Despite the early morning rainfall, around 45,000 people greeted Pope Francis at Knock Shrine this morning (Sunday, August 26).
Among those who met Pope Francis in Knock was Killoe's Frank Kiernan, the well known managing director and owner of Kiernan Structural Steel Limited, while Minister of State Kevin 'Boxer' Moran was also present.
Pope Francis told the gathering, “None of us can fail to be moved by the stories of young people who suffered abuse, were robbed of their innocence and left scarred by painful memories.”
Also: Gallery | Memorable images from day one of Pope Francis in Ireland
He continued that “this open wound challenges us to be firm and decisive in the pursuit of truth and justice. I beg the Lord’s forgiveness for these sins and for the scandal and betrayal felt by so many others in God’s family. I ask our Blessed Mother to intercede for the healing of the survivors and to confirm every member of our Christian family in the resolve never again to permit these situations to occur.”
As a remembrance of his visit he presented the Shrine with a golden rosary in recognition of how important the tradition of the family rosary has been in this country. In return he was given a statue of Our Lady of Knock.
This afternoon, Pope Francis will return to the Phoenix Park where he celebrate Mass before an audience expected to be in the region of half a million people.
A large crowd from Longford has made the journey to the Phoenix Park.
Here are some images from Knock. All photographs courtesy of Maxwells Photography.
Archbishop welcomes Pope Francis
The Archbishop of Tuam, Most Rev Michael Neary, on behalf of the people, religious, and priests of the Archdiocese of Tuam, welcomed His Holiness, Pope Francis, to Ireland's national Marian in Knock, Co Mayo, this morning (26 August).
Fáilte / Welcome
A Athair Ró Naofa, céad míle fáilte romhat go Scrín na Maighdine Beannaithe anseo i gCnoc Mhuire, ar maidin. Is aoibheann linn do theacht.
Holy Father, on behalf of the lay faithful, the religious, and the priests of the Archdiocese of Tuam, and on behalf of the tens of thousands of pilgrims gathered here this morning, it is my great privilege to welcome you to the Shrine of Our Lady of Knock and to the Archdiocese of Tuam.
Purpose of the Holy Father’s Pilgrimage to Knock
It is an honour, a privilege, and a tremendous blessing to have Your Holiness, the Bishop of Rome and Vicar of Jesus Christ come among us to bow down in prayer, and to lead us in prayer, before the scene of the Apparition, and to invoke the maternal intercession of Our Lady of Knock for all families and the World Meeting of Families 2018.
Pilgrimage: a genuine profession of faith
Holy Father, you have chosen to come to this holy place as a pilgrim. In doing so you remind us by your actions of what you wrote in your Apostolic Letter, Sanctuarium in Ecclesia: "The Shrine has a great symbolic value in the Church, and making a pilgrimage is a genuine profession of faith." (SE1) Our prayer for you is that you will, during your pilgrimage to Knock, "experience deeply God's closeness, the tenderness of the Virgin Mary and the company of the Saints." (Ibid.)
Planting the Seeds of WMOF2018 in Knock
By choosing to include a pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Knock as part of the celebrations of the World Meeting of Families 2018, Your Holiness is doing something profoundly important. You are identifying a special and sacred place to which everybody – without exception – may come to drink from the oasis of peace and renewal that exists here, and you are planting the seeds generated by the World Meeting of Families 2018 in the sure and certain hope that they will blossom into "an invitation to Christian families to value the gifts of marriage and the family, and to persevere in a love strengthened by the virtues of generosity, commitment, fidelity and patience." (Amoris Laetitia 5)
These seeds will also blossom in such a way as "to encourage everyone to be a sign of mercy and closeness wherever family life remains imperfect or lacks peace and joy." (Ibid.)
The Centrality of the Lamb: A call to Family Prayer
Finally, by coming to meditate on and pray before the Apparition Scene at Knock, in which Jesus, the Lamb of God, is central, you, Holy Father, are reminding us that when "a family is centred on Christ, He will unify and illumine its entire life." (AL317) This is an invitation and a challenge to all families to make time and space for prayer in the home.
Focail Scoir: a final word
Holy Father, your pilgrimage to Our Lady's Shrine invites us to open ourselves up anew to The Joy of the Gospel, and it causes us to sing with the prophet: "How lovely on the mountains are the feet of him who brings Good News, announces peace, proclaims the news of happiness, and says 'Our God reigns.'" (Is.52:7) Thank you for honouring us by your visit, and may God and our Lady go with you.
Beannacht Dé leat, a Phápa Proinsias, agus faoi choimirce na Maighdine Beannaithe Muire thú anois agus í gcónaí.