National Novena Programme 2018 (Bus leaves Banagher Library 11.15am 14th, 16th,19th & 21st)

 The National Novena to Our Lady of Knock will take place from 14 – 22 August


This year will be the 41st celebration of the Novena, and such an important year as we prepare the way for the visit of His Holiness Pope Francis to the Shrine as part of the World Meeting of Families in Dublin. The theme for this year’s Novena is ‘Faith & Family’, and will draw from the key topics and themes related to family drawn from Pope Francis’ teachings in The Joy of Love (Amoris Laetitia).

The original intention behind hosting the Novena was to recognise the unique role that Knock has to play in the life of the Irish Church and to honour Our Lady, the Mother of God. It has grown in recent years to include daily workshops which offer pilgrims the opportunity to discuss and reflects on the daily themes and also to engage with the speakers, many of whom are internationally renowned authors and religious figures.

Fr Richard Gibbons, Rector of the Shrine feels it is important to give pilgrims the chance to engage on and discuss issues that that are topical and relevant in the Church today;

“The daily celebrations, sermons and processions are a very important part of the Novena tradition, however in recent years we have noticed a greater desire from pilgrims for discussion, reflection and the chance to engage on contemporary Church issues. The daily workshops which are help throughout the Novena give them the opportunity to do that. We also have a Bookshop here in the Shrine which is a wonderful resource for those that want to deepen aspects of their faith or to simply learn more about different ways of praying and other spiritual elements.”

“This year’s Novena will end on high as we await the visit of His Holiness and look forward to what will be a splendid and historic day for the Shrine and the village.”

Pilgrims from all over the world will have the opportunity to tune in as all of the Novena ceremonies will be streamed live on the watch page and also via the Shrine Facebook page @KnockShrine

Newsletter 12th August


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Relics of Ss Louis, Zélie and Thérèse in Ireland for WMOF2018

Relics will be present at the Opening Ceremony of the World Meeting of Families in the RDS on Tuesday 21 August and they will also be in the sanctuary in the Phoenix Park for the Papal Mass on Sunday 26 August.

The relics of Saints Louis and Zélie Martin and their daughter St Thérèse of Lisieux arrive in Knock today as part of their visit to Ireland for the World Meeting of Families.

The visit of the relics began on Sunday in St Mary’s Pro Cathedral in Dublin, another venue which Pope Francis will visit at the end of the month.

The relics will be present at the opening ceremony of the World Meeting of Families in the RDS on Tuesday 21 August and they will also be in the sanctuary in the Phoenix Park for the Papal Mass on Sunday 26 August.

Saints Louis and Zélie are two of the patron saints of this year’s World Meeting.

Organisers of the visit have said the journey of the relics through Ireland is a form of pilgrimage leading up to the World Meeting itself and leading away from it afterwards.

According to the Carmelites, the Martin family embodies what is best in family life and offers a wonderful example of what a family can become.

The relics will also travel to several places across Ireland before and after the World Meeting and this gives a much wider group of people who cannot attend the Congress in the RDS, the Festival of Families in Croke Park or the Papal Mass at the close of the World Meeting an opportunity to participate in the Meeting in a different though tangible way.

Louis and Zélie Martin were beatified on 19 October 2008, not because they gave five religious to the Church, one of whom is a saint, but because their married life gave witness of an exemplary Christian life.

Their lives were completely ordinary, that of a Christian couple who raised their children by working together. They knew the joy and pain of all families, but in their togetherness all was love: the love of God; love of their children; love of others.

Louis Martin was born in Bordeaux, France, in 1823 and Azélie-Marie (known as Zélie) Guerin was born in 1831.

Both sought to join religious life, but both were turned away.

Louis became a watchmaker and set up his own business in Alençon at age 27. Zélie learned the famous Alençon lace art, in which she excelled and set up her own business at age 22.

Louis and Zélie married on 13 July 1858. So successful was Zélie’s lace-making craft that Louis gave up his full-time work to manage her order book, and so Zélie became the main breadwinner.

Louis and Zélie were deeply devoted to one another and welcomed nine children – seven daughters and two sons – into the world, four of whom died young.

While their home was a happy place, it was not without its problems. Léonie – their third daughter – had poor health and learning difficulties. Bullied, she became disruptive at school. She would be for many years a source of concern for her parents. Léonie’s cause for beatification was introduced in 2015.

Louis and Zélie were deeply religious and went to daily Mass. Prayer formed an important part of family life, as did caring for the poor.

