Mayor Martin Walsh will journey to the Knock Shrine in Ireland this July with Cardinal Sean O’Malley, a return to his roots and site of great personal significance, the mayor’s office told the Reporter on Wednesday.
"I am delighted to be joining Cardinal O'Malley as part of the pilgrimage from Boston to Knock Shrine for the rededication ceremony of Our Lady's Basilica, a shrine which has personal meaning for not only myself but Irish people everywhere,” Walsh said in a statement. “This visit will highlight the strong economic and cultural ties that Boston shares with the West of Ireland. I look forward to participating in this historic event and to continuing to work to strengthen our connections with Knock and all of Ireland."
Walsh traveled to the Emerald Isle in 2014, his first international trip as mayor of Boston, for 10 days across the country of his family's origin.
“I was born in St. Margaret’s Hospital,” Walsh said at the time. “My home is Dorchester, Massachusetts. But I am also from Rosmuc and Carna in Connemara.”
John Walsh and Mary O’Malley were born and raised in in the southern parts of Connemara, in Galway, where their son is a beloved figure and emblematic of the deep ties between Ireland and Boston.
The Shrine at Knock is always a priority when Walsh is in Ireland, though he does not always have the chance to pass through County Mayo. He visited the Marian shrine as a child with his parents while the young Walsh battled cancer, and he credits the site for a large part of his recovery and his faith.
Knock is believed to have healing powers, originating from an apparition said to have occurred on Aug. 27, 1879. Legend tells of the Virgin Mary, St. Joseph, St. John the Evangelist, and the Lamb of God appearing before the local population in “ordinary and extraordinary circumstances.”
According to the Knock Shrine website, a chartered pilgrimage will land at Ireland West Airport Knock on July 14th, the first from Boston to the Knock site and operated by Aer Lingus.
Cardinal O’Malley will lead the pilgrimage, the highlight of which will be a rededication ceremony for the Basilica at Knock on its 40th anniversary, Sat. July 16., according to the Shrine website.