Sunday, July 31, 2016


Click on any image for a larger version

As the no-particular anniversary (137th) of the Knock apparitions approaches I checked out the Knock Shrine website and my head immediately began to spin.

It initially spun back to 16 July last and then beyond to 2012, the year of the International Eucharistic Congress's visit to Ireland.

Those who follow these things will know that the Congress's previous visit to Ireland in 1932 was, for a variety of reasons, a mega-emanation of Roman Catholic triumphalism.

Much was supposed to have changed in the meantime, though we hadn't quite reached the same-sex marriage stage in 2012. But there was a fear that a church which had just gone through the major trauma of widespread clerical child sex abuse, and from which members were leeching, would be tempted to put on a big show of Ecclesia Reformata but with all the bells and whistles instead of the required atmosphere of repentance and humility.

In fact Fr. Tony Flannery had suggested that the event should be one of sackcloth and ashes in place of the usual ceremonial dress up occasion.

But nobody paid a blind bit of attention to him and an extensive wardrobe of first class gear was commissioned for the occasion.

Fast forward to July of this year and the 40th anniversary re-dedication of the Knock basilica and more top class gear appeared. Knock, as I understand it, has its own extensive wardrobe to tog out visiting clergy of one sort or another. But that's another story. And, anyway, this stuff was probably bespoke.

Between the new holy mosaic and the energy expended by Cardinal O'Malley you'd think they were expecting the second coming on the spot.

Archbishop Neary had to be there. It is, after all, his diocese. But what about the Nuncio and Archbishop Martin. It almost reminds me of a Bulgarian joke which, unfortunately, I am not now allowed to repeat in these PC times.

Knock is one of Charlie Brown's favourite stomping grounds - he is convinced that a little more faith from the peasants will sort out all the church's problems and Knock in the past has given him a platform for his simplistic ramblings. Archbishop Martin has come along either to keep an eye on Charlie or possibly enlist the Nuncio's support for the next stage of his career.

Anyway, we're slowly working our way up to this year's anniversary of the apparitions and chances are that the culmination of what is now a week long event will again see first class gear produced for "the coming of the Lord", except of course, in this case it is his holy mother who is the real star of the show.

There was a politico religious joke doing the rounds in the 1980s which might cast some doubt on the Virgin's original appearance. One way or another, were she to turn up this year, it could turn out to be a second coming.

Thanks to Knock Shrine for the photos

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