Mayo: a place of pilgrimage and prayer

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The Co Mayo village of Knock is home to a major international site of pilgrimage and prayer. To Catholics, Knock Shrine is as cherished as Lourdes and Fatima. Knock Shrine attracts in the region of one million pilgrims annually.

The Virgin Mary, St Joseph and St John the Evangelist are said to have appeared on the south gable of Knock Parish Church on August 21, 1879. The apparition also included a lamb standing on an altar in front of a cross.

While the original shrine still stands, a new Apparition Chapel with statues of the three figures who appeared has been built next to it.  The Basilica of Our Lady, Queen of Ireland is a separate building on the grounds of Knock Shrine which shows a tapestry of the apparition. Its construction was overseen by Monsignor James Horan, parish priest of Knock from 1967 until his death in 1986.

Monsignor Horan is also famous for his successful campaign to bring an airport to Knock. Although the idea of building on airport ‘high on a foggy and boggy hill’ in the wilds of Co Mayo was ridiculed by many, Monsignor Horan battled hard for his dream, and lived to see Ireland West Airport Knock completed in 1985.

Pope John Paul II came to Knock Shrine to commemorate the centenary of the apparition 1979 while Mother Teresa of Calcutta, another much-loved Catholic figurehead, visited in June 1993.

Knock Shrine is open all year round. The main pilgrimage season extends from the last Sunday in April until the second Sunday in October. A nine-day Novena in honor of Our Lady takes place in August every year.

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