To mark the 100th anniversary of the apparition, the Polish pope went on pilgrimage to see her.
The apparition of Our Lady at Knock is a unique visit of Jesus’ mother to our world. She appeared with her husband, Joseph, and with the apostle who cared for her after Jesus’ death, St. John. She didn’t say anything. But her appearance was seen by more than a dozen people, who all gave the same account. The apparition occurred on August 21, 1879.
The Church now celebrates the feast of Our Lady of Knock on August 17, since August 21 is dedicated to St. Pius X.
Pope John Paul II made the first visit of a pope to Ireland during the centenary of the apparition, in 1979. He described his trip to the Shrine at Knock as the reason for his visit, explaining that since he was a boy, he had the habit of visiting Marian shrines. He noted how “every people, every country, indeed every diocese, has its holy places in which the heart of the whole people of God beats, one could say, in more lively fashion: places of special encounter between God and human beings; places in which Christ dwells in a special way in our midst.”
St. John Paul II concluded his homily at Knock on that September 30 with special “words of trust and consecration.”
Here is an excerpt of his prayer:
Mother, in this shrine you gather the People of God of all Ireland and constantly point out to them Christ in the Eucharist and in the Church. At this solemn moment we listen with particular attention to your words: “Do whatever my Son tells you.” And we wish to respond to your words with all our heart. We wish to do what your Son tells us, what he commands us, for he has the words of eternal life. We wish to carry out and fulfill all that comes from him, all that is contained in the Good News, as our forefathers did for many centuries. Their fidelity to Christ and to his Church, and their heroic attachment to the Apostolic See, have in a way stamped on all of us an indelible mark that we all share. … Today therefore, on the occasion of the first visit of a pope to Ireland, we entrust and consecrate to you, Mother of Christ and Mother of the Church, our hearts, our consciences, and our works, in order that they may be in keeping with the faith we profess. … May our ears constantly hear with the proper clarity your motherly voice: “Do whatever my Son tells you.” Enable us to persevere with Christ. Enable us, Mother of the Church, to build up his Mystical Body by living with the life that he alone can grant us from his fullness, which is both divine and human.