“Jesus took Peter, James, and John, and led them up a high mountain where they were alone. There, before their eyes, he was transfigured. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as light. Then the disciples saw Moses and Elijah appear, and they were talking to Jesus.”
— Matthew 17:2
The faith of Peter, James, and John was confirmed by the sight of the wonderful vision of God’s glory shining from the Face of Jesus on Mount Tabor foreshadowing the kingdom of Heaven. So too, Our Lord continues to bless and strengthen in faith those who turn to gaze at the Face of Christ in celebration of the Transfiguration. Many faithful from around the world are drawn by God on this day to the Basilica Shrine of the Holy Face, “Il Volto Santo,” in Manoppello Italy. The holy, miraculous veil transforms from a sheer, white bysuss veil to a visible image of the Face of Jesus — a sign of the deep mystery of God’s desire for us to be transformed into the likeness of His Son, to rise with Him, and to share in His glory.
“And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”
— 2 Corinthians 3:18
Many thanks to Paul Badde who has graciously shared the following photos which so wonderfully capture the visual changes which occur on the Veil according to light and the position of the viewer.
Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud cast a shadow over them, then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”
When the disciples heard this, they fell prostrate and were very much afraid. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and do not be afraid.” And when the disciples raised their eyes, they saw no one else but Jesus alone.
The Radiant sign of the Face of Christ is Jesus’ Real Presence in the Eucharist
Many Catholics are unaware of the fact that this millennium was dedicated to the Face of Christ by Pope St. John Paul II. He lifted high before the Church the banner of the Holy Face of Jesus at the dawn of the millennium. The Face of Christ was to be the standard for the faithful to follow in this spiritual battle that exists in the world between light and darkness.
On the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, in 2001, Pope St. John Paul II wrote:
The invisible Face of Christ, the son of God, is manifest in His Body and Blood in the simplest and, at the same time, the most exalted way possible in this world.
The ecclesial community responds to people in every age who ask perplexed: “We wish to see Jesus” (Jn 12,21), by repeating what the Lord did for the disciples of Emmaus: He broke the bread. In the breaking of the bread, the eyes of those who seek Him with a sincere heart are opened. In the Eucharist, the intuition of the heart recognizes Jesus and His unmistakable love lived “to the end” (Jn 13,1). And in Him, in that gesture, it recognizes the Face of God!
— Pope St. John Paul II
In 1997, St. Pope John Paul II asked for an International Congress for studying the Holy Face Medal and Devotion to The Holy Face as a preparation for the Millennium, which he later placed under “The Radiant sign of The Face of Christ.” The front of the medal bears an image of the Holy Face from the Shroud of Turin and an inscription based on Psalm 66:2: “Illumina, Domine, vultum tuum super nos”, “May, O Lord, the light of Thy countenance shine upon us.” The other side of the medal, bears an image of a radiant Sacred Host, representing the Eucharistic Face of Christ, the monogram of the Holy Name (“IHS”), and the inscription “Mane nobiscum, Domine” or “Stay with us, O Lord,” which are the words of the disciples on the road to Emmaus when they recognized Jesus in the breaking of the bread. The Holy Face medal is a tangible reminder of the “invisible face of Christ” made manifest in His Most Holy Body and Blood in the Blessed Sacrament.
The medal of the Holy Face of Jesus was made by Bl.Mother Marie Pierina De Micheli, following the request of Jesus and The Blessed Mother. Mother Pierina, with the help of her spiritual Director received the permission of the Curia of Milan, Italy.
In 1936, Our Lord told Bl. Mother Pierina, “I will that My Face, which reflects the intimate pains of My Spirit, the suffering and the love of My Heart, be more honoured. He who meditates upon Me, consoles Me. Every time that My Face is contemplated, I will pour My love into the hearts of men and through My Holy Face will be obtained the salvation of many souls.”
The Blessed Mother also told Sr. De Micheli, “This medal is a weapon of defense, a shield of courage, a guarantee of love and of mercy that Jesus wishes to give to the world in these times of sexuality and of hatred towards God and His Church. Diabolical snares are laid to tear the faith from the hearts of men, evil is spreading, the true apostles are few, a divine remedy is necessary and this remedy is the Holy Face of Jesus.