At the age of 45, Zélie developed breast cancer and died of it. Life without Zélie was very difficult for Louis and the children. He moved to Lisieux to be near Zélie’s brother and sister-in-law.

Louis saw Marie, Pauline and Thérèse enter the Carmelite Monastery in Lisieux between 1882 and 1888. Léonie entered the Visitation Monastery in Caen in 1887, but returned after six months. While it broke Louis’ heart to see his daughters go, he gave them generously to God.

In 1889, Louis developed cerebral arteriosclerosis. Celine and Léonie became his principal carers until his death in 1894.

Celine then entered the Carmelite Monastery and joined her sisters, where the youngest in the family – Thérèse – would be her novice mistress.

Léonie, who had previously tried her vocation with the Visitation community, re-entered the community in Caen and lived a saintly life until her death in 1941.

Saint Thérèse wrote to Abbé Bellière: “The good Lord gave me a father and a mother more worthy of heaven than of earth.” And in a letter to Father Roulland she speaks of the “heaven towards which tended all their actions and all their desires.”

Their life is like a catechism on family life. To know more about Saints Louis and Zélie Martin, visit

Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus is more popularly known as ‘The Little Flower’.

Marie Francoise-Thérèse was born in Alençon in France on 2 January 1873.

She was the youngest child of Louis and Zélie, and was just four years old when her mother died. Whilst still young, and despite opposition, she entered the Carmelite Monastery of Lisieux at the age of 15, taking the name Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus, and later adding ‘and of the Holy Face’.

By word and example she taught the novices the virtues of humility. Following a difficult illness, she died on 30 September 1897 and was canonised in 1925, with successive popes referring to her as ‘the greatest saint of modern times’.

She became famous for her ‘Little Way’, which is found in her remaining letters and her biography. She was declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope John Paul II in 1997. She is co-patroness of the Missions and secondary patron of France.

Details of the dates and venue which the relics will visit can be seen here:

Newsletter 5th August


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Archbishop Diarmuid Martin welcomes new stamps marking World Meeting of Families 2018

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, Archbishop of Dublin and President of the World Meeting of Families 2018 has welcomed the new set of stamps produced by An Post, Ireland’s national postal service, commemorating the upcoming celebration of families and faith. The World Meeting of Families will take place in Dublin next month from 21-26 August and Pope Francis will visit Ireland to participate at the international event.

The new stamps were introduced in the latest issue of the quarterly An Post booklet The Collector and issued today 26 July.

Speaking at the unveiling of the stamps Archbishop Martin thanked An Post and welcomed the publications of the new stamps. He said the stamps were a fitting tribute to what he hoped would be ‘’a memorable and uplifting visit of Pope Francis to the World Meeting of Families in Ireland — a visit that presents a great opportunity for the Church and the country”.

Strong demand is expected for a print run of 500,000 €1 stamps, carrying an image of Pope Francis with a dove taking flight and over 100,000 €1.50, international stamps, which feature a family walking together on a beach. The two stamps are designed by Vermillion Design, based on Distillery Road, Dublin 3.

Other items being produced by An Post are a First Day Cover (FDC) envelope which will contain both stamp designs €3.50, a Mini-sheet, and Souvenir sheet with four stamps and the locations of the various WMOF events in Ireland.

An Post is also issuing complimentary postcards with stamp purchases made from An Post at the GPO Dublin, the RDS, Phoenix Park (Parkgate Street Post Office) Knock Shrine (Knock Post Office) and special date cancels for the RDS, Phoenix Park, and Knock Shrine.

The stamps and associated material will be popular with those attending WMOF events, as a general memento of the occasion and as good-value, easy-to-carry souvenirs for family and friends. The stamps will have considerable interest for the worldwide community of stamp collectors especially those with a speciality interest in religious stamps.

The stamps will be on sale in selected Post Offices nationwide from 26 July, while specially designed First Day Covers, stamp miniature sheets and souvenir sheets will also be available from the stamp counters at Dublin’s GPO and online at

The full schedule for the World Meeting of Families and the itinerary for Pope Francis’ visit, as well as information regarding transport and for those with accessibility requirements, can be found on

Newsletter 29th July


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Stars gather in Croke Park for launch of WMOF Festival of Families programme

The World Meeting of Families has today released details of the programme and some of the acts and artists who will join Pope Francis at the Festival of Families in Croke Park on Saturday 25 August. The World Meeting of Families is now only 33 days away, opening nationally on Tuesday 21 August.


