More than 150,000 pilgrims from throughout Ireland and from abroad are expected to attend the 2015 national novena to Our Lady of Knock, which opens today at the National Marian Shrine in Co Mayo in the Archdiocese of Tuam. 

Commenting on the opening day of the novena - which will involve the celebration of prayer, reflections and faith-based workshops - Archbishop Michael Neary of Tuam said, “All are welcome to come and visit Our Lady’s Shrine in Knock over the next nine days to pray during the National Novena to Our Lady of Knock.  This year’s theme, ‘Faith and Family’, offers much food for thought as the Universal Church prepares for a Synod of Bishops on the Family in the Vatican in October which will discuss the similar theme of ‘The vocation and the mission of the family in the Church and contemporary world’.

“Pilgrims come to Knock – a place of hope - for so many reasons, whether they are praying for guidance from the Holy Spirit, seeking to further discern their faith, and/or as a holy place of personal or family retreat during the holiday period.  For those who are at crossroads in their own lives, and in particular I am thinking of students who have received their final school examination results this week, I urge all to embrace the hope that faith can offer us in our lives."

The archbishop also welcomed New York's cardinal to the shrine, who led a pilgrim group of 180 from New York to Knock.

“This year’s national novena marks the arrival of the first transatlantic flight to Knock from the United States.  I offer a warm Irish welcome to the pioneering Cardinal Timothy Dolan, and to the pilgrims who accompanied him from New York.  Knock looks forward to greeting many more pilgrim-friends from the States in the years to come."

History of apparition

The story of Knock began on the 21 August 1879 when Our Lady, Saint Joseph and Saint John the Evangelist appeared at the south gable of Knock Parish Church.  This miraculous apparition was witnessed by fifteen people, young and old.

Knock was visited by Saint John Paul II as part of his 1979 papal pilgrimage to Ireland.  During his visit, which coincided with the Shrine’s centenary year, the Pope celebrated Mass at the Shrine and addressed the sick, their helpers and pilgrimage directors. 


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