Page last updated at 11:58 GMT, Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Bishop rejects shrine apparition

Knock souvenirs
Knock has become a popular destination for pilgrims

A Catholic archbishop in the west of Ireland has told pilgrims to Knock they should not look for apparitions at its shrine to the Virgin Mary.

Earlier this month, about 5,000 people gathered at the shrine after a Dublin-based clairvoyant predicted a repeat of the famous sighting of 1879.

Some claimed they could see the sun shimmering and changing colour.

But Archbishop of Tuam Michael Neary said: "Such events are to be regretted rather than encouraged."

"It is not healthy, does not give glory to God and certainly is not good witness to the faith to be looking for extraordinary phenomena," he said.

"The apparition of 1879 was neither sought nor expected by the humble, honest people who were its astonished witnesses.


"Their faith reveals the patience and humility that characterises true belief. The Shrine of Knock is living witness to that faith.

"Unfortunately, recent events at the shrine obscure this essential message - they risk misleading God's people and undermining faith.

"For this reason such events are to be regretted rather than encouraged."

The village in County Mayo remains popular with pilgrims who visit the site where Mary, Joseph and St John are said to have appeared 130 years ago.

Pope John Paul II's visit in 1979 brought Knock to international attention.

An airport at Knock opened in 1986, following a long campaign by parish priest Monsignor James Horan who raised millions from various sources to upgrade facilities at the shrine.

Thousands flocked to the shrine after Dublin clairvoyant Joe Coleman predicted the Virgin Mary would appear.

Dr Neary issued his statement after Mr Coleman predicted another "spiritual awakening" would take place at the shrine on Saturday afternoon.

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