Ireland’s 19th Century Apparition

It is said, Mary McLoughin and Mary Beirne from the village of “Knock” in County Mayo, were to see an apparition on the 21st August 1879.

Close to the town’s church, they were to observe, the “Blessed Virgin Mary, St.Joseph and St.John the Evangelist, along with an altar, with a lamb and cross upon it, with several angels flying there about’s.”  Other’s seeing the bright light, investigated and a total of fifteen people witnessed this apparition.  Reports came in that people who visited “Knock Church” were being healed of their afflictions.  By the end of 1880, some 300 people had been cured, as recorded in the diary of the parish priest.

As the news spread across the land, thousands descended upon “Knock” with their sick.  Cures were happening every day, many disabled left their walking sticks and canes, walking away freely.  People grabbed plaster from the church walls as a memory.

Towards the latter part of 1880, a statue of “Our Lady of Knock” was erected, in the place of the apparition … and so it became a place of pilgrimage.

The Church carried out investigations of the apparitions at “Knock” in 1879 and 1936.  Witness statements left them in no doubt, that an apparition had taken place, and many have been healed, through faith.

Pope Pius XII blessed the Banner of Knock at St.Peter’s in 1945.

Pope John XXIII presented a special candle to “Knock” on Candlemas Day in 1960.

Pope Paul VI blessed the foundation stone for the Basilica of Our Lady, Queen of Ireland on the 6th June 1974.

Pope John Paul II made a personnel pilgrimage to the shrine on 30th September 1979.  He celebrated mass, and went on to establish the shrine as a “Basilica.”  He presented to the shrine a candle and golden rose, and then knelt before the apparition wall in prayer.

Saint Catherine of Alexandria

Saint Catherine was born into the aristocratic family of King Costus and Queen Sabinella, rulers of Alexandria in AD294.  The young Catherine was well versed in the arts, sciences and philosophy.  She was raised a pagan and in her teenage years, converted to Christianity by the teachings of a Syrian monk.  She received a vision which the Blessed Virgin Mary gave her to Christ, in a mystical marriage.

During the latter years of Christian prosecution by the Romans, she publicly confessed her faith, being a Christian.  Catherine attempted to convince the Roman Emperor; Maxentius the error of his ways, by persecuting Christians who refused to worship idols.  According to historical accounts, some fifty Philosophers from the Roman world were brought face to face with her, to reason with her.  Catherine won debate after debate, and converted her adversaries to Christianity by her persuasive arguments, and they were put to death by the Roman Emperor.

Catherine was imprisoned, and hundreds are said to have visited her including the wife of Maxentius; the Empress.  All who converted to Christianity were martyred.

Emperor Maxentius had Catherine tortured, but she would not yield, he proposed marriage, and she refused saying; Jesus Christ be my spouse.

An outraged Maxentius condemned her to death on the spiked breaking wheel, but this instrument of torture was destroyed by her touch, finally he ordered that she be beheaded.

Catherine was executed, and the corpse of Saint Catherine, a 4th century Christian martyr was carried to the peak of Mount Sinai by angels.  Some three centuries later, monks brought it down and buried her in the church, dedicated to the Virgin Mary.

Keepers of the Eternal Flame — Martini Fisher

As fire is considered to be an agent of purity and as a symbol of righteousness and truth, a sacred fire is often a place for the offering of sacrifices and prayers. Therefore, those entrusted with tending this flame often held a sacred, important and very demanding role in the culture.

Keepers of the Eternal Flame — Martini Fisher

Rome’s Vestal Virgins

The Vestal Virgins were the priestesses of Rome, dedicated to the service of the goddess Vesta.  An important figure in Roman Cultic Worship.

It started out with two such virgins who would serve for a period of five years. Over a period of time, the orders rules changed and the number increased to six virgins, whose service would last for thirty years.

Vestal Virgins were chosen by the Pontifex Maximus, aged between six and ten years and more often from Patrician families.  Immediately upon being named, the young child left the authority of her parents, and became a child of Vesta.

The first ten years, they would serve as novices, and the next ten years as Vestal Virgins, and in their last ten years would train new novices of the order.

After thirty years as a Vestal Virgin, they would be set free, to live a private life.

