Clonmacnois is to be the focal point of a major national event to mark the canonisation of two Popes next week.
A pilgrim walk of thanksgiving to mark the canonisation of Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II will take place from Dublin to Clonmacnois, commencing at Saint Saviour’s Church, Dominic Street, Dublin, on Tuesday, April 22, after 8.30am Mass and will arrive in Clonmacnois on Saturday evening, April 26.
The pilgrim walk will pass through Maynooth on Tuesday, Carbury on Wednesday, Daingean on Thursday, Clara on Friday and arrive in Clonmacnois on the evening of Saturday, April 26, to join in a local vigil and stay overnight for Mass on Sunday at 3pm which will be celebrated by Bishop Francis Duffy, Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnois.
On Sunday, April 27, Blessed John XXIII and Blessed John Paul II will be canonised by Pope Francis in Saint Peter’s Square in Rome.
Special masses will also be held at Ballybrit Racecourse in Galway and Knock Shrine in Mayo. Some 15,000 people thronged the ancient monastic city of Clonmacnois on September 30, 1979, as Pope John Paul II visited the historic monastic site for what was meant to be a moment of private prayer.
The visit was described as “private”, and was expected to be a very brief stop off on his journey to Galway.
The Irish bishops went almost as far as discouraging people from attending at Clonmacnois. Dr Daly warned pilgrims not to cancel plans to attend at other sites in favour of Clonmacnois.
Dr Daly, in his pre-visit letter, said: “People who do come to Clonmacnois will certainly see and hear the Holy Father, but the brevity of his visit, their distance from the Pope and the possibility of the late cancellation must be kept in mind by those proposing to come.”
Pope John Paul II arrived by helicopter around 9.30am. When the Pope arrived, he was flanked by Cardinals O’Fiach and Carroll and Bishop Marcinkus, and greeted by Bishop Cahal Daly. Bishop Daly described it later as the “happiest day of his life”.
The Pope visited an open-air oratory where he venerated St Manchan’s Shrine and other diocesan relics. From there he went up the hill, stopped to examine the Cross of the Scriptures, before coming to view on a specially prepared platform where he addressed the huge gathering.
Before leaving he blessed a yew tree which was later planted in Clonmacnois and was presented with a replica of the Papal Crozier, made of an alloy of metals from Clonmacnois.