House of Brigid 2009-10

House of Brigid 2009-10

19 September 2009

Teach Bhríde in Knock

Last weekend we had the incredible opportunity to go on pilgrimage with 45 members of Clonard to Knock, which is in County Mayo in western Ireland, about an hour from Galway.
Many people are unaware of this pilgrimage site, being more familiar with places like Lourdes, Fatima, and Medjugorie, but Knock has also been the site of a beautiful apparition, one that is unique among other apparitions sites.

On August 21, 1879, 15 citizens of Knock (including men, women, and children of various ages) witnessed a vision at the south gable of the church. Our Lady appeared, flanked on either side with St. Joseph at her right, and St. John the Evangelist at her left. Mary wore a white cloak and a gold crown which held a beautiful rose in the center of her brow; Joseph wore a white robe and was turned toward Mary with head slightly bowed and hands folded in prayer; John was dressed in a robe and bishop's mitre, and was holding a book in his left hand. Witnesses say he appeared as though preaching.

In the center of the gable, to the right of the figures, was an altar, on which stood a Lamb facing westward. Behind the Lamb was a large, upright cross, and angels were hovering around the Lamb. The apparition continued for two hours, and witnesses knelt at the gable in the pouring rain, praying the Rosary. Not one word was spoken to the witnesses by any figure in the apparition. Six weeks following the event, Archbishop John McHale of Tuam convened a Commission of Enquiry. All fifteen witnesses gave testimony, which was ruled by the Commission as trustworthy and satisfactory. Another commission confirmed these findings in 1936, and since Pius XII, Knock has met with the positive recognition and honor of every pope, including John Paul II, who made his own pilgrimage in 1979.

Several things make Knock unique among Marian apparitions. First, multiple figures appeared. Second, there was a large number of witnesses, more than the number at Lourdes, Fatima, Medugorie, and Guadalupe. Finally, this was a silent apparition, with no message other than that conveyed by the imagery of the apparition itself: scholars of Knock have pointed to the Book of Revelation with the presence of John and the Lamb, and as Fr. Denis Lennon suggested in one of his homilies from our own pilgrimage last weekend, the presence of the Cross is of tantamount importance. No follower of Christ can avoid the Cross; Joseph endured the pain of questioning the Divine paternity of Jesus following the Annunciation, and protected the Holy Family when Herod sought to kill the infant Jesus. Mary and John were both present at the foot of the Cross and endured the agony of the Crucifixion alongside Jesus. The Cross is, as Fr. Denis said, "part and parcel of the Christian life," but it is not the ultimate end, for the Lamb who was slain will conquer, and all who have shared in the Cross of Christ will be caught up in His victory.

I found the time at Knock peaceful and thought-provoking, and the House of Brigid was grateful for the opportunity to provide music at the Masses celebrated with our fellow pilgrims in Apparition Chapel. Each of us experienced the pilgrimage in a unique way, but I think I can speak for my fellow community members when I say that we will always be grateful for our visit to Knock, for the time of solitude and reflection it provided, as well as the opportunity to pray with so many wonderful people from the parish.

Our Lady of Knock, Queen of Ireland, pray for us.

1 comment:

  1. what an amazing pilgrimage to be able to take part in! I loved getting more background information on Knock :)