ON CALL Pope Francis delivers his message in the Apparition last Friday evening. Pic: Sinead Mallee
POPE Francis, in a homily delivered in Italian from the Vatican in Rome, elevated Knock Shrine to international status during a special ceremony at the Apparition Chapel in Knock on Friday evening, the feast day of St Joseph. The shrine will now to be known as an International Sanctuary of Special Eucharistic and Marian Devotion.
The Pope, who visited Knock Shrine in 2018, referred to the missionary nature of the Irish over so many years.
“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. As you know, in her apparition at Knock, the Virgin says nothing. Yet her silence is a language; indeed, it is the most expressive language we have. The message which comes from Knock is that of the great value of silence for our faith.
“It is this silence in the face of mystery, which does not mean giving up on understanding, but understanding while aided and supported by the love of Jesus who offered himself for all of us as the Lamb sacrificed for the salvation of humanity.
“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 recognising him as a brother or a sister who desires to share the same experience of fraternal prayer.”
Fr Richard Gibbons, PP and Rector of Knock Shrine, delivered the address of welcome to the many thousands watching on the Knock Shrine YouTube channel and also on the Knock Shrine Facebook page as well as on Vatican TV and Radio.
He extended a special welcome to Archbishop Michael Neary who was the chief celebrant at the Mass, the Papal Nuncio to Ireland, Archbishop Jude Thaddeus Okolo, and Garrafrauns native, Fr Francis Mitchell, who is the Tuam Diocesan Secretary and who, along with the Archbishop, put a lot of work behind the submission for international status for Knock Shrine.
Archbishop Neary described the elevation as a ‘momentous event’ and said it was most fitting that it was 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’.
Fr Richard Gibbons said this was ‘an historic milestone for Ireland’s National Eucharistic and Marian Shrine’ and one which would create an international focus on Knock Shrine which in turn would lead to numerous pilgrims making their way to Knock in the times ahead.
“I wish to sincerely thank Archbishop Rino Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelisation, and Archbishop Michael Neary, without whom this would not have been possible,” said Fr Richard.
The people of Knock embraced the historic occasion with numerous Papal flags and bunting on display in the village over the last few days. There was a huge increase in the volume of calls and online contacts with the Shrine on Monday as people conveyed their good wishes to Fr Richard, manager John Conroy, and all the team at Knock Shrine in the aftermath of the events on Friday evening and the Triduum in honour of St Joseph over the weekend.