Tag Archives: Blessed Virgin Mary

Our Lady of Knock—The Silent Apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Photo Credit: Flickr/Wampa-One-Legarius – Our Lady of Knock_P1090939

 

By Larry Peterson

On the northwestern coast of Ireland sits County Mayo, and within that green, lush county lies what was once the Knock Parish Church. Today the name of this place has been elevated; it is now known as The Shrine of Our Lady of Knock for it was here that The Blessed Virgin Mary appeared on the night of August 21, 1879.

It was pouring down rain that evening when Mary McLoughlin, the parish housekeeper, looked out the window of the kitchen and noticed a mysterious light illuminating the stone wall. Even through the pouring rain, the light was visible and so were three figures standing in front of the wall. Mary thought they were the replacement statues for the ones destroyed by a storm a year or so earlier. Somewhat frightened, Mary ran through the rain to her friend Margaret Byrne’s house.

Mary stayed about a half hour and then decided to leave. Margaret’s sister, also named Mary, agreed to walk with her. As they passed the church, an amazing sight was clearly visible to the two women. They were sure they were seeing the Blessed Mother, St. Joseph, and St. John. To the left of St. John was an altar and on the altar was a lamb. Behind the altar was a cross and on each side of the altar but above it were adoring angels. Mary Byrne ran home to tell her family.

Word quickly spread and soon fifteen people were kneeling in the pouring rain praying the Rosary. They ranged in ages from six to seventy-five and even though they were soaked to the skin, not a drop of rain fell on the vision they were watching. Witnesses said the Blessed Mother stood erect with her eyes toward heaven and that she wore a large white cloak hanging in folds; on her head was a large gold crown.

Unlike the apparitions of Our Lady at Lourdes, La Salette, and Fatima where Our Lady spoke to the seers,  at Knock she remained silent. Nothing was said nor was a word spoken. Everyone present at the apparition saw the apparition and they all attested to the same thing about the unspoken word.

The next day a group of villagers went to the local priest and told him the story. He believed them and contacted the Bishop of Tuam. The Bishop set up a commission to interview the people who had witnessed the vision. The hierarchy was extremely doubtful that what they were hearing was true. They even considered the possibility that the local Protestant constable had orchestrated a hoax to make the Catholics look ridiculous.

The people, however, were not so skeptical, and pilgrimages to Knock began in 1880. Two years later none other than Archbishop John Joseph Lynch of Toronto, visited the site and claimed he had been healed by the Virgin of Knock. That was quite a lofty endorsement.

Most of the witnesses passed on but Mary Byrne married and raised six children while living her entire life in Knock. Interviewed again in 1936, when she was eighty-six, her account was the same as it was back in 1879.

The appearance of Our Lady, St. Joseph and St. John,  at Knock, transformed the quiet village as thousands now came to commemorate the vision and ask for healing from Our Lady. In 1976 a new church, Our Lady Queen of Ireland, was erected and it holds more than two thousand people. It needs to be enlarged as more than a half-million visitors come to Knock each year.

Inquiries set up by the local Bishop, and the Catholic hierarchy in Ireland formally approved the apparitions as worthy of devotion and Pope St. John Paul II, sealed it all when upon his visit in 1979, he called his stop the ultimate goal of his pastoral visit to Ireland.

Our Lady of Knock, pray for us.

Manliness Personified; Joseph of Nazareth: The Saint Who Saved the Savior (Feast Day, March 19)

Joseph and Mary going to Bethlehem
stjosephnewpalz.org

By Larry Peterson

So little is known about Joseph of Nazareth. There is not even one word he ever said that was recorded.  But his quiet life resonated as if huge cymbals were being smashed together, their vibrating sounds marching over the ages of history and into the center of our 21st-century existence. For it was Joseph of Nazareth who saved the Son of God so He could live to save us all. I call Joseph, the “Savior Saint.”

Joseph, a carpenter from Nazareth, was obviously humble and egoless and gave of himself. He was a real MAN.  And it was this man, this quiet, savior saint who single-handedly saved the life of our Savior, Jesus Christ when He was still an infant. Imagine if he had not been available to protect his wife and child.

As a man, I try to imagine having to confront what Joseph had to deal with. As Mary’s betrothed, he quietly accepted her pregnancy at a time when the scandal of such a thing oftentimes meant execution for the woman. When Mary was almost full term, he was forced to put her on the back of a donkey and take her 80 miles over rocky, dirt roads to Bethlehem for the census; a journey that would have probably taken three to five days. (I would have been sick to my stomach praying we could make it).

Then, upon arrival, his wife, Mary, goes into labor. There were no ERs, no cell phones, no 911 calls, and no paramedics. You are a stranger in town and do not know anyone. Unable to find shelter, you realize you on your own. Being a man, you try to appear calm and cool, but your insides are knotted in fear.

He was probably trembling and telling his wife, “Stay calm sweetie, it will be all right. Don’t worry. Don’t worry.”  He is forced to bring her to a dirty, smelly stable that is an animal shelter. Here she has to give birth to her child who is the Son of God. As a man, Joseph must have felt so inadequate, so un-manly. His heart must have been breaking.

