Say it ain't so, Joe. Three o'clock came and went yesterday and there was no sign of Herself in or around the Knock area.
But at least the heavens gifted one small mercy to the faithful who had gathered. The sun didn't shine. Unlike the last time out, there will be no pilgrims seeking treatment from eye surgeons for staring too long at the sun on this occasion. By any standards, this apparition turned out to be a damp squib.
Joe Coleman said the Blessed Virgin would be dropping into Knock, Co Mayo, yesterday. Joe is a visionary who went to Knock on 31 October and brought 8,000 people with him, all intent on getting a sconce at the Lady in Blue.
She was due again yesterday, and for all we know She might have been up there somewhere behind the clouds, staying dry and out of sight while the heavens rained down on the plains of Mayo.
The faithful were seriously depleted. The thousands who made the pilgrimage the last time out stayed away. Crash barriers were placed at the ready by gardaí in downtown Knock, but the masses never materialised. Through traffic was fair to middling for a Saturday in early December. Joe arrived in town in mid-morning, but he didn't have it all his own way.
At the entrance to the Knock complex, two men, Eamon Sheridan and John Murtagh, held a protest, or a vigil, of sorts. Their placard read: "The devil masquerading as the Blessed Virgin at all apparition sites". They broke bread with Joe when he happened along, but no love was lost.
According to Pat Lavelle, the manager of the complex, there were around 800 pilgrims in attendance, which was what might be expected for the first Saturday in December. By contrast, around 5,000 are expected for an all-night vigil tomorrow, on the eve of 8 December.
The few that did make the pilgrimage on Saturday included many who were there for Joe. Michael McNamara came from Feakle in Co Clare the night before. He is an old Knock hand, and wanted to see what would happen this time. Not that he had to travel all this way for an audience with Our Lady.
"She appeared in Feakle a few years back and I've been very holy since," Michael said. "I come here about 35 times a year and I've been to Lourdes and Medjugorje."
Joe was keeping a low profile as the apparition hour neared. Approached by the Sunday Tribune in Knock car park, his assistant said he had no interest in talking. Joe, sitting in the back seat, pulled his hat low, and the car left at speed.
At 2.40pm, Joe arrived at the basilica, his head down, the cameras flashing as they do for top celebs. One man reached out to touch the visionary as he scurried through the entrance.
Inside, Joe knelt and was led in prayer by a female companion who interspersed her prayer with various references to the media. Joe's head remained bowed, apart from the odd glance at the ceiling of the basilica, like a man whose sixth sense told him something was cooking up there. Then, at 3.07pm, he raised his eyes once more, a smile creasing his face.
Houston, we have lift off. She had arrived.
The only other person who appeared to be seeing things was Joe's male companion who knelt beside him. This man had a smile on his face as if all his Christmases had come at once.
Outside, the rain kept coming down, the sky covered by low-lying clouds the colour of dishwater. Whatever it was that Joe was seeing, there was little enough of it to go around.
In the end the old adage applied. There's no show like a Joe show, and while Joe showed, there was no show from the star of the show.
What a sad little priest-ridden (no pun intended) country
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No wonder the people are going sort of daft. Country under water, economic meltdown,Bertie thinking some loolas in FF were out to get him,thats why he had no bank account and kept money under the bed; Cowen defending the mental reservations of the Vatican who do not answer letters from a government commission-a dark day in our history.