Knock Apparition - 1879
The Apparition at Knock took place in 1879, eight years after Pontmain in 1871. The two apparitions are broadly similar, in that they both took place in the evening and only lasted for three hours or so, and similarly, in both, no words were spoken.
On the evening of Thursday, 21 August 1879, two women from the small village of Knock, Mary McLoughlin and Mary Beirne, were walking near the local church when they noticed luminous figures at the gable end. As they got closer they realised there were three moving figures and that one of them looked like the Blessed Virgin.
They surmised that the others were St. Joseph and St. John the Evangelist, and as it got darker Mary Beirne went off to alert her family, and so soon other neighbours joined them in the pouring rain. As the crowd gathered they could also see an altar, with a young lamb on it, in front of a cross, while one boy saw angels over the altar, but they heard no sounds and no verbal message was given.
The apparition lasted for several hours, and was witnessed independently, as a globe of light, by a farmer who lived about a half mile away.
The happening at Knock was thoroughly investigated and it was proved that it could not have been produced by luminous paint or a "magic lantern." A commission of enquiry was set up by the aged Archbishop of Tuam, Dr. McHale, but although it considered the witnesses reliable and trustworthy, the Archbishop made no definitive statement for or against the apparition.
However, over time Knock gradually gained official support from the Church, culminating in the Papal visit of 1979. The symbolism of the lamb, cross and altar has been seen as pointing to the sacrificial death of Christ and the Mass, and yet these were behind Mary in the apparition at Knock, suggesting that the focus was on her and her role as a mediator.
Sources: Rynne, Knock 1879-1979, Dublin, 1979; Walsh, The Apparition at Knock, Tuam, 1959.