Saturday, April 20, 2013

Place of Pilgrimage - Knock Basilica

Knock Basilica

Knock Basilica

Knock Basilica 

Photograph by Catherine Nicolette

Knock Museum

Archdeacon Cavanagh with his house and Knock Church, 1879

Knock Museum
The wonderful Knock Museum gives the history of Our Lady of Knock and the Apparition.
The witnesses to the Apparition lived in small cottages, comprising a kitchen with an open fire, and a bedroom.
Most people worked on the land, and survived on produce.
The main crops around Knock were potatoes and oats.
Most people had a cow or two, a few pigs and some chickens.

Farm work varied according to the season.
In spring, crops were sown.
Turf was cut in summer, and hay saved.
Crops were harvested in autumn.
Tools were mended in winter, and animals tended.

Prayer was central to family and village life.
To this rural way of life, Our Lady of Knock came with her inspiration message of peace and wisdom.

At prayer 

Spinning wheel

Why not visit the Museum?

Refreshments are available at the Museum -

Photographs taken by Catherine Nicolette and used with gracious permission of Museum curators
With thanks to Knock Museum

Mary of Knock - Golden Rose

Mary of Nazareth appeared at Knock
Her affectionate title is 'Golden Rose'

Eucharistic Congress Bell in Knock

The beautiful Eucharistic Congress Bell in Knock

One of the glorious icons on the Bell

Photographs taken by Catherine Nicolette

Knock Basilica - First Annual Eucharistic Adoration Pilgrimage

In the Basilica
Holy Bible
Pilgrimage is an ancient tradition and custom of Ireland.
At an inspirational talk given in the Our Lady Queen of Ireland Basilica in Knock, County Mayo, the Holy Bible was held up and pilgrims were given the guidance to read, reflect and study the Sacred Scriptures.
The massive Basilica held crowds of pilgrims who listened with deep reverence.

Basilica - place of beauty
The Basilica itself was a place of beauty.
Preparations had been made - flowers cascaded in arrangements of white.

Candles flickered light gracefully, and the atmosphere was one of joy and prayer.
Little children were enchanted by the beauty that was the Basilica

Eucharistic Congress Bell
The Eucharistic Congress Bell with its distinctive 'Ave Maria' engraving was ceremonially brought in and placed before the altar at the beginning of the day of prayer and pilgrimage.
Serene icons glowed around the frame of the Bell.

Day of prayer
The Chapel of the Apparition was crowded with people deep in reverent prayer.
Pilgrims prayed in the grounds; attended workshops and spiritual exercises.
Children enjoyed spiritual programmes.
Adoration of the Eucharist and Eucharistic Celebration honouring Jesus the Son of God was the highlight of the day.
The First Annual Pilgrimage was a wonderful occasion - with one pilgrim excitedly telling all of us in the vicinity, "I want to see everything!" as she set off to explore the wonderful Shrine of Our Lady of Knock.

Contemplating a pilgrimage?
Needing some time to reflect on where your life is going?
Why not visit Knock ...

At the Gable Wall

Gable Wall

Site of the Church of the Apparition

Photographs by Catherine Nicolette

A candle was lit in remembrance of all Marian Praise readers in Knock

A candle was lit in remembrance of all Marian Praise readers in Knock 
at the first Annual Apostolate of Perpetual Adoration
Pilgrimage held today

Photograph by Catherine Nicolette at Knock Church
next to the Gable Wall

Breaking News; First Annual Eucharistic Adoration Pilgrimage held in Knock Co Mayo today

At the Gable Wall
First Annual Eucharistic Adoration Pilgrimage
Many of the first pilgrims prayed for an end to famine and poverty, others came in search of cures.
Today, people from all over the world made their way to Knock Shrine on pilgrimage.
The first Annual Apostolate of Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration Pilgrimage was held at the famous Apparition site, and four thousand pilgrims attended this joyous celebration.
Among them were people from all corners of Ireland, and international visitors from countries such as Romania, United States of America, South Africa, India and the Philippines.

