Archbishop Michael Neary of Tuam has described the elevation of Knock Shrine to International status as a “momentous event”. The archbishop was speaking during Mass at the Shrine on Friday 19 March in response to a homily delivered by Pope Francis via video link from Rome. During his homily Pope Francis formally elevated the Shrine at Knock as an International Marian and Eucharistic Shrine.
Pope Francis said, “My dear brothers and sisters present at Knock, and all of you who may be watching from afar, the elevation of the National Sanctuary of Our Lady of Knock to an International Sanctuary of Special Eucharistic and Marian Devotion is a great responsibility. You accept to always have your arms wide open as a sign of welcome to every pilgrim who may arrive from any part of the world, asking nothing in return but only recognizing him as a brother or a sister who desires to share the same experience of fraternal prayer. May this welcome be joined with charity and become an effective witness to a heart which is open to receiving the Word of God and the grace of the Holy Spirit which gives us strength. May the Eucharistic mystery which unites us in communion with the Risen Lord and with one another always be the rock on which to live out faithfully our vocation to be “missionary disciples”, like the Virgin Mary who made herself a pilgrim of the Gospel of her Son. May she protect us and console us with her merciful countenance.”
Responding to the homily of the Holy Father, Archbishop Neary said, “On behalf of all who are joining in our Mass from the Apparation Chapel here at Our Lady’s Shrine at Knock, and with His Excellency the Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Okolo, and Father Richard Gibbons, we express our heartfelt thanks to His Holiness Pope Francis for his thought-provoking, consoling and challenging homily.
“Knock has been honoured by the visit of Pope Saint John Paul II in 1979, Saint Teresa of Calcutta in 1993, and three years ago Pope Francis. John Paul II acknowledged that people who come here, “troubled in their faith or their conscience, all have been healed, comforted and confirmed in their faith” because they trusted that the Mother of God would lead them to her Son, Jesus. Mother Teresa spoke very passionately on the sacredness of the human life of the unborn on her visit here. One of the most memorable experiences of the World Meeting of Families in Ireland, during August 2018, was when Pope Francis prayed here in front of the Blessed Sacrament and before the Apparition Scene, as silence descended on the thousands of pilgrims outside. The Holy Father prayed, “that amid the storms and winds that buffet our times, families would be a bulwark of faith and goodness and would resist anything that would diminish our dignity as men and women created in God’s image and called to the sublime destiny of eternal life”. ”
The archbishop said it was fitting, therefore, that Knock would be established as an International Shrine. He said, “It is with exuberant joy that I join with His Excellency the Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Okolo, with Father Richard Gibbons the Parish Priest of Knock and Rector of the International Shrine, and with all those who are devoted to the Eucharist and have a great love for Our Lady, the priests who minister at the Shrine, Stewards and Handmaids – now Cáirde Mhuire, and the Volunteers At Knock Shrine to express our profound gratitude to our Holy Father Pope Francis for acceding to the request that the Apparition of 1879 be confirmed and, as a result, that Knock be formally designated by the Church as an ‘International Eucharistic and Marian Shrine’. This is a momentous event, and it is most fitting that it would be announced and celebrated on the Feast of Saint Joseph in the Year of Saint Joseph, because alongside Our Lady, Saint John the Evangelist and the Lamb of God, Saint Joseph also appeared here on that August evening in 1879.”
Concluding his response to the Holy Father, Archbishop Neary offered a prayer for pilgrims saying, “I pray that pilgrims from all over Ireland and from across the world who come here, carrying their crosses, will experience deeply God’s closeness, the tenderness of the Virgin Mary and the company of the saints, so as to be encouraged and enabled to return home with a more buoyant faith, with hope in their hearts and a more ardent love for God and neighbour.”
The story of Knock
The story of Knock began on 21 August 1879 when Our Lady, Saint Joseph and Saint John the Evangelist appeared at the south gable of Knock Parish Church. This miraculous silent apparition was witnessed by fifteen people, young and old. Knock is an internationally recognised Marian Shrine and was visited by Pope Saint John Paul II in 1979 as part of his apostolic pilgrimage, and in 2018 by Pope Francis as part of the celebrations in Ireland for the IX World Meeting of Families. Archbishop Michael Neary, Archbishop of Tuam, is the custodian of the Marian Shrine and Father Richard Gibbons is parish priest of Knock and rector of the shrine.
Please see www.knockshrine.ie for more information.