Vatican officials found the apparition at Knock to be “trustworthy and satisfactory” after two separate commissions; in 1879 and again in 1936.
The new film contextualizes the apparition with the sufferings endured by the Irish people in the 19th century, particularly in County Mayo, which was hit especially hard by the potato famine.
The Great Famine of 1845-1849 devastated Ireland resulting in the deaths of an estimated 1 million people, with 1 million more emigrating from the country by 1951.
Recurring famines plagued Ireland in the decades that followed, particularly in the northwest. The year 1879, when the apparition took place, was itself “a famine year” for the Irish people.
“When Mary appeared at Knock in 1879, she brought light and hope to the Irish people, and she did so at a time of great darkness,” Gallagher said.
“Today it could be said that there is another famine or blight over Ireland, a spiritual one. We have a massive problem of suicides, as well as depression. It has been called a national crisis,” he said.
Ireland has the highest rate of chronic depression among young people in E.U. countries. The latest Eurofound statistics state 12% of Irish between the ages of 15 and 24 were chronically depressed.
Northern Ireland, where Miller is based, has one of the highest suicide rates in the world. Knock Shrine is just under 70 miles from the Northern Ireland border.
“This film shows us that no matter how desperate we are or how serious our circumstances through Mary there is hope -- hope in Christ,” Gallagher said.
The film’s director, Campbell Miller, said that Ireland and the world need this sense of hope “now more than ever.”
“We hope to give the young people who get a chance to watch this [the message] that there is a sense of hope, that things can get better,” Miller told EWTN News.
A statue of Our Lady of Knock was present on the altar of St. Peter’s Basilica for the papal Mass for the Sunday of the Word of God on Jan. 26.
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The rector of Knock Shrine, Fr. Richard Gibbons, traveled to Rome for the Mass and attended the Vatican premiere of the film Jan. 27.
“The Word of God is important in the apparition,” Gibbons told EWTN, noting that St. John appeared preaching the word of God, alongside Mary, in the apparition at Knock.
The Irish priest also highlighted the Eucharistic message of the apparition, in which a lamb appeared on top of an altar and in front of a cross.
“The message is Eucharistic .... the Mass is so important. During the penal times, the persecution of Catholics in Ireland, there was a saying, in Irish. The saying was 'For the Irish, it is the Mass that matters.' So the Mass maintained the faith of the people during very, very bad times in terms of our faith,” he said.
The film also tells the story of a miraculous healing involving Eucharistic adoration that occured at Knock Shrine in 1989 and was officially recognized in Sept. 2019.
Marion Carroll, a woman who had been bedridden for years with multiple sclerosis, was healed during a blessing with a monstrance at Knock Shrine.