Place of prayer and hope
A visit by Mary of Nazareth, together with Joseph, John, the Lamb of God and Angels on the 21st August 1879 transformed Knock from a small country village into an international place of prayer and hope.
The year 1879 was a year of suffering and despair in Ireland.
The harvest of 1879 was disastrous.
The potato blight and the ensuing famine brought misery and death upon many.
Many lived in poverty stricken circumstances, and much illness was suffered.
An epidemic of typhus fever was sweeping through the countryside.

Divine Visitation 
There was unrest in the land.
It is reported that outside agitators organised meetings and discussed the land question.
The district of Knock was selected as a place that required attention, particularly because Archdeacon Cavanagh was preaching caution and restraint to his parishioners.
It was decided that this local parish priest was to be subjected to threats and finally to have his ears cut off.
This was to serve as warning to other parishes, and a date was fixed for the deed.
Prior to the date fixed, Heaven intervened in the course of events which was unfolding with a Divine Visitation to the village.

It had rained all day. 
The south-westerly wind carried a thick mist against the gable wall of the small parish church.
In the quiet village of Knock there was not much astir.
The Byrnes' home was a thatched farmer's cottage about two hundred yards off the main road to the east of the church.
The rain and wind had not abated by evening.
Margaret Byrne was sent to lock up the church for the night.
When she had done her work, she was returning home when she saw brightness over the church. 
She thought this somewhat unusual, but took no further notice.

Church Gable
That Thursday evening, Mrs Byrne and her daughter Mary, had just returned from travelling to the health resort at Lecanvey. 
Visitors were in to welcome them back.
Mary Byrne went out on the road with the priest's housekeeper after her visit, and coming into view of the church gable on the way, thought she saw statues and remarked on them to Mary McLoughlin.
But Mary McLoughlin said she heard nothing about them.
On coming nearer, Mary Byrne exclaimed:
"But they're not statues, they're moving.
It's the Blessed Virgin."

Mary of Nazareth
An apparition of Mary of Nazareth wearing a large brilliant crown and clothed in white garments was at the south gable wall of the church.
Mary had her hands raised as if in prayer, and her eyes turned towards heaven.
On her right hand was Joseph of Nazareth, his head inclined towards her.
On her left was John the Evangelist, dressed as a bishop.
His left hand held the Book of the Gospels, and his right hand was raised as if preaching.
To the left of John was an altar on which stood a cross and a Lamb, around which angels' wings hovered.
The gable wall where this manifestation was seen was covered with a cloud of light, and the vision lasted for two hours.
During all this time the rain continued to fall heavily, yet the figures and area where they stood were quite dry.
Fifteen people eventually arrived at the scene as the word spread of the Divine Visit, and they were all witnesses to the wonder of the sight.

After the Apparition
The story of the Apparition brought a complete change to the unfolding events in the parish vicinity.
The plan to mutilate the Archdeacon as an example was denounced and cancelled.
The story of the Apparition impressed all, and it was regarded as a direct sign from the Heavenly Visitors that such action would be desecration.
The agitators thereafter remained away, and peace returned to Knock.

People began to visit Knock in great numbers, coming to pray and seek assistance from Heaven with their difficulties.
Cures from serious illnesses began to be reported regularly.
These continue to this day.

