Over 1.5m view religious service from Knock online

Dublin diocese pilgrimage will now take place virtually due to Covid-19 pandemic

Pilgrims at Knock for the Feast of the Assumption in 2006. File photograph: Alan Betson

Pilgrims at Knock for the Feast of the Assumption in 2006. File photograph: Alan Betson

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Over 1.5 million people watched religious services online from Knock Shrine in Co Mayo between March 1st and Wednesday of this week.

Spokeswoman Maria Casey said that the Knock Shrine website had received “over 600,000 page views on the livestream alone while Knock Shrine YouTube channel had over 722,000 viewers and the Knock Shrine Facebook page had almost 150,000 views”.

Traffic was particularly high over Easter she said, with Masses available online daily at midday and 7.30pm every evening.

As elsewhere in Ireland, the Basilica and parish church at Knock are closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic with almost all of the Shrine’s 120 staff laid off. A skeletal group of “seven or eight” remained working to look after the Shrine, she said.

One of the largest diocesan pilgrimages to Knock, that from Dublin, was due to take place next weekend but is not now going ahead. Ms Casey estimated that “approximately 3,000” pilgrims would have taken part as it was the capacity of Knock Basilica which the Dublin archdiocese filled daily in years past during pilgrimages.

Virtual pilgrimage

The Dublin pilgrimage to Knock will now take place virtually next Sunday, beginning with the rosary at 2.30pm with Mass celebrated at 3.00pm. Benedic will be at 3.45pm, followed by a virtual visit to the Apparition Chapel. At 4.15pm pilgrims will be able to place a petition, light a candle or have a Mass said online.

All will available at knockshrine.ie/watch-live.

It is unclear yet how many of the other annual pilgrimages to Knock from Ireland’s 26 Catholic dioceses will actually take place to the Shrine this year. Many may now follow the Dublin example of taking part virtually.

Nor is it clear yet whether the annual Knock novena, usually attended by many thousands, will go ahead next August. “No decision has been made on that,” Ms Casey said. The pilgrimage season at Knock usually begins in mid-April and continues until the second week of October.

Meanwhile the Catholic Church’s relationship support agency Accord is offering free and confidential advice to people experiencing extra pressure due to restrictions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Its numbers are 01 531 3331 for people outside Dublin, 01 905 9555 for people in Dublin, and 028 9568 0151 or 00353 1 531 3331 for people in Northern Ireland.

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