August 21- Our Lady of Knock (Ireland, 1879)
Mary’s Silent Apparitions at Knock
On Thursday, August 21, 1879, as evening arrived in the village of Cnoc Mhuire (County of Mayo, Ireland), forty-five year old Mary McLoughlin and twenty-nine year old Margaret O’Beirne saw a strange brightness covering the parish church. Surprised, the two women noticed new “statues” by the chapel. As they approached the church, they realized that the “statues” were moving. They remarked that it was indeed an apparition of the Virgin and ran to alert their neighbors. What they and thirteen others saw in the still-bright day light was a beautiful woman, clothed in white garments, wearing a brilliant crown. Pouring rain prevented some of them from remaining for the entire two hours of the apparition. Some went away and then returned, making the same report. The Blessed Virgin “hovered” between 30 and 60 cm above the ground. She was the size of an average person. Her hands were raised as if in prayer. On her right stood Saint Joseph, with his head inclined towards her and on her left stood Saint John the Evangelist, dressed as a bishop. “Saint John was preaching and wore a small miter on his head,” specified Patrick Hill who also saw angels. Other witnesses claim they saw an “altar” on which stood a “lamb and a cross” surrounded by angels. No message accompanied the silent apparition, but the number of purported cures is striking. In 1879, the diocesan archbishop established a board of inquiry, which ended with a positive conclusion the following year. The prelate encouraged pilgrimages without ruling on the supernatural origin of the apparition. In 1936, Archbishop Gilmartin, archbishop of Tuam, opened an office of medical observation in order to study the miraculous cures scientifically and then he created a new board of inquiry which came up again with positive conclusions in 1880. He finally authorized the publication of a pamphlet supporting the devotion to the apparition at Knock. Knock, “Irish Lourdes”, has not ceased to attract crowds of pilgrims. In 1976, a new church was built and consecrated by the Cardinal Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, William Cardinal Conway (d. 1977). And in 1979, Pope John Paul II visited Knock at the time of one from his first voyages.
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