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What is the Ancient Order of Hibernians in America?

The Ancient Order of Hibernians is a Catholic, Irish American Fraternal Organization founded in New York City 4 May,1836. The Order can trace its roots back to a parent organization, of the same name, which has existed in Ireland for over 300 years. However, while the organizations share a common thread, the North American A.O.H. is a separate and much larger organization.

 
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Our Lady of Knock Mass
 
The Story of Knock began on the rainy night of August 21st 1879 in County Mayo when Our Lady, St. Joseph and St. John the Evangelist appeared at the south gable of Knock Parish Church. The apparition was witnessed by fifteen people, young and old. While the apparition may not be as captivating as those in which Our Lady spoke, from this miraculous occurrance Knock has grown to the status of an internationally recognised Marian Shrine.
 
The Ancient Order of Hibernians
The Protestant Reformation that swept Europe in the 16th century was marked by Royal intrigues over control of the Roman Church's wealth, and conflicts over which religion could be practiced.  Violence erupted in many countries.  Elizabeth I declared the Church of England the State religion, and considered Ireland part of her state.  Most Irish did not agree.  The Papacy launched a counter-reformation and Ireland became a battlefield between the two forces as the Irish, who embraced the Church introduced by St. Patrick, became the target of a campaign to reduce Rome's power by converting the masses to Protestantism.  The persistence with which the Irish clung to their religion drove the English to extremes in repression.  Penal laws disenfranchised Irish Catholics from the political, social, and economic life of their own country, and with their religion outlawed and their clergy on the run, they became an underground society practicing their religion in secret.
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