SHRINE OF OUR LADY OF KNOCK
Knock is a small town in County Mayo, Ireland. But it received international fame after local people reported seeing the Virgin Mary, St. Joseph and St. John the Evangelist at their parish church.
On August 21, 1879, at about 7 pm, Mary McLoughlin went to the nearby cottage of Mary Byrne, 29. On the way, she passed by the south gable of the parish church. Miss McLoughlin reported: "On passing by the chapel, and at a little distance from it, I saw a wonderful number of strange figures or appearances at the gable; one like the Blessed Virgin Mary, and one like St. Joseph; another a bishop; I saw an altar." After half an hour, Mary McLoughlin returned to the church with Miss Mary Byrne to lock up the church. There they beheld the vision. Mary Byrne went to fetch several members of her family as well as some neighbours. Others from Knock also witnessed the bright light over the parish church.
Those who witnessed the apparition stood in the pouring rain for up to two hours reciting the Rosary, a traditional Catholic prayer. When the apparition began there was good light, but although it then became very dark, witnesses could still see the figures very clearly - they appeared to be the colour of a bright whitish light. The apparition did not flicker or move in any way. The witnesses reported that the ground around the figures remained completely dry during the apparition although the wind was blowing from the south. Afterwards, however the ground at the gable became wet and the gable dark.
Altogether, the accounts of the apparitions provided the following details: Virgin Mary, her husband St. Joseph, and St. John the Evangelist appeared at the south gable end of the local small parish church, the Church of St. John the Baptist. Behind them and a little to the left of St. John was a plain altar. On the altar was a cross and a lamb (a traditional image of Jesus, as reflected in the religious phrase The Lamb of God) with adoring angels.
The Catholic Church has declared the visions trustworthy and in 1979 Pope John Paul II made a personal pilgrimage to Knock. Mother Theresa visited in 1993. Today, over one and a half million pilgrims visit the Knock Shrine every year.
The first National Grandparents Pilgrimage was held in September 2007 “to honour grandparents for the part they play in helping to pass the Catholic faith from generation to generation.” Over 5,000 people turned up to honour grandmothers and grandfathers at Knock Shrine. A similar pilgrimage was organised for Sunday, September 14th 2008, and Sunday September 13th 2009 again in Knock Shrine. Over 12,000 people attended the last pilgrimage at Knock. Cardinal Sean Brady gave his blessing of the Pilgrimage and the Launch of the Catholic Grandparents Association.
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