If nobody believed in superstition it would be unable to hurt anyone
Daily Telegraph, February 1880 - About the Knock
A dodgy boy called Patrick Hill whose testimony was regarded as unreliable by an astute priest-scientist Lennon is nevertheless treated as marvellous and accurate by believers in the alleged appearance of the Virgin Mary and friends on the gable wall of the church at Knock in 1879. The article below recounts the information given by Hill to a journalist for the Daily Telegraph. The article was prepared less than six months after the alleged apparition.
Bourke was one of the priests who examined the apparition
claims. Bourke seems to have arranged for Hill to come to testify to the
journalist about the visions.
Note: Hill said he went to Knock after dark. Then he went to the house and never heard of the apparition until somebody came in and told him. It does not sound like the light at the gable was that noticeable. It is interesting how we read that Hill made a simple account. The published account of Hill's deposition about the visions is ornate and obviously got a lot of window dressing from the Church and the publisher! Like Bridget Trench, the published testimony was probably very different from the real one.
Hill was told the Virgin was AGAINST the wall. It was a flat picture.
Hill said that the Lamb and the altar were on the left of John and above him. The Lamb and altar were higher than usually imagined.
He is clear that the Virgin stood like a statue. He stated that nothing moved. No witness deposition said the entities moved. Hill's seems to but it actually merely speaks of the three entities going flat on the wall if you go too near.
Lights played about the wall according to Hill. It could be that the rain got in the way of the light source. A glitter effect would be produced.
He saw wings around the lamb on the altar. He assumed they were angel's wings. He saw no bodies or heads.
He says his little brother was with him. There is no mention of Patrick Curry being with him. The brother was not mentioned in the depositions but he claimed that in his Patrick Curry was accompanying him.
He said that his little brother wanted to take the figures home - could that be a sign that the images were all smaller than commonly thought? The images must have been smaller for surely if they were life-size they would have looked like ghosts and the little boy would have been frightened of them.
Hill says they were at the wall a fair distance from the gable and later on went closer.
He says that he did not look behind him at all during the apparition. He is honest enough to say that he did not know if there was light anywhere other than the gable. He must have been asked if a light source might have been operated by a hoaxer. He just says he doesn't know.
He said that there was eleven or twelve of us looking that the vision and as the rain would not stop "and we were very wet, we went away." The significance of this cannot be denied. The usual tale is that the witnesses left to help Mrs Campbell at her door and when they came back the vision was gone. No deposition states this to be the truth. Hill here gives the real reason - they were wet and getting home was more important to them than the vision. This supports the idea that the vision didn't come across as that extraordinary.
Hill's official deposition speaks of him being very wet for a long time at the vision. It is hard to believe that he left because he got wet for he was wet anyway.
Hill's account here is sober unlike the account he gave in his deposition which shows signs of exaggeration and embellishment. And we must remember that his original deposition is lost forever - all we have is what certain books said was in it.
Hill left and a new witness came to the interview. He choose to stay anonymous.
He denied seeing the wings.
He said it seemed that the images were 3-D. He said that it seemed we could see around them. He was not sure then.
He said the wall stayed dry despite the rain beating on it. He should have been asked to say how he knew it was dry. He said the light covered the wall. He spoke of sparkles over the gable. Was this down to light reflecting from the rain coming down the wall?
The Protestant Royal Irish talking about lights and visions shows that the rumour that the original vision was a hoax by a Protestant policeman rings true.
The reporter says his impression of the Archdeacon is that he is incapable of dishonest conduct. Why did he say that? Were there rumours about the Archdeacon having had something to do with an apparition hoax? If somebody said for no apparent reason that you would not steal then clearly there must be rumours about you that you would.
It is hard to believe that the Archdeacon really did not know that the vision was still there when his housekeeper told him about it. She would have been excited and telling him to go and wanting to go back herself. And if she had not said that surely he would have asked if they were still there?
Nothing she said gave him reason to infer the vision was over. He is lying.
He said somebody else came to tell him to come but he seems to have not let that person in claiming to have been exhausted in his bed. Why no name?
The archdeacon speaks of the 1879 vision as the first apparition.
There is more interest in the bizarre apparitions that followed the original vision. It does not look the the witnesses of the original were any more credible than the ones that came after them. They didn't stand out as any more believable than the cranks that imagined visions at the gable.