The Irish Catholic shrine in Knock, County Mayo, is the spiritual home of singing sensation Susan Boyle.
"Britain's Got Talent"judge Simon Cowell was brought to tears by Boyle’s rendition of "I Dreamed a Dream," from the Broadway musical "Les Miserables."
Boyle, whose performance wowed 25 million viewers on YouTube, soon rocketed to worldwide fame. Her first CD, which is already a runaway best-seller as a pre-order, will be released by Sony in a few weeks.
Naturally, the CD is named for the song that was her ticket to stardom: "I Dreamed a Dream."
Speaking from his home in Scotland, her local priest Father Basil Clark said he first saw Boyle singing on their church's annual pligrimage to Knock.
"When I watched the judges' faces it reminded me of what I was like when I first saw Susan singing - absolutely blown away by the quality of the singing and by that fantastic voice," he said.
"Anyone who sees her for the first time behaves the same way. I have never heard her sing badly, though she might lose the words if the stress gets too much," he said.
Boyle, whose Irish mother Bridget passed away in 2007, visits Knock every year with the annual Legion of Mary pilgrimage. Boyle is the youngest of nine children of a family of Irish immigrants. Her father Patrick was a worker in a car factory, her mother Bridget a clerk/typist.
Father Clark described her as “a woman of great faith,” whose life revolves around her family and her parish of Our Lady of Lourdes.
Part of Boyle's attraction is that she is such an unlikely candidate for stardom. She told TV viewers she has "never been kissed" and has lived alone with her cat since her mother Bridget died in 2007.
British reports say she developed learning disabilities because of an oxygen shortage at birth. Her social life revolves around her church and her family and she understandably enjoys karaoke in her local pub.
Father Clark said, "When she gets up to sing it can either be wonderful or you can get the unpredictable eccentric behavior, but it is to do with the fact that she has learning difficulties.
"In a sense, there is a beautiful voice trapped in this damaged body," he said. "It is an absolute contrast. There she was on television acting very peculiarly and the audience was expecting peculiar things to happen and then a voice of an angel comes out – and that's Susan."
Father Clark said the local peiple were "enormously proud of her and wish her the best.”
However, he said, "people are slightly worried about what might happen after this bout of fame.”
"I am quite worried for her," he said. "I think it's great at one level. It might just be the thing that will make her, but she is a very vulnerable person and it could be quite difficult.
"It is a great opportunity for her and as far as I am concerned she should make the best of it, and if it lasts, it lasts, and if it doesn't, then it's still more than almost any one of us will ever achieve," he added. "It is important in sustaining her and making sure this is all a very, very beneficial experience."
He said Boyle was "a woman of great faith" who was often "very gentle and very caring" though she could also be "needy and demanding."
The devout Catholic has often paid tribute to her late mother Bridget. "I knew it was something I had to do," she said. "I had to get on with it. That's where the courage came from, my mother."
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