Sarah MacDonald: Pope John Paul's visit will stay with me forever
Pope Francis is to visit Ireland. This is the greatest possible boon to an Irish church wounded and chastened by the clerical child-abuse scandals.
Once the jewel in the Catholic crown, the Irish church has for some time been a matter of concern for the Vatican. These days, it is struggling against the tide of secularism as Mass attendances and vocations continue to plummet.
In Knock at the weekend, recalling the way things were around the time of Pope John Paul's visit, Archbishop Eamon Martin asked: "Could we ever have imagined 35 years ago that so much change would happen so quickly, especially to the role and standing of the church in the lives, homes, communities and thinking of the Irish people?"