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Barefoot walks and dawn masses - devout Catholics from all over the world flock to Knock

The annual novena is under way. Barefoot pilgrims have been taking part in an early morning walk to the Mayo village.

AROUND 1.6 MILLION pilgrims visit the shrine at Knock each year – and some 150,000 people are set to pass through the Mayo village in the coming week or so for the annual novena.

Prayers this year are being led by Archbishop of New York, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who arrived last weekend on the first transatlantic pilgrimage flight to Knock’s airport.

knock - 1 A candlelit Rosary procession outside of Knock Shrine yesterday evening Source: Mark Stedman/RollingNews.ie

Around 170 pilgrims from the greater New York area joined him on that Aer Lingus flight.

Speakers at this year’s novena include Archbishop of Armagh Eamon Martin (the leader of Ireland’s Catholics), UN special representative for international migration Peter Sutherland (a former Attorney General) and the founder of the Pieta House suicide charity Joan Freeman.

knock - 2 Annie Walsh, Martha Phelan and Marian Roche from Co Offaly Source: Mark Stedman/RollingNews.ie

“Tens of thousands of people will make their way to Knock over these nine important days in our annual pilgrimage calendar,” Knock parish priest Richard Gibbons said.

“It shows that for so many Irish people, there is still a very real connection there with faith and how we live out that faith in our everyday lives.”

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As well as the ceremonies at the shrine itself, hundreds of pilgrims have been undertaking what has become a traditional Knock novena vigil walk.

Beginning early this morning, many travelled to the shrine on foot – some of them barefoot - from surrounding towns and villages for a special mass at 6am.

The busiest day during the Novena will be the Feast of Our Lady of Knock next Friday, which marks the anniversary of where the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared at the gable of the parish church in 1879.

Read: Meet the people who live in the Irish town “built on a miracle”

Read: Knock to UK flight makes emergency landing in Dublin after smoke alarm goes off

About the author:

Daragh Brophy

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