On Sunday, January 17, at 11 am, the Holy Face Basilica in Manoppello, Italy will have the Eucharistic Celebration and solemn blessing on the occasion of the feast Omnis Terra. In honor of the procession that Pope Innocent III began in 1208, processing the Sacred Veil of the Holy Face in Rome, from Saint Peter’s Basilica to that of Santo Spirito of Sassia.
Omnis Terra, Latin for “All the Earth,” is the name given to the Second Sunday in Ordinary time., The Gospel is a revelation of His glory is the cause for all the earth rejoicing, giving praise.
Gospel Jn 1:35-42
John was standing with two of his disciples,
and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said,
“Behold, the Lamb of God.”
The two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus.
Jesus turned and saw them following him and said to them,
“What are you looking for?”
They said to him, “Rabbi” — which translated means Teacher —,
“where are you staying?”
He said to them, “Come, and you will see.”
So they went and saw where Jesus was staying,
and they stayed with him that day.
It was about four in the afternoon.
Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter,
was one of the two who heard John and followed Jesus.
He first found his own brother Simon and told him,
“We have found the Messiah” — which is translated Christ —.
Then he brought him to Jesus.
Jesus looked at him and said,
“You are Simon the son of John;
you will be called Cephas” — which is translated Peter.
Homily of Celebrant Archbishop Ganswein – copyright EWTN
Basilica of the Volto Santo
Manoppello, Sunday, January 17, 2021
Dear brothers in the priestly ministry,
dear representatives of the civil authorities,
dear sisters and brothers in the Lord.
“As [John] watched Jesus walk by, he said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God,’” we heard earlier in the Gospel. We can also say the same words here with John the Evangelist every day in view of the face of Christ in the Volto Santo.
Omnis terra is the name of today’s Sunday in the liturgical calendar, after the Latin words of Psalm 65 at the beginning of this Holy Mass: Omnis terra adoret te, Deus, et psallat tibi! That means in English, “Let all the earth worship you and praise you, o God; may it sing in praise of your name.” We have gathered here today, too, for this ancient praise of God by all the earth, in the Pontifical Basilica of the Volto Santo.
The occasion for this feast day is the memory of the same Sunday of the year 1208, when Pope Innocent III carried this true image of the Lord, which we see and venerate here above the main altar, as humbly as a mendicant monk from the old Basilica of St. Peter in Rome to the sick of the capital, as well as the sick pilgrims from all over Europe, to the nearby Hospital of the Holy Spirit. The most powerful and power-conscious pope of the Middle Ages brought the archetype of the merciful God barefoot to the sick and dying!
Before that, this precious veil icon had been kept hidden for a long time. With this step, the image came out into the open and became publicly known for the first time in the entire Catholic universal Church — on this Sunday in winter, which even then, in January 1208, began with the same words from the psalm as today: omnis terra.
But that Pope Innocent III at that time carried the holy face, together with his canons, not to the scholars and nobles of the city, but to the sick and the poor of Rome, we must especially remember today, January 17, 2021, when the expression omnis terra — “all the earth” — has taken on a startling reality as perhaps never before! For all the world is suddenly threatened by an invisible virus, all continents, all skin colors, nations and religions — truly all the people of this earth, young and old! All the world suddenly fears disease and death together, from Tierra del Fuego to Vladivostok. When was the expression omnis terra ever more timely and burning!
Therefore, it was for me a sacred duty as well as a great joy to come today, despite all the coronavirus obstacles, from Rome to Manoppello, where at present no pilgrims can come because of the pandemic. I had to come to bring the Volto Santo, at least through the medium of the moving images of television, to as many sick and lonely people as possible!
That is why I now also remember with gratitude the day five years ago today when Fr. Carmine Cucinelli invited me and the memorable Archbishop Edmund Farhat from Lebanon to celebrate the divine mysteries with a copy of the Volto Santo in the Church of Santo Spirito in Sassia in Rome on January 17, 2016. For Father Carmine, as rector of the Basilica in Manopello at that time, had come up with the idea of introducing a third annual feast for the veneration of the Volto Santo during the “Jubilee of Mercy” that Pope Francis had proclaimed for the year 2016. And the Sunday omnis terra, in memory of the pioneering initiative of Innocent III in the distant year 1208, was simply the most suitable for this.
But I also remember, as if it were yesterday, how I was able to accompany Pope Benedict XVI on his “private pilgrimage” here on September 1, 2006, when he had decided, despite much resistance, to visit and venerate the Volto Santo in Manoppello as the first Pope in over 400 years, shortly before visiting his Bavarian homeland. And now it seems to me almost like divine providence that at that time he had chosen the same passage from the Gospel of John that we have just heard, in order to put into the following wordshis thoughts on this historic encounterbefore the Cappuchin friars and faithful gathered here with the holy veil:
During my pause for prayer just now, I was thinking of the first two Apostles who, urged by John the Baptist, followed Jesus to the banks of the Jordan River […]. The Evangelist recounts that Jesus turned around and asked them: “What do you seek?” And they answered him, “Rabbi […] where are you staying?” And he said to them, “Come and see.” That very same day, the two who were following him had an unforgettable experience which prompted them to say: “We have found the Messiah.” The One whom a few hours earlier they had thought of as a simple “rabbi” had acquired a very precise identity: the identity of Christ who had been awaited for centuries. But, in fact, what a long journey still lay ahead of those disciples! They could not even imagine how profound the mystery of Jesus of Nazareth could be or how unfathomable, inscrutable, his “Face” would prove, so that even after living with Jesus for three years, Philip, who was one of them, was to hear him say at the Last Supper: “Have I been with you so long, and yet you do not know me, Philip?” And then the words that sum up the novelty of Jesus’ revelation: “He who has seen me has seen the Father.”
