No knock, knock jokes (yet!) but an amazing tale which started with a vision of the Virgin Mary in the evening of 21st August 1879 which fifteen people from Knock in County Mayo witnessed at the gable wall of their Parish Church. They ranged in age from 5 years old to 74; each gave testimonies to a Commission of Enquiry which found that the testimonies were both trustworthy and satisfactory.
This led to the village with a population of 972 people becoming a place of pilgrimage. The Monsignor, James Horan, as parish priest in 1967, wished to give shelter to the thousands of pilgrims visiting Knock Shrine so, being a man of vision, courage and unwavering determination, he set about building a shrine – in reality a magnificent basilica seating 10,000 people. The foundation stone was blessed in 1974 by Pope John Paul VI and the building was completed in 1976. A second papal visit took place in the centenary year of the apparition. Today 1.5 million people visit annually. We were lucky enough to visit this building and the Apparition church. It is an awe-inspiring place with a great sense of peace. There are replica stone windows from churches in various parts of Ireland and, on the wall, a mosaic of the apparition, made of 1.5 million pieces of hand-cut glass and marble. It was made in Italy and transported in 315 sections. It was donated by one individual donor in memory of his wife, family and friends. Monsignor Horan’s most challenging project was the building of Knock Airport, completed in October 1985 against incredible odds and difficulties.