Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Our Lady of Knock

Knock Apparition
Our Lady of Knock
 Knock, County Mayo 
(Irish Cnoc Mhuire, 'Hill of the Virgin Mary')

Located in County Mayo in the Western Ireland

My prior knowledge of Knock has been nearly non-existent, though my father was born in Derry Londonderry (it is known as Derry now), Ireland, I was not familiar with this wondrous event.  I would like to share what I have discovered with you and hopes of spreading the news of this miraculous event to all.

The Irish people have known more than their share of suffering from the religious suppression by the English and the devastating effects of the potato famine.  Many of the Irish died or suffered greatly during these years of strife and many immigrated but they kept their faith in Christ and His Mother.  It is to these faithful people that the Lord sent His Beloved Mother as a beacon of hope to them in the apparition at Knock, Ireland.

Original Church at Knock

“The Apparition at Knock took place in 1879, eight years after Pontmain in 1871. The two apparitions are broadly similar, in that they both took place in the evening and only lasted for three hours or so, and similarly, in both, no words were spoken.”  [12]

at Knock Apparition Basilica

On August 21, 1879, walking back to their homes on a rainy evening, two women Mary McLoughlin and Mary Beirne noticed something that they could not believe, there by the wall of the Church.  There in a bright light was an apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Joseph, and who they believed was St. John the Evangelist, as well as, an altar with a lamb and a cross—hovering overhead of the apparitions were angels—they all appeared as in  3D image and were moving!  Immediately the women called other people from the village to come and witness this beautiful sight.  In all fifteen people, young and old were blessed to witness what many of the faithful including myself would be jubilant to see.

All fifteen witnesses tell a very similar description as to what they saw that night, here is a short rendition and actual quotes from the official witnesses of what they experienced.

Our Lady of Knock
They all saw a life-size beautiful woman dressed in white with a large brilliant crown.  Her hands were folded in prayer and her eyes raised to heaven. 
“The Virgin stood erect, with eyes raised to heaven, her hands elevated to the shoulders or a little higher, the palms inclined slightly towards the shoulders or bosom. She wore a large cloak of a white colour, hanging in full folds and somewhat loosely around her shoulders, and fastened to the neck. She wore a crown on the head, rather a large crown, and it appeared to me somewhat yellower than the dress or robes worn by Our Blessed Lady. “ Mary Byrne [5]

St. Joseph and Our Lady of Knock

St. Joseph’s head was bent and inclined towards the Virgin Mary.    
“In the figure of St. Joseph the head was slightly bent, and inclined towards the Blessed Virgin, as if paying her respect.   It represented the saint as somewhat aged, with grey whiskers and greyish hair.” Mary Byrne [5]

St. Joseph (left) Our Lady (center) St. John (right)
St. John was on Our Lady's left. He was dressed in white vestments and resembled a bishop, with a small mitre  “He held the Book of Gospels, or the Mass Book, open in his left hand, while he stood slightly turned on the left side towards the altar that was over a little from him…He had a book in the left hand, as I stated, and the index finger and the middle finger of the right hand raised, as if he were speaking, and impressing some point forcibly on an audience.”  Mary Bryne[5]

“…he (St. John) appeared as if he were preaching, but I heard no voice; I came so near that I looked into the book.  I saw the lines and the letters. St. John did not wear any sandals.” Official witness, Patrick Hill [5]

Of the altar and the lamb apparitions  “On the altar stood a lamb, the size of a lamb eight weeks old – the face of the lamb was fronting the west, and looking in the direction of the Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph.  Behind the lamb a large cross was placed erect or perpendicular on the altar.  Around the Lamb I saw angels hovering during the whole time, for the space of one hour and a half or longer; I saw their wings fluttering, but I did not perceive their heads or faces, which were not turned to me.”  Patrick Hill [5]

“For the space of an hour and a half we were under the pouring rain; at this time I was very wet;  I noticed that the rain did not wet the figures which appeared before me, although I was wet myself.   I went away then.” Patrick Hill [5]

