The Message of Our Lady of Knock: The Silence Veils a Secret

Written by Gregory Johnson

Our Lady of Knock

One rainy night on the 21st of August 1879, from around 7:15 to 9:30 in a small village of no more than a dozen homes, Our Lady made a unique, silent public appearance that has become known to the world as the apparition of Our Lady of Knock.

The village of Knock (which means ‘hill’ in Irish) lies in the northwest quadrant of Ireland, about 28 miles east of Croagh-Patrick, and this prophetic mountain can be seen to the west on the road north from Claremorris to Knock. (1) The pilgrimages to the shrine in the little village have steadily grown since that day, and it presently receives 1.5 million visitors a year. In 1932, Pius XI declared Our Lady of Knock to be “Queen of Heaven and of Ireland” at the closing of the Eucharistic Congress. (2) It is considered to be one of the prominent Marian Shrines of the world.

I say Our Lady made a “public appearance” because, unlike other recent apparitions of Our Lady – La Salette, Lourdes, Fatima – where she appears or communicates to only one or a few seers (always youths and never members of the clergy), in this apparition she appeared to all present but remained silent. Everyone at or near the south gabled wall of the church dedicated to St. John the Baptist saw the apparition.

The only member of the clergy in the village, the pastor Archdeacon Cavanagh, could have seen the apparition if he had simply stepped outside. His housekeeper went to tell him about it, but apparently there was some miscommunication and, as a result, once again, the clergy did not receive the gift of seeing an apparition of Our Lady.

Shortly after the apparition, an official commission of investigation was set by the Archbishop, and it recorded the testimony of 15 witnesses: men, women and children, ranging in ages from 5 to 75. At the inquiry, the commission found that, “the testimony of all, taken as a whole, was trustworthy and satisfactory.” (3). Many years later, in 1936, a second commission confirmed the verdict of the first.

Mary Byrne, a primary witness of the apparition at Knock, was 86 at the time of the second commission and spoke to the commission from her bed since she was too sick to leave. She concluded her testimony with these words, “I am clear about everything I have said and I make this statement knowing I am going before my God.” Six weeks later she died. (4)

There were others who saw the apparition (my readings suggest somewhere between 25 and 29 people), whose reports were not officially recorded to avoid redundancy.

A depiction of the apparition from an old holycard

Below is the testimony of Judith Campbell, one of the 15 official witnesses of the apparition. It is short and concise:

I live at Knock; I remember the evening and night of the 21st August last.

Mary Byrne called at my house about eight o’clock on that evening, and asked me to come and see the great sight at the chapel.

I ran up with her to the place, and I saw outside the chapel, at the gable of the sacristy facing the south, three figures representing St. Joseph, St. John and the Blessed Virgin Mary; also an altar, and the likeness of a lamb on it, with a cross at the back of the lamb.

I saw a most beautiful crown on the brow or head of the Blessed Virgin. Our Lady was in the centre of the group, a small height above the other two; St. Joseph to her right, and bent towards the Virgin; St. John, as we were led to call the third figure, was to the left of the Virgin, and in his left hand he held a book; his right hand was raised with the first and second fingers closed, and the forefinger and middle finger extended as if he were teaching.

The night came on, and it was very wet and dark.

There was a beautiful light shining around the figures or likenesses that we saw.

I went within a foot of them; none of us spoke to them; we believed they were St. Joseph and St. John the Evangelist, because some years ago, statues of St. Joseph and the Evangelist were in the chapel at Knock.

All the figures were in white or in a robe of silver-like whiteness; St. John wore a small mitre. Though it was raining, the place in which the figures appeared was quite dry.

Everything within the sphere of the image remained completely dry including the grass and part of the church wall.

The deliberate silence

The apparition was completely silent. The only sounds heard that night were those of the wind and the ever-increasing rain, which eventually became a downpour. But we know that the actions of Divine Providence must always have an ordered purpose. As Fr. William J. Smith said, “There was no message of any kind given, no word was uttered by any of the three celestial visitors. Yet the apparition must have a meaning, an extraordinary, deep and divine significance” (5)

Consequently, no one should think that the silence of the apparition is an oversight of Our Lady. With certainty, we can affirm that Our Lady willed that this apparition should remain completely silent and that this silence serves a purpose. What is that purpose?

