Our Lady of Knock

apparition depiction of our lady of knock




At about 8 o’clock on the Thursday evening of the 21st of August, 1879, the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Joseph and St. John the Evangelist appeared at the South gable of St. John the Baptist Church at Knock, County Mayo, Ireland. Beside them and a little to the right was an altar with a cross and the figure of a lamb, around which angels hovered.  There were fifteen official witnesses to the apparition – young and old – who watched it for two hours in pouring rain as they recited the Rosary. Two Commissions of Enquiry accepted their testimony as trust-worthy and satisfactory in 1879 and 1936. It is the only Marian apparition which had no verbal message, however, its silent message offers the comfort and care of Christ whom we encounter in the Eucharist. Today, Knock ranks among the world’s major Marian Shrines, having enjoyed the full approval of the Church, for many years. It is considered a Eucharistic apparition as well. It has received privileges from four Popes and the most recent privilege was the visit of His Holiness, Pope Francis, on 26th of August 2018. The Feast of Our Lady of Knock is on the 17th of August. 

Our Lady of Knock Novena

Novena to Our Lady of Knock

prayer garden statue of our lady of knock


For some, we may ask, “what’s a novena?”  Others may recognize the word, but ask, “Didn’t Vatican II do away with devotions like novenas?”  Far from it, actually our next generation of Catholics are showing a re-invested interest, with a clear understanding of what these traditional practices of Catholic praying have to offer.  Offering Eucharistic Adoration, for example, is becoming a very popular practice with high school youth groups.

So what is our Catholic understanding of novenas? It is a legitimate form of prayer that is very much part of our Catholic Tradition. It seems the tradition started in Christianity with the Ascension of the Lord.  Jesus ascended to heaven only after he told his disciples to await the gift of the Holy Spirit. The waiting that they did must have included prayer for each other and with each other. Nine days later, Pentecost occurred.  The Spirit descends with motivation, meaning, and mission for the Apostles. When we intentionally place our prayer before God for nine days … our intention should garner a fuller sense of wisdom, insight, understanding, and purpose. This is a novena:  Intentional prayer for nine days and after the nine days, let the Spirit descend! A novena does not manipulate God to do our bidding, as if that could ever happen. 

In Ireland around the beginning of August, they begin to put up reminders – roadside signs that read, “Remember the Novena.”  These signs are telling everyone that the Novena of Our Lady of Knock begins nine days before the feast. For us the novena would be from August 8 through August 16 to prepare us to celebrate August 17. It is recommended that one attend Mass each day of the novena and pray the rosary along with the designated novena prayers and most certainly on the day of August 17, the feast day itself, to attend Mass and pray the rosary. Since our Lady of Knock welcomes us to celebrate Eucharist as we pass through the prayer garden each week to walk into church, why not take up the novena this year?  Think of an intention: peace in your family, reconciliation between siblings, deeper faith in your life, care for someone unemployed or depressed, children moving on to college, happier marriage, etc. Get ready, get an intention, and pray in an intentional and thoughtful way for these nine day and on August 17, let the Spirit descend.

Remember the Novena!

Our Lady and the Visionaries of Knock ( 48 minute full film), Ireland, Catholic film, Oliver Plunket

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