Cnoc Mhuire - The Hill of Mary
Knock is known in the beautiful Gaelic as Cnoc Mhuire, or the Hill of Mary.
What is the essence of the message Mary, Joseph and John brought us?
They all had one common denominator, the Lamb of God; 
Jesus, the Son of David, God incarnated as human.
- Jesus' mother
Mary of Nazareth - Miriam of Nazareth - of the royal line of David and appearing as crowned Queen - is Jesus' mother.
Mary is descendent of King David and Queen (Gebirah) of the Heavenly Kingdom.
The Gebirah, the Queen Mother of of the Kingdom of Judah, was an official position held by the mother of the Davidic kings. 
She was the most important and influential woman in the royal court and the king's chief counselor. 
The Book of Revelation 12;1-17 speaks of a great sign appearing in Heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, who gave birth to a male child - symbolic of Mary of Nazareth, and Jesus, her Son.
In the Apparition Mary wore a glowing crown as she visited the land where Kings of Eire were crowned in ancient times.
 -Jesus' father
Joseph of Nazareth - Yusuf ben Jacob -  is father on earth to Jesus, incarnated God.
Joseph belongs to the house and line of King David.
- John the Evangelist
John - Yohanan - wrote the Gospel of St John and the Book of Revelation.
The latter tells us;
'Worthy is the Lamb that was sacrificed
to receive power, riches, wisdom,
strength, honour, glory and blessing.'
(The Bible, Book of Revelation, Chapter 5 verse 12).
The Lamb is the symbol in Revelation of Jesus Christ, God incarnated.
John also witnesses in his vision that he saw a Lamb that seemed to have been sacrificed, to whom a hymn was sung;
'You are worthy to take the scroll
and to break its seals,
because you were sacrificed, and with your blood
you bought people for God
of every race, language, people and nation
and made them a line of kings and priests for God,
to rule the world.'
(Revelation Chapter 5 verses 9 to 10).
- The Angels
Angels - holy spirits - have been devoted and loyal to the service of God and Jesus Christ.
An angel appeared to Zechariah; to Mary of Nazareth; to Joseph.
Angels appeared to the shepherds at the time of Jesus' birth.
Angels ascended and descended above Jacob at Bethel, intent on God's work.
Angels attended Jesus after His temptation in the desert, and at His time of deepest fear in Gethsemane.
They pushed away the stone from the mouth of the tomb preparatory to their God and King walking alive and free, true King and Conqueror.
Angels witnessed Jesus' triumph at the Resurrection over humanity's real enemy;  satan and death.
John tells us in Revelation that in his vision, he heard the sound of an immense number of angels gathered round the throne of the Lamb. (Revelation Chapter 5, verse 11).

The message they brought
The message they thus brought was;
Look at the Lamb.
He is the One Who has come to save the world. 

Jesus of Nazareth has fulfilled the Old Testament prophecy of the great prophet Isaiah;
'Who has believed our message
and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.
Like one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Surely he took up our infirmities
and carried our sorrows,
yet we considered him stricken by God,
smitten by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before her shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
By oppression and judgement he was taken away.
And who can speak of his descendants?
For he was cut off from the land of the 
for the transgression of my people he was stricken.
He was assigned a grave with the
and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
nor was any deceit in his mouth.

Yet it was the LORD's will to crush
him and cause him to suffer,
and though the LORD makes his life
a guilt offering,
he will see his offspring and prolong
his days,
and the will of the LORD will prosper
in his hand.
After the suffering of his soul,
he will see the light of life, and be
by his knowledge my righteous 
servant will justify many,
and he will bear their iniquities.
Therefore I will give him a portion
among the great,
and he will divide the spoils with the
because he poured out his life unto
and was numbered with the
For he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the
(Old Testament, Isaiah Chapter 53).

Lamb of God
John the Evangelist tells us of John the Baptist giving the revelation to disciples.
'The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, 
"Look, the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sin of the world!"
(John Chapter 2 verse 29).

A message of hope
The Apparition thus clearly pointed towards Divine Truth
Jesus, incarnate as human, has released all through His self-sacrifice from the slavery of sin and death.
He has opened the gate to Heaven for each one of us.
And so today, as we gathered in Knock, we celebrated the message of hope that Mary of Nazareth brought to us.

John proclaims Jesus the Lamb of God. See link

Link to the official testimonies of the fifteen witnesses to the Apparition at Knock

With thanks to Youtube
Photograph by Catherine Nicolette

Friday, April 12, 2013


Catherine Nicolette;
Our Lady of Health - Vailankanni
In the mid sixteenth century,  a little Hindu boy named Tamil Krishnannesti Sankaranaranayam lived in Vailankanni, Tamil Nadu in India. 
Tamil was a shepherd boy, and he used to walk each day from Vailankanni to Nagapattinam to deliver milk to a wealthy gentleman who lived there. 
One day, Tamil felt tired as he walked from Vailankanni, and lay down under a banyan tree beside a pond to nap.
He woke up when a strong gust of wind began to blow.

