On August 21st 1879 at 8pm in the evening fifteen people from the small village of Knock Co. Mayo witnessed an extraordinary scene at the gable wall of their parish church. The reported vision was of Our Lady, St. Joseph, St John the Evangelist and the Lamb of God on an altar. The witnesses ranged in age from 5 to 74 and when they testified at a diocesan commission of enquiry in October of that same year their accounts were found to be consistent and truthful. That commission declared that the accounts given were both trustworthy and satisfactory. Unlike apparitions in many other places the apparition at Knock was a silent one, there were no messages, no revelations of any kind, this was simply a silent presence.
The historical context is important, this was post famine Ireland when so many had died and hundreds of thousands more had emigrated, it was a time of great suffering for the Irish people. The gentle presence of the vision could be seen as a moment of comforting and reassurance from on high.
The Late Monsignor James Horan Parish Priest of Knock 1963 – 1986 was a man of courage and determination and it was under his stewardship that the Basilica of Knock was erected. He is perhaps best remembered for his leading role in the building of Knock Airport.
In the last two years major renovations have been carried out in the Basilica and it is now finished to a very high standard. The centre piece of the Basilica is an enormous mosaic depicting the original vision behind the high Altar.
Knock is our national shrine to Our Lady and attracts large numbers of pilgrims each year. In recent years flights of pilgrims from the USA have started to arrive, in many cases these are made up of the descendants of those who fled the famine of the 1800’s.
The Dublin Diocesan Pilgrimage to Knock is this year on Saturday April 21st and St. Mary’s will have a coach travelling to the Pilgrimage. It will depart from St. Mary’s Church at 7.45 am, we will stop for tea/coffee in Longford on the way down. It will depart from Knock at approximately 5.00pm following the Main Mass in the Basilica at 3.00pm celebrated by the Archbishop.
On the way home we will stop for dinner at the Longford Arms Hotel.
The cost is €40 per person, this includes the cost of the coach and the dinner in the evening. Places are limited so early booking is important. Bookings can be made at the Sacristy or at the Parish Office.
Fr. Philip Curran