The miracle of the Virgin Birth takes place, and mother and child are fine. But then Joseph discovers that King Herod wants to kill his baby boy. Okay guys, think about it. You have made it this far, and now you learn the army has been ordered to find your child and kill him.

The soldiers, unflinchingly following orders, are out in force searching for YOU and YOUR family. They are killing all boys two years old and under so as not to miss killing your son. But it is you and your wife and child they want.

Those other children are ‘collateral damage,’ an after-thought to Herod’s vicious orders. The fear and anxiety within Joseph must have been overwhelming, yet he did his best to remain upbeat.Somehow, someway, with his resolve of faith and trust in God propelling him forward, he made it to Egypt and saved his family.

I have no idea how he managed to do it. Egypt was three hundred miles away, but he got them there safe and sound. He saved not only the Redeemer and probably the Blessed Mother from death, but he also made it possible for all of us to be saved too.

One final thought about this incredible person; Joseph of Nazareth was the only man who ever lived who could point to the Son of God and say, “That’s MY boy.” And that Boy would look up at him and call him, “Daddy.”  Imagine that.

St. Joseph, thank you and please pray for all of us. HAPPY FEAST DAY

 Copyright Larry Peterson 2018

 

The First Apparition of the Blessed Mother took place while she was still Alive. The year was 40 A.D.

By Larry Peterson

Only seven years after Jesus death and Resurrection, on October 12, 40 A.D., an incredible event took place. That was the day the very first Marian apparition ever recorded took place. And yes, Our Lady was still alive at the time. This apparition occurred in Spain and it was Jesus’ apostle, St. James the Great, brother of St. John, who the Blessed Virgin appeared to. This apparition is known as Our Lady of Pillar.

 

During the very early days of Christianity, James had traveled to a pagan land called Zaragoza, in the Roman province of Hispania which today is better known as Spain or Espana. Zaragoza was a foreboding place and James was having a very difficult time evangelizing the people in the area. They just did not seem to care and they did not even like this strange man from a different country.

 

Legend has it that James, despondent and dejected had fallen into (what we call today), a terrible “funk”. No matter how much he tried he could not seem to lift his own spirits. One night, James was praying by the banks of the Ebro River. Suddenly a great light engulfed him. James knelt, staring into the light, and what he saw was beyond description. In the light was the Virgin Mary and she was surrounded by thousands of angels.

 

She told James that he should persevere because, ultimately, his work for Jesus would have great results and many would turn to the Faith. She asked that a church be built on the place where she appeared and left behind a pillar of “Jasper” to mark the spot where she had been.  The Virgin Mary also left a small statue of herself holding the infant Jesus in her arms. The statue was sitting atop the Jasper pillar. Since the Blessed Virgin was still alive and living in Jerusalem, her appearance is considered an act of bilocation.

 

James immediately gathered some of his new followers and began work on a chapel on the designated site. The chapel is the first church ever dedicated to Mary and today, after many renovations, is known as the Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar. It is located in the exact place Our Lady appeared 2000 years ago.

 

James participated in the dedication of the small church and returned to Jerusalem. Ironically, he was the first apostle to die for the faith. In 44 A.D., Herod Agrippa, had James beheaded. The disciples of James took his body back to Spain for final burial. The statue and pillar were taken under the protection of the people of Zorogaza.

 

The many miracles surrounding the relic can attest to its heavenly origin. For example, it has been almost 2000 years and the statue has never needed dusting. In 1936, the Catholic-hating “Reds” bombed the shrine but the bombs that hit the church never exploded. No one is allowed to touch the statue except for the four priests assigned to its care and newborn infants can be lifted up to touch the image of their heavenly Mom.

 

Popes from the earliest times have attested to the authenticity of Our lady’s appearance at the shrine. Pope Calixtus III issued a Papal bull in 1456 encouraging people to make pilgrimages to Our Lady of Pillar. The miracle of the shrine’s foundation was even acknowledged.

 

The most prominent miracle occurred in the 17th century. A    beggar named Miguel Pellicer from the town of Calanda, could not work due to having an amputated leg. He was constantly praying at the shrine for the Blessed Mother’s help. She answered his prayers for sure because his leg was restored. When word of this spread, pilgrimages greatly increased to the shrine and it has been so ever since.

 

Over the centuries many controversial stories arose concerning the authenticity of this shrine. Pope Innocent III, answering an appeal from Spain, had twelve cardinals investigate all the data available. On August 7, 1723, the Sacred Congregation of Rites, affirmed the original. In 1730, Pope Clement XII, allowed the feat of Our Lady of Pillar to be celebrated throughout the Spanish empire. Eventually she was declared Patroness of the Hispanic World. Our Lady of Pillar’s feast day is October 12.

 

One final thought. As a young seminarian, St. Josemaria Escriva, made daily visits to the shrine of Our Lady of Pillar. He always prayed for guidance and eventually founded Opus Dei. The members honor her feast day each year.

 

Our Lady of Pillar, please pray for us.

Photo courtesy: commons wikimedia.org