“Your Face, O Lord, I seek” (Ps. 27:8). The ancient longing of the Psalmist could receive no fulfilment greater and more surprising than the contemplation of the Face of Christ. God has truly blessed us in Him and has made “His Face to shine upon us” (Ps 67:1). At the same time, God and man that He is, He reveals to us also the true face of man, “fully revealing man to man himself” (Gaudium e spes, 22).
Gazing on the face of Christ, the Bride contemplates her treasure and her joy. ‘Dulcis Iesus memoria, dans vera cordis gaudia‘: how sweet is the memory of Jesus, the source of the heart’s true joy! Heartened by this experience, the Church today sets out once more on her journey, in order to proclaim Christ to the world at the dawn of the Third Millennium: he ‘is the same yesterday and today and forever’” (Heb 13:8).
— Pope St. John Paul II
““Illumina, Domine, vultum tuum super nos”, “May, O Lord, the light of Thy countenance shine upon us — “Mane nobiscum, Domine” or “Stay with us, O Lord!”
"Jesu, whom I look at shrouded here below,
I beseech thee send me what I thirst for so,
Some day to gaze on thee face to face in light
And be blest for ever with thy glory’s sight. Amen."
--Last Stanza of "Adoro Te Devote"
“Jesus, has shown us the Face of God, One in substance and Triune in Persons; God is all and only Love, in a subsisting relationship that creates, redeems, and sanctifies all: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” ~Pope Francis, Holy Trinity Sunday, 2017
A Discalced Carmelite nun who lived in the mid-1800’s, Sr. Marie St. Pierre, had many interior visions regarding the Holy Face of Jesus — including a sublime conception of the The Holy Trinity and the Holy Face — which she tried to express in these words she received from Our Lord:
“Remember, O my soul, the instruction which thy celestial Spouse has given thee today on His adorable Face! Remember that this Divine Head represents the Father who is from all eternity, that the mouth of this Holy Face is a figure of the Divine Word, engendered by the Father, and that the eyes of this mysterious Face represent the reciprocal love of the Father and the Son; for these eyes have but one and the same light, the same knowledge, producing the same love, which is the Holy Spirit. In his beautiful silken hair contemplate the infinitude of the adorable perfections of the Most Holy Trinity in this majestic head, the most precious portion of the Sacred Humanity of thy Saviour; contemplate the image of the unity of God. This, then, is the adorable and mysterious Face of the Saviour, which blasphemers have the temerity to cover with opprobrium: thus they renew the sufferings of His Passion, by attacking the Divinity of which it is the image.”
Our Lord told Sr. Marie St. Pierre that she could comfort and console Him by her praises, such as in The Golden Arrow Prayer: “May the most holy, most sacred, most incomprehensible and ineffable Name of God be forever praised, blessed, loved, adored and glorified by all the creatures of God, and by the Sacred Heart of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar. Amen.
“According to the diligence you will manifest in repairing my image disfigured by blasphemers, so will I have the same care in repairing your soul which has been disfigured by sin. I will imprint thereon my image, and I will render it as beautiful as when it came forth from the baptismal font… Oh! could you but behold the beauty of My Face!–But your eyes are yet too weak.” –Our Lord to Sr. Marie St. Pierre
Another Discalced Carmelite Nun, St. Elizabeth of the Trinity, also directs our gaze to the Face of the Son in order to contemplate the beauty of the Holy Trinity and and reflect God’s image:
“It is Your continual desire to associate Yourself with Your creatures…How can I better satisfy Your desire than by keeping myself simply and lovingly turned towards You, so that You can reflect Your own image in me, as the sun is reflected through pure crystal? …We will be glorified in the measure in which we will have been conformed to the image of His divine Son. So, let us contemplate this adored Image, let us remain unceasingly under its radiance so that it may imprint itself on us.” –Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity, O.C.D.