Lady of celestial beauty

A Lady of celestial beauty stood there, holding a child in her arms.
The Lady greeted him with a motherly smile, and asked him for some milk for her Child.
Tamil was joyful to share the milk with her.
The Lady, since identified as Mary of Nazareth, thanked Tamil before she disappeared with her Child.
When Tamil reached the home of the wealthy gentleman, he narrated what had happened.
When Tamil and the gentleman lifted the lid of the milk pot the boy had been carrying, the pot brimmed over with milk.
Tamil and the gentleman, also a Hindu, hastened back to the pond.
Thereafter, the pond became known as Matha Kulam (Mary's Pond).

Poor village widow

A few years after this occurrence, a poor widow lived in the village with her congenitally lame son.
In order to make ends meet, the boy would sell buttermilk next to a huge banyan tree.
His mother would carry him there, and leave him to sell the milk.
One extremely hot day, he was waiting for customers and no one came.
Instead, he saw a Lady of stunning beauty standing before him, holding a Baby in her arms.
Both wore white garments.
The Lady looked at the boy, and with a charming smile asked him for a cup of buttermilk for her Child.
Without hesitation, the boy gave the cup of buttermilk. 
He saw the Lady feeding her Child.
The Lady then cast a benevolent look at the boy, and turned towards the Child in her arms as if entreating Him.

Go to Nagapattinam

The Lady thanked the boy for his generosity, and asked him to go to Nagapattinam to see a certain wealthy gentleman living there.
He was to tell him of this apparition and her desire to have a chapel built at Vailankanni in her honour.
The boy - while eager to do as she asked - had to tell her of his impairment, upon which the Lady bade him to get up and to walk.
Immediately, the boy leaped to his feet. He was thrilled when he found he could walk, and ran all the way to Nagapattinam - at least ten kilometres away.

Thatched chapel at Vailankanni

Upon reaching Nagapattinam, he found the gentleman and told his story.
The gentleman was astonished because he had a similar vision of Our Lady in his sleep the night before.
Thus he believed the boy's story immediately.
He soon put up a thatched chapel at Vailankanni.
An altar was erected in the chapel, with a lovely statue of Mary of Nazareth holding the baby Jesus in her arms.

Health cures

Many health cures took place during prayer by supplicants at Vailankanni.
Due to the cures, the Lady became known as Our Lady of Health, Vailankanni - ஆரோக்கிய மாதா
This wonderful place of pilgrimage has become known as the Lourdes of the East.

Our Lady of Vailankanni Novena Prayer

Oh Most Holy Virgin! You were chosen by the Most Adorable Trinity from all eternity to be the most pure Mother of Jesus. 
Permit me, your humble and devoted servant, to remind you of the joy received in the instant of the Most Sacred Incarnation of our Divine Lord and during the nine months you carried Him in your chaste womb. 
I wish most sincerely that I could renew, or even increase that joy, by the fervour of my prayers.

Oh! Tender Mother of the afflicted! Grant me under my present necessities that special protection You have promised to those who devoutly commemorate this ineffable joy. 

Relying on the infinite mercies of your Divine Son, trusting in the promise which He has made that those who ask should receive, and filled with confidence in your powerful prayers, I most humbly entreat you intercede for me. 
I beg you to obtain for me the favours which I petition for in this novena, if it be the Holy Will of God to grant them; to ask for me whatever graces I most stand in need of.

(Here specify your requests)

I desire by this novena, which I now offer in your honour, to prove the full confidence I have in your intercession. 

Accept it, I beseech you, in honour of that supernatural love and joy, with which your Immaculate Heart was replenished during the abode of your Divine Son within you.
(Repeat the Hail Mary nine times)
and then say -

Oh! Mother of God! accept these salutations in union with the respect and veneration with which the Angel Gabriel first hailed you, "Full of Grace" I desire that they may become so many gems in your crown of glory, which will increase in brightness to the end of the world.