We know that all of the recent apparitions of Our Lady, both before and after Knock, contained secrets:

– La Salette (1846) contained secrets such as ‘Rome will become the seat of the Antichrist” that could be revealed in 1858;

– Lourdes (1858) had 3 secrets that were for Bernadette alone and were never revealed;

– Fatima (1917) included 3 secrets: 2 were soon revealed, and the third was to be revealed in the event of Lucia’s death or by 1960. John XXIII refused to reveal the secret in 1960. Later in 2000, a bogus secret * was revealed by Cardinals Bertone and Ratzinger on behalf of John Paul II, but it did not find great acceptance among the faithful. They still await the release of the authentic warning of Our Lady to the world.

Pilgrims in the 1880s flocking to the apparition site outside the old chapel at Knock

Now, since every recent apparition of Our Lady contained a secret, one is induced to ask whether or not there would be a secret at Knock. Perhaps it should even be expected.

So, I ask, shouldn’t this deliberate silence willed by Our Lady at Knock be seen as some form of secret? A secret that harmonizes with the secrets of La Salette, Lourdes, and Fatima? Isn’t it reasonable to affirm this?

Shouldn’t one ask if the silence acted as a sort of veil or shroud, concealing a profound message? I believe this is the deep-seated purpose of the silence and suggest to speculate upon what that secret would be using the evidence that we have at hand.

One closing note: I do not agree with those who say that the silence itself is the message. The message of Our Lady of Knock is not to promote silence.

Those who try to present this silence as the main message that Our Lady wished to convey are promoting a passivity that pressures the faithful to remain inactive and just pray in face of the grave crises in the Church and society we face today. To keep silent before the onslaughts of an evil world and a corrupt Hierarchy is to suppress the Catholic militant spirit.

As will be shown in future articles, I believe that the message of Knock is the opposite of a lifestyle of “peace” where “all my cares and troubles cease,”(6) a phrase from the chorus of the popular Lady of Knock song that has effectively become the modern day theme song of Our Lady of Knock.

Our Lady of Knock, pray for us.


1. “We have a view of the celebrated Croagh-Patrick from the road to Knock…” Tom Neary, Custodians of Knock Shrine, Co. Mayo, Ireland, I Saw Our Lady, 1st ed. 1977, 5th ed. 1995. p. 24.Footnote 1
2. William J. Smith, The Mystery of Knock, Our Lady in Ireland, NY: Paulist Press, 1954, p. 20
3. Ibid, p. 21
4. See here
5. W.J. Smith, The Mystery of Knock, p. 16
6. Chorus of Lady of Knock lyrics by James Kilbane: ”Golden Rose, Queen of Ireland, all my cares and troubles cease, as I kneel with love before you, Lady of Knock, my Queen of Peace”. Official Catholic website of Our Lady of Knock


* We acknowledge that there may be visitors to our site who will disagree with the author’s opinion that the Third Secret of Fatima revealed in the year 2000 was, in reality, “bogus” – (CP&S).

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17 Responses to The Message of Our Lady of Knock: The Silence Veils a Secret

  1. Roger says:

    Thank you for this!
    Our Lady of Knock pray for Us


  2. JabbaPapa says:

    Now, since every recent apparition of Our Lady contained a secret

    No that’s wrong, and it is to promote, falsely, the Medjugorje fallacy that Apparitions have a “purpose” to convey “secret knowledge” — it is a gnostic fallacy to support such a notion.

    The message of Our Lady of Knock is not to promote silence

    Indeed — this sort of silent Apparition conveys, principally, the Truth of the Christian Faith to the seers, to reinforce their own Faith first, then that of others..


  3. Roger says:

    The image presented reminds of iconoclasm, with an allusion to the ceremony of stripping the Altar of its ornaments in preparation for Good Friday. The altar with the Lamb Of God reminds of the Stripping of the altar at Easter.
    The Lamb also reminds of Exodus and the Passover.which would have been very familiar to St Joseph.
    The whitewashed quality? The statue images have a sepulchre quality without Life. St John was present at the Passion as of course was Our Lady.

    Knock was part of England in 1879 and the Apparition has especial significance with the Stripping Of The Altars

    1879 by 1979
    (100 years later to the confusion of Catholics and disappointment of Catholics stripped of their familiar spiritual nourishment.)