The Festival of Families will be one of the highlights of the WMOF2018 and is choreographed as a celebration of family life. Families from 116 countries are set to be entertained at the WMOF2018 Festival of Families event in the presence of Pope Francis.

During the Festival Pope Francis will deliver an address to the families in the stadium and will hear five family testimonies. The testimonies will be shared by families from Ireland, Canada, India, Iraq and Africa. The themes of the family testimonies will focus on: forgiveness in family; strength in family; hope in family life; the intergenerational nature of families today and the impact of technology on family life. Pope Francis will meet each of these families and hear their stories.

The line-up announced today includes a cast of thousands and features community-based artists as well as some well-known local and international artists including Nathan Carter, The Riverdance Troupe, Dana Masters, Daniel O’Donnell, The Begley Family, The Priests, The Holy Family Deaf Choir and Deaftones, Celine Byrne, Paddy Moloney, Bridgie and Missy Collins and Moya Brennan.

As well as these artists the cast for the Festival of Families will include an orchestra in excess of 50 musicians; over 700 Irish, Sean Nós and contemporary dancers, including 500 from Irish dance schools across the country; a 1,000 strong choir; 100 community groups, and 300 flag bearers. More acts will be announced closer to the event.

Speaking at today’s launch in Croke Park, the President and Host of WMOF2018, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin said, “One of the great attractions of Pope Francis is how he himself shows how the role of Pope can be unique in bringing the Christian message into our complex world. He shows us that he can live in a world where faith seems marginal and yet manages to touch hearts. He finds ways in which he can win hearts for what the teaching of Jesus involves, not through imposing and judging, but through winning and attracting. That is his real talent.”

The selection of themes and artists featured in the event reflect many of the priorities in the ministry of Pope Francis including homelessness and those on the margins; migrants and refugees; care for our common home and the importance of the family. Also unveiled today at the launch was the stage design for the event which will include a circle of encounter space where families will sit with Pope Francis to watch some of the presentations on stage.

Pope Francis will visit Ireland to take part in the ninth World Meeting of Families, which takes place in Dublin from 21–26 August on the theme, ‘The Gospel of the Family: Joy for the World’. The full schedule for the World Meeting of Families and the itinerary for Pope Francis’ visit, as well as information regarding transport and for those with accessibility requirements can be found on

Newsletter – 22nd July


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Newsletter 15th July


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Croatia’s World Cup soccer coach clings to the rosary as he finds success

Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic Credit: wikimedia cc by sa 3.0
Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic

On Sunday, Croatia’s soccer team will play France in the championship game of the 2018 World Cup, after running victoriously through a string of soccer powerhouses in the tournament.

Here’s one reason Catholics in the US might be rooting for the small Central European country: Croatia is a deeply Catholic country, and the coach of its national team, Zlatko Dalic, is a man of sincere faith.

Dalic said recently that his current success is due to his faith in God, and that he always carries a rosary to hold onto in difficult times.

Dalic spoke about his faith on Croatian Catholic radio when the World Cup began.

“Everything I have done in my life and in my professional career I owe to my faith, and I am grateful to my Lord,” Dalic said.

Croatia got a ticket to the final match of the World Cup after defeating England 2-1 in a game that went to overtime July 11.

“I can be very happy with my life,” Dalic said, adding that “without strong faith and that motivation, it would be very difficult to achieve it.”

“When a man loses any hope, then he must depend on our merciful God and on our faith,” he said.

In that sense, Dalic explained that “I always carry a rosary with me” and “when I feel that I am going through a difficult time I put my hand in my pocket, I cling to it and then everything is easier.”

Regarding the expectations of the Croatians for the success of their selection at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, he indicated that “I know what our people expect, how many people love Croatian football and our team.”

He stressed that “finding the good in life always brings satisfaction, happiness, a result. Man must always be honest with himself and with others. ”

Before the July 11 game, Dalic said of his Cinderella-story team: “we do not fear anyone, not even England.”

The coach is 51 years old, married and has two children. During his youth he played on Croatian soccer teams, among them Hajduk Split, Inter Zapresic and Varteks Varazdin.

In 2000, he finished his career as a professional soccer and started coaching Croatian teams. In 2010 he went to Saudi Arabia to lead the teams of Al-Faisaly Harmah and then Al-Hilal. A year later he moved to the United Arab Emirates to be the coach of the Al-Ain club.

In October 2017 he was appointed head coach of the Croatian national team.