On August 21st 1879 Our Lady, St Joseph and St John the Evangelist appeared on the gable wall of Knock parish church to a group of villagers in a silent apparition.
In an article published in Catholic World Report, Fr Sean Connolly remarks that the enigma of the Knock apparition was its silence. We can speculate, he says, as to what the silent apparition means; but he and others agree that the apparition was a gift from Heaven to the down-trodden people of Ireland. People, who amidst times of famine and oppression, remained perseveringly faithful to their Catholic faith, with a particular devotion to Our Lady and the Rosary.
On the Feast of St Joseph 2021 the Vatican paid further tribute to the faith of the this country by elevating Knock Shrine to the status of an International Shrine of Marian Devotion. This gesture recognised the impact the faith not only in this country, but also to the many lands Irish missionaries travelled to spread the Gospel.
The silence of the Knock apparition was recognised as showing us the power of silent prayer as explained by Our Lord in Matthew 6 ‘when you pray go to your inner room, close the door and pray to your Father in secret; and your Farther who sees in secret will repay you’.
Archbishop Neary of Tuam responded to the Pope by expressing his desire that ‘all pilgrims to the shrine will experience God’s closeness and the tenderness of the Virgin Mary in the company of the saints’.
This is something the visionaries of the Knock apparition certainly understood as they witnessed this vision in silence. And despite their poverty, they were content and greatly comforted to be in the company of their heavenly Mother. In a time when Catholics are increasingly isolated and ostracised by society, God in His Providence has ordained to give us the antidote; to turn our attention once again to His Blessed Mother by having the Knock shrine raised to an international Marian shrine. Let us have recourse to her in these trying times, for She indeed is our refuge.
Our Lady of Knock, pray for Ireland!