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Father Anthony Ho

Our Lady brings hope and encouragement

Voices Jul 25, 2017

Statues in Our Lady of Knock Church, Ireland, portray the apparition witnessed by several parishioners on August 21, 1879. By the end of that year, 300 miracles were recorded by the parish priest. (Via Flickr)

Our Lady gives comfort

In 1871, Our Lady appeared in Pontmain, a small village in north-western France. Eight years later, in 1879, she appeared in Knock, a village in north-western Ireland. Both the apparitions of Pontmain and of Knock took place in the evening for about three hours and no words were spoken.

In 1871, Our Lady brought hope and encouragement to the people in Pontmain during the Franco-Prussian War. In the 1870s, County Mayo, where Knock was located, had suffered great distress. Land reform efforts had provoked heated controversy and even violence, while scattered famines recalled the fearful times of Ireland’s Great Hunger. Our Lady came from heaven in 1879 to give hope to her children in Ireland in a time of distress and comforted them in sorrow.

Just before the apparition began, the parish priest of Knock had completed a series of one hundred Masses for the souls in Purgatory whom the Virgin Mary wished to help release.

In the evening of August 21, 1879 Mary McLoughlin, the housekeeper of the parish priest of Knock, was astonished to see a mysterious light at the outside south wall of the church. There were three figures standing in front of the wall, and Mary thought they were replacements of the stone figures destroyed in a storm. She rushed through the rain to her friend Margaret Byrne's house. After a half hour, Margaret's sister Mary agreed to walk home with her. As they passed by the back of the church, they saw a vision very clearly.

The vision was described as follows: “Our Lady was wearing a large, brilliant crown and clothed in white garments. On her right was Saint Joseph, his head inclined toward her and on her left Saint John the Evangelist. To the left of Saint John was an altar on which stood a cross and a lamb.”

Flying around the altar were several angels. Mary Byrne ran to tell her family while Mary McLoughlin gazed at the apparition. Soon a crowd of fifteen parishioners were there reciting the rosary and witnessing the apparition.

It was daylight when the apparition began, but the weather changed and it began to rain heavily. However, the area surrounding the apparition was unaffected, and the ground remained dry as long as the vision lasted. Some villagers, who did not see the vision, reported seeing a very bright light illuminating the area surrounding the church.

In the vision, Saint Joseph wore white robes and stood on the Virgin’s right, Saint John the Evangelist wore a mitre, and appeared to be preaching as he held a book in his left hand.

Patrick Hill, one of the visionaries, said, 'The figures were fully rounded, as if they had a body and life. They did not speak but, as we drew near, they retreated a little towards the wall."

John Curry, another visionary, said, "It appeared to me that they were alive, but they didn’t speak. One of the women there, Bridget Trench, kissed the Blessed Virgin’s feet and tried to put her arms around the feet but there was nothing there but the picture. I saw her do that. The figures were life-size and I will remember them till I go to my grave."

As the news of the apparition spread, pilgrims flocked to the site. Numerous cures were reported. Those who were cured left their crutches and canes at the site. In the fall of 1880, a statue of Our Lady of Knock was erected. At the end of 1880, some 300 cured people had been recorded in the diary of the parish priest.

soon, the local parish church became too small for the pilgrims. In 1976, a new church, Our Lady of Ireland, was erected. This new church holds more than two thousand people. Today, the site is the main national Marian shrine in Ireland.


聖母送來安慰

            在一八七一年,聖母在蓬特曼,法國西北的一個小鄉村顯現。八年後,一八七九年8月21日,她顯現在諾克,愛爾蘭西北的一個村落。兩個顯現,蓬特曼和諾克都在黃昏,為時約三小時,都沒有說一句話。

            一八七一年,聖母為蓬特曼人民在此法國-普魯士戰爭中帶來希望和鼓勵。 在一八七零年代梅奧縣,諾克所在地,人民蒙受很大的苦難。土地改革的後果挑起了熾熱的爭議甚至暴力,零散的飢荒,勾起了愛爾蘭大飢荒的惶恐。在一八七九年聖母自天而來,為苦難中愛爾蘭的子女帶來希望,安撫他們的憂傷。

            在這顯現前不久,諾克神父堂區剛完成了為煉獄靈魂一系列的百台彌撒,特別為那些童貞瑪利亞切願能予幫助的靈魂祈禱。

            在一八七九年八月廿一日,瑪利亞、麥克勞林,諾克神父堂區的管家,驚訝地看見聖堂南面外牆的一道奧妙的光線。有三個人像站在牆的前面。她想這可會是三個被風暴破壞後更換的新石像。她冒著雨奔到她朋友瑪嘉烈、拜恩家中。半小時後,瑪嘉烈的姊妹同意跟她一起走回家去。當她們經過聖堂背後,她們清楚看見一個景象。

            這景像被形容如下:「聖母戴著一頂光輝的大皇冠,穿上白色衣服。在她右邊是聖若瑟,頭傾向聖母,在她左邊是聖若望。聖若望左邊是一祭台,豎立著一十字架和一只羔羊。」

            有幾位天使環繞著祭台飛行。在瑪利亞、麥克勞林凝視著這顯現的時候,瑪利亞、拜恩跑去通知家人。不久有十五信眾聚集,誦念玫瑰經,並見證了這場顯現。

            在顯現開始時尚有日光,但天氣變化,開始滂沱大雨。可是,顯現的地方不受影響,地面保持干燥直到顯現結束。一些沒有看見顯現的人說他們看見一道強光照射著聖堂周圍。

            在顯現中,聖若瑟身穿白袍站在童貞女之右,聖若望頭戴牧冠,左手持書,一如在講道中。

            一位目擊者,帕特里克形容說「這些形像是完整的,一如他們有身體有生命般。他們沒有說話,當我們靠近一點,他們向牆邊後退一些。」

            另一目擊者,若望作證說:「對我來說,他們是活生生的,但他們沒有說話。在場的一位女士布里奇特親吻了聖童貞女的腳,又以手臂環抱她雙腳,但這裡沒有什麼東西,卻只有景象。我目睹她這樣造。這些形像是大小跟人一樣,我會記得直到我躺在墳墓中。」

            當顯現的新聞傳開,朝聖者紛紛湧至。不小治癒者個案得以記錄。康復的不少留下他們的拐杖和手杖。一八八零年秋豎立了一尊諾克聖母聖像。一八八零年年終堂區神父日記中錄得大約三百個治癒個案。本地的堂區聖堂因朝聖之眾而變得太小了。一九七六年建立了一所新的愛爾蘭聖母聖堂。這聖堂能容納二千之眾。今天這現場是主要的愛爾蘭國民聖母聖地。