The 37th Annual National Pilgrimage to Knock Shrine took place on Saturday 27th May 2017. An estimated 1500 supporters, including many SMA priests and OLA sisters, travelled from the four corners of Ireland.
The day was in stark contrast to the glorious weather we enjoyed in 2016 when blue skies and sunshine allowed us to hold the Stations of the Cross and the Rosary outside. This year, however, incessant rain dictated that we hold all our religious and devotional services inside Knock Basilica.
There was a time when the interior of Knock Basilica looked like a gigantic war bunker and felt permanently cold and lacking both character and ambiance. That, however, has begun to change in the most positive way. The mosaic, depicting the 1979 apparition, illustrated by P.J. Lynch, Dublin, and crafted by Travisanutto Mosaics, Spilimbergo, Italy, gives the Basilica what it never had before, a focal point that evokes awe and reverence.
The mosaic is made up of 1,500,000 + individual pieces, and has a three dimensional feel through the use of a subtle vibrancy of colour, depicting the Knock visionaries below heavy skies above the gable wall of the nearby chapel. The strong colours work to soften the centrepiece of the mosaic, the vision of Our Lady of Knock, flanked by her spouse, St. Joseph, and her adopted son, St. John the Evangelist, as well as the Lamb of God being venerated by a heavenly host of angels.
The mosaic is a prayerful masterpiece which captures the awe of the 19 visionaries whose simple testimonies never wavered throughout their entire lives. It was those testimonies, related by young and old, and tested over several decades, that convinced the relevant Church authorities that Our Lady, did appear in Knock, Ireland, on 21 August 1879. In the near 140 years since the apparition, there has been nothing to raise serious doubt. Why? Because it is impossible to get a whole community, generation after generation, to agree on a collective lie. The truth will always out. And, in this case, the simple truth is that the vision which the Knock mosaic depicts, actually happened.
This year’s theme, very appropriately, was centred around Climate Justice, with each participant asked to say ‘YES’ to changing the world, in imitation of Mary’s ‘Yes’ at the Annunciation. Three simple questions were posed:
Our Common Home needs your care. Will you protect and nurture it? YES!
Our Common Family cries out for help. Will you protect and strengthen it? YES!
Our Common Mission calls us to act. Will you join us? YES!
One very moving moment for those privileged to observe it occurred the evening before in a nearby hotel. A pilgrim had arrived with his wife who is wheelchair bound because of multiple sclerosis. As the pilgrim pushed his wife out into the foyer of the hotel for some refreshments, he was surprised to meet a number of SMA fathers, along with co-helpers. The pilgrim was Brendan Cullen and we discovered he had particular devotion to the Servant of God, Melchior de Marion Brésillac. An article about Brendan is in preparation and will be published shortly.
The homily by Fr Dan Cashman was well received and can be accessed by clicking here.
Please be assured you and all your loved ones were remembered very especially during our Annual Pilgrimage.