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The Knock Shrine’s New York Connection

On Saturday 21 August 2021, the 142 Anniversary of the Apparition at Knock, will be celebrated in County Mayo, and in New York City.

The story of one of the world’s most famous Marian Shrines began in 1879 at 8 o’clock on a Thursday evening, August 21, 1879, when the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Joseph, and John the Evangelist appeared on the south gable end of a church in the rural village of Knock, County Mayo. To the left of John, there was a plain altar with a cross and a lamb (the Lamb of God) surrounded by angels.

Statue of Our Lady in the Apparition Chapel, Knock Shrine. Wikipedia

The apparition was witnessed by 15 people, men, women and children, ranging in age from 5 to 75, who watched for two hours in pouring rain reciting the rosary. They reported that not one drop of rain fell on the apparition or the gable end of the church.

John Curry, was the youngest visionary – he was five at the time of the apparition. Nearly 60 years later, in 1937, he gave his testimony before church officials during the formal investigation. At that time, Curry had been living in the United States for decades, having emigrated due to economic circumstances in Mayo. 

 He never married, according to Maud Murphy, his cousin thrice-removed, and spent the last 11 years of his life with the Little Sisters of the Poor at the Sacred Heart Home on East 70th Street in New York and died in 1943, at 69. The Little Sisters “took charge of the burial arrangements as he had no close relatives in New York,” Murphy said.

John was buried in a Long Island cemetery, and there he would have stayed forever, but for a pilgrimage to Knock led by New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan in 2015.

During that trip, Dolan met with Father Richard Gibbons, the parish priest of Knock. Father Gibbons mentioned to Cardinal Dolan that he had visited Curry’s grave, an unmarked plot in a Long Island cemetery.

“He was a little worried. He said it was obvious that the grave was old and that people had not been visiting it. I said we should move him to St Patrick’s,” Dolan told the Irish Independent at the time.

The remains of John Curry are placed in their final resting place on May 13, 2017 at the Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral in lower Manhattan. Image: Chris Sheridan.

Curry’s grave was only discoverable due to records kept by the Sisters, who owned the plot from which his body was exhumed and  reinterred at the Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral in the Little Italy neighborhood of Manhattan on Thursday, May 18, 2017.

Father Gibbons, a number of Curry’s relatives in Ireland, as well as other pilgrims from Ireland, and leaders of the Irish American community, attended the Mass and reburial, Christie L. Chicoine reported in Catholic New York.

Father Gibbons, in his remarks, brought gentle laughter in sharing that a young Curry, in his first testimony about the apparition, recalled seeing “beautiful things and grand babies.”

He presented to Msgr. Donald Sakano, pastor of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral, with a portion of the original stone, from the original gable, of the apparition. Father Gibbons said he had also presented one to Cardinal Dolan.

“We are blessed to have him here as part of the story of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral,” Msgr. Sakano, in his remarks, said of Curry.

“My father would always make a point of going to the apparition church in Knock on the 21st of August every year, the anniversary of the apparition,” Martin Curry of Ireland, a grand-nephew of John Curry, said speaking to Catholic New York. “To do that,” by horse-drawn carriage or taxi, “would be the equivalent of a month’s wages.”

Over the years, Knock Shrine has grown in status, and attracts many visitors each year from abroad and within Ireland. There are now five churches in the Shrine grounds. From the Parish Church, built in 1828, to the Basilica constructed to give shelter to the millions that visit here each year. On Saturday 21 August 2021, the Shrine will celebrate the 142 Anniversary of the Apparition at Knock.  A post on the Shrine’s website explains:

In March of 2021, Knock was elevated by Pope Francis to an International Eucharistic and Marian Shrine, through the Pontifical Council for New Evangelisation. (knockshrine.ie)

“The 21st August is traditionally a day that we especially remember the fifteen witnesses as individual, ordinary people who were going about their lives, carrying out routine chores or visiting neighbors. Their experiences on that day changed their lives and the fabric of this place and what is would come to represent for future generations.

Since that time the physically and spiritually afflicted have traveled here seeking heavenly relief. Up to a million visitors a year.”