    (Professor Duffy) .
    The main thesis of Duffy’s book is that the Roman Catholic faith was in rude and lively health prior to the English Reformation. Duffy’s argument was written as a counterpoint to the prevailing historical belief that the Roman Catholic faith in England was a decaying force, theologically spent and unable to provide sufficient spiritual sustenance for the population at large.
    Taking a broad range of evidence (accounts, wills, primers, memoirs, rood screens, stained glass, joke-books, graffiti, etc.), Duffy argues that every aspect of religious life prior to the Reformation was undertaken with well-meaning piety. Feast days were celebrated, fasts solemnly observed, churches decorated, images venerated, candles lit and prayers for the dead recited with regularity. Pre-Reformation Catholicism was, he argues, a deeply popular religion, practised by all sections of society, whether noble or peasant. Earlier historians’ claims that English religious practice was becoming more individualised (with different strata of society having radically different religious lives) is contested by Duffy insisting on the continuing ‘corporate’ nature of the late medieval Catholic Church, i.e. where all members were consciously and willingly part of a single institution.
    Professor Duffy .. uncovers a succession of records, notes and images that individually reveal an assortment of changes to liturgy and custom but taken together build up to demonstrate a colossal change in English religious practice.
    So we see how candlesticks and church plate had to be melted down and sold off, altar tables removed, rood screens defaced or torn down and chasubles unstitched. How walls were whitewashed, relics discarded and paintings of saints hidden in parishioners’ houses. And we also read how the other aspects of the Catholic community, such as the guild groups or particular local feast days, quickly collapsed without the economic or religious practices on which they depended. It was a painful process for Catholics, and Duffy vividly illustrates the confusion and disappointment of Catholics stripped of their familiar spiritual nourishment.


  4. Roger says:

    Just so we understand the whitewashing and stripping of the altars.
    Duffy also uses to the second section to highlight the brief flame of optimism felt by Catholics ignited by the reign of the Catholic Mary from 1553 to 1558, a flame quickly extinguished by Mary’s death. But ultimately, the Marian reign is a secondary issue. Duffy’s narrative demonstrates how centuries of religious practice evaporated in the face of fierce centralist control.


  5. The Raven says:

    What utter bilge, Roger. Knock is in Ireland and has always been in Ireland (it was once part of the United Kingdom, but never “England”): different culture, different history, different people.

    I find it hugely depressing that my fellow Englishmen are so resolutely pig-ignorant about the ghastly history of oppression and misrule that our ancestors inflicted on Ireland.


  6. Roger says:

    Your response is nationalist and not Catholic Are La Salette, Lourdes, Fatima exclusive Nationalist or Catholic Shrines? I am aware of the Glory Of Knock but there was no message given was there? So the tableau that we see is the message.

    The Background here of course are old Mass Rocks. Mass Rocks are around 400 years old and are places where Catholics gathered to practice their faith during Penal Times (under Penal Laws brought in and enforced in Ireland from 1695 by the British) when such activity was banned in Ireland. Indeed, if they were caught celebrating Mass, the priest there would more than likely have been killed.
    As they were illegal and because of the danger, they had to be hidden and so you will find them in out of the way places which have some high ground from which some of the congregation could keep a look-out in case of danger approaching. To further guarantee secrecy, the masses would not have taken place at set times but rather a time decided and the information passed amongst the people of the area.

    They kept the Faith alive during the dreadful persecution that followed the so called Reformation.
    That centralist dictator control which was imposed upon Britain and that includes England, Scotland, Wales as well as Ireland. Its easy to forget for instance the Pilgrimage of Grace as well as the line of Holy Martyrs who gave their lives for these islands from each and ever country..

    The status of Ireland was confirmed by Pope Adrian IV as being under England. In 1879 Ireland was part of England, The new spring had begun in the early part of 19th century and had produced for instance Cardinal Newman (known for his role with Ireland) .The point is that the New Catholic Spring was the background to Knock.

    We have it from the words of John Paul II that Diplomacy was a major factor in Rome in 1960 onwards.whihc includes Vatican II. This leads to the social revolution of the 60’s and with this came the whitewashing of statues, the turning of the altars, the removal of the altar rails. the vernacular replacing Latin in short a Revolution.

    Now the waxing lyric article mentions nothing of this Past. The Vision mentioned nothing of England nor of Irish Republicanism. It would have been recognised with respect to the Mass rocks of the Past.

    You should know that it is a money spinner and has its own International Airport.

    Nothing was said! The tableau was of white statues and 100 years later the altars were stripped and the statues whitewashed indeed some were thrown on the rubbish tips, along with the altar Missals.


  7. toadspittle says:

    “Mass Rocks are around 400 years old “
    Don’t be daft, Roger.
    They are at least 4,000 years old. (If not 40O million.)


  8. Roger says:

    Altars (Hebrew: מזבח ‎‎, mizbe’ah, “a place of slaughter or sacrifice”) in the Hebrew Bible were typically made of earth or unwrought stone. Hence Holy Sacrifice Of The Mass.


