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Miracle Tableau: Knock, Ireland, 1879

Joe Nickell, PhD, is CSI’s senior research fellow. He is author of many investigative books, including The Science of Miracles (2013).

Figure 1. “Our Lady of Knock,” a hand-colored lithograph by Courier and Ives depicting a scene that “miraculously” appeared on a church wall at Knock, Ireland, in 1879. (Author’s collection)

In January 2015, I acquired for my collection a rare Currier and Ives print—an original hand-colored lithograph (Figure 1)—depicting a supposedly miraculous occurrence at Knock, Ireland, in 1879. I had written about this event previously (Nickell 1993, 175–176), but I now decided to see if the apparitional experience could be explained in more detail.

The Event

The caption of the Currier and Ives print (dating from 1879–18861) reads as follows:

OUR LADY OF KNOCK.

On the evening of August 21st 1879 on the outer gable wall of the Sacristy of the Catholic Church in the Village of Knock, County Mayo, Ireland, was seen an extraordinary light in the midst of which appeared the Blessed Virgin, St. Joseph and St. John the Evangelist. Behind them an Altar on which stood a Lamb and above it the Crucifix with the figure of our Lord upon it. The people soon gathered at the spot gazing rapturously on the Heavenly Vision. And crowds now visit the scene of the wonderful apparition bringing many lame and blind who by touching the structure have been miraculously cured and restored to sight.

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