Knock Shrine closing for feast of Assumption of Mary due to Covid-19

‘Unprecedented’ decision sees Co Mayo religious site miss out on one of year’s busiest days

Knock Shrine in Co Mayo will be closed next Saturday, August 15th, on what is generally one of its busiest days of the year. Photograph: Michael McLaughlin.

Knock Shrine in Co Mayo will be closed next Saturday, August 15th, on what is generally one of its busiest days of the year. Photograph: Michael McLaughlin.

 

Knock Shrine in Co Mayo will be closed next Saturday, August 15th, on what is generally one of its busiest days of the year.

August 15th is feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary to heaven and, on average, more than 20,000 pilgrims visit Knock on that day.

It was previously announced that this year’s novena at the shrine, which was scheduled to run from next Friday until August 22nd, had been postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In a statement on Monday, Fr Richard Gibbons, rector at Knock, appealed to people “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”.

Fr Gibbons said the decision followed “detailed discussions with Church and State bodies”.

He said the “unprecedented and heart-breaking decision” was made “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.

The shrine and grounds will be closed from 8pm on Friday to 7am on Sunday. Masses will be celebrated online only and behind closed doors at noon, 3pm and 7.30pm.

“As the National Marian Shrine, we have been extra vigilant in living up to our responsibilities amid this pandemic in placing people’s physical and spiritual wellbeing to the fore,” Fr Gibbons said. “I would ask for your understanding and patience at this time.”

In previous years the shrine would be open from 5am on August 15th for confessions with first Mass at 6am for people who would traditionally have walked to Knock from surrounding counties during the previous night and early morning. Masses would then continue practically every hour until evening for those coming from across the country and beyond.