STORY BEHIND Our Lady of Knock

     The Apparition at Knock is a fountain filled with eternal riches and good things for mankind in an uncertain world of many misfortunes.
     It testifies to the truth and the reality of the Gospel Story, and its language is the language of silent symbolism, a medium of communication superior to any words. By means of this language it speaks to the heart. The more one thinks about it, the clearer does its meaning and message become.
     Let us then draw out of the riches of Knock something of that meaning and message in order that we may better appreciate and understand the significance of that August evening in 1879.
     Our Lady appears attired as a queen with her brilliant and sparkling crown. Here we see the queen of Heaven asserting the truth of her coronation. She is already crowned as queen of the church in Heaven and she would have us see that this is really so. By coming to Knock she would have us see also that she is queen of the church on earth. Because of her queen ship, she has a special responsibility for the human race. We are all her children. She cares for each and every one, especially for her suffering and sinful children. It is because she cares she comes to show her concern and she comes to Knock because no nation has been more loyal to her Crown of Roses. Because of her queen ship, it is our duty to pay her homage, reverence and respect. Her role as queen is universal in the scheme of God and for this reason homage, reverence and respect are due to her in all lands and at all times.
     Mary appears at Knock wearing her crown which presupposes her glorious assumption. She comes to Knock within the octave of the Feast of the Assumption. She comes from heaven to clarify, for all time, the fact and reality of her assumption, which in 1879, has not been proclaimed a Dogma of the universal church.
     Mary, is assumed into Heaven and there crowned queen because she has shared in the work of our Redemption.
     All these things are possible only because, first and foremost, Mary is chosen as God's Mother and later as our mother, too. Knock is a reminder of her universal motherhood, a reminder of salvation day on Calvary. On that day "when Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple, whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, "Woman, behold, your son!' Then he said to the disciple, 'Behold, your mother!' And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home."(John 19:26-27)
     At Knock, Mary and John stand, side by side, in the presence of the Cross, standing upright on an altar with the Lamb of God. Because of Our Lady's motherhood, the world is given a saviour, Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. She gives us her Son for our salvation and shares in our salvation with him. At Knock, Mary would have us reflect upon the implications of her motherly role, the incarnation and the drama of our salvation. She would have us appreciate the value of these mysteries, pondering them in our hearts.
     At Knock, Mary's hands and eyes are raised up in prayer. Doubtless, her prayer is for that church of which she is the mother. She is the first redeemed, the first flowering of the pilgrim church. Her prayer is for all her children, especially for those most in need. As mother of the universal church she would have us understand the necessity of prayer in our lives and the efficacy of that same prayer especially when it is made through her who appears as our intercessor and helper. Prayer leads to glory and to the enjoyment of all good things.
     The church is a universal family made up of countless individual family units. Knock is a reminder of the importance of the Christian family and the good home. The Holy Family is present - Mary, Joseph and the Lamb. Here. Mary is mother of the universal family. Joseph is patron of the universal family. The lamb is the saviour of the universal family. Mary would have us learn at Knock the lessons of the family home of Nazareth.
     St. John the Evangelist appears at Knock as the universal preacher. He represents the official teaching church. The beloved disciple also represents the ministerial church, the priesthood, empowered to offer the Eucharistic celebration, which is Calvary continued and renewed, until the end of time. Mary would have us learn at Knock, respect for and acceptance of, the word of God, which St. John holds in the open book, in his left hand.
     The vision of Knock is a consolation in hungry times but it is also a pointer to a deeper and more lasting hunger in mankind, a hunger which can only be satisfied by a spiritual food, namely, the Blessed Eucharist, the Bread of Life. In 1879 there are blighted fields in Ireland but they too are outward signs of a more destructive blight, which kills the soul - the blight of sin and wrongdoing. The Irish people fight for their land but Knock reminds them of another land, the possession of which is all that really matters. It is a guarantee of the resurrection and the reality of Heaven and as such is a source of unending joy, a beacon of Christian hope.
     Our pilgrim journey to glory is made possible at Knock, for Mary would have us avail of the fruits of the Incarnation and Redemption. She invites us to receive the Sacraments, and by receiving them, our eternal destiny is assured.
     In a very real sense, the hungry are fed with the Bread of Life at Knock but not before they have made their peace with God and are in his friendship. This takes place in and through a good confession. The reconciling of souls to God is at the very heart of any understanding of the true nature and message of Knock. It is at Knock that those hungry in spirit are fed. It is at Knock that those who are blighted in spirit are restored to a new life and a new relationship with God, the father of creation. This work must be dear to the heart of Mary at Knock.
     In the Apparition at Knock there stands a cross upon the altar of the lamb. It is a reminder of the value of suffering and the reward of bearing it well. At Knock the sick are given an appreciation of their vocation and an understanding of its immeasurable merits. Not infrequently is the cross lifted from the bruised and broken bodies and to all the afflicted is given strength, hope, resignation and consolation. The graces and blessings of God come to them, in and through the Sacrament of the Anointing, the Blessing of the Sick and the Bread of Strength.
     The Apparition at Knock is rich in the mysteries of God, the mysteries of the Rosary. The beautiful full-blown rose on her brow is a call to pray her Crown of Roses and in so doing to reflect upon the mysteries of Redemption. She is the Mystic Rose pondering in her heart, the mysteries of God, in the silence of Knock - Immaculate, Seat of Wisdom.

