On August 21, 1879 at approximately 8pm fifteen people witnessed a miraculous vision at the south gable of Knock Parish Church in Ireland. The vision was that of the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Joseph, and St. John the Evangelist, as well as an altar with a lamb and cross.
The witnesses’ account of the vision was quite detailed. The Blessed Virgin Mary wore a beautiful crown with crosses that sparkled and glittered. She wore a billowing white cloak, her hands held to her shoulders with palms facing each other with her eyes looking toward heaven “deep in prayer”. St. Joseph, also wearing a white robe, stood on the Blessed Virgin Mary’s right, facing her with his head bend forward in respect. St. John the Evangelist stood to her left in a long robe and wore a mitre. Witnesses say he appeared to be preaching and he held open a large book in his left hand. An altar with a lamb and cross standing on it stood to St. John’s left. Angels also flanked the altar.
The witnesses prayed the rosary for two hours in the pouring rain while observing the apparition. They reported that at first, when the vision appeared, the light of the day had been good, but even as the sky darkened with the incoming storm, the vision remained clear. The apparition did not move or flicker and although the ground was wet, the witnesses claim that the ground beneath the vision remained dry. One witness, Bridget Trench “went in immediately to kiss, as I thought, the feed of the Blessed Virgin; but I felt nothing in the embrace but the wall, and I wondered why I could not feel with my hands the figures which I had so plainly and so distinctly seen.”
The Archbishop of Tuam, Most Rev. Dr. John McHale established an ecclesiastical Commission of inquiry to determine the authenticity of the witnesses’ claims. The final verdict was that the testimony of all witnesses was deemed “trustworthy and satisfactory”. A second inquest was done with the surviving witnesses in 1936 who confirmed the evidence they testified to in the first inquiry. Based on both inquiries, the Catholic Church deemed this event authentic. A shrine dedicated to the vision was established and in 1979 Pope John Paul II visited the site and presented a Golden Rose which is a rarely bestowed symbol of papal honor and recognition. Mother Theresa of Calcutta visited the Shrine in 1993.
The National Marian Shrine, dedicated to the vision, was built on the site is now a popular pilgrimage destination for Catholics around the world. Pope John Paul II visited the site in 1979 and presented a Golden Rose which is a rarely bestowed symbol of papal honor and recognition. Mother Theresa of Calcutta visited the Shrine in 1993. Based on the official site of the shrine, the site receives one and a half million pilgrims annually.
For more information visit the Ireland’s National Marian Shrine Website.
A Catholic and Psychic’s Perspective: I believe in miracles. I believe even more in the appearance of our Blessed Virgin Mary, and other saints, to people on the earth plane to not only give us hope, but to prove the existence of the divine. While I have a strong faith, I also have a strong sense of discernment. That said, when I began reading about this vision, there were some blatant contradictions in the witnesses’ testimony that I couldn’t ignore.
· The Apparition didn’t move or flicker – The Blessed Virgin Mary bestows messages on those she appears to, such as the three children of Fatima. The description of the vision appears more to be a picture than an actual apparition.
· The Blessed Virgin Mary’s Eyes looking to Heaven – I have seen numerous pictures of the Blessed Virgin Mary portrayed in the same pose and with her eyes looking toward heaven.
· The ground was dry under the figures although it was raining – This statement by witnesses leads one to believe that the figures were solid, however, one witness who tried to kiss the feet of the Blessed Virgin Mary admitted she fell right through. Why would a woman be able to go through an apparition and not rain? Was the ground really dry or did the woman simply fall?
I am not saying that the vision was fake, but I am saying that some facts are questionable. Still we may never know the truth because of the passing of the witnesses and the passage of time. Yet, anything that restores faith and hope to people is always a blessing.
Kerri. L. Schultz