“I beheld, on this occasion, not only the three figures, but an altar further on to the left of the figure of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and to the left of the bishop and above the altar a lamb about the size of that which is five weeks old.  Behind the lamb appeared the cross; it was away a bit from the lamb, while the latter stood in front from it, and not resting on the wood of the cross.   Around the lamb a number of gold–like stars appeared in the form of a halo.  This altar was placed right under the window of the gable and more to the east of the figures, all, of course, outside the church at Knock. I parted from the company or gathering at eight and a half o’clock…  Although it was pouring rain the wall had a bright, dry appearance, while the rest of the building appeared to be dark.   I did not return to behold the visions again after that, remaining at my house. I saw the sight for fully an hour.” Official witness, Mary McLoughlin [5]

 “After we prayed a while I thought it right to go across the wall and into the chapel yard.  I brought little Curry with me; I went then up closer; I saw everything distinctly. The figures were full and round as if they had a body and life; they said nothing; but as we approached they seemed to go back a little towards the gable.” Official witness Patrick Hill [5]

The images did not speak.  The witnesses watched the Apparition in pouring rain for two hours, reciting the Rosary.   Although they themselves were saturated not a single drop of rain fell on the gable or vision. 

Mary McLouglin went to the parish priest Very Reverend Rev. B. Cavanagh, but she was not believed.  

“I went to the priest’s house and told what I had beheld, and spoke of the beautiful things that were to be seen at the gable of the chapel. I asked him or said, rather, it would be worth his while to go to witness them.  He appeared to make nothing of what I said, and consequently he did not go… Very Rev. B. Cavanagh heard the next day all about the apparition from the others who had beheld it; and then it came to his recollection that I had told him the previous evening about it, and asked him to see it.” [5]

“I went out immediately and went to the spot indicated. When I arrived there I saw distinctly the three figures, I threw myself on my knees and exclaimed “ ‘A hundred thousands thanks to God and to the glorious Virgin that has given us this manifestation’... I 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.” Official witness, Bridget Trench [5]

There were no similar or consequential apparitions, only this one time—this lead to some doubt as to their authenticity as other apparitions where Our Lady has appeared had more than one visit and seen usually by one to no more than five people.  This apparition appeared to 15 people, how much more would show the truth!!!  

Journalists visiting Knock in the years following the Apparition were impressed by the witnesses. P.C.D. Warren in his booklet published in 1880 wrote of them: “The persons who tell of those appearances and who solemnly declare the truth of what they assert, are numerous, respectable, and respected by their neighbours. Their answers are frank and civil, equally free from boldness and evasion, and their united testimonies constitute a mass of evidence which few impartial men will seek to discredit.” [8]

“I am clear about everything I have said 
and I make this statement knowing 
I am going before my God”    
Mary Byrne. [1]  Mary died six weeks later.

1.   Dominick Byrne (senior), Drum, Knock, aged thirty-six years

2.   Dominick Byrne (junior), Drum, Knock, aged twenty years   

3.   Margaret Byrne, Drum, Knock, aged twenty-one years

4.   Mary Byrne, Drum, Knock, aged twenty-nine years 

5.   Mrs. Margaret Byrne (widow), Drum, Knock, aged sixty-eight 

6.   Patrick Byrne, Carrowmore, Knock, aged sixteen years

7.   Judith Campbell, Carrowmore, Knock, aged twenty-two years

8.   John Curry, Lecarrow, Knock, aged five years

9.   John Durkan, Casual Labourer, aged twenty-four years 

10. Mrs. Hugh Flatley, Cloonlee, Knock, aged forty-four years

11. Patrick Hill, Claremorris, aged eleven years

12. Mary McLoughlin, Archdeacon Cavanagh’s housekeeper, 
      Knock, aged forty-five years

13. Catherine Murray, Lisaniskea, Bekan, aged eight years

14. Bridget Trench, Carrowmore, Knock, aged seventy-four years 

15. Patrick Walsh, Ballindorris, Knock, aged sixty-five years 


A number of cures and favours are associated with visitors to Our Lady of Knock’s Shrine and those who claim to have been cured here still leave crutches and sticks at the spot where the apparition is believed to have occurred all those years ago.[2]

Crutches left by those cured at Knock

As the news spread of the apparition pilgrims by the thousands arrive with their sick.  A large number of unusual cures were reported.  Crutches and canes were left at the site.

