Joining with the Parish Priest, Fr. Richard Gibbons, I extend a Céad Míle Fáilte to Bishop Francis Duffy and all the pilgrims from the Diocese of Ardagh and Clonmacnois, the baptised faithful, religious and priests and all pilgrims from elsewhere.
I reserve a very special welcome for Marion Carroll, her husband Jimmy and family. Thirty years ago on the occasion of this pilgrimage, Marion was healed here at Our Lady’s Shrine. Today the Church formally acknowledges that this healing does not admit of any medical explanation and joins in prayer, praise and thanksgiving to God.
In these situations the Church must always be very cautious. This is illustrated by the fact that thirty years have elapsed since this took place, during which time the examination by the Medical Bureau testifies that there is no medical explanation for this healing.
During his earthly ministry, Jesus frequently responded to requests for healing which were made in faith. Here at this magnificent Shrine at Knock – honoured by the visits of two popes – St. John Paul II and Pope Francis, and by others like St. Teresa of Calcutta, so many pilgrims “experience deeply God’s closeness” in the Confessional Chapel, in the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, the Mass and the Eucharistic Blessing. All of these moments of grace lead, oftentimes, to a healing of relationships – the pilgrim’s relationship with God, with others, and with themselves. In these situations, healing takes place in various ways; people are enabled and encouraged to carry life’s crosses with hope in their hearts. This is a place where God’s grace, often requested through Our Lady’s intercession, enables the pilgrim to go from here and to fulfil the Lord’s command: “You must love the Lord your God with all you heart, with all your soul, with all your mind…. You must love your neighbour as yourself.” (Mt. 22: 37-39)