The visit to Knock Shrine, on September 30th 1979 by Pope John Paul II was the highlight of a year of centenary celebrations at the shrine. During his visit, The Holy Father met the sick and handicapped in the Basilica of Our Lady Queen of Ireland, where he addressed and blessed some 2,500 of them. Later he celebrated mass at a specially constructed altar in front of the new church, for a congregation of almost half-a-million. After he had imparted his Apostolic blessing, the Pope traveled by 'Popemobile' to the gable wall shrine - the very spot where the Apparition took place 100 years earlier. Here he knelt in private silent prayer, before blessing the shrine and lighting a candle dedicated to the Family Prayer.
When Pope John Paul II visited Knock, his own personal gift to the shrine was this exquisite Golden Rose, reminiscent of the golden rose worn by the Blessed Virgin in the Apparition. This precious and sacred ornament, is the traditional gift for Popes to give on occasions of great religious importance. For many centuries, Popes have blessed Golden Roses every year and, occasionally, conferred them upon illustrious churches, cities and distinguished personages, conspicuous for the Catholic spirit and devotion to The Holy See, as a mark of esteem and paternal affection.
Pope John Paul Ii greeting Monsignor James Horan, the Parish Priest of Knock, and the Most Rev. Dr. Joseph Cunnane, Archbishop of Tuam.
"Here I am at the goal of my journey to Ireland: The Shrine of Our Lady of Knock... since I first learnt of the Centenary of this Shrine ... I have felt a strong desire to come here, the desire to make yet another pilgrimage to the Shrine of the Mother of Christ, the Mother of the Church, the Queen of Peace ... do we not confess with all our brethren, even with those with whom we are not yet linked in full unity, that we are a pilgrim people..." ..."I am here then as a pilgrim, a sign of the pilgrim Church throughout the world participating, through my presence as Peter's successor, in a very special way in the centenary celebration of this shrine". "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb ... This is also my greeting to Muire Mathair De, Mary the Mother of God, Queen of Ireland, at this Shrine of Knock." "With these words, I want to express the immense joy and gratitude that fills my heart today at this place. I would not have wanted it any differently. Highlights of my recent pastoral journeys have been the visits of the Shrines of Mary: to Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico, to the Black Madonna of Jasna Gora in my homeland, and three weeks ago to Our Lady of Loreto in Italy. Today I come here because I want all of you to know that my devotion to Mary unites me, in a very special way, with the people of Ireland".