KNOCK 1879 APPARITIONS DEPOSITIONS - ANALYSED

ANALYSIS OF THE EVIDENCE
 
About 15 people said they saw the Blessed Virgin Mary appear in a great light flanked by St Joseph and St John at the gable wall of the Roman Catholic Church in Knock on the 21st August 1879. A lamb standing on an altar was also reported.
 
None of them said they were sure at the time that the sight they saw was supernatural. Only Trench mentions giving them some veneration as holy things. And its a Catholic thing to do that with an image not just an apparition. None of them mentions experiencing God as they saw the images. None of them mentions checking out if the images were not a trick. If the projector was sitting there in full view it was simply not mentioned.
 
Given that vague images are sometimes taken seriously as images of Jesus or Mary or some saint we wonder how clear the actual vision was. It was clear enough for the witnesses to make identifications but we must remember that they already had it in their heads about what shape Joseph, Mary and John had. John was identified because some witnesses saw a statue similar to the image in Leckanvey. A person who had never seen holy statues or been influenced by the witnesses could have reported seeing nothing more than vague shapes. People swear that there is an image of Mother Teresa or the Virgin Mary on slices of toast while others say they see nothing.
 
If an experiment were performed on Catholics where they were tricked with images that broadly resembled at least the outline of Mary, the results could be very interesting. They could end up reporting a very clear and lucid apparition and maybe even say it was moving. Their imagination would take over.
 
The Knock witnesses did not see the apparition coming or going.
 
THEORY 1: Detailed parts of the images such as the face and hands and feet were stuck to the wall. The bodies were made up of light from a magic lantern positioned on the window sill which shone the image onto a mirror which reflected it on the gable There may have been a box attached to the wall containing another magic lantern to illuminate or compose the altar figure.
 
THEORY 2: Statues were placed at the gable and a light shone on them. Some of the UNALTERED testimonies say as much. If some good witnesses say something is a miracle and others give evidence that the miracle interpretation is unwarranted then we should agree with the latter. The Church may say that we are biased. But we are not. The pro-miracle testifiers and those who see no need for a miracle explanation are cancelling each other out. If we still say we side with the pro people, then we are as bad as those who say that if your bread that you bake looks like the face of Jesus then its a miracle! In this scenario and their scenario, a miracle is assumed with no evidence in its favour.
 
1879 TESTIMONIES OF THE WITNESSES
 
The following depositions were supposedly produced by the priests forming the Commission of Investigation set up by the Church in 1879. In fact they are only based on the originals. A lot of rewriting and changing has been done by devout Catholic publishers.
 
One of the priests was the Parish Priest of Knock, the wily Father Bartholomew Cavanagh.
 
The priests and the witnesses accepted the published depositions. But none of them had the integrity to admit that alterations had been made to make the case for the apparition being supernatural and not a hoax seem stronger. Cavanagh approved of the paraphrased and altered depositions (page 182, Knock: The Virgin's Apparition in 19th Century Ireland). Honest wasn't he?

TIME TO SHOUT!
 
THE ORIGINALS OF THE DEPOSITIONS HAVE BEEN LOST EXCEPT IN THE CASE OF MARY BEIRNE, HER SISTER MAGGIE BEIRNE, DOMINICK BEIRNE SEN, DOMINICK BEIRNE JUN, JUDITH CAMPBELL AND BRIDGET TRENCH.
 
MARY BEIRNE, DOMINICK BEIRNE JUN AND BRIDGET TRENCH'S TESTIMONIES ARE ALL IN THE SAME HAND. IT IS BELIEVED THAT THEY WERE NOT TAKEN ON 8 OCT 1879 LIKE THE OTHERS WERE BUT ON 1 JULY 1880.
 
MEMORY IS ALWAYS EASILY CONTAMINATED. PSYCHOLOGISTS KNOW THAT EYEWITNESS TESTIMONY BECOMES EASILY POLLUTED OVER TIME. MARY BEIRNE AND DOMINICK JUN AND BRIDGET TRENCH (ESPECIALLY HER ON ACCOUNT OF HER ADVANCED AGE) WOULD HAVE GIVEN TESTIMONIES WHOSE ACCURACY CAN BE DOUBTED AS THEY WERE MADE ON 1 JULY 1880 MONTHS AFTER THE REPUTED EVENTS. IF BEIRNE SAW ONLY A DULL GLOW RATHER THAN A BRIGHT LIGHT SHE MIGHT HAVE "REMEMBERED" SEEING A BRIGHT LIGHT UPON HEARING ABOUT THE BRIGHT LIGHT FROM OTHERS. HAD SHE NOT OBSERVED HOW HIGH THE IMAGES WERE ABOVE THE GROUND SHE MIGHT HAVE THOUGHT SHE REMEMBERED THEY WERE ABOUT A COUPLE OF FEET ABOVE THE GROUND LIKE SOME OTHERS HAD SAID. PREFERENCE SHOULD BE AFFORDED TO THE TESTIMONIES OF 8 OCT 1879 FOR THEY WERE CLOSER TO THE EVENT. BUT IF ANY TESTIMONIES SAY THINGS THAT SEEM TO UNDERMINE THE VISION THEY MUST BE BELIEVED AS IT SHOWS THEY WERE UNLIKELY TO HAVE BEEN MADE UP. IT SHOWS THE ABSENCE OF BIAS.
 
