One day long ago, St. Patrick stood on Cruach Padraig (Mountain of St. Patrick today) and prophesied that the little hill (Cnoc Mhuire Hill of Mary) he could see in the distance would one day be a holy site drawing multitudes. This prophecy has been fulfilled for the ‘Hill of Mary’ (Knock) can be seen from Cruach Padraig (Mountain of St. Patrick)
I believe that the Apparition of Our Lady of Knock is integrally connected to the Book of Revelation … and conveys a message for the future Church and the future Mass of the Novus Ordo, which in 1879, could hardly be foreseen by people. St. John the Apostle received the visions of the Apocalypse on the Island of Patmos some 30 years after Christ was crucified.
This conviction about the Mass impressed me after reading ‘The Book of Destiny’ by Rev. Bernard H. Kramer, written in 1950 and a reading of the Knock apparition. The two events seemed to have many similar threads. The Story Unfolds
Knock, in 1879, was a remote tiny hamlet in what is now known as County Mayo, Ireland. On a lonely plain, it was a place of forgotten fields and forlorn farmhouses. The times were hard. Cruel landlords from another country had caused poverty, famine, and disease. Around the time of the apparitions eighteen eviction notices were enacted and the families were destitute. Few Irish counties had suffered as hard as had County Mayo.
The tiny Church was built by the people and they had put their “best” into God’s home. It seated thirty, had a ‘flagged floor’, and a few windows to let the light in. It was dedicated to John the Baptist.
An inscription on the west wall read ‘My house shall be called the house of prayer to all nations. This is the gate of the Lord: the just shall enter into it.”
Archdeacon Father Cavanaugh, the Pastor had just finished saying a one hundred day Novena of Masses for the Souls in Purgatory. He was known to be a saintly man, deeply devoted to Our Lady’s Immaculate Conception. He often referred to Mary as “the ever Immaculate Mother of God..”
The inhabitants of Knock that day were busy bringing home turf from the bog and stacking it for winter fuel when the clouds began to roll in from the Atlantic. The peak of ‘Patrick’s Mountain’ could no longer be seen, and, a fine mist had settled in. It soon turned to a driving rain.
Mary McLoughlin, housekeeper to Father Cavanaugh, had just set a turf fire to blazing in the living room of the rectory for the Pastor, who was drenched and shivering from the rain outside. She then left to visit a sick friend.
As she passed the Church she noticed “strange figures” outside the Church. The fact that there was an altar too, made her think the Archdeacon had purchased “more statues” and if so, “why did he leave them out in the rain?”
Mrs. McCarty, passing by the Church an hour before, had seen the statues and thought: ‘Another collection! God help us!’ She too went on her way.
Margaret Beirne, sixteen, daughter of the woman whom Mary McLoughlin was to visit, went to the Church to lock it for her brother, Dominick, the Sacristan. She noticed “something luminous” at the south gable but “it never entered my mind to see what it was.
She hurried home and never mentioned “the light at the Church”
There was a total of fourteen witnesses who gave witness to the Diocesan Commission used by the Church in approving this night. Their testimony now rests in the Knock Museum.
A group had gathered at the home of a sick neighbor, Mrs. Campbell, and decided to go back to the Church when they compared notes.
What did they see?
As they got nearer they noticed an extraordinarily brilliant light surrounding the gable wall of the Church and the figures standing there. “They are not statues. They are moving” said Mary Beirne.
Both of the girls stood motionless … looking … “at such a sight as you never saw in your life”
Between the wall enclosing the meadow, three persons were seemingly standing on top of the tall grass, about a foot or two from the snow-white gable wall. They could not be statues, as their feet did not press down the meadow grass which supported them. The south wind that rustled the rain-laden leaves and swished through the meadow did not, Mary McLoughlin noted, wet the gable or the ground beneath it.
The girls at once identified the central figure as Our Lady, that on her right as St. Joseph. The third figure so greatly resembled a statue of St. John the Evangelist which Mary and others had seen in Lecanvey Church – except that he now wore a miter. It was shorter than that of a Bishop. The statue had been bare headed. She at once recognized him.
Mary rushed home and told her Mother, Brother Dominick, and little Catherine to hurry to the Church. Dominick told her not to make a “fool of herself.”
Soon there was a crowd of eighteen. Some others stopped on their journey along the Knock Road.
Exactly what they saw!
“They saw the south gable of Knock Church suffused and covered with a brilliant golden light, a light that sparkled, making the night as bright as noonday, a changing light that sometimes mounted, lighting the sky above and beyond the gable. Sometimes it subsided and got whiter and more brilliant, so that the gable seemed like a wall of snow.
Within this luminous area – made all the brighter because of the rainy leaden skies and the night shadows closing in – everyone who came saw the apparition.
They stood there, praying, taking in the details which in the first moment of amazed delight, had escaped them.
