Thursday, August 9, 2007

Our Lady of Knock

Church Approved Marian Apparition, Knock, Ireland 1879

In this apparition, Mary is also known as Our Lady of Silence because she spoke no words at Knock, unlike her other famous apparitions.


On the evening of August 21, 1879 Mary McLoughlin, the housekeeper to the parish priest of Knock, County Mayo, Ireland, was surprised to see the exterior south wall of the church bathed with mysterious light. Three beautiful figures were standing in front of the wall, which she mistook for replacements of the stone figures destroyed earlier by a storm. She rushed through the rain to her friend Margaret Byrne's house.

After a half hour Mary decided to leave and Margaret's sister Mary agreed to walk home with her. As they passed the church they saw this amazing vision very clearly: Standing out from the gable and to the west of it appeared the Blessed Virgin, St. Joseph and St. John. The figure of the Blessed Virgin was life-size, while the others seemed to be neither as large nor as tall. They stood a little away from the gable wall about two feet from the ground. The Virgin was erect with her eyes toward Heaven, and she was wearing a large white cloak hanging in full folds; on her head was a large crown.

Mary Byrne ran to tell her family while Mary McLoughlin gazed at the apparition. Soon a crowd gathered and all saw the apparition. The parish priest, Archdeacon Cavanaugh, did not come out, however, and his absence was a disappointment to the devout villagers. Among the witnesses were Patrick Hill and John Curry. As Patrick later described the scene: 'The figures were fully rounded, as if they had a body and life. They did not speak but, as we drew near, they retreated a little towards the wall.' Patrick reported that he got close enough to make out the words in the book held by the figure of St. John.

An old woman named Bridget Trench drew closer to embrace the feet of the Virgin, but the figure seemed always beyond reach. Others out in the fields and some distance away saw a strange light around the church. The vision lasted for about three hours and then faded.

The next day a group of villagers went to see the priest, who accepted their report as genuine; he wrote to the diocesan Bishop of Tuam; then the Church set up a commission to interview a number of the people claiming to witness the apparition. The diocesan hierarchy was not convinced, and some members of the commission ridiculed the visionaries, alleging they were victims of a hoax perpetrated by the local Protestant constable! But the ordinary people were not so skeptical, and the first pilgrimages to Knock began in 1880. Two years later Archbishop John Joseph Lynch of Toronto made a visit to the parish and claimed he had been healed by the Virgin of Knock.

In due course many of the witnesses died. But Mary Byrne married, raised six children, living her entire life in Knock. When interviewed again in 1963 at the age of eighty-six, her account did not vary from the first report she gave in 1879.

The village of Knock was transformed by the thousands who came to commemorate the vision and to ask for healing for others and themselves. The local church was too small to accommodate the crowds. In 1976 a new church, Our Lady Queen of Ireland, was erected. It holds more than two thousand and needs to, for each year more than a half million visitors arrive to pay their respects to the Blessed Virgin.


LOCATION: Co. Mayo in NW Republic of Ireland. Access from London. Trains and buses to Ballyhaunis [7 miles/11 km] from Dublin and Belfast.
CONTACT NUMBERS: TEL [94] 88100 FAX [94] 88295.
MASS TIMES; April 27 to October 12, weekdays 8 , 9, 11 a.m., noon, and 3, 5 and 7:30 p.m.; Sundays and Holy Days 8 and 11 a.m., noon, 3 and 7 p.m., eve of Sundays and Holy Days, 7:30 p.m.


swissmiss said...

Don't forget a jug for the Holy Water ;}

We visited the Shrine in November and the place was practically deserted. It's a good time to go to avoid the tourists throughout Ireland and to visit the Shrine in relative peace.

Micki said...

Isn't this sad that a church approved place is so unknown among Catholics. Then to read the above (or below..not sure where this comment will go) comment just is too sad. I'm feeling like it should be packed at all times.

Sanctus Belle said...

I agree with you Micki, it is one of my goals in life to pilgrimmage to this shrine, and Lourdes. We do not appreciate this great gifts from heaven enough.

Anonymous said...

I spent three days in Knock last May and it was beautiful. Our group had Mass in the chapel with our Priest Father Mark. We styaed nearby and had wonderful food. We even got to meet Ned in the pub.

And yes Micki it is sad, however not surprising as her Son Jesus is also so unknown to catholics.

God bless you all on the feast of the Immaculate Conception!