On the evening of August 21, 1879 Mary McLoughlin, the housekeeper to the parish priest of Knock, County Mayo, Ireland, was astonished to see the outside south wall of the church bathed in a mysterious light; there were three figures standing in front of the wall, which she mistook for replacements of the stone figures destroyed in 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 and 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.
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.
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.
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.
The Church approved the apparition in 1971 as being quite probable, although it has never been formally stated. The Shrine at Knock is opened year round. In 1994 three life-sized statues were erected of Our Lady, St. Joseph and St. John.
Our Lady of Knock Prayer
Our Lady of Knock, Queen of Ireland, you gave hope to our 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 or lonely or depressed. Teach me how to take part ever more reverently in the holy Mass. Pray for me now, and at the hour of my death. Amen.
Ideas your Division can do to help a local Parish or Catholic Charity.
- Hold a family barbecue at a Parish. Money raised at the event can be used to purchase a new grill and equipment for the Church.
- Hold a yard sale. The funds can be used to support a local seminarian and local religious education programs.
- Sponsor an ice cream social for Parish members and their families.
- Clean a stretch of highway near a Parish.
- Repave the sidewalk at a parish.
- Sponsor a community rosary program that included lectures about the Pope and instructional sessions on how to pray the rosary.
- Built a wheelchair ramp for a member of the Parish with disabilities.
- Run a money wheel at the annual parish fair for the church.
- Co-sponsored a town hall meeting on health care changes.
- Hold a dinner to benefit parochial schools.
Ohio Division 6