Wednesday 19 September 2018

Fervour, faith and a fibreglass Francis as Knock gets ready

As Knock gets ready for the Pope, Donal Lynch visits the town where knick-knacks and faith exist side by side

A statue of Pope Francis in a shop window in Knock, Co Mayo. Photo: Tony Gavin
A statue of Pope Francis in a shop window in Knock, Co Mayo. Photo: Tony Gavin
Donal Lynch

Donal Lynch

It was the lavish refurbishments, rather than any particular apparition in the sky, that gave the people of Knock the impression they were in for The Second Papal Coming.

"We had a feeling. They spent €6m on the church after it closed last October and €14m on the Basilica before that," says local shopkeeper Bernard Byrne. "It seemed too early for another big renovation, so we knew something was about to happen. We are thrilled. It will be such a big thing for the town."

Byrne's shop sits in a row of businesses selling all manner of Catholic iconography and souvenirs - tea towels, Tupperware, devotional cards, rosary beads to beat the band and an almost life-size replica of 2018's guest of honour. Former popes might have been made monumental in bronze, but Francis is fabulous in fibreglass - for just under €400.

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