A mosaic depicting the Apparition at Knock in 1879, was unveiled at Our Lady’s Basilica at Knock Shrine last Sunday.
During a Mass, the Archbishop of Tuam, Michael Neary, who was joined by Fr Richard Gibbons, Fr Patrick Burke and concelebrating priests, explained how those gathered might put themselves in the minds of the 15 people who gazed in wonder at the apparition on 21st August 1879.
“Today our eyes are lifted towards this magnificent mosaic as we are drawn into what it depicts – Jesus the Lamb of Sacrifice, the cross by which he redeemed us, the altar of the Eucharist where he makes himself present, his mother whom he has given to us on Calvary, St Joseph and St John the Evangelist and the choirs of angels,” Archbishop Neary said in his homily.
The mosaic, illustrated by well-known Irish artist PJ Lynch, depicts, in incredible detail, the apparition scene, as described by the 15 official witnesses. The archbishop revealed that he was told the mosaic contained 1.8 million pieces.
During his homily, Archbishop Neary revisited Ireland at the time of the Apparition. He reminded those gathered that the country had been through the devastation of the famine, recalling the demoralisation, death, destruction and sense of hopelessness it had resulted in. “Yet the people recognised the importance of the Eucharist, Mass, faith and something which was very much in keeping with Irish spirituality, a deep devotion to Our Lady.”
Archbishop Neary explained that although there were no words spoken at the Apparition, it was “God’s way of recognising the suffering of our people, identifying with them and promising to be supportive of them.”
The mosaic has been crafted by Travisanutto Mosaics, from Spilimbergo, near Venice. They worked on the mosaic for eight months in their workshop before transporting it to Knock in sections during January.
The artwork, at 14 metres by 14 metres, is understood to be one of Europe’s biggest pieces of mosaic on a flat surface. It has been inlaid on the wall behind the sanctuary in the newly refurbished basilica at Knock.