Then & Now: The Apparition of Our Lady of Knock

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  5. 140 Years Ago: The Mysterious Apparitions at Knock

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  6. The Apparitions of Knock

    apparitions knock

VIDEO

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  4. Apparition de la Vierge Marie du 15 mai 2014 à Bruxelles

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  6. Apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Knock Shrine,Ireland,Part 1,11th October 2009

COMMENTS

  1. Knock Shrine

    Apparition The evening of Thursday, 21 August 1879, was a very wet night. At about 8 o'clock it was raining as Mary Byrne, who was from the village, was going home with the priest's housekeeper, Mary McLoughlin. Byrne stopped suddenly when she saw the gable of the church. She claimed she saw three life-size figures.

  2. Knock, Ireland: The Silent Apparition

    On August 21, 1879 an event took place that would forever have a profound impact on the tiny and relatively unknown town of Knock, Ireland. Around 7:00 p.m. one of the villagers was passing by the church and saw an unusually bright light nearby.

  3. History

    The Apparition at Knock On the evening of the 21 st of August 1879, a heavenly Apparition occurred at the gable wall of the Parish Church when Our Lady appeared, in the company of St. Joseph and St. John the Evangelist.

  4. Then & Now: The Apparition of Our Lady of Knock

    The Story of Knock began on the 21st of August, 1879 when, at approximately 8 o'clock in the evening, fifteen people from the village of Knock in Co. Mayo, witnessed an Apparition of Our Lady, St. Joseph, St. John the Evangelist, a Lamb and cross on an altar at the gable wall of the Parish Church.

  5. Ireland's International Eucharistic and Marian Shrine

    Learn more about the unique and compelling story of the Knock Apparition of 1879 and find out how a small village has grown to become an international pilgrimage destination. View History. @knockshrine Gallery. Ireland's International Eucharistic and Marian Shrine, Knock, Claremorris, Co. Mayo,

  6. An apparition or a magic lantern: What happened at Knock 140 years ago

    It was very wet that evening in Knock on August 21st, 1879, 140 years ago today, when 15 local people saw the apparition of Mary, St Joseph, St John the Evangelist, and a lamb standing on an...

  7. The History of the Apparition of Our Lady of Knock

    On August 21, 1879, at approximately 8 o'clock in the evening, fifteen people from the village of Knock in Coounty Mayo, Ireland, witnessed an apparition of Our Lady, St. Joseph, St. John the Evangelist, a Lamb and a cross on an altar at the gable wall of their Parish Church.

  8. Q&A: What is the story of Knock Marian shrine?

    The story begins on 21 August 1879, when 15 people from the village witnessed an apparition of Mary on the gable wall of the parish church. They said she appeared with St Joseph, St John the...

  9. Knock Shrine Guide: History, Tours + 2024 Info

    Knock Shrine is a site where observers noted the appearance of an apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Saint Joseph, Saint John the Evangelist, angels, and Jesus Christ (the Lamb of God) in 1879.

  10. Q&A: What is the story of Knock Marian shrine?

    The Marian Shrine of Knock is a well-known place of Catholic pilgrimage in County Mayo in the west of Ireland. An estimated 1.5m pilgrims from across Ireland and across the world flock to the ...

  11. Witnesses Graves

    The Knock Apparition witnesses were local people whose families have lived in the village of Knock for many generations. 10 of the witnesses are interred in their family plots in the old Knock graveyard which is located adjacent to Knock Shrine. Visitors are welcome to pay their respects at the graves, which are clearly marked on the large ...

  12. Mary's Major Message in the Silent Apparition at Knock

    21/08/2022 Mary's Major Message in the Silent Apparition at Knock The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Knock in Ireland (photo: Eamonn P. Keane / Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain)

  13. The Story of Knock

    Ever since the day (<Gen.> XII, 1-4) when a certain Abraham was commanded by the Most High to go forth from a city of culture and civilization and received the promise of a posterity as numerous as the sands of the sea, ever since that day the real history of man began to take shape, and moved, under the direction of God Himself, towards a defin...

  14. The Cusack Papers; new evidence on the Knock apparition

    Beirne and at least fourteen of his friends and relations had just witnessed what they reported as an apparition of the Virgin Mary, Saint Joseph and Saint John the Evangelist by the south gable of their parish chapel in Knock, County Mayo.

  15. Knock Shrine

    History of Apparitions in Knock Shrine. The Story of Knock began on the 21st August, 1879 when, at approximately 8 O' clock in the evening, fifteen people from the village of Knock in Co. Mayo, witnessed an Apparition of Our Lady, St. Joseph, St. John the Evangelist, a Lamb and cross on an altar at the gable wall of the Parish Church.

  16. The Apparitions of Knock

    The Apparitions of Knock 00:00 00:00 I n Knock ('Cnoc Mhuire' in Gaelic, 'Mary's hill'), in County Mayo, in the west of Ireland, the Most Holy Virgin Mary, Most Holy Joseph, Saint John the Evangelist and Our Lord Jesus Christ as Lamb of God, all appeared to fifteen persons.

  17. The Miracle Hunter : Marian Apparitions::Knock

    The place of the apparitions in Knock became a center for pilgrimage, now receiving a million visitors per year. Over three hundred miraculous cures have been reported there, including the cure of two blind men shortly after the apparition. Church Approval Two commissions of enquiry (1879 and 1936) were established. ...

  18. Our Lady of Knock

    On the evening of Thursday, 21 August 1879, at about 8 o'clock, fifteen people, whose ages ranged from five years to seventy-five and included men, women, teenagers and children, witnessed what they stated was an apparition of Our Lady, Saint Joseph, and Saint John the Evangelist at the south gable end of the local small parish church, the Churc...

  19. What happened at the Apparition in Knock Ireland

    The Great Potato Famine of 1845 almost dealt a death sentence to these people of faith. Between the economic situation and the persecution, many of them had to leave their homeland. They went to the New World, America, and today, there are more Irishmen, or rather people of Irish descent in the United States than in Ireland.

  20. The Apparition of St. Joseph at Knock- Msgr. Calkins

    II. The Data of the Apparition about Saint Joseph. The First Commission on the Knock Apparition was convened by Dr. John MacHale within two months of its taking place; it continued into the year 1880. 2 A second Commission was constituted in 1936 and continued its work until 1939. At its request "a special tribunal was set up by the Archbishop ...

  21. Miraculous healing at Knock Shrine confirmed by Irish bishops

    Tuam, Ireland, Sep 5, 2019 / 15:24 pm The Catholic Church in Ireland has for the first time recognized a miracle attached to the Knock Shrine, where a woman was cured of multiple sclerosis thirty...

  22. Mary's Apparitions for the World: Knock

    We speak today of a Marian Apparition to a group of parishioners in the village of Knock, Ireland in1879. Since Mary had nothing to say at Knock, I'm going t...

  23. Apparitions at Knock

    Self-proclaimed visionary Joe Coleman has predicted appearances of the Virgin Mary at the Knock Shrine in County Mayo, gaining media attention and criticism.