Newspaper article 1879
In 1870 pilgrims were snatching bits of plaster and cement from the wall where the apparitions were seen.  Ten days after the apparition the first cure occured.  A young deaf girl was instantly given the gift of hearing.  At the end of 1880, some 300 cures, were recorded in the diary of the parish priest.  One of these pilgrims cured soon after the apparitions testified many years later that "as many as half-a-dozen pilgrims simultaneously undergoing their cure, or getting relief, and in a vision I see the lame walk, my case included, the sightless seeing, the withered skins expanding."   [5]

Cures are happening even now.  There are many healings of physical, spiritual and mental ailments in the present day as well.  On September 3, 1989 Marion Carroll crippled with multiple sclerosis came to the Knock Shrine and returned home cured. [7]
"Marion Carroll from Athlone, Ireland was diagnosed with M.S. in 1978 after several years of illness. She gradually lost the use of her legs. When she became incontinent she had a catheter inserted and she had no bowel control. The muscles in her throat were affected by the disease so she could barely talk and all her food had to be liquified. By 1989 she was racked by kidney infections and almost blind. She was bedridden and needed to be washed, fed, moved and changed. Although her doctors had tried every drug they knew, Marion's condition was steadily deteriorating."


"Sunday September 3, 1989- Marion's diocese was making their annual pilgrimage to Knock Shrine, the Order of Malta took Marion by ambulance to Knock. Marion recalls " I felt too ill to go but went to Knock because I didn't want to make a fuss" She was wheeled on a stretcher into the Basilica for Mass and Marion said that "I was in terrible pain, I received Holy Communion but I was too weak to pray. I looked at the statue of Our Lady of Knock and I felt she would understand. I said to her "You are a mother too, You know how I feel".
"It was then that I got this beautiful feeling - like a whispering breeze and I felt that if I opened the stretcher I would be able to walk. I didn't say anything in case I looked stupid. When I got back to St. John's-the rest home for the sick at Knock, I asked for the stretcher to be opened and I was able to stand up and I even drank a cup of tea unaided. There was no stiffness and no pain, it was like experiencing every bit of happiness you have ever dreamed of".
Marion's doctor came to the conclusion that no drugs he gave her could have effected such a transformation. He was baffled yet certain that Marion was not in remission. His detailed report to the Church Commission confirms that she Is now free of the disease.
Marion continues to go from strength to strength with no symptoms of her illness for the past 10 years. She travels to Knock Shrine once a month volunteering as a handmaid assisting with the million plus people who visit Knock Shrine each year. She also travels throughout Ireland, England and Europe for Healing Masses at Churches where she talks about her cure." [7]
More cures or healings are listed and are still being submitted.  Check out the website Cures of the  present day


Parish Priest -- Not a Witness

Parish Priest Archdeacon Bartholomew Aloysius Cavanagh, P.P.  Knock  Served from 1867-1897

Although the apparition was seen by his housekeeper the Archdeacon himself was not a witness.   He said: “When my housekeeper returned home that night she said she had seen the Blessed Virgin at the chapel. At first, I gave no serious attention to her words….Ever since this has been a cause of the deepest mortification. But I console myself with the reflection that it was the will of God that the apparition should be shown to the people, not to the priest. If I had seen it and been the first to speak of it, many things would have been said that cannot now be advanced with any shadow of reason or probability on their side”.[13]

As the pilgrims came, daily masses and confessions also grew, Archdeacon Cavanagh was a tireless servant of Our Lady.  Among his numerous tasks, he received many letters regarding the apparitions which he himself answered.  He was astute enough to keep a diary listing the cures that had taken place.  And for the media gave many interviews.