I beseech you, Oh! comforter of the afflicted, by the joy you received, when the Word was made flesh, to obtain for me the favours and graces, which I have now implored through your powerful intercession. 

To this end I offer you all the good works which have ever been performed in God's honour. 
I most humbly entreat you for the love of the Jesus, with which your heart has always been filled, to hear my humble prayers and to obtain my requests. Amen.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Waiting with Mary - Part 2 (Synopsis)

Upon the miracle of the Incarnation, Mary's heart flooded over with joy at the thought of the imminent arrival of the Christ Child.
We know He would not be born in her home in Nazareth and that His early childhood would be spent in exile in Egypt.
However, was it likely that Mary of Nazareth expected her Son to be born in a stable?
Her husband Joseph was a carpenter.
Surely in Nazareth he must have built a cot for the Child with the finest wood he could afford and of course she wove and fashioned small blankets for it.
It may not have been costly but we can be sure it was as pleasant and comfortable as possible.

What was it like for Mary, that period of anticipation?
We know that she did not become absorbed in her own preparations to the exclusion of the needs of others.
In her poem "The Visitation" Sister Liguori OP wrote about Mary's concern for her aged pregnant cousin Elizabeth.
She told how when Mary entered Elizabeth's house, Elizabeth's own son John, the future John the Baptist, Christ's cousin and the one who would be His first messenger, leaped in His mother's womb.

Mary hastened over the hills
And never a word spoke she,
But the flowers knew, and they curtsied low
To the Mother of God, to be.

Mary stepped softly through the town
Guarding her gladdened eyes
But the palm trees nodded knowingly,
And the wind hummed lullabies.

Mary tapped gently at the door
And spoke in a low sweet voice
But when she entered an unborn babe
Knew her and leaped to rejoice.

It was when Elizabeth's child leapt in her womb for joy that Mary launched into her Magnificat and joyfully proclaimed:

My soul magnifies the Lord
And my spirit rejoices in God, my Saviour;
because He has looked upon the humility of His handmaid
For behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed
for the Almighty has done great things for me, 
Holy is His Name
and His faithful love extends age after age to those who fear Him.
He has used the power of His Arm
He has pulled down princes from their thrones and raised high the lowly
He has filled the hungry with good things, sent the rich away empty
He has come to the help of Israel His servant, mindful of His faithful love
- according to the promise He made to our ancestors -
of His Mercy to Abraham and to his descendents for ever. (Luke Chapter 1, verses 46 to 55)

The Magnificat in all its joy and spontaneity demonstrates to us the boundless joy of Mary of Nazareth at the distinction lavished upon her by the Most High.
The clear knowledge of the scriptures it reveals endorses the fact that Mary had all the sincerity, goodness and intelligence necessary to make her an excellent educator to the growing Infant Jesus after her Advent period had come to its conclusion.

How did Mary interact with Joseph during this period of Advent?
At the onset of her pregnancy, their friendship became fraught with dark patches for this man was devastated by the unanswered questions.
Great relief flooded the hearts of both Mary and Joseph when the angel reassured him during a dream.
Joseph from then on took care of her and of God's Son until his own death took place. 

Joseph was a prayerful and thoughtful person. 
The poem of Sister Maris Stella speaks of the eloquence of Christ, the Word of God, juxtaposed with the silence of His foster father Joseph.

Saint Joseph was the most silent saint of all
No one has written down one word of his
for our edification. Not one small
word of his was saved unless it is
the Word that was the sum of all his life,
the precious Word he saved for everyone
that it might speak the cross, and not the knife,
long, long after he was dead and gone
and gathered to his fathers, and never again
could he spirit the Child and the young girl, His mother,
out of the dangerous city. From all men
of all times he was chosen and no other -
not one from among the prophets - but this rarely heard
and wordless man, to save God's mighty Word.

There is much more poetry relevant to the Advent times, not the least of which is contained in the Isaian and Zecharian prophecies in the Old Testament and which bears quiet study and personal reflection. 