For more information visit: https://www.knockshrine.ie/

A list of cures recorded in 1880

233. John Kelly, of Moville, county Donegal, never put a foot under him, nor never spoke a word or even attempted to utter a cry, until he came to Knock; can now stand without assistance and can call aloud.

235. Thomas McNamara, of the county Tipperary, has recovered his sight; both eyes were dim; he was obliged to have a guide with him coming to Knock.

239. Mary Moffit, of Ahamlisk, had been suffering from a pain in her side for the past two years; is now quite cured.

245. Mrs. Nedhan, of St. Andrew’s parish, Glasgow, was the victim of a terrible malady, incurable by human agency; is fully restored to her former good health.

247. Catherine Mary Hayes; had been paralysed since she was three years of age; is now recovered.

248. John Carroll, of Tipperary, was suffering from a cataract on his left eye; he is now perfectly cured.

249. James Gorman, of the Parish of Lusk, Dublin, was deaf for twelve years, and was blind in the right eye; he had been an inmate of the Cabra Institute for the Deaf and Dumb; he can now hear, and has recovered his sight.

250. Thomas Loughran, of the parish of Milltown, county Kildare, who was deaf since he was three years of age, recovered his hearing at Knock. He had been under the care of Drs. Wilde and Wilson, of Dublin, but they were unable to effect any good result.

265. Edward O’Brien, of Nenagh, has recovered his sight.

266. Mary O’Brien, of the same place, has been cured of an evil.

267. Mary Murty, of Kerry, who was a cripple during the last seven years, is now able to walk erect.

268. Kate Kennedy, of the parish of Gurtnaho, county Tipperary was suffering from hip and spinal disease for the last two years and a half. She was in hospital in Dublin, and was not cured or even improved, now fully recovered, and feels as strong as ever.

271. Mary Anne Carolan, of the parish of Mullin, county Cavan, has recovered the sight of her right eye.

276. Widow John Kelly, of Morpeth (Rev. Mr. Davy, parish priest), county of Northumberland, had been suffering from severe pains in her back and legs. She could not work during the last five years, and sometimes could not even turn in her bed. She was completely cured the second time she went on her knees in the chapel at Knock.

277. Mary Donnelly, of the county Tyrone, has been cured of lameness in the right foot, from which she was suffering since she was a child. The right foot was a great deal smaller and shorter than the left, and she could barely touch the ground with it.

281. Thomas Scully, of the Catholic Institute, Edinburgh, was cured of hip disease, from which he had been suffering during the last fourteen years; he is now quite well.

283. Michael Mulherane, of Mobill, county Leitrim, has recovered the sight of his left eye.

288. Margaret Redmond, Tongarrow, a child of two years old, got instant relief from a violent pain in her finger, the top of which had been cut off by a chaffing machine.

289. Anthony Cavanagh, 15, Brabozan street, Dublin, was cured of hip disease; he was carrying a crutch and stick. He left his crutch at Knock, March 9th, 1880.

293. Brigid Macgovern, Cloon, county Leitrim, was cured of a dropsy and other internal diseases.

294. Patrick Cross, of the city of Limerick, is cured of insanity, from which he had been suffering for the last four months. He was for six weeks in the lunatic asylum of Limerick. He was discharged from the asylum as being incurable. He is now as sound in mind and body as any man in Ireland. He was also suffering from a weakness in his back, and could not walk without a stick; he can now walk home without it. He is perfectly cured.

303. Alice Mernor, of Bray, has recovered the sight of both eyes. She could hardly see anything previous to her visit to Knock.

304. Michael Cudmore, of Greenwich, London, was suffering from a sore on the face for six years. He is now cured.

307. Mrs. Kelly, of Tighe street, Dublin, is cured of a lameness from which she had been suffering, and which had deprived her of all power to walk for the last twenty-four years.

(The above is a partial list of cures published in the Nation).

Pope John Paul II visited the shrine on September 30, 1979 to commemorate the centenary of the apparition and established the shrine church as a basilica.

2 Responses to “The Knock Shrine’s New York Connection”

  1. Excellent article. August 21 is also my birthday. Despite coming from Mayo, I never saw a previous word about the date of the Knock apparition.
    Harry Dunleavy

  2. JamesW Tighe says:

    GOD is GREAT.

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