There’s an interesting Irish documentary on Amazon Prime right now: “Strange Occurrences in an Irish Village.” (The name comes from one of the early newspaper articles about the Knock apparition.)
The 2016 documentary focuses on the modern history of Knock, and how the locals are trying to help renew the pilgrimages and the Irish love for the Catholic Church. Unfortunately a lot of Irish-Americans are more interested than a lot of Irish!
Anyway, there’s a great bit at the beginning where Knock villagers read from the original depositions made by their ancestors. I didn’t realize that the apparition was first heralded by the following words:
“When did the deacon put up those new statues?”
“I didn’t know we were getting statues.”
(Of course, they weren’t statues; they were mysterious images of saints that appeared strangely solid, but could not be felt with the hand.)
The documentary does get into a lot of the history later on, and you get to see a lot of the actual local sites and landscape. County Mayo is cool.
Knock’s story tends to be retold in a syrupy way, so I really like a more matter-of-fact retelling that doesn’t minimize the miracle. I also like the locals who are featured; they are the salt of the earth. You also learn that even in these softer days, there are young Irishmen who like to make a barefoot pilgrimage to Knock.
I also didn’t realize that at least one of the witnesses, Mary O’Connell Byrne, was found to be incorrupt in her coffin when they added a family member to her grave.
The annoying bit is that they have some goofy music moments when people are being serious and solemn. But overall it’s a very beautiful documentary, and you learn a lot about how hard people work together to keep up a nice shrine for God.
(And yes, of course there’s a bit where they talk to two nuns, and one of them is faithful and conservative but painted as obsessed, but the other gets into women’s ordination. Sigh.)
It looks like Knock isn’t all that crowded for most of the year, which is kind of a shame for them; but is probably nice for you if you go there.