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SHRINE TO OUR LADY OF KNOCK
"IRELAND'S ONLY QUEEN"
COUNTY MAYO, IRELAND

APPARITION CHAPEL AND CHURCH
BASILICA OF OUR LADY
BASILICA AND GARDENS
MUSEUM - KNOCK SHRINE
NIGHT VIGIL/PROCESSION








THE APPARITION STORY AS TOLD BY THE WITNESSES


On the wet Thursday evening of the 21st August, 1879, at about the hour of 8 o'clock, Our Lady, St. Joseph, and St. John the Evangelist appeared in a blaze of Heavenly light at the south gable of the Church of St. John the Baptist. Behind them and a little to the left of St. John was a plain altar. On the altar was a cross and a lamb with adoring angels. The Apparition was seen by fifteen people one of whom was a thousand metres from the church at the time. The ages of the witnesses ranged from six years to seventy-five and included men, women, teenagers and children. The poor humble witnesses distinctly beheld the Blessed Virgin Mary clothed in white robes with a brilliant crown on her head. Over the forehead where the crown fitted the brow, she wore a beautiful full-bloom golden rose. She was in an attitude of prayer with her eyes and hands raised towards Heaven. St. Joseph stood on Our Lady's right. He was turned towards her in an attitude of respect. His robes were also white. St. John was on Our Lady's left. He was dressed in white vestments and resembled a bishop, with a small mitre. He appeared to be preaching and he held an open book in his left hand.

The witnesses watched the Apparition in pouring rain for fully two hours, reciting the Rosary. Although the witnesses standing before the gable were drenched, no rain fell in the direction of the gable. They felt the ground carefully with their hands and it was perfectly dry as was the gable itself.

A Commission was set up within six weeks of the Apparition by Most Rev. Dr. John MacHale, Archbishop. Fifteen witnesses were examined and the Commission reported that their evidence was "trustworthy and satisfactory". The Report was published in the newspapers and immediately pilgrims began to flock from all parts of the country and overseas. The sick and disabled were taken along in great numbers and hundreds of cures were reported in the public Press of that time. One of the first organised pilgrimages to Knock Shrine came from Limerick and they were received and welcomed at Tuam by Most Rev. John MacHale. A second Commission was established in 1936 while three of the official witnesses were still alive. They confirmed the evidence they had given in 1879. One of the witnesses was Mrs. O'Connell (nee Mary Byrne). She confirmed her evidence, on her death-bed, under oath and added "I am perfectly clear about everything I have said and I make this statement knowing I am about to go before my God". She died six weeks later. The verdict of this Commission was that the evidence of the witnesses was "upright and trustworthy".


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View of the Gable of Church at Knock
where Our Blessed Mother, St. John the Evangelist and St. Joseph
appeared on August 21, 1879 in Knock, County Mayo Ireland

Ever wonder why August 21st, 1879 is such an important date in Irish history?
Click here for the answer!



OUR LADY OF KNOCK, Queen of Ireland

- Brighter than worlds of sunburst beaming-
- Fairer than myriad fair stars gleaming-
- Whiter than floods of moon waves gleaming-
- Lovlier far than the loviest seeming-
Vision of love, of a pure heart's dreaming-
The blight of the night of lost life redeeming-
Our Lady of Knock!

Thy beauty the heavens and earth transcending-
Purer than crystalline dews descending-
On the lips of the virgin rose low bending-
Softer than rays of the rainbow blending-
Tint into tint, in the heavens depending-
Sweeter than incense clouds ascending-
When the organ its silvery peal is lending-
To the aid of the supplicant voice attending-
Our Lady of Knock!

In the least of thy charms more wonders combining-
Than the mightiest mind in its art designing-
Fairer than milk white lilies entwining-
Their petals of gold round their heart's snow lining-
Cherubim, Seraphim, all outshining-
Far above mortals, or angels divining-
Our Lady of Knock

"Queen of all queens", bespeaks they brow-
Virgin of Virgins, we fervently vow-
To thy service each day that our lives allow-
Life of our life! to thee we bow-
Hope of our joy! we hail thee now;
Love of our heart's deep love art thou-
Our Lady of Knock

Consoler of Erin! art thou not so?
Come in the night and the might of our woe-
In the storms that blast, and the winds that blow,
O'er our poor motherland drooping low,
Forsaken of friend, derided by foe-
Thy mercy show, and relief bestow-
On the hearts that break, and the eyes that flow,
With tears - still the fears that their sad souls know-
Our Lady of Knock!





