KNOCK SHRINE is to close its doors on what would usually be its busiest day of the year - the Feast of the Assumption on August 15 - due to Covid-19 fears.
Over 20,000 people would normally visit the famous shrine in Co. Mayo to celebrate the day, but a decision was taken to keep the grounds closed due to recent spikes of coronavirus over the last few weeks in Ireland.
In a statement, Fr Richard Gibbons, the rector of the Knock Shrine called the decision to close as "unprecedented and heart-breaking."
He said they were having to shut their doors "in the light of the current escalation of Covid-19 cases around the country together with the sheer impossibility of having the resources necessary to deal with the potential of large numbers of people gathering at the Shrine".
Gibbons urged people not to travel to Knock for the Feast of the Assumption, stressing that the Shrine and grounds "will be closed off to everyone".
"As the National Marian Shrine, we have been extra vigilant in living up to our responsibilities amid this pandemic in placing people’s physical and spiritual wellbeing to the fore," he added.
"I would ask for your understanding and patience at this time."
The Shrine and the grounds will be closed from 8pm on 14 August until 7am on 16 August.
Famous names like Mother Theresa, Pope John Paul II and Pope Francis have all visited the shrine.