O My God, Trinity Whom I Adore
O My God, Trinity whom I adore, help me to forget myself entirely that I may be established in You as still and as peaceful as if my soul were already in eternity. May nothing trouble my peace or make me leave You, O my unchanging One, but may each minute carry me further into the depths of Your Mystery. Give peace to my soul, make it Your heaven, Your beloved dwelling and Your resting place. May I never leave you there alone but be wholly present, my faith wholly vigilant, wholly adoring, and wholly surrendered to Your creative action. O my beloved Christ, crucified by love, I wish to be a bride for Your Heart; I wish to cover You with glory; I wish to love You…even unto death! But I feel my weakness, and I ask You to clothe me with Yourself, to identify my soul with all the movements of Your Soul, to overwhelm me, to posses me, to substitute Yourself for me that my life may be but a radiance of Your life. Come to me as Adorer, as Restorer, as Savior, O Word Eternal, Word of my God. I want to spend my life listening to You, to become wholly teachable that I may learn all from You. Then, through all nights, all voids, all helplessness, I want to gaze on You always and remain in Your great light. O my beloved Star, so fascinate me that that I may not withdraw from your radiance. O consuming Fire, Spirit of Love, come upon me, and create in my soul a kind of Incarnation of the Word; that I may be another humanity for Him, in which He can renew His whole Mystery. And You, O Father, bend lovingly over your poor little creature; cover her with your shadow, seeing in her only the Beloved in whom You are well pleased. O my Three, my All, my Beatitude, infinite Solitude, Immensity in which I love myself, I surrender myself to You as Your prey. Bury Yourself in me that I may bury myself in You until I depart to contemplate in Your light the abyss of Your greatness. November 21, 1904 — St. Elizabeth of the Trinity
The life of a Christian should be the faithful reproduction of Jesus in their soul — this radiant transformation is the work of love of the Holy Spirit. “Those whom He had foreknown He has also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son.” (Rom 8:29) He who loves will resemble the thing loved.
“God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Rom 5:5) “Because we are dead or at least wounded through sin, the first effect of the gift of love is the forgiveness of our sins. The communion of the Holy Spirit (2 Cor 13:14) in the Church restores to the baptized the divine likeness lost through sin.” (CCC 734) The Holy Spirit perfects the soul with the first fruits of eternal glory: charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, and chastity — so we may more closely resemble Jesus Christ.
In his classic work on the Holy Spirit, The Sanctifier, Archbishop Luis M. Martinez reminds us that in order to resemble Christ, Our Lord, we must go through the pain and suffering of the Cross: “He whom we love is a God nailed to a cross. Pain makes us resemble him. It is characteristic of love to have a tremendous desire to resemble the beloved. It is characteristic, too, for those who love to resemble each other.” But, as the soul is transformed, it is also filled with joy!
After Christ had completed his mission on earth, it still remained necessary for us to become sharers in the divine nature of the Word. We had to give up our own life and be so transformed that we would begin to live an entirely new kind of life that would be pleasing to God. This was something we could do only by sharing in the Holy Spirit. As St. Paul writes: “But we all with unveiled faces, reflecting as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into His very image from glory to glory.” (2 Cor 3:18)
— St. Cyril of Alexandria
This is the work of the Holy Spirit of Love, who is the the light and fire of the Face of God: to sanctify our souls, shining upon us the radiance of His light, transforming us into the His own likeness. Holy Spirit wants to dwell in us and convert our bodies into His temple, as He did in the Virgin Mary to bring grace, mercy, and peace. “Love is not a passing visitor who pays us a call and then goes away. He establishes in us his permanent dwelling and lives in intimate union with our souls as their eternal Guest.” (The Sanctifier) As Jesus promised on the last night of His mortal life: “And I will ask the Father and He will give you another Advocate to dwell with you forever, the Spirit of truth whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. But you shall know Him because He will dwell with you and be in you.” (Jn 14: 16-17)
To Mary, Spouse of the Holy Spirit, Daughter of the Most High, Mother of God, faithful Spouse of the Holy Spirit — yet also Mary of Nazareth, Joseph’s wife, my mother– hear my prayer for grace, O Full of Grace. Pray your Spouse the Holy Spirit to come upon me — to shelter from all ill, to strengthen me to do what is right, to teach me all truth. Pray him come to me, and abide with me, and be within me a fountain springing up unto eternal life. May he sustain me in sorrow, sanctify me in life, and receive me at the hour of my death. Holy Mary, Mother of God, Mother of the Church, pray for us.
UPDATE: Thanks to his unfailing devotion to the Holy Face, the intrepid (and no doubt exhausted) Paul Badde has captured more outstanding photos from the celebrations commemorating the historic arrival of the miraculous Holy Face Veil in Manoppello, Italy. Paul noted that the Sanctuary Basilica of the Holy Face was as packed with devotees as it had been before the arrival of the Corona viruses. Although Paul was disappointed at what he called “a meager harvest” of photos, due to his camera not being in automatic mode, I think you will agree that his photos below have beautifully captured this Holy event, and precious gift from God — the “Il Volto Santo!” May God reward him for his dedication and please keep Paul Badde in your prayers!