"OUR LADY QUEEN OF PEACE"
HOUSE OF PRAYER - ACHILL, CO. MAYO IRELAND
(click on picture for information)



The membership of the Ancient Order of Hibernians and Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians of Berks County, Pennsylvania extend greetings to our friends and visitors. May the risen Lord be with you always!*****Se do bheata Mhuire, ata lan de ghrasta; ta an tiarna leat, is beannaithe thu, idir mna agus is beannaithe toradh do bhroinne, Iosa. A naomh mhuire, a mhathair De, guigh orainn na peacaigh, anois agus ar uair ar mbais, Amen!*****(the Hail Mary in Irish)*****May "Our Lady of Knock, Ireland's only Queen" continue to bestow blessings on our homeland.***** Go riabh maith agat!


SAINT BRIGID



Brigid of Kildare V (RM)(also known as Bride, Bridget, Brigit, Ffraid) Born at Faughart? (near Dundalk) or Uinmeras (near Kildare), Louth, Ireland, c. 450; died at Kildare, Ireland, c. 525; feast of her translation is June 10. "We implore Thee, by the memory of Thy Cross's hallowed and most bitter anguish, make us fear Thee, make us love Thee, O Christ. Amen." --Prayer of Saint Brigid.

Saint Brigid was an original--and that's what each of us are supposed to be, an original creation of the Almighty Imagination. Unfortunately, most of us get caught up in the desire to be accepted by others. We conform to the norm, rather than opening up to the creative power of God and blooming to render Him the sweet fragrance of our unique lives. We miss the glory of giving God the gift of who we were intended to be.

Brigid lacked that fault. She got things done. She had a welcome for everyone in an effort to help them be originals, too. She was so generous that she gave away the clothes from her back. She never shied away from hard work or intense prayer. She would brush aside the rules--even the rules of the Church--if it was necessary to bring out the best in others. Perhaps for this reason, the saint who never left Ireland, is venerated throughout the world as the prototype of all nuns. She bridged the gap between Christian and pagan cultures.

Brigid saw the beauty and goodness of God in all His creation: cows made her love God more, and so did wild ducks, which would come and light on her shoulders and hands when she called to them. She enjoyed great popularity both among her own followers and the villagers around; and she had great authority, for she was given the responsibilities of a bishop. Her chief virtue lay in her gentleness, in her compassion, and in her happy and devoted nature which won the affection of all who knew her. She was a great evangelist and joined hands gladly and gaily with all the saints of that age in spreading the Gospel. So great was her cultus throughout Europe that the Medieval knights, seeking a womanly model of perfection, chose Brigid as the example. This theory maintains that such was the image of Brigid as the feminine ideal that the word "bride" passed into the English language. (This is unlikely, however. The word probably derives from the Old German "bryd," meaning bride.)

Historical facts about Saint Brigid's life are few because the numerous accounts about it after her death (beginning in the 7th century) consist mainly of miracles and anecdotes, some of which are deeply rooted in pagan Irish folklore. Nevertheless, they give us a strong impression of her character. She was probably born in the middle of the 5th century in eastern Ireland. Some say her parents were of humble origin; others that they were Dubhthach, an Irish chieftain of Leinster, and Brocca, a slave at his court. All stories relate that they were both baptized by Saint Patrick. Some say that Brigid became friends with Patrick, though it is uncertain that she ever met him. Beautiful Brigid consecrated herself to God at a young age, but reports that she was 'veiled' by Saint Macaille at Croghan and consecrated by Saint Mel at Armagh are unlikely.

The Book of Lismore bears this story: Brigid and certain virgins along with her went to take the veil from Bishop Mel in Telcha Mide. Blithe was he to see them. For humility Brigid stayed so that she might be the last to whom a veil should be given. A fiery pillar rose from her head to the roof ridge of the church. Then said Bishop Mel: "Come, O holy Brigid, that a veil may be sained on thy head before the other virgins." It came to pass then, through the grace of the Holy Spirit, that the form of ordaining a bishop was read out over Brigid. Macaille said that a bishop's order should not be confirmed on a woman. Said Bishop Mel: "No power have I in this matter. That dignity hath been given by God unto Brigid, beyond every (other) woman." Wherefore the men of Ireland from that time to this give episcopal honor to Brigid's successor.

