In 1879 local people reported an apparition of the Virgin Mary and other supernatural personages at Knock, a poor rural village in western Ireland. In contrast to devotional or dismissive accounts, the author draws on both insiders' views and his training as a sociologist to show how the apparition was related to the local social context including economic, cultural, religious, political and historical dimensions.Drawing on new and neglected sources for evidence, Hynes pays particular attention to the individuals most directly involved including the seers, local clergy, Land League activists, various promoters, and others. The author looks through participants' eyes as much as possible. To understand what those eyes saw, this book examines the local scene for half a century before the apparition. His deep knowledge of the local context enables the author to develop understandings of key persons and events before and around the apparition. Using the Knock case, the author challenges usually accepted explanations of changes in nineteenth-century Irish Catholicism.
This book is important for those interested in the links between official and local religion especially in Irish Catholicism, for students of apparitions generally, for anyone interested in bottom-up approaches to social and cultural history, and especially for students of nineteenth-century Ireland.
Table of ContentsAcknowledgmentsAbbreviationsPrefaceA Short Note on My Perspective1. What Daniel Campbell RememberedPlan of the Book2 Local WorldsFairyloreStations at Local Sacred SitesStation MassesStations of the Cross3. The Role and Power of the Priest The Strike Against the Priests Mass Attendance Priests and Holy People4. Threats and BalancesThe Blessed Straw Chain-Prayer Supernatural Protection MacHale versus the Brownes Proselytism Stories of Faith A System of Checks and Balances5. The People Make a Saint6. Population and Cultural Continuity The Devotional Revolution Thesis7. Religion in Pre-Apparition Knock8. Authority Structures Shaken Commercialisation and Cultural Change The Land War Landlords and Tenants Fr Cavanagh and His Parishioners Archbishop MacHale's Reputation Famine Imminent The Seers' Social Situation9. The Social Construction of the Apparition The Investigating Commission The Witnesses Sources for the Testimony Developing the Picture What Was Added The Producers of the Picture The Aghamore Meeting The Magic Lantern Thesis 10. Our Lady and the Clergy Putting the Bishop in his Place The Debate on the Role of the Clergy The Ballyhaunis Connection Other Influences Local Reaction Failure11. Conclusion Knock and the Devotional Revolution Notes and References Works Cited Index