  9. Roger says:

    There is a difference between an altar and the Lutheran supper Table. Knock;s image is of a Lamb not (hence sacrifice) after 60’s altar’s often became communion tables.


  10. The Raven says:

    Let me explain this in short words, Roger.

    Ireland has never, ever been part of England.

    Ireland has been ruled by England at various times in its history, BUT THAT DIDN’T MAKE IT PART OF ENGLAND.

    The English sent people to rule various parts of Ireland at different times in its history, BUT THAT DIDN’T MAKE IT PART OF ENGLAND.

    Ireland’s history of persecution and genocide is entirely distinct from the horrors wrought on English Catholics; it is of an entirely different order.

    You are right that English imperialists made life for ordinary Irishmen intolerable and miserable, BUT THAT DIDN’T MAKE IT PART OF ENGLAND.

    If you can’t get something as basic as this right, why should we believe any of your other pronouncements about Knock, Lourdes of Fatima?


  11. Roger says:

    The message of Our Lady Of Knock
    The silence veils a secret ? Perhaps Our Lady Of Knock in her silence was speaking volumes prophetically of deafening silence and collapse of Vocations?

    Pope Adrian IV Laudabiliter was a Papal Bull issued in 1155 The bull granted the right to the Angevin King Henry II of England to invade and govern Ireland and to enforce the Gregorian Reforms on the semi-autonomous Christian Church in Ireland.
    Successive Kings of England, from Henry II (1171) until Henry VIII (1541), used the title Lord of Ireland and claimed that it had been conferred by Adrian’s successor, Pope Alexander III.
    St Patrick came for England and the Faith came to Ireland with Him. Same as the Faith came to Brazil from Portugal. Faith came to America from Spain.
    The Irish spread the Faith through the so called British Empire and especially America. Nobody is denying the extrodinary Faith of Ireland and the spread of the Faith through her Sons throughout the world. But the reality today is the collapse of vocations and the crisis in Ireland.

    The Irish Times – Thu, Jun 5, 2014, 20:05
    Priests make radical proposals on vocations crisis to bishops Survey finds 64 per cent of Catholic clergy ‘dissatisfied’ with new missal
    “..At a meeting in Maynooth with three bishops, representing the Irish Episcopal Conference, the priests called for the ordination of “suitable married men (viri probati)”, for men who left the priesthood to marry, to be invited back and for the ordination of women to the permanent diaconate. ..”
    “..The Catholic Church in Ireland is in denial about vocations to the priesthood. We’re pretending that there’s no crisis. Or that the crisis is not as bad as it seems. Or that things could be worse than they are. Or that we can’t really know what God has in store for us. Or whatever. Let’s look at some numbers.
    • In Killala diocese, for 22 parishes, there are now 7 priests under 55 years of age. Spool on for two decades and there will be 7 (or thereabouts) under 75.
    • In Tuam diocese in 2020 (that’s just 7 years time) there will be 50 priests for 55 parishes and ten years on from that, in 2030, there will be just 30 Tuam priests, most of them elderly.
    • In 1984 there were 171 ordinations or religious professions in Ireland; in 2006 there were 22.
    • In 1990 there were 525 students studying for the diocesan priesthood in Ireland; in 2013 there are 70.
    • In 1966, Maynooth, there were 84; this year 12 went to Maynooth.
    • In 1966, of the 84 who went to Maynooth, 20 were from the western dioceses; of the 12 in first year in Maynooth none is from the west.
    So we don’t need to have 20/20 vision to see this particular train coming down the track. All we need to do is to be able to count. And to accept what the very dogs in the street already know is happening – Ireland’s priests will have virtually disappeared in 20 years…”


  12. Roger says:

    Our Lady Of Walsingham on August 20, 1897 the first public pilgrimage to Walsingham in centuries took place. It began at Kings Lynn and concluded at Walsingham. By the conclusion of the nineteenth century, the little village of Walsingham was once again home of the Catholic Shrine of Our Lady

    Our Lady Of Knock 21st August 1897 (was the day after!! England had returned to Walsingham) Ireland and England are entwined with Our Lady.

    Pope Leo XIII famously predicted that when England returns to Walsingham, Mary will return to England.


  13. The Raven says:

    Knock was 1879, not 1897, Roger!

    All that you are doing is filling the silence of Knock with the noise of your own speculation, which seems to be built on sand.

    When God has a message for us He states it clearly: He doesn’t make vague allusions to events that can only be understood long after they have taken place.