Excerpts from "I saw our lady" - Tom Neary

from Patrick Hill, an eyewitness, his testimony:

I remember the 21st August last; on that day I was drawing home turf, or peat from the bog, on an ass. While at my aunt's house at about eight o'clock in the evening, Dominick Byrne came into the house; he cried out: "Come up to the chapel and see the miraculous lights, and the beautiful visions that are to be seen there.' ... When we, running southwest, came so far from the village that on our turning, the gable came into view, we immediately beheld the lights; a clear white light, covering most of the gable, from the ground up to the window and higher. It was a kind of changing bright light, going sometimes up high and again not so high. We saw the figures - the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Joseph and St. John, and an altar with a lamb on the altar, and a cross behind the lamb. At this time we reached as far as the wall fronting the gable: there were other people there before me; some of them were praying, some not; all were looking at the vision; they were leaning over the wall or ditch, with their arms resting on the top. ... It was raining. ... After we prayed awhile I thought it right to go across the wall and into the chapel yard. ... 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. I distinctly beheld the Blessed Virgin Mary, life size, standing about two feet or so above the ground clothed in white robes which were fastened at the neck. Her hands were raised to the height of the shoulders, as if in prayer, with the palms facing one another, but slanting inwards towards the face; the palms were not turned towards the people, but facing each other as I have described; she appeared to be praying; her eyes were turned as I saw towards heaven. She wore a brilliant crown on her head, and over the forehead where the crown fitted the brow, a beautiful rose; the crown appeared brilliant, and of a golden brightness, of a deeper hue, inclined to a mellow yellow, than the striking whiteness of the robes she wore; the upper parts of the crown appeared to be a series of sparkles, or glittering crosses. I saw her eyes, the balls, the pupils and the iris of each. I noticed her hands especially, and face and appearance. The robes came only as far as the ankles; I saw her feet and the ankles; one foot, the right, was slightly in advance of the other. At times she appeared, and all the figures appeared, to move out and again, to go backwards; I saw them move; she did not speak; I went up very near; one old woman went up and embraced the Virgin's feet, and she found nothing in her arms and hands; they receded, she said, from her.

I saw St. Joseph to the Blessed Virgin's right hand; his head was bent, from the shoulders, forward; he appeared to be paying his respects; I noticed his whiskers; they appeared slightly grey; there was a line or dark mearing between the figure of the Blessed Virgin and the spot where he stood. I saw the feet of St. Joseph, too. His hands were joined like a person at prayer.

The third figure that stood before me was that of St. John the Evangelist. He stood erect at the side of the altar, and at an angle with the figure of the Blessed Virgin, so that his back was not turned to the altar nor to the Mother of God. His right arm was at an angle with a line drawn across from St. Joseph to where Our Blessed Lady appeared to be standing. St. John was dressed like a bishop preaching; he wore a small miter on his head; he held a Mass Book, or a Book of Gospels, in his left hand; the right hand was raised to the elevation of his head; while he kept the index finger and the middle finger of the right hand raised; the other three fingers of the same hand were shut; he 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 sandals. His left hand was turned towards the altar that was behind him; the altar was a plain one, like any ordinary altar, without any ornaments.
On the altar stood a Iamb, the size of a Iamb eight weeks old - the face of the Iamb was fronting the west, and looking in the direction of the Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph. Behind the Iamb 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.
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."

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