Knock, Ireland: The Silent Apparition
About the apparitions at Knock:
On August 21, 1879 an event took place that would forever have a profound impact on the tiny and relatively unknown town of Knock, Ireland.
Around 7:00 p.m. one of the villagers was passing by the church and saw an unusually bright light nearby. When another villager joined her they gazed in amazement at what appeared to be statues on the side of the church. The night was dark and rainy and yet these images appeared with bright lights as plain as under the noon day sun.
Soon, 15 people stood in silence……gazing spellbound at the strange apparition that had appeared at the gable wall of their church. The apparition, consisted of three figures: The Blessed Virgin Mary, Saint Joseph, and Saint John the Evangelist.
The Blessed Virgin Mary was dressed in white robes and wore a golden crown. She had her hands raised in prayer. On her right stood Saint Joseph and on her left, Saint John. Saint Joseph was described by witnesses as an old man with grey whiskers, with his head bent in the direction of The Blessed Virgin Mary. Saint John was described as wearing a Mitre and holding a book in one hand, which the townspeople recognized easily as St. John the Evangelist. His other hand seemed to be indicating an altar behind him on which a young lamb could be clearly seen. And behind the lamb was a cross.
Here was all of Christianity in a nutshell perhaps: The Virgin Mary, Saint Joseph, Saint John and most importantly the lamb….the symbol of Jesus Christ. It was assumed by the villagers, according to their testimonies, that the apparition was to bring them solace at a time when famine and oppression were felt throughout Ireland.
They watched for over two hours in the pouring rain. Most of those who witnessed this apparition were adults, but the youngest of these was only 5 at the time. He had to be lifted up by his older cousin so that he could witness the apparition. More about this 5-year old below. (Move up before here was all of christianity in a nutshell).
Although there was only one apparition, and it was silent, the meaning behind this appearance was so significant to the downtrodden people of Ireland that Knock became Ireland’s most famous and popular pilgrim destination. It is interesting that after this the visionaries went about living ordinary lives, and attracting little attention.
Check out this Youtube video for a great rendition of the song “Our Lady of Knock, Queen of Ireland”.
The Shrine at Knock:
In the 1970’s a new church was built, which Pope John Paul II visited in 1979. It was during the centenary celebrations that the pope raised the church to the status of Basilica of Our Lady Queen of Ireland.
Shown here is Mass being celebrated in the chapel that encompasses one of the walls of the original church.
During the months of May through September there are candlelight processions each evening.
The Shrine at Knock draws almost two million people each year and many healings have been reported there.
The Feast of Our Lady of Knock is now celebrated in the Roman Calendar on August 17. The reason it is not celebrated on the 21st is that the date is reserved for the Feast of Saint Pius X on the Roman Calendar. In Knock, however, they celebrate on August 21st, the date of the apparition.
A note about one of the visionaries: The youngest of those who saw the vision, John Curry, who was 5 at the time, is buried on the grounds of Saint Patrick’s Old Cathedral in New York City’s Little Italy area. Here is an interesting story about him.
You can find a great selection of Knock devotionals in our online store.
Traveling to Knock:
Most group pilgrimages to Ireland include Knock, and of course if you are traveling independently, it is easy to fit that into your itinerary. It is a little under 3 hours driving time if you are leaving from Dublin. There is bus service direct from Dublin. There is no direct train service although you can take a combination of train and bus from Dublin. Knock has its own airport, with limited service from cities in the U.K. Italy, Croatia and other countries. Here is the airport website.
Address: Main Street, Knock, Co. Mayo
GPS coordinates: 53° 47′ 31.6320” N, 8° 55′ 1.7436” W
Tel: +353 (0) 94 93 88100 Fax: +353 (0) 94 9388295
email: [email protected]
Click here for the official website for the Shrine of Knock.
Other apparitions of St. Joseph: