‘The Lord has truly risen, alleluia.’(Invitatory antiphon)

When Pope Francis visited Ireland for the World Meeting of Families in 2018, he spoke to the Irish people with the message of hope of God’s constant and personal love for all God’s people. God’s desire is that the hope and presence of God’s love will sustain and nourish peoples’ trust, faith and confidence during this time of pandemic and for eternal life.

The Marian Shrine in Knock, Co Mayo is a place of pilgrimage. It is the site of an apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary in 1879. St Joseph, St John the Evangelist, a lamb representing Jesus, the Lamb of God and the Cross, the angels and the altar were also visible at the apparition. Pilgrims travel there annually. Pope Francis once said that, ‘pilgrimage is a way of believers expressing their faith in God.’ Pilgrimages are integral to many world religions – Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and Jews.

In the Apparition Chapel in the Marian Shrine, Knock, Co Mayo, Pope Francis through the intercession of Our Lady prayed for the families of the world and particularly for families in Ireland. He acknowledged that Mary our Mother knew ‘the joys and struggles’ within each family. He assured those listening of Mary’s love for them. He spoke confidently that Mary would bring these ‘joys and struggles’ to her Son.

Pope Francis gifted the people of Ireland with ‘a golden rosary’, in Knock, aware of the tradition of the family rosary in Ireland. Today, during this time of pandemic, the Pope urges us to pray the rosary, knowing that in times past, many people drew ‘comfort and strength’ from ‘Our Lady’s participation in the joyful, luminous, sorrowful and glorious mysteries of Christ’s life!’

Concluding his prayer, Pope Francis invited the people to pray the Angelus prayer.

In the Easter season, the prayer, ‘O Queen of Heaven’ is recited instead of The Angelus Prayer. This is in hymn form in the Grow in Love, Fourth Class /P6 programme (Theme 7, Lesson 3).


The Grow in Love programme for Third Classes/P5 and the Fourth Classes/P6 introduces children to the concept of Christian pilgrimage. Many children may have experienced going on a pilgrimage with their families. It may have been a pilgrimage to a local well, a Christian site associated with a saint, or the Marian Shrine, Knock or even further afield e.g. Lourdes.

A pilgrimage is a journey and it is different to a holiday though sometimes a pilgrimage and a holiday are combined. People go on pilgrimage to express their faith, to say thank you to God or to pray for a special intention. The Marian Shrines introduced in Grow in Love to these classes are located in Knock, Lourdes and Guadalupe.

Christians are pilgrim people. On a pilgrimage one leaves behind the sense of what’s familiar and walks the path with God and possibly seeks a new perspective, insight or outlook on life. In ancient times, pilgrims walked for hundreds of miles carrying little with them. In modern times, pilgrims still journey to sacred places but with modern amenities the journey may not as strenuous.

In the Scripture, children explore Abram’s journey (Gen 12:1), the journey of the Israelites (Book of Exodus) and Mary’s journey to visit Elizabeth in the hill country of Judea to visit Elizabeth (Lk 1: 39-56). A pilgrimage is a journey.

Children learn to identify Lourdes as a place of pilgrimage and a place of healing. They hear the story of how Our Lady appeared to St Bernadette and how Our Lady became known as Our Lady of Lourdes. The lesson is taught in the context of ‘The Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick.’ Children pray for people who are sick and those who care for them. They also learn the Angelus prayer which honours the story of the Annunciation (Lk 1:26-38), at which time Mary identified herself as servant of the Lord. They sing ‘The Bells of the Angelus’.

Children are also taught the story of the apparition of Our Lady at Knock and they discuss its relevance for their lives. They discuss journeys and the differences between a ‘tourist and a pilgrim’. They pray to ‘Our Lady of Knock’ and sing ‘When Creation was Begun’. They view the image of the mosaic in the Basilica of Our Lady of Knock and relate it to the story of the apparition. They discuss the place of the prayer during a pilgrimage.

The children hear the story of ‘Our Lady of Guadalupe’ and her appearance to Juan Diego in 1531.

Children continue to pray to Mary and allow her to lead them to her Son, Jesus. They also honour her as Mother of God and our Mother. They begin to read and sing ‘The Magnificat (Lk 1: 46-55), Mary’s great song of praise to God marvelling at the great things God has done for her. ‘The Regina Coeli’ replaces the Angelus prayer during the Easter season. This song expresses the joy of Mary being the mother of Jesus. We sing and pray Alleluia. The prayer ‘The Memorare’ is also introduced gently to the children where they grow in confidence that Mary is one in whom they can confide in prayer.

The children in these middle standards also learn the ‘Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary’. They revise the story of The Annunciation and the Scripture passages included in the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary.

A number of resources are available on the VERITAS website to help teach the content of these lessons e.g. ‘The Story of Lourdes’, ‘The Story of ‘Our Lady of Guadalupe’, a vimeo on ‘Pilgrims at Guadalupe’, ‘A virtual Tour of Lourdes’ a vimeo on ‘the Rite of The Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick’, an icon of St Kevin and prayers used at a Prayer Service. The Grow in Love e-books are also accessible.

Logon: www.veritas.ie

Email: trial@growinlove.ie

Password: growinlove

SONGS to sing at this time, ‘Mary’, ‘Mary our Mother’, ‘Magnificat’, ‘A Mhuire Mháthair’, ‘Bring Flowers of the Rarest’, ‘The Bells of the Angelus’, ‘Alleluia’ ‘A Mhuire Mháthair’, ‘When Creation Was Begun’ ‘A Celtic Blessing’. All are available as lyrics and video lyrics on the website.

PRAY from Grow in Love/I nGrá Dé

O, QUEEN OF HEAVEN (pray from Easter Sunday to Pentecost instead of the Angelus)

O Queen of heaven, rejoice, Alleluia;

For He whom you were worthy to bear, Alleluia;

has risen as He said, Alleluia.

Pray for us to God, Alleluia.

Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary, Alleluia.

Because our Lord is truly risen, Alleluia.

Let us pray.

O God, who by the Resurrection of Your Son our Lord Jesus Christ,

didst deign to give joy to the world:

grant we beseech You, that through His Mother, the Virgin Mary,

we may obtain the joys of everlasting life.

Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

‘The disciple is not above his master; but the fully trained disciple will be like his master, alleluia.’ (Benedictus antiphon)

I am the shepherd of the flock; I have come so that they may have life, and have it in all its fulness‘, alleluia.’ (Magnificat antiphon)

‘I will sing forever, O Lord, of your love and proclaim your faithfulness from age to age.’ (Psalm 88:2)

Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us.

Our Lady of Knock, pray for us.

Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us.


Sr Anne Neylon