The Virgin Mary will appear at Knock in County Mayo today (May 11 2010) at 3pm. She'll be coming to chat with Joe Coleman, a Dubliner who describes himself as a psychic and clairvoyant and who has compared himself with Padre Pio and Joan of Arc. It's not clear what he has in common with either of them. He is known to those close to him as the Knock Seer. Or possibly just to himself. Our Lady will convey messages to Joe about the state of the world and crosses will appear in the sky all over Ireland. Which is nice.
This is not the first time Holy Mary has been due at Knock to visit with Joe. He promised an appearance on 11 October 2009 but, according to Lavelle, who runs the shrine, 'Nothing happened (...) All he can rely on is get people to look at the sun'. Which, as we all know, is a Very Bad Thing to do.
When Our Lady failed to show, Joe was not daunted and called for a rematch on October 31. All that happened there was a huge clean-up operation to get rid of the waste left behind by around 15,000 pilgrims. Thou Shalt Not Litter isn't one of the Ten Commandments.
Coleman insisted that she had shown up on both occasions, although apparently only to him.
Undaunted, he tried again in December. Again, he claimed that she did appear. The evidence for this was that a tear ran down his cheek, which someone in the audience (sorry, congregation) interpreted as a sign of Holy Presence.
Coleman really doesn't know when to quit. For today's appearance, he claims Our Lady has told him 'that mankind is now undergoing 'the cleansing' that has been foretold in the Holy Bible. We are now in the throws of the immediate lead-up to the Second Coming of Jesus, back to this earth'. She is, not surprisingly, 'pleading with the Irish people to return to their faith (...) This will help avert world unrest, ecological disasters which are imminent (...) and can help rid the world of many evils we are witnessing right now'. More praying equals less global warming?
Senior Catholic churchmen appealed to people not to attend and issued warnings that such predictions were misleading the faithful. They don't like freelancers.
The Irish press has covered this story widely, with no critical comment at all. The only serious note in the whole saga comes from opthalmologists, warning people not to look at the sun. University Hospital Galway saw five cases of solar retinopathy back in December. This gives a whole new meaning to 'blind faith'.
It is now nearly 7pm and the media is not swamped with stories of Our Lady's arrival. Coleman will no doubt be back soon. There are some pictures of the event here.
UPDATE 12 MAY 2010: The Belfast Telegraph reports today that at 2pm, Coleman claimed the Virgin had appeared to him and would be coming back for an encore at 2.30. Two people out of around 300 who turned up claimed they had indeed seen white crosses in the sky, as Coleman predicted. He said: "She gave me a fantastic message but I'm not going to reveal it today." He has now put it on his website.
The Virgin's latest heavenly words include the warning 'The oceans will explode - The Atlantic Ocean - Three major volcanic explosions under the sea. Tsunamis both sides of the Ocean between America and Europe. Fire will fall from the heavens.' Blimey.
Coleman also claimed yesterday that he had predicted the Iceland volcano eruption three weeks ago. It began on March 20, nearly two months ago.
Some of the press coverage: