Covid Forces Knock Shrine To Close On The Feast Of The Assumption To Discourage Crowds
The Marian shrine at Knock announced that in addition to postponing the popular Knock Novena and pilgrimage because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the shrine and its church would be closed for the August 15 feast of the Assumption of Mary to ensure pilgrims do not arrive anyway.
“Father Richard Gibbons, rector at Knock, has appealed to people not to travel to Knock on 15th August as the shrine and grounds will be closed in order to prevent large gatherings in the context of Covid-19,” said a statement posted Aug. 10 on the shrine’s website.
The feast of the Assumption traditionally is the centerpiece of the Knock Novena and normally would draw 20,000 pilgrims to the shrine, the statement said. Over the course of the novena Aug. 14-22 as many as 150,000 people normally would go to the shrine for prayer and lectures.
“In the light of the current escalation of Covid-19 cases around the country together with the sheer impossibility of having the resources necessary to deal with the potential of large numbers of people gathering” at the shrine Aug. 15 and, “extremely conscious of our responsibility for the safety of our parishioners, pilgrims, visitors, staff, volunteers and priests,” Father Gibbons said, the shrine will close at 8 p.m. Aug. 14 and not reopen until 7 a.m. Aug. 16.
“This decision was taken after detailed discussions with church and state bodies,” the rector said. “We are appealing to people therefore, not to travel to Knock for the 15th August as the shrine and grounds will be closed off to everyone in order to prevent large gatherings.”
Leaving the shrine open, he added, would be “ambiguous and cause confusion.”
During the nationwide coronavirus lockdown, the shrine’s livestreamed Masses and offer allowing people to virtually light a candle there proved very popular. For the feast of the Assumption, the shrine said, “Masses will be celebrated online only and behind closed doors” at noon, 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
When the strict lockdown in Ireland ended, in late June the Knock shrine began offering Masses with a maximum of 50 people present; the number increased to 100 in July and to 200 Aug. 4. However, Ireland has been experiencing a growth in Covid-19 infection rates and some counties – but not County Mayo where Knock is located – have returned to lockdown measures.
Please support The Southern Cross
Your support means we can keep Catholic news alive so that many others will have free access to the high-quality, trustworthy news they deserve. We seek your support not simply to survive, but to grow in our mandate to share the Good News and keep you informed about your Church and Catholic faith.
Every contribution, however big or small, makes a difference. Support us today – it only takes a minute. Thank you.
- Bishop Robert Barron: Declare Jesus’ Lordship of the World - June 12, 2021
- Cardinal Marx surprised by pope’s decision to not accept his resignation - June 12, 2021
- Pope Orders Visitation of Congregation for Clergy - June 11, 2021