Most likely this story relates to the fact that Roman diocesan system was unknown in Ireland. Monasteries formed the center of Christian life in the early Church of Ireland. Therefore, abbots and abbesses held the rank and function that a bishop would on the Continent.


Once she fell asleep during a sermon of Saint Patrick, but he laughingly forgave her. She had dreamed, she told him, of the land ploughed far and wide, and of white-clothed sowers sowing good seed. Then came others clothed in black, who ploughed up the good seed and sowed tares in its place. Patrick told her that such would happen; false teachers would come to Ireland and uproot all their good work. This saddened Brigid, but she redoubled her efforts, teaching people to pray and to worship God, and telling them that the light on the altar was a symbol of the shining of the Gospel in the heart of Ireland, and must never be extinguished, and in her church at Kildare, a flame still burns to her memory.

Brigid was called 'Mary of the Gael' because her spirit of charity, and the miracles attributed to her were usually enacted in response to a call upon her pity or sense of justice. During an important synod of the Irish church, one of the holy fathers, Bishop Ibor, announced that he had dreamed that the Blessed Virgin Mary would appear among the assembled Christians. When Brigid arrived the father cried, "There is the holy maiden I saw in my dream." Thus, the reason for her moniker. (This bishop, too, is said to have consecrated her a bishop.) Her prayers and miracles were said to exercise a powerful influence on the growth of the early Irish Church, and she is much beloved in Ireland to this day.

The relics of Saint Brigid are presumably buried at Downpatrick with those of Saints Columba and Patrick. A tunic reputed to have been hers, given by Gunhilda, sister of King Harold II, survives at Saint Donatian's in Bruges, Belgium; a relic of her shoe, made of silver and brass set with jewels, is at the National Museum of Dublin. In 1283, three knights took the head of Brigid with them on a journey to the Holy Land. They died in Lumier (near Lisbon), Portugal, where the church now enshrines her head in a special chapel. In England, there are 19 ancient church dedications to her. The most important of which is the oldest church in London--St. Bride's in Fleet Street--and the parish in which Saint Thomas à Becket was born-- Bridewell or Saint Bride's Well. In Scotland, East and West Kilbride bear her name. Saint Brigid's Church at Douglas recalls that she is the patroness of the great Douglas family. Several places in Wales are named Llansantaffraid, which means "St. Bride's Church." The Irish Bishop Saint Donato of Fiesole (Italy) built a Saint Brigid's Church in Piacenza, where the Peace of Constance was ratified in 1185.

The best-known custom connected with Brigid is the plaiting of reed crosses for her feast day. This tradition dates to the story that she was plaiting rush crosses while nursing a dying pagan chieftain. He asked her about this and her explanation led to his being baptized. Traditional Irish (Brid agus Muire dhuit, Brigid and Mary be with you) and Welsh (Sanffried suynade ni undeith, St. Brigid bless us on our journey) blessings invoke her. A blessing over cattle in the Scottish isles goes: "The protection of God and Colmkille encompass your going and coming, and about you be the milkmaid of the smooth white palms, Brigid of the clustering, golden brown hair" (Attwater, Benedictines, Bentley, Delaney, Encyclopedia, Farmer, Gill, Groome, Montague, O'Briain, Sellner, White).

She is usually portrayed in art with a cow lying at her feet, a reference to a phase in her life as a cowgirl; or holding a cross and casting out the devil (White). Her emblem is a lighted lamp or candle (not to be confused with Saint Geneviève, who is not an abbess). At times she may be shown:
(1) with a flame over her;
(2) geese or cow near her;
(3) near a barn;
(4) letting wax from a taper fall upon her arm; or
(5) restoring a man's hand (Roeder).

Brigid is the patron saint of Ireland, poets, dairymaids, blacksmiths, healers (White), cattle, fugitives, Irish nuns, midwives, and new-born babies (Roeder). She is still venerated highly in Alsace, Flanders, and Portugal (Montague), as well as Ireland and Chester, England (Farmer).



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