THE PIOUS FRAUDSTERS PARAPHRASED THE TESTIMONIES AND ALTERED THEM. THE TEXT HIGHLIGHTED IN GREEN HAS BEEN ADDED TO THE ORIGINAL.

HERE ARE LINKS TO DETAILED ANALYSIS OF EACH WITNESS

1 PATRICK HILL - NO EVIDENCE HIS TESTIMONY IS REALLY HIS WORK

2 MARY MC LOUGHLIN, TOLD LIES ABOUT HOW BRIGHT THE LIGHT WAS AND MAY HAVE BEEN DRUNK

3 MARY BEIRNE, STAR WITNESS WHO INFLUENCED THE OTHERS TOO MUCH

4 PATRICK WALSH - REPORTED MERELY SEEING LIGHT AT CHURCH FAR AWAY

5 PATRICK BEIRNE - ADMITTED LATER IN LIFE THE IMAGES WERE LIKE SHADOWY SHAPES

6 WIDOW BEIRNE - TESTIMONY CLEARLY BORROWED FROM OTHERS

7 DOMINICK BEIRNE JUN TESTIMONY NOT VALID FOR NOT SIGNED

8 MRS HUGH FLATLEY - REPORTED STATUES AT GABLE

9 BRIDGET TRENCH, ALMOST A TOTALLY DOCTORED TESTIMONY

10 CATHERINE MURRAY FOUND IMAGES SO VAGUE SHE HAD TO BE TOLD WHAT THEY WERE

11 JOHN CURRY, REFERRED TO THE VISION AS NICE THINGS NOT PEOPLE OR STATUES

12 JUDY CAMBPELL SAYS IT WAS A VISION OF STATUES

13 MISS MARGARET BEIRNE PUT LIES IN HER TESTIMONY AS AFTERTHOUGHTS

14 DOMINICK BEIRNE SEN, REPORTS IT WAS STATUES NOT PEOPLE

15 JOHN DURKAN, NO TESTIMONY GIVEN

BOOKS CONSULTED  

Margaret Anna Cusack, The Nun of Kenmare, by Catherine Ferguson CSJP, Gaelbooks, Co Down, 2008

Knock The Virgin's Apparition in Nineteenth Century Ireland, Eugene Hynes, Cork University Press, Cork, 2008

Knock: Some New Evidence. The British and Irish Skeptic, Berman, David. Vol 1, no. 6, November/December 1987

Knock 1879-1979, Rynne, Catherine.  Dublin: Veritas Publications, 1979

Looking for a Miracle, Joe Nickell, Prometheus Books, New York, 1993 

Our Lady of Knock, John MacPhilpin, Tom Neary, London: Catholic Truth Society, 1976

Our Lady of Knock. William D Coyne, New York: Catholic Book Publishing, 1948

"Papal Visit Resurrects Ireland's Knock Legend." The Freethinker (October 1979). Reprinted in The British and Irish Skeptic 1, no. 1 January/February 1987

The Apparition at Knock, A Survey of Facts and Evidence, Fr Michael Walsh, St Jarlath’s College, Tuam, Co Galway, 1959

The Apparition at Knock, The Ecumenical Dimension, Eoin de Bháldriathe, Data Print, Athy, 2013

The Apparitions and Miracles at Knock, also Official Depositions of the Eye-Witnesses. Tuam, Ireland, 1880. 2d ed. Dublin: M. H. Gill & Son, 1894.

Mother of Nations, Joan Ashton, Veritas, Dublin, 1988

The Book of Miracles, Stuart Gordon, Headline, London, 1996

The Cult of the Virgin Mary, Michael P Carroll, Princeton University Press, 1986  

The Evidence for Visions of the Virgin Mary, Kevin McClure Aquarian Press, Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, 1985  

The Thunder of Justice, Ted and Maureen Flynn, MAXCOL, Vancouver, 1993  

The Wonder of Guadalupe, Francis Johnson, Augustine, Devon, 1981  

Why Statues Weep, Editors Wendy M Grossman and Christopher C French, The Philosophy Press, London, 2010

Venerable Archdeacon Cavanagh, Liam Úa Cadhain, Knock Shrine Society, Roscommon Herald, Boyle, Roscommon, Ireland, 2004