irish-crossIrish Catholic pilgrims have suffered eye damage after staring at the sun in the hope of witnessing an apparition of the Virgin Mary, a doctor said on Wednesday. On one occasion in October, some 10,000 people gathered at the Knock shrine in northwestern Ireland hoping to see Mary, despite pleas from an archbishop to ignore invitations to the event by a self-proclaimed spiritual healer.

Some of those present said they had seen Mary, venerated by Christians as the mother of Jesus, and attributed her presence to the sun suddenly breaking through the clouds, changing color, appearing to come closer or spinning in the sky.

Eamonn O’Donoghue, an ophthalmologist at University College Hospital Galway in the west of Ireland, said he had several patients whose retina had been burned by the sun during a visit to Knock.

Read the whole story here. Listen to the RTE radio interview with Dr. O’Donoghue here or read their story. See also the Irish Times and the Irish Independent. (Photo: Rosaries in religious shop in Knock, 10 June 2009/Cathal McNaughton)

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