Knock And Its Shrine by F.P. Carey. Part 3.

All services rendered at Knock-Mhuire are voluntarily discharged. Doctors, Nurses, Stewards (or male volunteers for general duty) and Handmaids, which is the description accorded the ladies who come forward to help in the performance of the innumerable duties towards the comfort and convenience of invalids necessary during pilgrimage, are at their posts in pursuit of a labour of Christian love. All come to Knock and board there entirely their own expense.
Pilgrimage experiences are always highly edifying. It is at all rare to see non-pilgrimage visitors at Knock affected even to tears as quickly by the evidences of Irish Catholic Faith appreciable upon every hand as by the plight of the more helpless invalids, very many of whom stoically, and only too obviously, endure increase of pain, and even challenge discomfort and physical danger, in furtherance of their heroic piety and submissive spirit of hope.

Non-Catholic visitors frequently remain over a pilgrimage week-end in order to witness for themselves the singular scenes of which they shall have heard in the hotels and boarding houses of Claremorris and Ballyhaunis, the nearest neighbouring towns and cases have been known in which the experience has resulted in conversion to the True Faith of Christ.
The principal pilgrimage exercised is the traditional Station performed in full requirement by the active pilgrims, passively by the infirm invalids reposing upon bath-chairs and stretchers in front of the out-of-doors altar, though it is right to say that occasionally some of the latter insist upon being wheeled into the general procession, a wish honoured whenever advisable by the Handmaid, or Steward, on duty. The Station requires a preliminary visit to the Blessed Sacrament, after which the Stations of Cross are performed. The pilgrim next recites the Fifteen Mysteries of the Rosary as he moves around the exterior of church, an exercise most impressive when, as upon organised occasions, hundreds, sometimes thousands, join in processional performance. The Litany of the B.V.M. is then said at the Apparition gable as a prelude, so to speak, to return to the church for a concluding visit to the Blessed Sacrament. The order for organized pilgrimages is the same, with, however, the addition of hymns, including the Credo. Invariably in connection those more-public approaches of the Shrine the recitation of the entire Rosary, each five decades being said at pre-arranged intervals is extended throughout the period of the journeys to, and from Knock.

From the outset, all-night vigils have been peculiarly characteristic of the established devotions at the Shrine, and it has been suggested that the hallowed atmosphere of Knock-Mhuire may not fully be appreciated until one shall have participated in this impressive, if somewhat exacting exercise. It has transpired moreover, that many of the outstanding cures have taken place during the vigil, or immediately afterwards. Each vigil commences—with the celebration of the Eucharistic Hour from midnight. Private devotions for a further hour are then prescribed, and from two o‘clock until four the pilgrim is engaged in the performance of the traditional Station. This exercise concluded, individual devotion is again resorted to, in preparation for Mass and Holy Communion, whereupon the vigil ends. On the evening of each recurring twenty-first of August, the Apparition is commemorated by a procession in and around the church with lighted candles.

It would be manifestly impossible to include in a work of our present limited scope any recital even remotely approaching a full account of the graces and favours reported from Knock-Mhuire during—recent years. We may, however, briefly offer details of a few of the more arresting cures accounted during the short interval since the launching of the Crusade of Prayer in 1935. Possibly the most remarkable among these later claims was that of a London Sister of Charity, who had long suffered from an ear-trouble, having been attended without avail by several leading specialists. An operation was eventually performed, and the patient was ordered to bed for six months, the surgeon expressing but little hope for her survival, and none for her hearing. But on the following day, the Sister was out of bed, and apparently restored to normal vigour. A non-Catholic doctor, who had previously treated her, was then brought to examine her. He found the wounds healed, and the hearing perfect.”You are cured,” he said,”But it was nothing that I did!,” The Sister attributed her cure solely to the intercession of Our Lady of Knock, in whose honour she had commenced a Novena, applying a piece of cement from the Apparition gable to the affected part. On the fourth day of the Novena she rose in obedience, as she declared, to a voice, saying “Get up, Sister, you are cured!”
In 1936, a young Co. Mayo man was cured of an unsightly and painful rash of long-standing, after bathing his face with water in which a little clay brought from Knock had been placed This sufferer mentions in his thanksgiving that he had had no relief whatever from different methods of treatment, undergone in Dublin and London. A County Wexford child made in I937 marvellous recovery from an attack of meningitis, which had threatened him with imbecility, after his heart-broken parents had, as a last resource, bathed his head with holy water from Knock. From Cork a victim of a serious mastoid reported during the same year, how the wound had unaccountably begun to heal upon return from a pilgrimage to the Shrine, a complete cure being ultimately effected, despite the fact of earlier protracted surgical treatment, which had culminated in two unsuccessful operations. In this case, a slight injury to the face and one of the eyes, sustained during the second operation, was also cured after recourse to Our Lady of Knock. A Sligo pilgrim was cured of neuritis; a Kildare man reported how as a child he had been brought from stone-deafness to perfect hearing after performing the Station at the guidance of his parents; a Mayo mother pre served her baby from imminent danger of choking by sprinkling of Knock water; the crippled arm of a priest was miraculously restored to normality; an American devotee was cured of gangrene after the pious application of clay from near the Shrine; an Australian professional man attributed his recovery from pyorrhea and complete restoration to health, to the advocacy of Our Lady of Knock; a County Galway woman after visiting the shrine was cured of a serious nervous malady which doctors told her had baffled them. Cures as recently reported include also cases of leprosy, cancer, and advanced lung disease.