To the rear of the three figures they saw an altar with a large cross in front of which a young lamb stood … “face to the west” I believe this is the “little lamb” of the Book of Revelation, upon the altar of Sacrifice before a Cross. The same Little Lamb who was found “worthy to open the seals on the Scroll” Why?
Because He represents the Eucharistic Christ who will be our endurance, our only endurance, during the sad times about to come. He is “as it were” a Lamb who had been and is being, sacrificed. He is “facing west” Read on about this …..
The three figures were clothed in dazzling white rainment that shone like silver. Our Lady’s robe, strikingly white, was covered by a large white cloak that fastened at the throat and fell in ample folds to her ankles.
She held her hands extended, apart and upward, in a position that ” none of the witnesses could have seen in a statue or a picture. ”
” In the same position as a Priest holds his hands when praying at Holy Mass” (Testimony)
This part of the vision, when added to that of the Altar, the Cross, and the Little Lamb, the Sacrifice, draws our attention to Mass.
If one then adds the fact that the Lamb is”facing west”, in the vision, which appears to be a Mass, one can easily conclude that Our Lady is drawing our attention to the Mass of today in which the positions are reversed and the Priest is facing west, looking at the people, the Lamb (Eucharist) before him on a table, rather than an altar. The Protestant Reformers of the Novus Ordo Mass preferred to have us think of the Mass as a simple meal rather than as a sacrificial participation in the glories of heaven.
Liturgical East was also the direction of the rising sun, and, brought to ones thoughts an anticipation of the glory of Christ’s return to earth. Facing this way, the Priest would appear to be leading the people.
Cardinal Sarah had recently set forth a valid suggestion that the Priest resume the traditional stance – that of facing East during the consecration of the Eucharist (Little Lamb). Pope Francis rejected this.
“Her gaze was fixed on the heavens. Is she giving an example to Priests?
She did not look at any time toward the group gathered near the gable; nor at thirteen year old Patrick, nor, the child John Curry, nor at Judith Campbell. She appeared to be praying.
Three of those present noticed her bare feet. An old Gaelic speaking woman, Bridget Trench, who had been on her knees exclaiming over and over: “a hundred thousand thanks to God and to the glorious Virgin for showing us this sigh! ” She was so entranced. She went toward the gable to embrace the Virgin’s feet. Her arms closed on empty air.
“I felt nothing in the embrace but the wall, yet the figures appeared so full and so lifelike that I could not understand it and wondered why my hands could not feel what was so plain and distinct to my sight” Like Mary McLoughlin, Bridget remarked how heavily the rain was then falling. “I felt the ground carefully with my hands and it was perfectly dry.
The young Sacristan, Dominick, was filled with wonder, and, so overcome that he shed tears.
St. Joseph stood on Our Lady’s right, his head bowed toward her as though bowed in respect and devotion. He had more color in his face than the other figures. His hair and beard were grey.
St. John, who was lightly to the right of the gable was standing at an angle to Our Lady and at the Gospel side of the altar. He was dressed as a Bishop, but wore a short miter, rather than the usual high Bishop’s miter. He held a large open book in his left hand while he kept the index and fore fingers of his right hand extended as though teaching. Patrick Hill went so close that he saw lines and letters in the book. He thought the Evangelist appeared to be preaching but he heard no voice.
At this time it was teeming rain and some left. After eleven o’clock everyone had gone home, thinking that the brilliant scene would still be there the next day.
Domenick and Mary Beirne returned to the Church at about a quarter past eleven. There was nothing to be seen. Only the driving rain lashing the ground and the gable that had been so dry before.
After Mass next morning, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, Father Cavanaugh heard about the wonder. Mary McLoughlin had rushed back to tell him of it, but for reasons known only to him, and the fact that he was worn out and freezing from returning home soaking wet and freezing the evening before upon walking home in the rain. “We were lost (chagrined) that you were not there to see what we saw, your Reverence.” was what he heard on all sides.
“As he said the Office of the Octave of the Assumption, not then superseded by the Office for the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, he must have been on the one hand torn by distractions, on the other strangely exultant, the Antiphons, Psalms, Hymns, and Lessons taking on a fresher and more vivid meaning for the man who recited them as he walked up the road between cottage and gable wall.
I believe the vision of St. John the Evangelist in the Knock Apparition to be that of the St. John of the Book of Revelations, the book he was holding in his left hand the Bible … open to the Book of Revelations or The Apocalypse. His right hand was held out in an attitude of preaching. We could easily understand it as a prelude to the bad times we now experience in the Church, or, as an ushering in of the Apocalypse for our times.
He wore a Bishop’s miter, but, it was shorter. He was not a Bishop. He was a Priest, having been ordained by Christ himself at the Last Supper.
It was about forty some odd years since the Crucifixion when St. John received the Apocalypse on the Isle of Patmos , to where he had been banished , during the time of Roman persecution.
From: Official Testimonies of the Fifteen Witnesses to the Knock Apparition on 21 August 1879 A Woman Clothed With the Sun John J. Delaney, Editor Our Lady of Silence Mary Purcell