Thousands in rain-sodden Knock awaiting arrival of Pope Francis

Tens of thousands of people have been gathering since the early hours of this morning at Knock Shrine in County Mayo for the historic visit of Pope Francis.

It’s an occasion of joy and celebration for the faithful gathered at what is Ireland’s national Marian Shrine.

That joy and celebration will be proclaimed for all to hear at 8:25 when the bells of Knock Shrine will ring out.

They will join the bells of the other churches in the six dioceses that make up the ecclesiastical province of Tuam, all signalling the beginning of this morning’s huge gathering at Knock as well as sending out a powerful Cead Mile Failte to Pope Francis.

From 8:30, there will be what’s being described as an ‘uplifting gathering event’ featuring music, video presentations, drama, prayer and reflections, all focussing on the story of Knock, a story that began almost 140 years ago, in 1879.

One of the MCs for this part of the occasion will be Paul Keogh, principal of Summerhill College in Sligo.

This will continue until the arrival of The Holy Father here at about 9:45 from nearby Ireland West Airport.

Pope Francis will then move through the crowds in the pope mobile, arriving at the apparition gable of Knock parish church about 10am.

There, he will spend some time in silent prayer at the site of the apparition.

Pope Francis will then leave the chapel to deliver a short address in Italian and lead pilgrims in The Angelus prayer, in Latin.

Before departing, he will impart his blessing.

Overall, the Pope will be at the Shrine for less than an hour-and-a-half before returning to Ireland West Airport for his flight back to Dublin.

The final part of this morning’s event will occur directly after his departure at about 11:15, when there will be a concelebrated open-air Mass, which be broadcast live here on Ocean FM.