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The Basilica
Knock Shrine
The Shrine at Knock in County Mayo is Ireland's National Marian Shrine.
On the 21st August 1879 an apparition of Our Lady, St. Joseph and St. John
the Evangelist appeared on the south gable of Knock Parish Church.
The apparition was witnessed by fifteen people of all ages.
From this miraculous occurrence Knock has grown to the status of an
internationally recognised Marian Shrine.Pope John Paul II visited the shrine
in 1979 to commemorate the centenary of the apparition.
One and a half million pilgrims visit the Shrine annually.
Knock Shrine is open all year with the main Pilgrimage Season being from the last Sunday in April until the second
Sunday in October. During the Pilgrimage Season, guided tours of the Shrine grounds are provided twice daily, morning
and afternoon, commencing at the Shrine.
The Shrine site at Knock is extensive (see Site Plan) particularly if you take in the related buildings such as the various
hostels and presbyterys. The dominant building is the Basilica which can hold xxxx people.
The old parish church where the apparition appeared has had an extension built that is the Shrine itself.

The Story of Knock

The witnesses
Our Lady of Knock Statue On 21 August 1879, Miss Mary McLoughlin, 45, housekeeper to Archdeacon Cavanagh, went to the nearby cottage of Mrs Mary Byrne at about 7 p.m.. On her way she passed by the south gable of Knock parish church. "On passing by the chapel, and at a little distance from it, I saw a wonderful number of strange figures at the gable; one like the Blessed Virgin Mary, and one like St. Joseph; I saw an altar." Miss McLoughlin thought that possibly the Archdeacon had been supplied with the figures from Dublin or elsewhere, and passed on to the home of the widow Margaret Byrne and her children, where she said nothing initially.

After half an hour, Mary McLoughlin returned to the church with Miss Mary Byrne, 29, to lock up the church, they beheld the vision. Mary Byrne went to fetch her brother Dominick Byrne, 20. He worked as assistant to Archdeacon Cavanagh. Shortly after she sent a little girl, her niece, Catherine Murray, 8, who was staying with them, running back to fetch her mother, Mrs Margaret Byrne, and her sister Miss Margaret Byrne, 21.

The Byrnes alerted some of their neighbours to the apparition. Dominick Byrne ran to the home of his cousin, Dominick Byrne who came, as did Patrick Hill, 13; and a servant boy, John Durkan, 24; and a little boy called John Curry, six years old. Dominick Byrne also called to the house of Patrick Byrne, 16 who came and saw the apparition. Mary Byrne called to the home of Judith Campbell, 22, who also witnessed the apparition, as did Bridget Trench, 74 or 75 years old, who gave a vivid account of the apparition.

Two other people also witnessed the apparition, although they did not realise its significance until later. Mrs Hugh Flatley, 44, who happened to pass by the church at 8 p.m. and thought the parish priest "had been ornamenting the church, and got some beautiful likenesses removed outside." Patrick Walsh was playing marbles on his land around 9 p.m. some half a mile from the church: "I saw a very bright light on the southern gable end of the chapel; it seemed to me to be a large globe of golden beer; I never saw, I thought, so brilliant a light before; it appeared high up in the air above around the chapel gable and it was circular in appearance; it was quite stationary, and it seemed to retain the same brilliancy all through

Details of the apparition
Apparition depiction in the "Glass Chapel" On the evening of 21 August 1879, people whose ages ranged from five years to seventy-five and included men, women, teenagers,children, witnessed what they claimed was an apparition of Our Lady, St Joseph, and St John the Evangelist 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 Blessed Virgin Mary was described as being very beautiful, standing a few feet above the ground. She wore a white cloak, hanging in full folds and fastened at the neck. The crown appeared brilliant, and of a golden brightness, of a deeper hue, than the striking whiteness of the robe she wore; the upper parts of the crown appeared to be a series of sparkles, or glittering crosses. She was described as "deep in prayer", with her eyes raised to heaven, her hands raised to the shoulders or a little higher, the palms inclined slightly to ths shoulders. Bridget Trench "went in immediately to kiss, as I thought, the feet of the Blessed Virgin; but I felt nothing in the embrace but the wall, and I wondered why I could not feel with my hands the figures which I had so plainly and so distinctly seen".

St Joseph, also wearing white robes, stood on the Virgin's right hand. His head was bent forward from the shoulders towards the Blessed Virgin in respect.

St John the Evangelist stood to the left of the Blessed Virgin. He was dressed in a long robe and wore a mitre. He was partly turned away from the other figures. He appeared to be preaching and he held open a large book in his left hand.

To the left of St John was an altar with a lamb on it with a cross standing on the altar behind the lamb.

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.

Church Commissions of inquiry
An ecclesiastical Commission of inquiry was established by the Archbishop of Tuam, Most Rev. Dr. John MacHale. The Commissions final verdict was that the testimony of all the witnesses taken as a whole is trustworthy and satisfactory. At a second Commission of inquiry in 1936, the surviving witnesses confirmed the evidence they gave to the first Commission.

Archdeacon Cavanagh
The parish priest at the time of the apparition was The Very Reverend Doctor Bartholomew A. Cavanagh, who was also Archdeacon of the diocese.It has often been said it was no coincidence that the Virgin Mary chose to appear in Knock while Cavanagh was the parish priest. Widely considered a very holy priest in spite of his siding with landlords against the growing Land League movement, he was appointed parish priest of Knock-Aghamore in 1867, and was about 58 at the time of the apparition. He died in 1897 and is buried in the Old Church.

The pilgrimage site
The growth of railways and the appearance of local and national newspapers fueled interest in what had up to then been a small Mayo village. Reports of "strange occurrences in a small Irish village" were featured almost immediately in the international media, notably The Times (of London). Newspapers from as far away as Chicago sent reporters to cover the Knock phenomenon, while Queen Victoria asked her government in Dublin Castle to send her a report about the event. In later years Catholic nationalists used the apparition to symbolically challenge Queen Victoria and her descendants' position in Ireland using for Our Lady of Knock the title Queen of Ireland.

Knock today
Though it remained for almost 100 years a major Irish pilgrimage site, Knock established itself as a world religious site in large measure during the last quarter of the twentieth century, largely due to the work of its longterm parish priest James Horan.Horan presided over a major rebuilding of the site, with the provision of a new large Knock Basilica (the first in Ireland) alongside the old church, which could no longer cope with visitor numbers. In 1979, the centenary of the apparition, Pope John Paul II, himself a devotee of Mary, visited Knock Shrine and stated that it was the goal of his Irish visit. On this occasion he presented a Golden Rose, a seldom-bestowed token of papal honour and recognition.

Controversially, Horan secured from Irish Taoiseach Charles Haughey millions of pounds of state aid to build a major airport near Knock. The project was condemned by critics in the media. At the time the Irish economy was in depression with massive emigration. Contrary to the critics' expectation however, Horan International Airport (now known as Ireland West Airport Knock) became a commercial success, drawing not just pilgrims as well as passengers, but also becoming the air-gateway for the entire Connacht region.

Adapted from a Wikipedia article - please let me know of any discrepancies

Click on the link below to reach the official Knock Shrine website for more information.
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