Catholic pilgrims have been invited to return to the National Novena to Our Lady of Knock which will begin on Sunday.

It is the first time people will be able to gather in person for the novena since 2019.

The theme of this year's event, which will run until 22 August, is 'A Journey in Hope'.

More than 8,000 people are expected to attend the shrine each day following a three-year break due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The pilgrimage will offer nine days of reflection and prayer at the shrine, where ceremonies will take place each day.

A unique feature of this year’s Novena will be the ‘Synod Tent’, where members of the public will be invited to learn more about the Synod and what it means.

There will be an opportunity for pilgrims to hear ideas about what Knock Shrine has to offer and about the Catholic Church in Ireland "at this critical juncture" in its history.

Knock parish piest and Rector of the Shrine, Father Richard Gibbons has expressed hope that this year will be "extra special" for those travelling to take part.

"So many of the people who joined us online over the course of the pandemic are now coming back to visit the shrine which is great to see.

"The Novena is always a very special highlight of the year, and we are delighted to be able to proceed with it this year.

"We look to the future with the hope of renewal, for God’s guidance and pray that this Novena will offer pilgrims the chance for thought-provoking reflection and discussion," he said.