Archbishop of Tuam Dr Michael Neary has warned that recent events at the Mayo pilgrimage site risk undermining faith and such visions should be discouraged.
The 130-year-old sacred ground has been the focus of allegations of the sun dancing in the sky and images of Our Lady being seen in its light by pilgrims in recent weeks.
In a statement, Archbishop Neary said recent events at the shrine were to be regretted rather than be encouraged. The claims threatened the faith that existed about the site, he said.
“Unfortunately, recent events at the shrine obscure this essential message. They risk misleading God’s people and undermining faith.”
On an evening in August 1879, people who were aged from five years to 75, and included men, women, teenagers and children, saw what they claimed was an apparition of Our Lady, St Joseph and St John the Evangelist outside a local small parish church in Knock.
In recent weeks, a clairvoyant has predicted that there would be an apparition at the shrine on Sunday, October 11.
Predictions were also made of another apparition there next weekend.
Archbishop Neary said the site had been a much-loved place of pilgrimage and prayer, as well as being visited by Pope John Paul II.
“Such faith makes Knock pilgrims firm in hope and active in love for the sick and suffering. They do not expect visions or seek further apparitions,” he added.
During one day this month, more than 5,000 gathered at the site and believed they could see the sun shimmering, changing colour, as well as dancing in the sky.
But in the statement, Archbishop Neary argued that such claims could if anything undermine people’s faith.
“For this reason such events are to be regretted rather than encouraged. The shrine of Knock will be best served by retaining its authentic identity.”
The archbishop stressed that the original apparitions were never sought by believers.
“The apparition of 1879 was neither sought nor expected by the humble, honest people who were its astonished witnesses. Their faith reveals the patience and humility that characterises true belief. The shrine of Knock is living witness to that faith,” he said.