Knock is a small, isolated village in western Ireland that received a Marian apparition in 1879.
The First Witnesses:
It was raining heavily when three people, passing in front of a humble Catholic church, saw what they thought were three new statues – one of Our Lady, another of St. Joseph, and the last of St. John the Evangelist. With the three “statues” was an altar and a Lamb (of God).
During this time in Ireland, people were poor and faced the hardships of evictions, landlords, merciless moneylenders, recurring famines, emigrations, and fevers. Everyone was miserable, and life was desolate. When the three passers-by saw the new “statues,” they felt resentful, because they assumed that the church would be asking its parishioners to pay for them.
A Response to Prayers:
Several months before the apparition at Knock, the church’s parish priest, Archdeacon Cavanaugh, had informed his parishioners of his plan to say one hundred masses for the souls in purgatory. He told them that the Blessed Mother had asked him to do so. Interestingly, the masses were finished shortly before the apparition.
There were 15 official witnesses of all ages who saw Our Lady’s apparition. They indicated that the south gable of the church was bathed in a brilliant golden light. In this area, three silent figures stood, praying. In back of them, was an altar with a large cross. In front of the cross stood a young lamb facing to the west. One of the visionaries – a boy – saw angels “hovering during the whole time, for an hour and a half or longer. . .”
The clothing on the three figures was a bright white “that shown like silver.” On Our Lady’s head was a beautiful crown adorned with glittering crosses. Over her forehead, where the crown sat, was a beautiful rose. Her hands were extended and held upward, and she looked up toward heaven.
The witnesses described St. Joseph as looking old, with a gray beard and gray hair. He stood to the left of Mary. St. John stood to the right and was dressed like a Bishop. His miter (Bishop’s headpiece) was short, instead of long, like the miters Bishops wear. He held a large open book in his left hand and looked as though he was preaching. The entire apparition lasted about an hour. It took place in the pouring rain; however, nothing in the apparition became wet.
Word of the apparition spread rapidly. Initially, it wasn’t believed, but two months later when fourteen witnesses gave their accounting of the apparition to the Diocesan Council, the church was becoming more convinced.
Since shortly after the apparition, people have been coming to the Shrine of Knock to petition God to heal their illnesses. Many miraculous healings have taken place and are reported to still take place today.
Blessed Pope John Paul II and Blessed Mother Teresa’s Visits:
In 1940, the church at Knock was promoted to a miraculous site and has seen thousands of pilgrims since that time. In 1979, Pope John Paul II visited the Shrine of Knock and endorsed it with the “indelible seal of Vatican approval.” Mother Teresa visited the Shrine in 1993. Over five-hundred-thousand pilgrims visit the Shrine of Knock every year.