  14. Roger says:

    Far from it Raven
    The Liturgical cycle is outside of Time because the Church is Christs Mystical Body.
    The Liturgy and the liturgical cycle is itself mystical and prophectic because it is the work of God.
    The Deaths of Saints and Martyrs are Providential, the Birthdays of those souls entry in the Eternity of Heaven.
    Each and ever created soul is unique and individual and the Heavens prove this.
    The seasons Thou shalt not know them refers more to the Liturgy and only secondarily to this world. So references to Wars are more rather to the great spiritual battle between Mary (Hosts of Mary) and the Dragon and His Hosts these are intermingled at this time and sadly the serpent has a nest within the Church.
    And if interested Satan also has key dates that recur one of which is 1st May another Halloween!

    The first import matter is the primacy of England as she was before the Reformation. Our Lady mentioned four nations at La Salette Italy, France, Spain and England. These were the four pillars (in there day of the Faith. This includes missioners tp other Nations.

    It was Pope Leo XIII (Light from Heaven) whose Prophesy for England was that Our Lady would return when England returned to Walsingham. This Prophecy accords with La Salette and actually ties Walsingham into the La Salette, Lourdes, Fatima group. This is why Walsingham is so important and it pre-dated’s Knock.

    The three Dates 20,21 and 22 August are especially important. for Lovers of Our Lady and her Dowry AND THE TRIUMPH OF THE IMMACULATE which covers obviously Britain (Pope Adrian IV) The 29th June is another very special Date as Leo XIII made St Peter Patron Saint Of England( and then including Ireland)
    The Faith comes from Eternity and there are no coincidences with Heaven. God’s hand writes outside of Time.

    Pope Leo’s Prophesy has within it the resurgence of the Faith in what had once been one four formost Nations of Christianity England. Remember Italy, Spain, France and England (La Salette).

    Ireland spiritually received the Faith from England (Adrian IV) . Pope Leo XIII made St Peter the Patron Saint Of Englandn placing the Papacy back into a Marian England.
    I look at Bablyon the Great and Jerusalem The Two Cities (Augustine) as the guide for Satan in 20th Century. Those that promoted the disunion of Christ by for instance national languages were simply building Babel. Pentecost is the opposite of Babel where languages ceased to be a barrier for Unity. There are NO Nations in Heaven and it is a Kingship.

    The 22nd August under the Great Fatima Pope Pius XII was the date of the Feast Of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Pius XII is the great Marian Pope of the 20th Century crowned by the Dogma of the Assumption and He actively promotoed the Blue Army of Our Lady Of Fatima.
    August 22nd is National Flag Day of the Russian Federation that is the Christian Flag of Russia NOT the hammer and sickle.

    Ireland. The Papacy recognized the Hanoverian dynasty in January 1766 The New Spring in 19 century Roman Catholic Relief Act 1829 that ended the penal Laws. Knock 50 years later 21st August 1879.

    The Return to Walsingham 20th August 1897. (the liturigal date is important) because of Leo XIII Prophesy AND La Salette, Lourdes .
    Pope Pius XII instituted the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in 1944 to be celebrated on 22nd August and 22nd August is the National Flag Day Of Russia.

    During Pope Paul VI pontificate this was moved and the celebration of the Immaculate Heart of Mary to the day, Saturday, immediately after the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and moved the feast of the Queenship of Mary from May 31st to August 22nd.

    We sadly know that the SMOKE OF SATAN was working within the Church and to the best of my knowledge, and the evidence seems to confirm this, has remained there.It would take a formal ceremony of Exorcism to Dethrone Satan after that Enthronement 29th June 1963.

    The seasons (thats the liturgical cycle among other issues ) thou shalt not know them.

    I am not denigrating Our Lady Of Knock, quite the opposite,

    I am questioning the elaborate reasoning which is contrary to La Salette and especially the Prophecy of Leo XIII. I especially welcome the consecration of this land to the Immaculate this year and we should all be praying that one of the Great pillars of the Faith may return to Peter and become a bastion of the Faith. It is to be hoped that this is the evidence of the start of the Triumph of the Immaculate.


  15. toadspittle says:

    The prospect that Roger may be wandering about unattended – is disquieting.


  16. The Raven says:

    Dear Roger, with all of your meditations on mysteries and wild speculations, you are drifting away from the Faith into Gnosticism and heresy.

    I am sure that all of this stuff seems exciting and it must be thrilling to believe that one is discovering secrets of the Church, but really.

    Give it up; God does not mutter cryptic secrets into the ears of an elect few, He tells all men what we need to know in order to be saved.


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