A Journal for The Contemporary Church

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Close to the Holy Spirit: The Knock Experience


As I watched Pope Francis’s visit to the Knock Shrine on television in the summer of 2018, memories of my first trip to Knock flooded into my consciousness. That visit was soon after I had moved to Galway from the United States. I did not know what to expect, having little familiarity with the history of the Shrine. When I walked onto the grounds of the Knock Shrine, I immediately felt something special about the place. As I strolled around the grounds, sat for Mass in the Apparition Chapel and meditated in the Chapel of Reconciliation, that special something became for me the presence of the Holy Spirit – the same presence that I had felt in my boyhood church: in the sanctuary during service, in my Sunday school classroom, and in the dining hall where all gathered after the service. This closeness to the Holy Spirit brought me to Knock many times during the two plus years that I lived in Galway. I was back living in Galway for a few months when Pope Francis visited Knock. I wondered whether Pope Francis also felt close to the Holy Spirit in Knock. One can hope that he did.

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