The Holy Face of Jesus is honored by a May Feast celebrating the mysterious arrival of the “Veronica” to Manoppello in the early 1500’s. The Capuchin Friars minor have guarded the precious “Veronica” relic veil of the Face of Jesus since 1638, when “a devout and well-respected man” named Don Antonio Fabritiis donated the holy veil bearing the Face of Christ to the Capuchin monastery in the small, isolated mountain village of Manoppello. A document entitled Relazione Historica re-telling the local legend of the Veil was written by Capuchin Donato da Bomba and notarized in 1646 and then, certified by sixteen local witnesses. The story told of the arrival of the Veil in Manoppello, “in around 1506,”(the date was vague) in the hands of a mysterious stranger who was thought to have been a holy angel, who later, suddenly disappeared. (Aside from the “angel,” the main characters in the story have been historically verified.)The recorded story told was this: “There lived in Manoppello the very famous Giacomo Antonio Leonelli, doctor in medicine…one day when he was out in the public square just outside of the door of the Mother church of the town of Manoppello, St. Nicholas Bari, in honest conversation with other peers, and while they were speaking a pilgrim arrived unknown by anyone, with a very venerable religious appearance, who having greeted this beautiful circle of citizens, he said, with many terms of manners, and of humility to Dr. Giacomo Antonio Leonelli that he had to speak with him about a secret thing which would be very pleasing, useful and profitable for him. And thus, taking him aside just inside the doorway of the church of St. Nicholas Bari, gave him a parcel, and without unfolding it told him that he ought to hold this devotion very dear, because God would do him many favors, so that in things both temporal and spiritual he would always prosper.” So the doctor took the parcel and turning towards the holy water fount carefully opened it, and “seeing the Most Sacred Face of Our Lord Christ…he burst into most tender tears…and thanking God for such a gift…turned to the unknown pilgrim to thank him…but he did not see him anymore.” When the good doctor, “shaken” and “filled with wonder,” went outside to his friends and asked where the man went, his friends replied that they never saw him exit the church. They searched high and low but never found the mysterious pilgrim, “hence all judged that the man in the form of a pilgrim to be a heavenly Angel, or else a Saint from Paradise.”
— Relazione Historica
The Holy Veil remained the property of the Leonelli family for nearly a century, until a family member in need of money sold the Veil to Don Antonio Fabritiis, who in turn gave it to the Capuchins in 1638. The Holy Veil, called the “Il Volto Santo,” was kept in a dimly lit side chapel until the church was renovated in 1960, when it was decided that the Veil should be moved to a more prominent place behind the altar of the church of St. Michael, the Shrine of “Il Volto Santo,” which was elevated to the status of a Sanctuary Basilica by Pope Benedict XVI in 2006.
O LORD God of hosts, restore us; Cause Your face to shine upon us, and we will be saved. (Ps 80:19)
Why do the mysterious burial cloths of Jesus have such a tremendous impact on the faith of believers? After all, isn’t faith “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen“? (Heb 11:1) But Christ Himself left tangible evidence of the Resurrection for future generations to seein faith and hope. “Faith is both hearing and seeing” (Encyclical Lumen Fidei). The Apostles Peter and John knew Jesus, the man, who appeared as any other man: “There was no stately bearing to make us look at him, nor appearance that would attract us to him” (Isaiah 53: 2). They had heard and believed the words of Jesus; they were witnesses to His miracles, Passion and death; and yet, it was the burial cloths that were left behind in the tomb at the Resurrection of Jesus that caused the Apostle to see and believe “For they did not yet understand the Scripturethat he had to rise from the dead ” (John 20: 1-9).
