A “peace” of Knock – Monaghan Network Cultural Awareness event 23rd March 2019

Monaghan Community Network is tasked to deliver a Cultural Awareness Programme as partner delivery agents with Monaghan County Council. The Cultural Awareness Project is supported by the European Union’s PEACE IV Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB). The Programme aims to celebrate multiculturalism and diversity, to value the skills and cultures of all communities, indigenous and new, and ensure they are allowed to have the same opportunities as their Irish peers, and to participate fully in the economic, social, political and cultural life of their communities.

The trip to Knock Shrine allowed the group to explore the history of the apparition site, and it allowed time for quiet contemplation, and to see what is special about the place which draws pilgrims from all over the world. There was a guided introduction to the apparition timeline, and a chance to visit the many chapels and the Basilica, the graves of former clergy of Knock parish, including Monsignor James Horan who was instrumental in getting an airport to the West, and to visit the old cemetery where many of the visionaries are interred. The tour included the Celtic Cross based on an ancient High Cross of Ahenny, Co Tipperary, where Pope John Paul II said Mass, the 32 stone pillars of the basilica, each created from the stones of a county in Ireland, the Papal gifts to Knock (a golden rose from Pope John Paul II, and a set of rosary beads from Pope Francis), as well as the Papal candle that was lit by His Holiness at the Apparition Chapel  just before he sat in silent reflection at the site of the Apparition. The beeswax candle incorporates the symbol of the Lamb and The Cross and the Papal insignia.

The fabulous Basilica “Witness to Hope’ mosaic is composed of more than 1.5 million individual pieces of mosaic glass and gold. It was crafted in Spilimbergo, Italy by Travisanutto, by Artisan Mosaic makers and was deigned in Ireland by the renowned illustrator, PJ Lynch from Dublin. The glass painting “Pilgrimage” by Roisin de Buitléir in the entrance corridors were also much studied and admired.

For our Polish friends, it was a special connection with their country’s Pope John Paul II. It was a lovely experience of “time out” to reflect on an important element of our culture, and a chance to share stories with others who were there for the very first time.