Friday 23 March 2018

What one of the visionaries witnessed

Mary Byrne (29) is regarded the principal witness of the apparition at Knock in August 1879. This is her official testimony:

"I live in the village of Knock, to the east side of the chapel. Mary McLoughlin came on the evening of August 21 to my house at about half past seven o'clock. She remained some little time.

"I came back with her as she was returning homewards. It was either eight o'clock or a quarter to eight at the time. It was still bright. I had never heard from Miss McLoughlin about the vision, which she had seen just before that.

"The first I learned of it was on coming at the time just named from my mother's house in company with Miss Mary McLoughlin, and at the distance of 300 yards or so from the church.

"I beheld, all at once, standing out from the gable, and rather to the west of it, three figures which, on more attentive inspection, appeared to be that of the Blessed Virgin, St Joseph and St John. That of the Blessed Virgin was life-size, the others apparently either not so big or not so high as her figure.

"They stood a little distance out from the gable wall, and, as well as I could judge, a foot-and-a-half or two feet from the ground.

"The Virgin stood erect, with eyes raised to heaven; her hands elevated to the shoulders or a little higher, the palms inclined slightly towards the shoulders or bosom.

"She wore a large cloak of a white colour, hanging in full folds and somewhat loosely around her shoulders, and fastened to the neck.

"She wore a crown on the head, rather a large crown, and it appeared to me somewhat yellower than the dress or robes worn by Our Blessed Lady.

"In the figure of St Joseph, the head was slightly bent, and inclined towards the Blessed Virgin, as if paying her respect.

"It represented the saint as somewhat aged, with grey whiskers and greyish hair.

"The third figure appeared to be that of St John the Evangelist.

"At one time I saw a statue at the chapel of Lecanvey, near Westport, Co Mayo, very much resembling the figure which stood now before me... He held the Book of Gospels, or the Mass Book, open in his left hand, while he stood slightly turned on the left side towards the altar that was over a little from him.

"Towards this altar, St John, as I shall call the figure, was looking, while he stood at the gospel side of the said altar, which his right arm inclined at an angle outwardly, towards the Blessed Virgin.

"The altar appeared to be like the altars in use in the Catholic Church, large and full-sized. It had no linens, no candles, nor any special ornamentations; it was only a plain altar.

"Above the altar and resting on it, was a lamb, standing with the face towards St John, thus fronting the western sky.

"I saw no cross or crucifix. On the body of the lamb and around it, I saw golden stars, or small brilliant lights, glittering like jets or glass balls, reflecting the light of some luminous body.

"I remained from a quarter past eight to half past nine o'clock. At the time it was raining."

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