Dear Editor: I visited Knock some years ago with my wife and grown son, as part of a “Ring of Ireland” tour that also took us to Killybegs, my father-in-law’s birthplace in Donegal. This was after St. John Paul II had visited the shrine, and before Pope Francis made the same trip.
The shrine was very impressive; there is a very tall cross outside the Knock Basilica — I believe that it was erected to commemorate St. John Paul’s visit, but of course the highlight of our visit was the Apparition Chapel itself, where Our Lady actually appeared in 1879, along with St. Joseph and St. John, as well as the Lamb of God on an altar.
Today, the vision is represented with pure white, life-sized statues placed against the gable wall where Mary and her companions stood.
When we got to Knock, I was suffering from a cold and a headache which I had picked up from a chilly rain on the way south from Killybegs, but after meeting a very sweet nun at the shrine who related the whole story of the events of August 21, 1879, and praying in the Apparition Chapel, the cold and ache disappeared. I don’t claim a miracle, but I also hadn’t taken any medicine nor aspirin, so thank you, Blessed Mother anyway. Being Irish myself, I’ve always loved the “Lady of Knock” hymn, and actually visiting the shrine itself was the highlight of that trip, and something that I’ll always remember.