Knock 18794979, by Catherine Rynne (Veritas Publications,•Dublin).
AS THE world prepares to focus its attention on Knock fro the historic visit of the Popc, it is more than timely for us to consider why such a spectacular honour is being paid to a rather non-deseript Mayo village where it invariably rains.
Catherine Rynne's Knock 1879-1979 provides a brisk account of the events or the evening of August 21, 1879, which caused a theological controversy and turned the humble village into Ireland's national shrine.
The book traces the history of
Knock from its historical context
an Ireland crushed by the potato famine and English rule. The apparitions are compared with the other manifestations in nineteenth century Europe and the growth of the shrine as a place of pilgrimage over the last hundred years is also described. Perhaps the most extraordinary thing about Knock iS the number of witnesses and the style of their testimonies. Where other contemporary Marian apparitions tended to be reported by small groups of children, at least fifteen villagers crowded round the church gable that rainy eyeing. Ranging from a five-year-old hoy to a seventy-five-year-old woman, they were by no means all models of saintliness and the simple conviction and even occasional casualness of their written depositions have an air of authenticity which no amount of the purple prose of later commentators can diminish.
Ms Rynne's research is painstaking and her style fair and objective. In this anti-mystical age when Marian appearances are, to say the very least, unfashionable, the book presents hard facts and allows us to come to our own conclusions about what happened at the gable end of Knock Church that rainy August evening.