The Vision at Knock: symbol of the Holy Eucharist and the Rosary

Knock shrine

It was a grey and rainy evening on 21st August 1879, when Mrs Mary McLoughlin, 45, housekeeper to Archdeacon Kavanagh, locked up the small parish church of St. John Baptist at Knock, a little village in County Mayo, Ireland. To her amazement she noticed a shining light enveloping the south gable of the Church and went to call her friend, Mary Beirne. Soon other villagers came to see what was happening, until eventually fifteen people, young and old, men and women, were witnesses to an apparition that lasted about two hours or more. They took out their rosaries and knelt to pray in the rain as they gazed in wonder at the beautiful vision on the whole gable of the Church that evening, flooded with a heavenly light.

Our Lady, Queen of Heaven, with her eyes raised to Heaven in prayer, appeared with St. Joseph, her faithful spouse, protector of the Holy Family. They were in company of Mary’s adopted son, St. John the Evangelist, the Apostle of Love who proclaims the Word, wearing a bishop’s mitre with a book in his hand, gesturing as if he were preaching.  All were dressed in shining white, and together they are all directed towards Jesus, in the form of the Sacrificial Lamb of God. He stood at the junction of the great Cross and the altar, a wonderful symbol of the Holy Eucharist; there at the foot of the Cross the Son of Man with His offering, now Risen through His Glorious Resurrection. At the back numerous angels hovered in adoration. No words were said at the apparition, but it was an apparition full of symbols and messages in the tableau on the altar.

There was something very significant in this apparition at Knock, that many see as a sign of heavenly compassion for the people of Ireland at a time of great suffering and distress in the country. Great political unrest reigned, and in the wake of the Great Famine of the 40s, they were now being threatened with another. The Eucharistic vision of Knock was, in a way, a heavenly reward for the courage and steadfastness of the Irish people. They had always been true to the Mass, and for their faithfulness they had suffered much from the time of the Reformation and during those long harsh Penal years. As a Benedictine monk from Buckfast Abbey wrote after visiting the Knock Shrine, “It would seem that Knock is meant to be not only a Shrine of Our Lady, but also that its mission is to increase still further the wonderful love for the Mass which has been so marked a feature of Irish piety throughout the centuries.” Yet even though it was a vision given to the Irish, in the Universal Catholic Church, this was a vision for all the Church’s  members everywhere.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches:

1324 The Eucharist is “the source and summit of the Christian life.” “The other sacraments, and indeed all ecclesiastical ministries and works of the apostolate, are bound up with the Eucharist and are oriented toward it. For in the blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself, our Pasch.”

1325 “The Eucharist is the efficacious sign and sublime cause of that communion in the divine life and that unity of the People of God by which the Church is kept in being. It is the culmination both of God’s action sanctifying the world in Christ and of the worship men offer to Christ and through him to the Father in the Holy Spirit.”

1326 Finally, by the Eucharistic celebration we already unite ourselves with the heavenly liturgy and anticipate eternal life, when God will be all in all.”


Finally, there was no urging to pray the Rosary at Knock, but as we dwell on it now we see how each of the mysteries of the Rosary (including the mysteries of Light), the whole Gospel, is represented in the vision at Knock. Mary may not have brought the rosary beads to Knock, but she brought the mysteries. The Rosary is the most wonderful prayer. It is a journey with Jesus from Bethlehem to Calvary, and on into Glory in every moment of the life of Jesus. In every single event He gave glory and praise to His Father, and the grace of salvation to us. In this voyage of discovery as we pray the Rosary and reflect on the mysteries as the Hail Marys flow by, we enter into the wonders that God has done for mankind.

Prayer to Our Lady of Knock

Our Lady of Knock, Queen of Ireland, you gave hope to your people in a time of distress and comforted them in sorrow. You have inspired countless pilgrims to pray with confidence to your Son, remembering His promise: “Ask and your shall receive, seek and you shall find.” Help me to remember that we are all pilgrims on the road to heaven. Fill me with love and concern for my brothers and sisters in Christ, especially those who live with me. Comfort me when I am sick or lonely or depressed. Teach me how to take part ever more reverently in the holy Mass. Pray for me now, and at the hour of my death. Amen. Our Lady of Knock, pray for us.”

