LivingTravelKnock Shrine

Knock Shrine

Knock Shrine, one of the main Marian shrines in Europe (which also includes Lourdes in France and Medjugorje in Bosnia and Herzegovina), is located right in the middle of nowhere in the eastern part of County Mayo, surrounded by swamps and areas wild. The landscape is not very attractive, nor are there any notable attractions; however, tens of thousands of visitors arrive each year. Both the religious and the curious.

So, let’s take a closer look at Knock Shrine.

Knock Shrine – The History of the Apparition and the Pilgrimage

It was 1879 and the small town of Knock in County Mayo was a provincial backwater at best. All this changed drastically on August 21: at night, a group of people (aged five to 75 years) witnessed the appearance of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Saint Joseph and Saint John the Evangelist (at least, the figures were identified) in the south pediment of the local parish church, dedicated to San Juan Bautista. They also saw what appeared to be an altar with a cross and a lamb, in addition to some worshiping angels.

A clerical commission quickly established by the Most Reverend Dr. John MacHale, Archbishop of Tuam, concluded that the testimony of all the witnesses was reliable and satisfactory, thus giving the Marian apparition the first ecclesiastical seal. A second commission confirmed this conclusion in 1936. Knock never looked back and quickly became an important pilgrimage site for primarily Irish Catholics.

In 1979, on the centenary of the apparition, Pope John Paul II himself visited Knock. The well-traveled Polish Pontifex made it clear that the sanctuary was the ultimate goal of his visit to Ireland. This direct approval from Vatocan and the unstoppable activities of Monsignor Horan (who drove the construction of the Basilica and nearby Knock Airport) made the Knock Shrine an important pilgrimage site around the world.

Who actually visits the Knock Shrine?

Visitors to the Knock Shrine are divided into two groups: the largest is the pilgrims, the Catholic pilgrims to be precise. A smaller group are the tourists, and the curious plain. A sizable minority might also have a foot in both camps … although they do face religious pitfalls in Knock, they tend to veer towards the religious side.

What to see in the Knock sanctuary?

This would completely depend on who you are, why you are there – those on pilgrimage will have a very clear idea of how to spend the day and will try to visit all the major religious stations, perhaps a service or trailer, and confession. Those on a visit with a less rigid frame will surely also want to enjoy the entire site and dip their feet here and there.

The main places of interest in Knock are:

  • The old church of San Juan Bautista, the original parish church, located near the main road and still in use as a parish church. The outer gable where the apparition was said to have taken place is now preserved under glass (indeed a large church hall), complete with an artistic rendering of the apparition and benches for the worshipers.
  • The impressive Basilica of Our Lady of Knock, Queen of Ireland, a modern building with capacity for around 10,000 worshipers, a short distance from the old parish church and which dominates the area. To cope with the crowds of pilgrims, the entrance and exit areas are similar to football terraces.
  • The Chapel of Reconciliation: a modern underground structure with a multitude of confessionals and a striking altar in the background.
  • The Little Knock Museum, a popular apparition museum that gives details of rural life in 1879 and the apparition itself.
  • The old cemetery with the Graves witnesses.

There is also a special area off the main street dedicated to souvenir shops… which should not be missed, but which will make a very different impression depending on the reason for your visit. Suffice it to say that small bottles of holy water in the shape of the Blessed Virgin Mary, opened by unscrewing her heavenly crown, are definitely not among the great religious works of art in the world. They are not cheap either.

How much does a visit to the Knock Shrine cost?

In addition to the Knock Museum, all of the areas mentioned are free, donations are gratefully accepted. A word of caution though: Knock itself isn’t exactly a cheap place. Having a bite or a cup of tea can be expensive. Bring your own or check the prices before you sit down.

When is it better to visit Knock Shrine?

If you are a religious visitor, the sanctuary website will give you important dates. If you are just curious, choose these dates if you want to see the devotees. However, if you want to enjoy the sanctuary in peace and quiet, come on a winter day. Knock is open all year.

Is it worth taking the form of touching the sanctuary?

For a visitor with a religious background, this question is superfluous: everyone else must decide for themselves. Bottom line: Knock is interesting, even if you don’t believe in anything that makes it a pilgrimage site. On the other hand, it’s out of the way … you decide.

Further arrest after murder of young teacher in Ireland

Who is responsible for Ashling Murphy's untimely death? A 31-year-old was arrested on Tuesday as a suspected perpetrator. Another arrest was made.

Murder of young teacher upsets Ireland

In broad daylight, a 23-year-old elementary school teacher is killed while running. The act in Tullamore drives many compatriots. Ireland has a problem, the government makes clear.

Ronan Keating had himself sterilized

He is the father of five children. He feels blessed, says Ronan Keating, but "that's it, that's enough".

Storm "Barra" rages over the British Isles

At the end of November, storm "Arwen" caused chaos. Now “Barra” is sweeping the British Isles. Tens of thousands of people are without electricity.

Ireland allows corona vaccinations for 12 to 15 year olds

About half of the Irish are double vaccinated. Now the way is cleared for teenagers. But it doesn't work without the consent of the parents.