Mary during the first Advent might not have known yet, as we do with the wisdom of hindsight, that there would be no room in the Bethlehem inn for her Holy Child to be birthed.
But in obedience to the temporal powers of the day and filled with confidence in the power of God she dragged her weary pregnant girl's body from Nazareth to Bethlehem, knowing all would be well in the end.
For us and those we love all too will be well if we can but remember not only during Advent but throughout all our lives to pattern our behaviour towards our Redeemer on the silent but beautiful example shown to us by the Lady Mary of Nazareth, and on that of her husband Joseph.

*Why not listen to the beautiful song about Joseph;

*With thanks to Youtube

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Waiting with Mary - Part 1 (Synopsis)

Mary of Nazareth is the uniting factor between God and the human race. 
The medieval lyricists - such as Friar William Herebert (d 1333) -  had exquisite ways of expressing the link between God and His servant, the Lady Mary of Nazareth.
Later poets - such as Robert Southwell (d 1594) and John Donne (1573-1631) - had their own ways of describing Mary of Nazareth. 
In the nineteenth century, Robert Stephen Hawker (1804-1875 ) and the Pre-Raphaelite painter-poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882)  followed this great tradition. 
Rossetti calls Mary of Nazareth a daughter born to God, mother of Christ from stall to rood (meaning cross).

The twentieth century American writer of poetry and prose,  Cornelia Otis Skinner, wrote a poignant little verse after a visit to Italy;

Mary,most serenely fair
Hear an unbeliever's prayer
Nurtured in an austere creed,
Sweetest Lady, she has need
Of the solace of thy grace:
See the tears that stain her face
As she kneels to beg your love,
You whom no one told her of.

What was Mary doing spiritually during those last few weeks leading up to the birth of Christ?
She must have simply been doing what all pregnant women do in their final stages of pregnancy, meditating upon the miracle of human growth taking place within them.
In this case this was even more of a miracle because she was a virgin and her baby was the Son of God.
The metaphysical poet Mother Mary Frances calls Mary - during the time of the Advent of her Son - 
the Queen of Craftsmen.
She itemises the elements of construction of the human body of Jesus reaching completion within His Mother's womb.

Note the time imagery inherent in the allusion to the crystal hammers moving to the beat of Mary's heart as well as the metaphor describing the heart of the developing infant Jesus as a clock.
This latter image incorporates the movement of God the Eternal into the temporal sphere of humanity.

Blow by exquisite blow
The crystal hammers of her love
Fasten the careful joinings of His bones
Prophets have sung this craft: how men may number
These bones, but never break an one of them

What blueprint guides you, Queen of architects
To trace sure paths for wandering veins
That run Redemption's wine?

Who dipped your brush, young artist, so to tint
The eyes and lips of God? Where did you learn
To spin such silk of hair, and expertly
Pull sinew, wine this Heart to tick our mercy?

Thrones, Powers fall down, worshipping your crafts
Whom we, for want of better word, shall call
Most beautiful of all the sons of men.

Worker in motherhood, take our splintery songs
Who witness What you make, in litanies:
O, Queen of craftsmen, pray for us who wait.

The Advent period began with the Annunication.
What was Mary doing when the angel appeared to her?
Mary was aware of the prophecies regarding the coming of the Messiah, and was well versed in the sacred writings.
That this is in fact the case becomes evident to us when we compare Mary's own ode of praise to God, the Magnificat, with the words of Hannah, the mother of Samuel.
After weaning her son, Hannah presented him to Eli in the temple and dedicated him to God.

What was Our Lady doing when the angel Gabriel appeared to her as God's messenger?
The Renaissance poets show her pondering over the words of a book.
But she might have been clearing up for all we know.
What we can be sure of is that when she spoke the word: "Behold the handmaid of the Lord.
Be it done unto me according to Thy Word," a radiance came over her as God overshadowed her and the mystery of the Incarnation took place.

Dr Luky Whittle
To be continued

Why not watch the story of Hannah, the mother of the great Jewish prophet Samuel

The beautiful song of Mary of Nazareth - the Magnificat
Let us glorify God together with her.
Why not listen to

With thanks to Youtube and Mormon2011