Published: July 12th 2010July 12th 2010
Church at Knock
This is the original church, a bit updated and renovated over time.
While I was preparing for our trip and researching places to see online, I came across a pilgrimage site located in Knock, County Mayo, Ireland. In 1879, in the village of Knock, an apparition of the Virgin Mary was witnessed by 15 persons ranging in age from 5 years old to 67. It appeared on a wall of the local church. This wall is the south gable of the building or technically the chancel; it is the termination end of the main building.
Although initially not quite as famous as Lourdes or Fatima, after Pope John Paul II went there in 1979 as well as Mother Teresa in 1993, awareness of it as an apparition site grew. Today it draws one million and a half annual visitors. There is even an international airport located there. When I came across it during my online research I merely noted it in the category of “Things that make you say hmmmmm...” I didn't file it in mind as a place I thought of visiting.
A few days later while I was at work I had to go to another classroom to go get a student for a tutoring session. As I walked in I
View of the added chapel
that covers the wall of the chancel.
noticed that a colleague (and friend) was on the phone and looking very distressed. I knew that her mother had been having health issues and I assumed that it was bad news about her. I asked her if everything was ok and she said she would tell me later.
During lunch I mentioned to Beth my observation. We both knew of her mother's health problems and assumed the same. Later when I had a moment to speak with her she told me that she had been talking with her doctor and that she had had a biopsy. The report confirmed that she had breast cancer. It is one of those moments when it feels as though the oxygen has been sucked out of the room. What words does one offer in such an awful moment?
She is a mother of four and is genuinely one of the nicest and sincerest people I know. She is also one of the bravest persons I know. In spite of the bad news she continued to work right up to the end of school. She carried on as usual and no one would have known that she was carrying such a burden around
of the chapel.
as she waited for medical decisions and actions.
Beth and I had discussed the itinerary for the trip and I noted that Knock was in the vicinity of Galway, a place we wanted to visit. I proposed to Beth that we should visit Knock on behalf of Cathleen. Although Cathleen is not Catholic, I explained to her the regard Catholics have for shrines such as these and the belief in a prayer for intercession. I asked her to write a petition and that I would carry it to the shrine. She wrote it and gave it to me shortly before the school year was over.
On the last day of school, she went in for surgery and it was discovered that it was worse than originally thought. She is undergoing chemo presently. She and her mother are also world travelers and have been to a number of places. Just this past spring she and her mother went on a two week tour of Turkey. She is colleague and a kindred traveling spirit. We pray for her recovery and having previously invited her and her mother to travel with us, we anticipate that she will be ready for a vacation down
Fragment of Original Wall
Early visitors took mortar and rock endangering original wall.
the road. I hope that she can vicariously enjoy our trip to Ireland. This post is for her. Even though you don't know her, send a positive vibe her way.
There are more photos below