A meditation on Knock will ultimately lead us to the Lamb of God, who for us was slain on Calvary, and by whose Precious Blood our souls that have been defiled by sin are washed white as snow. (Rev. Patrick O’Carroll)
Pilgrimages to Knock began soon after the apparition and have continued ever since. About 250.000 pilgrims go there every year. This is a remarkable number in view of the fact that Knock has no train or bus service and that the shrine has not been formally approved by the Holy See. During World War II, 10.000 Masses were offered in honour of Our Lady of Knock for the intention of keeping Ireland at peace. Many of the people credit Our Lady of Knock with keeping Ireland out of the war just as the Portuguese people give credit to Our Lady of Fatima for keeping their country at peace.
WHAT DID THE APPARITION MEAN?
What did the apparition mean? At Paris, La Salette, Lourdes, and Fatima, our Lady spoke. We have her own words on record. At Knock, she said nothing. Yet we can be certain that she did not appear without an important purpose.
IN IRELAND, THE PEOPLE HAD CLUNG TO THE CATHOLIC FAITH DESPITE OF BITTER PERSECUTION
In most of Europe – in most of the [Western] world, for that matter – people had turned away from God. Even in such supposedly Catholic countries as Spain, France, Italy and Portugal, men were worshipping reason and science instead of God. But in Ireland, the people had clung to their faith despite three and a half centuries of bitter persecution. They had retained their love for the Mass during all the years that the Mass had been officially outlawed. They had never faltered in their devotion to the Blessed Mother, a devotion that had been brought to them by St Patrick himself. Every night, in thousands of miserable huts all over the island, families had knelt on the dirt floors to say the Rosary together.
SHE COMFORTED THEM IN THEIR AFFLICTIONS
It seems likely that Mary appeared in Ireland to reward the people for their devotion and to comfort them in their afflictions. Many authorities on Knock point out that Mary was wearing a crown. Thus, they say, she represented herself as Queen of Heaven, Queen of Ireland, Mediatrix of All Graces.
“The mission of Mary to Knock was not one of rebuke or complaint against our people, as was the case at La Salette and Lourdes, against the prevailing vices and abuses that were shaking the very foundations of the faith in France in those days,” says the Very Rev. Jarlath Royanne, O. Cist. “Neither was it a call to do penance on those occasions. No, Mary’s mission to her faithful Irish people that day was rather one of compassion and comfort, with an implied admonition, no doubt, of dangers ahead, and the imperative need of prayer.”
ON THE EVE OF THE OCTAVE OF THE FEAST OF THE ASSUMPTION
Every early account of the apparition points out that it occurred on the eve of the octave of the feast of the Assumption. Did Mary intend to establish this connection between Knock and Fatima? At any rate, the coincidence is interesting. It reminds us that Mary, Our Queen, has an Immaculate Heart filled with an almost infinite love for us.
ST JOSEPH’S APPEARANCE
The two saints who appeared with Mary were the two people – next to our Lord Himself – who were most closely associated with her while she was in this world. St Joseph cared for her before Jesus was born, and he watched over her and Jesus for some years after that. As head of the Holy Family, he is the model husband and father. He is also the Patron of the Universal Church. In the apparition he was looking at her in a reverential manner. It seems likely that he represented all families and also the Universal Church in paying homage to the Queen of Heaven.
ST JOHN THE EVANGELIST
St John was Mary’s guardian after our Lord’s death. He stood with her beneath the cross while Jesus was giving His life for the world. It was to him that our Lord almost with His dying breath said, “Behold thy mother.” St John represented all of us that day.
So St John, by his presence, reminds us that Mary is our spiritual mother. But he does more than that. He was garbed as a bishop and was reading from a Mass book. He stood next to the altar on which was the sacrificial lamb. St John was our Lady’s priest. After the Resurrection he celebrated Mass for her, renewing the sacrifice of Calvary, bringing her Son down upon the altar. It is also interesting to note that in the Apocalypse, St John refers to our Lord as a lamb twenty-seven times.
A FULLER APPRECIATION OF THE HOLY MASS
“A meditation on Knock,” says Rev. Patrick O’Carroll, C.S.Sp., “will ultimately lead us to the Lamb of God, who for us was slain on Calvary, and by whose Precious Blood our souls that have been defiled by sin are washed white as snow. Our attention is above all turned to the same Lamb of God that is mystically immolated on every altar, when the Holy Mass is celebrated. Knock, then, calls for a fuller appreciation of the Mass.”
Virtually all authorities agree on this, that the Mass is the central feature of Knock. Our Lady herself seems to bear this out. Most of the cures there have occurred during Mass. At Lourdes, the Blessed Sacrament is emphasized; at Knock, the Mass.
– From: “The Woman Shall Conquer” by Don Sharkey, Prow Books/Franciscan Marytown Press, Libertyville, IL, 1954