Knock shrine in spotlight

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The Co. Mayo town of Knock, a popular place of pilgrimage for people right across the North West, is the focus of an intriguing new book.

Celebrated on an international scale as a place of pilgrimage, one and a half million people visit the Marian shrine each year.

In his new book, ‘Knock…and still they come’, author Colm Kilcoyne offers valuable insights into the daily running of Knock and what makes it so special to individual pilgrims and the wider Irish church.

A unique collection of essays, this book offers multiple perspectives from a variety of sources, including an interview with the late PP and Rector of Knock Shrine, Fr. Joe Quinn, and includes the visits of Mother Teresa and Pope John Paul II.

Fr Kilcoyne also reflects on the life of Monsignor James Horan who acquired millions of pounds of state aid from Taoiseach Charles Haughey in order to build Knock Airport. In building the airport, Mons. Horan made Knock more accessible to pilgrims on a global level.

Although many well known people are featured in the book, the predominant voice is that of the people who form the very core of Knock - the clergy, stewards, handmaids and individual pilgrims. It is very much a collection of contributions by the people, for the people.

Set on an 100-acre site, Knock offers much more than one would first imagine. Services at the shrine include: daily public devotions and Masses with Anointing of the Sick, Sacrament of Reconciliation and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, professional Counseling Services, Youth Ministry and Prayer Guidance to name only a few.

Colm Kilcoyne gives us a glimpse at the inner workings of Knock through the personal experiences of both staff and pilgrims.

It was on August, 21, 1879, that Our Lady, St. Joseph and St. John the Evangelist were said to have appeared at the south gable of the church at Knock.

The story goes that, 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.

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…and still they come’, by Colm Kilcoyne, is published by The Columba Press, priced €9.99/£8.50.