Knock, Ireland: The Silent Apparition


About the apparitions at Knock:

On August 21, 1879 an event took place that would have a profound impact on the tiny and relatively unknown town of Knock, Ireland.

Around 7:00 p.m. on August 21st of that year, one of the villagers was passing by the church and saw an unusually bright light nearby. When another villager joined her they gazed at amazement at what appeared to be statues on the side of the church.

Soon, 15 people stood in silence in the remote village gazing spellbound at the strange apparition that had appeared at the gable wall of their church.  Most of those were adults, but the youngest of these was only 5 at the time, and to be lifted up by his older cousin so that he could witness the apparition.  More about this 5-year old below.

The apparition, seen clearly against the old church wall, consisted of three figures: The Blessed Virgin Mary, Saint Joseph, and Saint John the Evangelist.

Our Lady, in white robes and wearing a golden crown, had her hands raised in prayer. On her right stood Saint Joseph and, on her left, Saint John, wearing a Mitre and holding a book in one hand while the other seemed to be indicating an altar behind him on which a young lamb could be seen clearly. Behind the lamb was a cross.

Although there was only one apparition and it was silent, the meaning behind this appearance is so significant that Knock became Ireland’s most famous and popular pilgrim destination. It is hard to over-state the importance of this apparition not only to Ireland but also to the world.  It is interesting that the visionaries went about ordinary lives after that, attracting little attention.

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.

Mass at the Shrine in Knock, Ireland
Mass at the Shrine in Knock

Shown here is Mass being celebrated in the chapel that encompasses one of the wall 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.

Two Feast days are celebrated:  worldwide on August 17, and then locally on August 21st, the date of the apparitions.

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.

Traveling to Knock:

Most group pilgrimages to Ireland include Knock, and of course if you are traveling independently, it is easy to fit that in to 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.

Find restaurants, hotels, B&B’s in Knock, compare prices, and read what other travelers have to say at TripAdvisor


Other apparitions of St. Joseph:

Although few apparitions of St. Joseph have been reported, he also appeared in Fatima, Portugal and Contignac, France.

⇐ Back to Catholic Shrines and places of interest in Ireland


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