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to The Vision at Knock: symbol of the Holy Eucharist and the Rosary

  1. toadspittle says:


    “No words were said at the apparition…” No matter. Doubtful if the faithful there spoke Aramaic anyway.
    What particularly interests Toad here is the One-Time Only (is that correct?) appearance of, “Mary’s adopted son, St. John the Evangelist, the Apostle of Love who proclaims the Word, wearing a bishop’s mitre with a book in his hand, gesturing as if he were preaching. “

    Fair enough. But did bishops exist in those days? Did mitres? Did even books one could easily carry about exist? The point being, that if as I rather suspect, there were no mitred bishops or any other sort of bishop – in the year 50.a.d. or whenever – why was John dressed up like that?
    And more curious still, how did the faithful observers know who it was, if nobody told them?
    Wouldn’t they be more inclined to think it was Augustine, Aquinas, Saint Patrick, or possibly Fulton Sheen*?

    All irrelevant really, because – as we all know – since the apparition Ould Ireland has never looked back, has it? It’s a story that really needs Flann OBrien, (or James Joyce, naturally) to do it full justice, isn’t it?
    Although, from his current reading of “The Master and Margarita”, Toad thinks Bulgakov might make a pretty spectacular stab?

    (Loads more silly questions, I know. But it’s Christmas. Nearly.)

    * Yes, I know.

  2. kathleen says:

    Actually you are right; there was some speculation at the time whether this was indeed St. John the Evangelist or some other bishop. However, all the visionaries seem to have thought that it was St. John.
    What matters anyway, is the symbol of what a bishop stands for in the Catholic Church – hence the mitre – to preach the truth of the Gospel.

    Aramaic? In apparitions where our Our Lady has spoken, she has always used the language of the seer. Even in Lourdes, she spoke in the same Pyrrenean dialect as St. Bernadette.

  3. toadspittle says:

    The thing is, Kathleen, was Saint John the Evangelist ever a bishop with a mitre at all? Or even an early, mitre-free, bishop?

    If not, why should anyone think it was him in the first place? Because, if we have to guess at what the Knock “visionaries” actually envisioned, or what they “seemed to have thought,” well, it’s all very puzzling and upsetting, and will probably end in tears, is all Toad can say.

    He would suggest they were all hallucinating – for that is currently modish– but what the hey? Who knows? Pointy hat = Bishop!

    However, the visionaries are in no way to blame for the subsequent statuary. We can agree on that.

  4. maidrinruadh says:

    Another point is that 3 sacraments are portrayed – Holy Orders (St John as a bishop), Marriage (Our Lady and St Joseph being a married couple) and the Eucharist

  5. kathleen says:

    No, of course St. John the Evangelist did not actually wear a mitre; this was a later custom to denote the rank of a bishop. Our world is full of these symbols so that we can recognise things or people for what/who they are.

    All the Apostles were given this mission by Our Blessed Lord, to evangelise the whole world. They were what we now call the first bishops of the Church Christ founded. That is why we say the Church is Apostolic – built on the testimony of these Apostles, or ‘bishops’.

  6. kathleen says:

    Yes, that is so true. Thank you for pointing it out.

  7. johnhenrycn says:

    ..and now my brief comment complaining about not being able to leave a “like” has disappeared.
    Oh well, there is a life after blogging, so I’m told.

  8. teresa says:

    John Henry wrote: “There is a life after blogging”.

    Indeed, John Henry, I checked everywhere and I couldn’t find the comment of you mentioned above. I can assure you nobody has done anything with it.

    We don’t have so much time to respond and to find out what exactly happened with every comment. After having gotten some complaints, our blog team has agreed upon the rule that there will be a notice posted if one comment is deleted by one of the moderators.

    But beyond this we don’t really have the time to satisfy everyone who asks us to explain to him/her some unexplainable happenings while using wordpress.

    People shouldn’t take blogging too seriously. If one comment of you disappears and there is no explanation, just repost it and see whether it appears. Check your email and login name, to be sure that you keep using the same log in details like before, otherwise the comment will be held up by the wordpress system automatically in the moderation line.

    We are all very busy and are not able to moderate this blog like professional moderators who work for salary. So we would appreciate the understanding of our commentators. We are all really very busy and have quite a lot of our own business to attend to. Internet can be useful but it shouldn’t substitute the real life.

  9. johnhenrycn says:

    Everything you say is entirely justified, Teresa. No need for you or others to spend much time on this, and I do understand that glitches happen. You people run an excellent blog, with much to commend it. The fact that I’ve spent the better part of this evening trying to leave an non-anonymized “like” on this post speaks more of ridiculousness on my part than anything else. I should simply “move on”, as the saying goes. But you know, sometimes – many times – I feel don’t have anything to contribute except a sign of approval, and it bugs me to no end when I can’t do so in a way that the writer of the piece knows that I, personally, think he/she has made a worthy contribution. I also like leaving non-anonymized “likes” so people know that I’m still reading them.

