Knock's story of Hope has a 'place in the heart of the Irish'
CO Down film-maker Campbell Miller has turned his camera on to the Marian apparitions at Knock for his latest project.
Hope looks at how Knock, a village in Co Mayo, has become a focal point of pilgrimage visited by over a million people every year since a fateful night in 1879.
Miller's last film was the widely acclaimed Bravery Under Fire, which told the extraordinary story of Fr Willie Doyle, an Irish priest who died as a British army chaplain in the First World War.
Like Bravery Under Fire, Hope has been made for EWTN, the global Catholic television network.
Hope, which was written and directed by Miller, examines the apparitions at Knock and the wider social and historical context of Ireland at the time.
"It is a great honour to be given the task to dramatise and tell the story of the Knock apparition," said Miller.
For the village inhabitants in the nineteenth century, life changed either directly or indirectly due to what happened on a rainy night in August 1879.
"It was a time when the Irish people were suffering greatly and this one supernatural moment changed life in Ireland forever giving the Irish people hope and comfort in one of the darkest times in our history," explained Miller.
"Knock, of course, has attracted millions of visitors as well as personal pilgrimages by two Popes."
The film tells the story of life in Ireland at that time, and the unbearable hardship and suffering the Irish people were going through following the Great Famine of 1845 when about one million people died and at least a million more emigrated.
"High quality reenactments document life before the apparition, showcasing the poor living conditions the Irish people had under British rule," said Miller.
"We focus on the food crisis, the land war, and emigration. Then that miraculous moment when Our Lady appeared to 15 witnesses, changing their lives forever and giving Irish people hope and comfort when they needed it the most."
The dramatisation will be intertwined with interviews with people whose lives have been touched by Knock, from people seeking miraculous cures, the everyday pilgrims, to the shrine's handmaids, relatives of the original witnesses, current parish priest Fr Richard Gibbons and Archbishop Eamon Martin, Primate of All Ireland.
It also covers the two investigations completed by the Catholic Church into the apparition which led it to conclude that Our Lady, the Queen of Ireland, did indeed appear that night.
"Our filming, research and interviews demonstrated to us that Knock, even today in Ireland's secular society, has its place in the heart of the Irish," said Miller.