Pope Francis elevates the Marian Shrine at Knock to international status
Pope Francis has officially elevated Knock as an International Sanctuary of Special Eucharistic and Marian Devotion.
Last week the Derry-born Primate of All-Ireland Archbishop Eamon Martin indicated that the Pope would officially recognise the sanctuary of Our Lady of Knock from March 19, 2021, the feast of Saint Joseph.
Archbishop Martin recalled his own memories of Knock as a pilgrim in his teens as well as Pope Francis' visit own pilgrimage to the shrine in 2018.
Today Pope Francis said: "Ever since the apparition of August 21, 1879, when the Blessed Virgin Mary, together with Saint Joseph and Saint John the Apostle, appeared to some villagers, the Irish people, wherever they have found themselves, have expressed their faith and devotion to Our Lady of Knock.
"You have been a missionary people. We cannot forget how many priests left their homeland in order to become missionaries of the Gospel. Nor can we forget the many lay people who emigrated to far-away lands but still kept their devotion to Our Lady.
"How many families in the course of almost a century and a half have handed on the faith to their children and gathered their daily labours around the prayer of the Rosary, with the image of Our Lady of Knock at its centre."
According to Catholic tradition in Ireland Our Lady, Saint Joseph and Saint John the Evangelist appeared at the south gable of Knock Parish Church in 1879.
The Archbishop of Tuam Michael Neary said: "It is with exuberant joy that I join with His Excellency the Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Okolo, with Father Richard Gibbons the Parish Priest of Knock and Rector of the International Shrine, and with all those who are devoted to the Eucharist and have a great love for Our Lady, the priests who minister at the Shrine, Stewards and Handmaids – now Cáirde Mhuire, and the Volunteers At Knock Shrine to express our profound gratitude to our Holy Father Pope Francis for acceding to the request that the Apparition of 1879 be confirmed and, as a result, that Knock be formally designated by the Church as an ‘International Eucharistic and Marian Shrine’.
"This is a momentous event, and it is most fitting that it would be announced and celebrated on the Feast of Saint Joseph in the Year of Saint Joseph, because alongside Our Lady, Saint John the Evangelist and the Lamb of God, Saint Joseph also appeared here on that August evening in 1879."
Pope Francis said: "My dear brothers and sisters present at Knock, and all of you who may be watching from afar, the elevation of the National Sanctuary of Our Lady of Knock to an International Sanctuary of Special Eucharistic and Marian Devotion is a great responsibility.
"You accept to always have your arms wide open as a sign of welcome to every pilgrim who may arrive from any part of the world, asking nothing in return but only recognizing him as a brother or a sister who desires to share the same experience of fraternal prayer."