Prayer focus on Knock Shrine as Pope Francis visits
THIS is a significant week for Knock Shrine in Co Mayo - and not only because Pope Francis is making a pilgrimage to Ireland's national Marian shrine on Sunday.
That, of course, will be a landmark in the history of Knock. But this week has also marked the anniversary of the first apparition; on August 21 1879, a group of 15 people from the village witnessed an apparition of Mary, St Joseph, St John the Evangelist, a Lamb and cross on an altar at the gable wall of the parish church.
More than one million people visit Knock each year, during the pilgrimage season which runs from April to October.
In recognition of Knock's enduring appeal, Fr Richard Gibbons - in a publication well-timed to coincide with the Pope's visit - has compiled a collection of prayers.
Fr Gibbons has been rector at the shrine for more than five years and the book - simply called Knock Prayer Book - includes prayers he has composed himself as well as traditional prayers which are firm favourites of pilgrims.
They range from Novena prayers to Our Lady of Knock to prayers for workers, families, hospitality, healing, nature - and even dogs.
"I myself find prayer difficult," says Fr Gibbons. "I sometimes find the time to pray almost outside my grasp.
"I try to keep before Pope St John Paul II's advice - 'In doing the work of the Lord, do not forget the Lord of the work'.
"Essentially this book is for those of you who may not get the chance to pray, have forgotten how to, or would just like something simple and accessible to help them journey along the pilgrim road of life."
- Knock Prayer Book by Fr Richard Gibbons is published by Columba Books, www.columbabooks.com, at £12.99/€14.99.