The visit of His Holiness Pope Francis to Knock Shrine in August 2018 as part of the celebration of the World Meeting of Families is warmly remembered by the thousands of pilgrims who gathered to greet him on that occasion.
His touching words and the profound silence that accompanied his prayer at the Shrine is a lasting memory for all. Pope Francis has once again decided to favour Knock Shrine at a special Mass in St Peters Basilica to celebrate the ‘Sunday of the Word of God’ on Sunday, January 26.
In the Apostolic Letter “Aperuit Illis” of September 2019, Pope Francis announced his desire to devote the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time as a day of reflection to highlight the importance of the Word of God for all Christians.
He stated: "I hereby declare that the Third Sunday in Ordinary time is to be devoted to the celebration, study and dissemination of the Word of God” Aperuit Illis, 3. The letter concludes with a reference to Our Lady who accompanies us “on the journey of welcoming the Word of God.”
In August of last year, Archbishop Rino Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelisation, preached at the National Novena in Knock. In his reflection on the Apparition at Knock, he noted in particular the importance of St John the Evangelist, who held the book of Scripture in his hand during the Apparition, thus highlighting the centrality of the Word of God. Following on from his visit, an invitation was extended for Knock Shrine to participate in a significant way in the first Mass honouring the Word of God in Rome.
Participating in the Mass will be his Grace, the Archbishop of Tuam, Fr Richard Gibbons, PP and Rector of the Shrine together with staff and parishioners who will participate in the various elements of the liturgy. The Schola Cantorum Basilicae choir directed by Úna Nolan, will perform music during the Mass that will include the much-loved hymn ‘Lady of Knock’ and other sacred music.
The new processional statue of Our Lady of Knock which was commissioned to celebrate the 140th Anniversary of the Apparition at Knock in 1879 will be present at the Papal Altar for the Mass. This statue was blessed by his Holiness in Rome last August.
The last time the Shrine was officially involved in a Vatican ceremony was 1954, when the Knock Shrine Society, led by Archbishop Joseph Walsh, presented the Shrine banner to His Holiness Pope Pius XII; after which, the Vatican Chapter gave Archbishop Walsh permission for the canonical crowning of the processional Statue of Our Lady of Knock.
Many people from the Parish of Knock and further afield are planning to make the journey to Rome for the Mass and there is great excitement surrounding this historic occasion.
Fr Richard Gibbons said: "I am delighted that Knock Shrine is being honoured at such an important Mass in St Peters Basilica. It points to the richness of the Apparition, which amongst other aspects, has the Word of God as a central part of its message. All of us who are travelling to Rome for the Mass are deeply conscious of the significance of this event and are thankful for the opportunity to take part."
The Mass will take place in St Peters Basilica, Rome on Sunday 26 January 2020 at 9am (Irish time ) and 10am (Rome time ). The Mass will be broadcast live on EWTN on SKY channel 588.
Those intending to travel to Rome and attend the Mass should contact the Knock Shrine office (094 ) 9375070, email: [email protected]. accommodation, flights etc must be booked separately by those planning to attend.