By Tim Harfmann
As the song goes, ‘There were people of all ages, gathered around a gable wall,’ and pilgrims from the Brooklyn diocese gathered with hundreds of other Catholics on the anniversary of the apparitions here at the Knock Shrine just days before Pope Francis arrives in Ireland.
It’s believed that a miracle took place on these grounds when the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared in 1879. Catholics commemorated the anniversary with a procession and Mass.
“I was truly, truly impressed with the spirituality and the presence and respect,” said Brooklyn pilgrim Mary Macchiaroli. “It was just a very moving experience.”
More than a century ago, the Blessed Mother appeared with St. Joseph and St. John the Evangelist at the shrine’s gable wall. Fifteen people gathered and prayed the rosary in the rain, but not a single drop hit the visions.
Worshippers continue to gather today to venerate the gable wall and pray through the intercession of the Blessed Mother under the title of Our Lady of Knock.
Macchiaroli’s husband, Henry, said the Blessed Mother plays a special part in his life.
“She’s the mother to the world, and people see her as their mother in different titles,” said Henry. “She’s just very spiritual to us.”
The Knock Shrine is one of many stops Pope Francis will make when he visits Ireland. The purpose of his journey is to attend the World Meeting of Families. The event is the largest gathering of Catholic families and will focus on the theme of the common home.
Pope Francis is scheduled to spend an hour at the Shine Sunday morning – first to pray silently in the chapel then to lead worshippers in prayer.
This will be the second time a pope visits the shrine. St. John Paul II celebrated Mass for more than 400,000 worshippers in 1979.
Regardless if a pope visits the site or not, Our Lady of Knock Shrine remains a popular place for pilgrims devoted to the Blessed Mother.
“We go to her to ask for guidance just like we do with our moms. So, she’s the ultimate mother,” said Macchiaroli.