One correspondent wrote: “We drove to the cottage of the Parish Priest and found him in his garden.  Archdeacon Cavanagh is reputed along all the countryside as a man of simple piety, gentle manners and a modest retiring disposition.  This character is justified by his appearance.  Heat once makes a favourable impression.”  Daily Telegraph Correspondent 1880   [14]

'It is said that the people of a parish soon come to reflect their pastor and it is certain that the people of Knock lived the full Catholic life under the influence of Archdeacon Cavanagh. The only word of blame or disapproval expressed against him was that he was too devout to the Blessed Virgin, not practical enough and never took a holiday. He always addressed the congregation from Our Lady’s altar and inspired his parishioners with the sincerity of his love for her.' [13]


'The happening at Knock was thoroughly investigated and it was proved that it could not have been produced by luminous paint or a "magic lantern." A commission of inquiry was set up by the aged Archbishop of Tuam, Dr. McHale, but although it considered the witnesses reliable and trustworthy, the Archbishop made no definitive statement for or against the apparition.

'An ecclesiastical Commission of inquiry was established by the Archbishop of Tuam, Most Rev. Dr. John MacHale, on October 8, 1879. The Commission consisted of Irish scholar and historian, Canon Ulick Bourke, Canon James Waldron, as well as the parish priest of Ballyhaunis and Archdeacon Bartholomew Aloyisius Cavanagh. Depositions of witnesses were taken in the ensuing months. The deliberations of the Commission, referred only to the occurrence on August 21, 1879, which omitted "subsequent phenomena," and as a result, there exists no official record for events that occurred after that date.

The evidence which was the Commission's duty to record, satisfied all the members and was deemed trustworthy. Among the considerations were whether the apparition emanated from natural causes, and whether there was any positive fraud. In the first cited particular, it was reported that no solution as from natural causes could be offered; and in the second consideration, that such a suggestion had never, even remotely, been entertained.

The Commission's 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.' [11]

"...Knock gradually gained official support from the Church, culminating in the Papal visit of 1979. The symbolism of the lamb, cross and altar has been seen as pointing to the sacrificial death of Christ and the Mass, and yet these were behind Mary in the apparition at Knock, suggesting that the focus was on her and her role as a mediator." [12]


FOUR POPES  have honored Knock

Pope Pius XII

Pope Pius XII 
Blessed the Banner of Knock at St. Peter's and decorated it with a special medal on All Saint's Day in 1945

Blessed Pope John XXIII

Pope John XXIII 
Who always regarded Knock as one of the outstanding shines devoted to Our Lady presented a special candle to Knock on Candelmas Day in 1960

Pope Paul VI

Pope Paul VI  
Blessed the fountain stone for the basilica of Our Lady, Queen of Ireland on June 6, 1974


Blessed John Paul II

Pope John Paul II  
Made a special pilgrimage to the Shrine on Sept 30, 1979 to commemorate the centenary of the Apparition.  
His opening words at Knock were:  ‘Here I am at the goal of my journey to

Ireland: the Shrine of Our Lady at Knock...  I am here then as a pilgrim, a sign of the pilgrim church throughout the world...’ [10]

Pope John Paul II addressed the sick and the nursing staff and celebrated Mass, and established the church there as a basilica, he also presented a candle and the golden rose to the shrine, also knelt in prayer at the apparition wall. [5]  Almost half a million pilgrims gathered at Knock on that day [10]



In June 1993, Mother Teresa came on pilgrimage to Knock Shrine.  In her Basilica address to the sick, she said:  ‘Jesus came to give us the good news that God loves us, and that he wants us to love one another as he loves each one of us’. More than fifty thousand pilgrims gathered at Knock that day.[10]


1880 Pilgrims outside Knock Church

As news of the Apparition spread, pilgrims converged on Knock from all parts of Ireland.The first organised pilgrimage came from Limerick in March 1880 and consisted of fifty members of the Confraternity of the Holy Family.They travelled by train to Tuam and onwards to Knock in nine horse-drawn side-cars.


Despite wartime hardships, pilgrims continued to come. Buses and trains to Knock were discontinued until 1948 and many pilgrims walked and cycled to Knock. Others came on horseback or made use of lorries, bread vans, carts and traps.” [10]  

If you are interested in visiting Knock go to this website:

Our Lady of Knock


Our Lady of Knock, Queen of Ireland,

you gave hope to our people 
in a time of distress and comforted them in sorrow.

