On Monday, the 19th of November, the Icon travelled to Knock in County Mayo. It arrived there before the 12 noon Mass and was received into the parish church and placed in the main altar. People were able to venerate it in the parish church until 3 pm that day. The Icon was then brought into the Apparition Chapel where it remained until the following day (Tuesday, the 20th of November) at 1 pm.
Even though the official pilgrimage season ends at the end of October, the 24 hour visit of the Icon to Knock was extremely powerful and brought a constant flow of people of all ages who venerated The Travelling Icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa on the very same spot where the Apparition of Our Lady of Knock took place.
I met a married couple near the Apparition Chapel on Monday evening and they anxiously asked me where "the Icon that everybody keeps talking about" was. They had travelled to Knock to see the Icon there! That same evening, during Adoration, a mother and her little son who were on their way home by bicycle, came into the chapel to say a few prayers. The son kept looking at the Icon and the mother told him that it was an image of Mary and Jesus.
During the Masses celebrated at the Shrine, the people who had come to venerate the Icon were exhorted to make room for Mary into their homes in the same way the beloved Apostle John took Mary into his home. The priests encouraged the faithful to entrust their families to the loving care and protection of the Blessed Mother. Their sermons also emphasised the sacredness of every human life as well as the need to protect it always from the womb to the tomb! Parents and grandparents brought their children and grandchildren before the Icon and asked for Our Lady's intercession. Rosaries were said almost every hour during the day and silent time was spent in Adoration.
For those who don't know, the weather in Knock is normally quite bad and it rains a lot, but on Tuesday, the 20th of November, the sun was out and until 12 at noon it kept shining! Then the rain and a strong wind were back as the Icon was about to leave...
At the end of the Icon's Visit to Knock, Fr Patrick Burke expressed his deep gratitude for the unique privilege of having had the Icon at the National Marian Shrine of Ireland (read the story of Knock below).The Icon was carried out in procession. Tears of joy and sadness could be seen in many eyes: the Icon touched many hearts in Knock and people found it hard to say Good-bye... Some had brought fresh flowers which they placed gently next to the Icon to be brought with Her to the next stop on Her peregrination.
The Story of Knock began on Thursday evening of the 21st August, 1879, when Our Lady, St. Joseph and St. John the Evangelist appeared at the south gable of the church at Knock, County Mayo, Ireland.
Beside them and a little to their left 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 and prayed for two hours in the pouring rain. Our Lady did not say anything during the apparition, did not give any message to those gathered there, but her silence was indeed a most powerful message: She was there to encourage and give hope, especially to the poor...
Two Commissions of Enquiry, in 1879 and 1936, accepted their testimony as trustworthy and satisfactory.
Today, Knock ranks among the world’s major Marian Shrines. Knock is a much loved place of pilgrimage and prayer. Ever since the apparition in 1879, believers from home and abroad have made the pilgrimage there in increasing numbers. The most renowned of all pilgrims to the Shrine of Our Lady of Knock was his Holiness, Pope John Paul II, who came for the centenary of the shrine in 1979, thus reaching ‘the goal of his journey to Ireland’ where he was able to ‘make yet another pilgrimage to the Shrine of the Mother of Christ, the Mother of the Church, the Queen of Peace.’ (Homily at Mass in Knock, 30 September 1979).
The great gift of Knock consists in a particular way in prayer and the celebration of the sacraments, in penance and the conversion of life. ‘All those who have come to Knock have received blessings through the intercession of Mary…The sick and suffering, people handicapped in body and in mind, troubled in their faith or their conscience, all have been healed, comforted and confirmed in their faith because they trusted that the Mother of God would lead them to her Son Jesus’ (Pope John Paul II). It is this trust in the Mother of God, this turning to her divine Son borne out in the practical care of the sick, and in the celebration of the sacraments of reconciliation, anointing and Eucharist that lie at the core of the Knock pilgrimage.
For over one hundred and thirty years now the pilgrims to Knock have been pilgrims in Faith. They ‘walk by faith and not by sight’ to quote the words of St Paul (II Cor 5:7). This is their great blessing, the blessing in fact that Jesus mentions to the doubting Thomas: they have not seen and still they believe (Jn 20:29).
Knock is also the home of Human Life International Ireland and of their Guadalupe Centre (see http://www.humanlife.ie/).