The College of Vestals, an important order which was responsible for the well-being and security of Rome.  Vestal Virgins were priestesses of the Vesta, goddess of the hearth and charged with maintaining the sacred fire within the Temple of Vesta.

When Rome faced military defeat, Vestal Virgins were blamed with suggestions that they had not tended properly to the sacred fire, or loss of virginity.  The penalty for such acts would be death.

In 114 BC, Vestal Marcia was accused of taking a lover, and her punishment was to be sealed in a tomb, and left to starve to death.

Vestal Virgins were so sacred that they could intervene in criminal affairs at will.  If a vestal touched a slave, they were set free on the spot.  If a criminal saw a vestal virgin on his way to execution, he would receive a pardon for his crimes.

In AD394 during the reign of Theodosius I, a follower of the Christian religion, he brought an end to this ancient Roman Institution by disbanding the College of Vestals.

Legend has it, that the niece of Emperor Theodosius stole a necklace from Vesta’s statue.  Sixteen years later, Rome was destroyed by barbarians.  One has to ask, was this pay back?

Saint of the Day – 28 June – Saint Pope Paul I (Died 767)

Saint of the Day – 28 June – Saint Pope Paul I (Died 767) Papacy 29 May 757-28 June 767., Confessor. He first served as a Roman Deacon and was frequently employed by his brother, Pope Stephen II, in many delicate negotiations and ecclesiastica. -matters. Born at Rome, Italy and died on 28 June 767 […]

Saint of the Day – 28 June – Saint Pope Paul I (Died 767) — AnaStpaul

Saint Peter the Apostle

St.Peter was born in 4BC in Bethsaida by the Sea of Galilee.  A fisherman by trade, along with his brother Andrew, and the sons of Zebedee; John and James.  All four would become followers of Jesus.

Whilst Jesus lived, Peter played a major role, in the preaching and spreading the Christian message.  He often stood up against the authorities of the day, defending himself and the apostles. Peter’s reputation grew of that of a healer, as people brought the sick to him, hoping his shadow would fall upon them, and in doing so would cure them.

By the time Jesus had started preaching, Peter had married and lived in Capernaum.  Following the call, Peter travelled with Jesus, acquiring an important position amongst the apostles.

Peter was the first of the apostles to enter Jesus empty tomb, the first of the apostles that Jesus showed himself to.

As the early church struggled, Peter travelled far and wide, preaching the word of God, converting the people and curing the sick.

In AD43 Peter was arrested by King Herod Agrippa I, and released shortly thereafter.

In Ad49 presided over the Church Council in Jerusalem, where it was decided gentiles would receive full admission to the church.  From there he travelled to Antioch, where they claimed he be their first Bishop.

Peter went to Rome, and according to church historian; Eusebius he was executed during the reign of Nero (54-68).  It is highly probable he died during the persecution of AD64, following the fire that destroyed three of the capitals fourteen districts.  Jesus prophesied Peter would be crucified upside down.

Legend has it, recorded in the apocrypha 2nd Century Acts of Peter, that when Peter died, Marcellus a Roman Convert would take down his body from the cross, wash him in milk and wine, and bury him in a marble coffin full of mastic resin, myrrh, aloes and attic honey.

Pope Anacletus placed a memorial shrine over the grave.

The New York Times of 22nd August 1949, carried a message that the bones of St.Peter had been discovered under the altar of his basilica, and were guarded by Pope Pius XII.  However, they turned out to be human and farm animal bones.

On the 26th June 1968, Pope Paul VI, declared remains they had were the bones of St.Peter, for they dated back to 1st Century AD.

Saint Catherine: Child of Christ

Catherine; born a pagan
received vision, from the Virgin Mary,
as she turned to Christ
in a mystical marriage.

Emperor Maxentius, persecuted the Christians
for refusing to pay homage, to the idols,
Catherine entered into a debating battle
winning each and every debate.

Maxentius was a poor looser,
Catherine was imprisoned and tortured
and still she would not yield, to the Emperor
and she was beheaded, for her beliefs.

Saint Catherine, this Christian martyr
whose body was carried away by the angels,
would rest upon Mount Sinai
never to be forgotten…

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