You have inspired countless pilgrims to pray 
with confidence to your Divine Son,

remembering His promise: 
“Ask and you shall receive, Seek and you shall find.”

Help me to remember that 
we are all pilgrims on the road to heaven.

Fill me with love and concern for 
my brothers and sisters in Christ,

especially those who live with me. 

Comfort me when I am sick or lonely or depressed.

Teach me how to take part ever 
more reverently in the Holy Mass.

Pray for me now, and at the hour of my death.

Amen. [5]


Venerable Archdeacon Bartholomew Cavanagh



“Whatever the view of the worldly and the puzzled there can be no doubt that the Archdeacon was a very spiritual and holy man, one who followed severe penitential exercises, down even to the hair shirt, was deeply devoted to his holy office, to his people and to the souls in purgatory, and he had an every consuming desire to promote Our Lady’s Cause. His favourite title for her was “The Ever Immaculate Mother of God.”

'It was, and indeed still is, freely accepted in the Parish of Knock that the Archdeacon was favoured himself with visits of Our Lady to his own little cottage.   It is recounted that he was told by her that he should not worry that he had not seen the apparition because he was about God’s work.' [13]

Venerable Archdeacon Cavanagh at his cottage

'Those were difficult times with much persecution and sometimes young men, on the run, went to the Archdeacon late at night for the sacraments.   One of these, who left the country, wrote back home that one night he, with others, called at the Archdeacon’s house.   It was necessary to move by night as they were marked for arrest under the Coercion Acts.  When they arrived the Archdeacon was not there.   The door was opened by a stranger who seemed to know of their mission without being told.   The stranger spoke to them, told them to come back the next day and gave them some instructions for their journey.

The following morning they had an interview with the Archdeacon and told him of what had happened the night before and of their peace and joy that filled them when the stranger was speaking to them. The Archdeacon asked them not to speak of it until after his death and they kept that promise. It was then freely accepted that the stranger was some heavenly visitor.  '[13]

'As his death approached he was moved from his own home to the building which is now the St Mary’s Hostel run by the Sisters of Charity. If you go to Knock you can visit there the rooms in which he died. They now make up the chapel on the second floor of the building and you can attend Mass there if you wish to do so with the nuns in the morning. '[13]

'For thirty years this devoted priest preached the Blessed Virgin – the ever Immaculate Mother of God – at Knock and what could be a more fitting end to his life than to die on the day when he went to eternal life – the 8th of December 1897, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Archdeacon Cavanagh is the patron of the Friends of the Suffering Souls and it is our earnest desire that his name should be elevated to the list of canonised saints. We should pray therefore to see this take place and below is set out a prayer that can be used to ask for this grace from God, a grace that could be an inspiration to so many to take up the work of the Archdeacon in praying and caring for the holy souls in Purgatory. '[13]

Venerable Archdeacon Cavanagh


Dear God in Heaven, through the appearance at Knock of the Lamb of God on the sacrificial altar - accompanied by Our Blessed Lady, St Joseph and St John – You showed to the whole world your love for the work of the Venerable Archdeacon Cavanagh in his efforts on behalf of the holy souls. To mark with your eternal seal his life and work we beseech You to raise him to the altar of your Church and to grant through his intercession the grace which I now ask for: (make your own petition). Amen

Lamb of God stained glass window

Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world. Grant them rest.

Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world. Grant them rest.

Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world. Grant them eternal rest.

Our Lady of Knock. Pray for us.

Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world. Grant them rest.

Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world. Grant them rest.

Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world. Grant them eternal rest.

St Joseph . Pray for us.

Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world. Grant them rest.

Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world. Grant them rest.

Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world. Grant them eternal rest.

St John . Pray for us.

Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world. Grant them rest.

Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world. Grant them rest.

Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world. Grant them eternal rest.



[5] Witness accounts
[13]Archdeacon Cavangh parish priest

Thanks to all the above for the enlightening and useful information.  God bless you all.