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Pope Francis to visit Knock Shrine during his Irish trip

posted Jul 8, 2018, 5:38 PM by Bernard O'Hara

The gable of the Church of the Apparition
at Knock Shrine in County Mayo, Ireland(Knock Shrine)
Pope Francis is to visit Knock Shrine in County Mayo on Sunday August 26, 2018, as part of his Irish trip and recite the rosary and the Angelus there at the gable of the Church of the Apparition before going to Dublin for the closing ceremony of the World Meeting of Families. Our Lady's Shrine, Knock, a national and international place of pilgrimage, is an oasis of tranquillity and deep spirituality where many who come to see, remain to pray and find healing, reconciliation and peace. It welcomes people of all faiths and none. The centenary of the Knock apparition of 1879 was the inspiration for the first ever papal visit to Ireland. On 30 September 1979, His Holiness Pope (now Saint) John Paul II came as a pilgrim to Knock Shrine, which he termed ‘the goal of his Irish journey’. There was great joy for many when it was announced that Pope Francis is to follow in his footsteps. Knock is ready. The Church of the Apparition, the Basilica, and some facilities at Knock recently underwent a multi-million renovation due to the prescience and leadership of the parish priest and rector of the national shrine, Fr Richard Gibbons.
Knock was the scene of an apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary, St Joseph and St John, the Evangelist, together with an altar, a cross and a lamb surrounded by angels, on August 21, 1879. The apparition was witnessed initially by Mary McLoughlin and Mary Beirne and then by at least thirteen other local people aged from six to sixty-eight. (Those fifteen later gave witness-statements to a church inquiry). The local parish priest, Archdeacon Bartholomew Cavanagh, did not witness the apparition, but he became convinced of its authenticity by those who did. Two Commissions of Inquiry, in 1879 and 1936, found that the testimony of the witnesses as a whole was credible and trustworthy.
The focal point of the Shrine is the Gable of the Apparition, on the south wall of the Church of St John the Baptist, the old parish church. The Gable is now the location of the Shrine Oratory, and some original stones from the Gable are encased in the outside wall. A large sculpture of the apparition by Lorenzo Ferri can be seen there.
The new church in Knock was dedicated to Our Lady, Queen of Ireland on July 18, 1976. Designed by Louis and Brian Brennan and Dáithí Hanly, the circular church became the largest in Ireland with accommodation for up to 20,000. The surrounding ambulatory has 32 pillars, each made of stone from every county in Ireland. This church has five chapels radiating out from the sanctuary, dedicated to the Sacred Heart, St John the Evangelist, Our Lady of Knock, St Joseph and St Columbanus respectively. There are four windows in the radiating walls replicating a medieval Christian site from each of four provinces of Ireland. Along the entrances there are beautiful painted glass scenes with biblical quotations. The new church was officially raised to the status of a Basilica by Pope John Paul II on 30 September 1979, and is known since then as the Basilica of Our Lady, Queen of Ireland.
An amazing mosaic, measuring 14 metres square which illustrates the apparition scene of 1879, superbly capturing the baffled witnesses, was unveiled on the wall behind the sanctuary in Knock Basilica on Sunday February 28, 2016, by the Archbishop of Tuam, Most Reverend Michael Neary. Designed by Dublin artist and illustrator, P. J. Lynch, the mosaic was created by the Travisanutto family in Spilimbergo, near Venice in Italy. This artistic masterpiece, thanks to a generous benefactor, Joe O’Toole of Supervalu Tuam, was part of a complete refurbishment of the Basilica for its fortieth anniversary in 2016.
Note: Bernard O’Hara’s most recent book is Exploring Mayo can be obtained by contacting
Bernard O'Hara's latest book entitled Killasser: Heritage of a Mayo Parish is now on sale in the USA and UK as a paperback book at, or Barnes and Noble
It is also available as an eBook from the Apple iBookstore (for reading on iPad and iPhone), from and (Kindle & Kindle Fire) and from (Nook tablet and eReader).
An earlier publication, a concise biography of Michael Davitt, entitled Davitt by Bernard O’Hara published in 2006 by Mayo County Council , is now available as Davitt: Irish Patriot and Father of the Land League by Bernard O’Hara, which was published in the USA by Tudor Gate Press ( and is available from and It can be obtained as an eBook from the Apple iBookstore (for reading on iPad and iPhone), from and (Kindle & Kindle Fire) and from (Nook tablet and eReader).