Thus far Benedict XVI on September 1, 2006.
If we take his word, and this word of the Lord, quite seriously, we see the Father also here, where the Son reveals his essence to us forever, and where we see: He lives – as Savior and Redeemer.
Pope Benedict had not come barefoot like Pope Innocent, but by helicopter from Castel Gandolfo to Manoppello at the invitation of Archbishop Bruno Forte, and I still remember very vividly every moment of that meeting, as well as May 15, 2009, when Benedict XVI visited the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, from which the veil of the Volto Santo — as well as the Shroud of Turin — originates as incomparable news of the resurrection of Christ from the dead. It cannot be otherwise. After the spectacular visit of Pope Paul VI on January 4, 1964, the empty tomb of Christ in Jerusalem has also been visited by Pope John Paul II in March 2000 and Pope Francis in May 2014. Benedict XVI’s pilgrimage to Manoppello on September 1, 2006, on the other hand, can only be compared to the procession through which Pope Innocent III made known the “True Icon,” popularly known as “Veronica,” in Western Christendom more than 800 years ago. Pope Benedict, however, on September 1, 2006, brought the personal and “human face of God” back to the Church and to all the world. He came all alone and not in the entourage of his advisors or the canons of Saint Peter. And he came shyly and reservedly, as is his way, and only for contemplation and prayer. A celebration of the Eucharist or a public blessing with the Volto Santo was not thought of at that time. But then thousands of pilgrims followed him here, who in his footsteps carried the sentence from the Gospel of John around the whole world: “Come and see!”
Church history will record this forever. And for this, the civil authorities of the city of Manoppello already gave him the keys of your City at the Vatican on November 3, 2010, in the presence of Archbishop Bruno Forte. For this I thank you again with all my heart, as well as all the friars of the Capuchin Order and all the citizens of Manoppello, and today I thank you again especially and personally for the precious privilege of celebrating the Holy Eucharist here with you for all the sick and suffering of all the earth, under the merciful gaze of Christ: “Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sins of the world!”
Archbishop Georg Gänswein
Prefect of the Papal Household
January 17, 2021
The essence of the devotion to the Holy Face is to give honor and glory to God’s Holy Name, and make reparation to God for blasphemy, atheism, idolatry, and the profanation of the Holy Name and the Holy Day of Sunday. Jesus said, “I am in my Father, and my Father is in Me” (John 14:11). The merit of a person lies in his character, but the glory of his reputation rests on his good name. The Holy Name of God expresses the Divinity, and contains all the perfections of the Creator. Those who blaspheme and reject God’s love insult God directly. Because Jesus became man at the Incarnation, it is He who has suffered in His Holy Face all the outrages committed by blasphemers in the name of His Father. God has chosen the most universally understood realities to reach our souls, the most simple and human symbols — the heart and the face. The only perfect offering that can be made to God to atone for these terrible insults and rejection of God is the Holy Face of His Son Jesus, which reflects all the love of His Eucharistic Heart.
We have seen great crowds fill the streets this year for various protests and political demonstrations to honor this cause or that with the religious-like fervor of pagan cults. But few have filled the streets in procession for the honor and glory of Our God and Creator.
A choice is set before us: The false faces of idol worship or seeking the Face of the one true God. For those who choose idols, we have the warning of the prophets:
“One day they will invoke the Lord, but He will not answer them, and on that day He will hide His Face from them because of the evil of their conduct.”(Micah 3:4)
But those who choose to contemplate the Face of Christ will be transformed into His Image:
“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”(2 Cor 3:18)
God has a face and a name. The expression “name of God” means God as He Who is present among men. “His name,” Pope Benedict XVI says, “is the concrete sign of His Existence.” When we praise His Name, we are rejoicing in the splendor of His Face. Benedict wrote:
“To rejoice in the splendor of His Face means penetrating the mystery of His Name made known to us in Jesus, understanding something of His Interior life and of His will, so that we can live according to His plan for humanity. Jesus lets us know the hidden Face of the Father through His human Face; by the gift of the Holy Spirit poured into our hearts.”
Those who choose God have a reason for all the earth to rejoice!
The “Omnis Terra” (All the Earth) procession in honor of the Holy Face had its beginning in 1208 when Pope Innocent III processed with the Veil of the Holy Face from St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome to Spirito Santo church and hospital, giving alms to the poor and the sick along the way. Our Lord’s Holy Face and Holy Name are also honored by a feast and procession at the Basilica Sanctuary of the Holy Face in Manoppello, Italy, on this day, the Second Sunday after Epiphany, inviting “All the Earth” to join them in celebrating Our Lord, who has “revealed His glory” so that we too may believe.
If you would like to participate remotely on this beautiful occasion, the celebration on Sunday, January 17 at 11 am in the Basilica Minor of the Holy Face of Manoppello will be live streamed live on the Sanctuary, and may also be viewed at a later time: Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/basilicavoltosanto
Let all the earth worship and praise You, O God; may it sing in praise of Your Name, O Most High. Shout joyfully to the Lord all the earth; sing a psalm in honor of His Name, praise Him with magnificence!
–Omnis Terra Introit
Prayer to the Holy Face for the liberation from the coronavirus:
Lord Jesus, Savior of the world, hope that will never disappoint us, have mercy on us and deliver us from all evil! Please overcome the scourge of this virus which is spreading, heal the sick, preserve the healthy, support those who work for the health of all. Show us your face of mercy and save us in your great love. We ask you through the intercession of Mary, Your Mother and ours, who faithfully accompanies us. You who live and reign forever and ever. Amen.+ Bruno ForteArchbishop of Chieti – Vasto (Italy)