  10. johnhenrycn says:

    See? My avatar in the “like this” section is there and then it’s not there. That can’t be a login problem. But again, please don’t fret on my account. I don’t hold it against this website. It’s the way of the “World Wide Web”, and I accept that. God bless.

  11. teresa says:

    John Henry, thank you for your kind comment.

    I see what you mean, you meant the “like” button above. Earlier, wordpress would allow the commentator who clicks on it his/her avatar to be shown beneath it, and now, as I just noticed, only those who uploaded their own avatar (and not just their default avatar assigned to by wordpress) can leave a “foot print” so to speak.

    Perhaps you can try uploading a picture as your avatar at:, though I can’t promise a definitely successful result but I guess that there in might the problem lie.

    As for the thread discussion I also regret that discussion in style of the old “Holy Smoke” of the old days (three years ago) can’t be revived any more.

    We (the team) use now this site more as a site of information than discussion. But perhaps with your contribution and others who would like to join in the discussion, we can restart a more vivid and pleasant discussion on this blog. It is definitively worth a try.

  12. teresa says:

    P.S. you know I think we need commentators like you and Father Cumanus and others who understand the Joie de vivre and the art of conversation. Now we have you here but I do doubt whether Father Cumanus will be back again, haven’t seen him anywhere for a very long time.

  13. johnhenrycn says:

    Teresa @ 02:21 – I’ve been reluctant to upload a personal avatar because of all the awful things done to people’s avatars by trolls on Thompson’s blog. Actually, I sort of like the default avatar assigned to me here by WordPress. The worried look, the monocle, the good set of teeth…

    You are right, in my view, not to let this blog become a Wild West Show – instead placing a light, but firm, hand on commenters shoulders. There is a place for free-for-alls, but it is so nice, for a change, to come to a blog frequented by intelligent people who are more interested in advancing the project enunciated on your “About” page, than to one where the main object is to cut a figure.

  14. johnhenrycn says:

    Teresa @ 02:29 – any chance, do you think, that Fr Becs might migrate here? I know you stay away from Thompson’s place, but some here still go there occasionally (not me, any longer), and could put in a good word, no? Becs, himself, has become a very sporadic contributor there. I wish Hamish, OTSOTA, MMMMM…, none of whom go there anymore, would also cross the Thames, or whatever the river it is that separates us.

  15. toadspittle says:


    JH: I hesitate to suggest you’d ever do anything foolishly Toadlike, (unless, of course, you were hallucinating at the time) but a couple of days ago, I wrote something about “The Master and Margatita” and Josephus.
    And it did not appear. I believe I wrote it, then neglected to send it.
    A comment will then vanish, as we know.

  16. kathleen says:

    Thank you John Henry! I’m glad to know you like the article, even if we have no pic under the ‘like’ button on your noble avatar with monocle and those spectacular teeth! 😉

  17. teresa says:

    @John Henry, as for your concern I can assure you that it is not possible for people to steal your avatar (but of course by coincidence there is possibility that someone uses the same avatar as yours), if we detect some misuse or abuses we can always moderate.

    As for the others they are welcome but perhaps they don’t find this site very much to their liking so they might be posting somewhere else. OSTOA is posting occasionally on Catholic Herald.

    I would very much like to see Father Cumanus again, as a most learned gentleman of the old style, he can be a great spiritual and intellectual aid to us. But I really doubt that he will pick up again the blogging business. Perhaps he is too busy to do so. But who knows, perhaps someday I shall meet him in person… 😉 The world is small nowadays.

  18. toadspittle says:


    Actually you are right;”

    The Appalling Amphibion, fairly reeling with an intoxicating cocktail of pride and Joie de Vivre*, intends to get Kathleen‘s words stuffed – and suitably splendidly mounted – to be arrogantly flaunted over The Great Fireplace of Toad Hall, Moratinos!

    Now he can die content! (Not.)

    *Can’t have too much of it, eh, Teresa?

  19. Lei Lai says:

    I was there with the Irish Dominicans earlier today as it was their Annual Pilgrimage to Knock this year (2019) and it also coincided with the canonization of the new Saints in Rome today. What a blessed day! i love Knock. It is a place that I do not get tired of going to again and again and again. The more I go there, the more I am spiritually “recharged.”

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s