As Mrs. McLaughlin and 26-year-old Mary Beirne hurried along in the rain on the night of August 21, 1879 in the village of Knock, Ireland, they were astonished to see a silvery light and three beautiful figures outside the south gable of the parish church; next to the figures was an altar with a lamb on it. Mary Beirne recognized the three as St. Joseph, Our Lady and St. John the Evangelist; she ran home to tell her mother and family. Word spread, and soon there were 14 adults and children gazing at the marvel. After more than an hour, the vision faded away.When the witnesses told their story, there were many scoffers. But soon there was a remarkable cure of a 12-year-old girl who had been stone deaf for four years, and before long there were more cures—most of them after prayers to the Blessed Virgin and after touching a piece of cement from the south gable of the church.Some people were puzzled because Our Lady had not requested prayer and penance at Knock, as she had done at other apparitions. But the parish priest suggested that this may have been because the Irish had never lost the spirit of prayer and penance, having suffered so much from poverty, famine and terrible persecution for their Faith—often because they would not deny the Mass, the Sacraments, Our Lady and the Saints. Perhaps, he suggested, the remarkable apparition at Knock was a silent blessing and a reward for the centuries-long faithfulness of Catholic Ireland.