The History of four International Sanctuaries

21 November 2023



The second International Meeting of Rectors and Pastoral Personnel of Shrines, entitled ‘The Shrine: house of prayer, on the journey towards the Jubilee 0f 2025’ concluded on Saturday 11 November. Five years after the last meeting, around 600 participants from all over the world took part, representing a total of 43 countries.

The presentations made during the three-day conference offered interesting food for thought about these "privileged places of prayer and encounter with Christ" as they were described by Archbishop Rino Fisichella, the Pro-Prefect of the Dicastery for Evangelization which organized the event.

In addition to the 285 participants from Italy, the meeting brought together 78 rectors and shrine personnel from the Philippines, 45 from France, and 31 from Brazil. Representatives from Vietnam, Senegal, Madagascar, Uganda, Haiti, Ecuador, South Korea, Chile, Burundi, and Argentina, among others, were also present at the event in Rome. Europe, with 380 participants, was the continent with the highest number of attendees, followed by Asia with 100 delegates.

Among the guests at the meeting were Fr Richard Gibbons, Fr Emmanuel Edeh, Fr Mary Joseph Kwangseog Han and Fr Reynante Tolentino, rectors respectively of the four International Shrines of Knock in Ireland, Elele in Nigeria, Haemi in South Korea and Antipolo in the Philippines.

Knock International Shrine

Knock International Shrine, under the pastoral care of Father Gibbons, is the most visited Catholic place of worship in Ireland. The shrine was built in Knock following an apparition in 1879. The Virgin Mary is venerated there under the title "Our Lady of Knock". An ecclesiastical commission of investigation in 1936 recognized the apparition as worthy of belief and authorized devotion to Our Lady of Knock. In 1979, to mark the centenary, Pope John Paul II visited the shrine, for which he always maintained a special fondness. On that occasion he donated the papal Golden Rose to the sanctuary.

Elele International Shrine

Father Emmanuel Edeh is the rector and founder of the sanctuary of Elele, Nigeria. It is a pilgrimage destination that welcomes millions of the faithful every year, not only from the Africa but also from other continents. He is very active in organizing retreats, seminars, and spiritual direction activities, as well as arranging support for the poorest of the poor. Dedicated to Jesus the Savior, it is a beacon of hope that welcomes everyone with the aim of making the poorest feel the love and comfort of the Catholic Church.

Haemi International Shrine

The sanctuary of Haemi, in South Korea, was represented at the meeting by its rector, Father Mary Joseph Kwangseog Han. It is located about 280 kilometers from the capital Seoul and in March 2021 it was recognized by the then-Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization as a place of international pilgrimage due to its commemorative importance. More than 2,000 Korean martyrs who converted to the Christian faith were arrested and executed on the site of the current shrine between 1866 and 1882. In the 18th and 19th centuries, thousands of Catholics were martyred in Korea. The greatest persecution was in 1866, which saw 8,000 people go down in history as martyrs.


Antipolo International Shrine

The National Shrine of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage, located in Antipolo, Philippines, is headed by Father Reynante Tolentino. The sanctuary church is also the cathedral of the city and of the diocese of the same name. In the shrine a statue of Our Lady under the title of the Immaculate Conception is venerated, which was brought to the Philippines by the Governor General Juan Niño de Tabora. In 1626, he brought the statue from Mexico across the Pacific Ocean aboard the galleon El Almirante. The voyage passed off without incident and this was attributed to the presence of the statue of the Madonna on the ship, which was subsequently designated "Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage".