Everyone is Irishby Phoebe Wise
|Our Lady of Knock|
|Altar Sculpture at Knock based on Accounts of the Apparition|
Ireland is a land of legends, and one of them, dating back to time of Patrick himself, says that the Saint predicted that someday the tiny hamlet of Knock would be a holy place. That is one legend that has come true to the letter. Ever since the appearance there of the Mother of God in 1879, Knock has been a place of pilgrimage, and its reputation as a holy shrine has steadily increased.
is Silent but not Wordless
My house shall be called the house of prayer to all nations.
This is the gate of the Lord: the just shall enter into it.
Fr. O’Grady’s Inscription and its Intended MeaningKeeping in mind this principle of using a single verse of scripture to invoke entire passages or even entire books in the Bible, we may be able to understand something of Fr. O’Grady’s intentions in placing the inscription on his church. With just two lines of scripture, he could summon both the Messianic prophecy of the Old Testament and Our Lord’s fulfillment of that prophecy.
Why would he want to do this? I can guess that he wanted to call on the Word of God to bear witness to the martyrdom of the Irish Church in the previous centuries, and to celebrate his small but significant effort to rebuild that Church. He must have seen the raising of the small stone church in Knock as a fulfillment of God’s promise that the Church Jesus founded would always triumph over persecution. The Temple of the New Covenant, namely, the Catholic Church and the Mass, would never pass away, but would always be the “house of prayer to all nations,” and the Gate of Heaven for those seeking salvation.
Gate of the LordBut what about verse 20 of Psalm 117? That’s the one inscribed on the wall at Knock: "This is the gate of the Lord: the just shall enter into it." This verse requires a bit more explanation. When Jesus left the temple for the last time, he told Jerusalem that the city would not see Him again until it said: “Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.”
The Sanctus is part of the Preface of the Mass. The Preface comes just before the Eucharistic prayer, and can be understood as a kind of gateway to the Canon, the most important part of the Mass. When the priest says the words of consecration during the Canon, the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Jesus. Only after we pray the Sanctus do we kneel for the Eucharistic prayer, and then Jesus shows himself to us under the forms of bread and wine. We have entered the Temple through the Gate of the Lord. Hosanna in the Highest
House of God, Gate of HeavenThere is another question to ask: why join Isaiah 56 and Psalm 117 in one inscription? By doing so, Fr. O’Grady referenced another Old Testament messianic prophecy that was fulfilled by Jesus. Both gate and house are very potent images recurring throughout Scripture. We find these two images linked together in the very first book of the Bible, in Genesis Chapter 28.
The Temple of the New Jerusalem, the House of God, and the Gate of Heaven—these are not physical places where we encounter God; they are God, since they are types of Jesus. But Knock is a Marian apparition. What does the Knock inscription have to do with Mary?
Imagery—Mary as the Gate
|Caeli Porta: Gate of Heaven|
Ave maris stella
|Pieta in Gate of Heaven Cemetery|
Clausae parentis viscera
Many people besides myself have taken note of the inscription on the old Knock church, especially the passage from Isaiah 56:7: "My house shall be called the house of prayer to all nations." They see it as a prophecy that has been fulfilled by the approximately one and a quarter million
is the meaning of Knock for our times?
|Shrine of Our Lady of Knock, Ireland|
When He cleansed the temple (Matthew 21:13), Jesus quoted Isaiah 56:7, but he coupled it with Jeremiah 7:11:
The disturbing message of
Knock for our times
“My house shall be called the house of prayer; but you have made it a den of thieves.”
|The god of child sacrifice:|
Human nature does not change. Down through the ages people have continued to sacrifice their children. I have found some dark hints that the 19th century people of Knock had their own encounter with infanticide.
|St. John Vianney hearing confession|
|Author Phoebe Wise|
became Catholic while
working on a Master's Degree
in Medieval Languages
from Harvard University.