After Christ’s Passion, in the darkest hours, when the first light of dawn appeared, Saints Peter and John were running to the tomb. One can imagine a gaze of wonder, as they found the tomb empty, except for the burial cloths. There are, in existence today, two miraculous cloths that are believed to be from Christ’s tomb which bear His image: an image on linen, of Christ’s Passion and death known as Shroud of Turin, Italy; and the shimmering, sudarium veil that covered His Face, woven from precious byssus. This fragile, transparent veil bears a changing, image of the living Face of Christ that still shows traces of the Passion, and is kept at the Basilica Shrine of “Il Volto Santo” in Manoppello, Italy. It is believed to be “the cloth” written about in Scripture that had covered the head of Jesus and had been rolled up in a separate place (John 20:7). These unfading, miraculous images exist to confirm and strengthen our faith, and to unleash the power of Christ’s Resurrection on the faithful who see and believe that Jesus Christ has truly risen indeed. Alleluia!
So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb. They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and arrived at the tomb first; he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in. When Simon Peter arrived after him, he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there, and the cloth that had covered his head, not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place. Then the other disciple also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believed. For they did not yet understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead. (John 20: 1-9)
” The light of faith is the light of a countenance in which the Father is seen.”
“Whoever believes in me believes not only in me but also in the one who sent me, and whoever sees me sees the one who sent me. I came into the world as light, so that everyone who believes in me might not remain in darkness.”
From the Encyclical Lumen Fidei (Light of Faith): …faith itself leads to deeper vision: “If you believe, you will see the glory of God” (Jn 11:40). In the end, belief and sight intersect: “Whoever believes in me believes in him who sent me. And whoever sees me sees him who sent me” (Jn 12:44-45). Joined to hearing, seeing then becomes a form of following Christ, and faith appears as a process of gazing, in which our eyes grow accustomed to peering into the depths. Easter morning thus passes from John who, standing in the early morning darkness before the empty tomb, “saw and believed” (Jn 20:8), to Mary Magdalene who, after seeing Jesus (cf. Jn 20:14) and wanting to cling to him, is asked to contemplate him as he ascends to the Father, and finally to her full confession before the disciples: “I have seen the Lord!” (Jn 20:18).
How does one attain this synthesis between hearing and seeing? It becomes possible through the person of Christ himself, who can be seen and heard. He is the Word made flesh, whose glory we have seen (cf. Jn 1:14). The light of faith is the light of a countenance in which the Father is seen.”
— Encyclical Lumen Fidei, Ch. 2,30
“The Cloth that Covered His Head”
At the time of Jesus, the Jewish law required several “cloths” to be used for burial, and as many as six for someone who had died a violent death. Christian tradition has preserved six cloths as relics that are associated with the burial of Jesus – 1.) The Shroud of Turin, 2.) the Sudarium of Oviedo in Spain, 3.) The Sudarium Veil of Manoppello, 4.) The Sudarium of Kornelimunster in Germany, 5.) The SindonMunda of Aachen, Germany, 6.) The Cap of Cahors in France.
Three of the cloths in particular stand out as extraordinary “witnesses” to the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus, and together they bear a powerful testimony to the truth of the Gospels. Each one bearing an imprint or image of the Face of Jesus. They are: The Sudarium of Oviedo, The Shroud of Turin, and the Sudarium Veil of Manoppello. The remarkable relationship between these three “cloths” leave little doubt that each came in contact with the face of the same man at the time of burial.
The Sudarium of Oviedo directly touched Jesus’s head following His Crucifixion. Blood was considered sacred to the Jews, so this cloth was used to soak up the Precious Blood of Jesus, by wrapping it around Jesus’s Head, as He was taken down from the Cross. The largest bloodstains are from the nose, other stains are from the eyes and other parts of the face. There is also an imprint on the sudarium of the hand of the person who held this cloth to Jesus’s Face to staunch the flow of blood. It takes one’s breath away to see that the bloodstains on the Sudarium of Oviedo, when overlaid with the Face on the Shroud of Turin and the Sudarium Veil of Manoppello, correspond perfectly. The blood type is AB, the same as on the Shroud of Turin.
“He went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there”
The Shroud of Turin; the sindone, or linen burial shroud, was believed to have been used to wrap the entire body of Christ. It is the most famous and studied of the three cloths. The faint but visible imprint on the Shroud of Turin gives witness to the violent torture of a man as described in the Passion and Death of Jesus in the Scripture. The world was amazed when Secondo Pia first photographed the Face on the Shroud in 1898; the negative of the photo incredibly became visible as a positive image. The Shroud of Turin caused an entire branch of science to be dedicated to its research called Sindonology.
The Sudarium Veil of Manoppello, Italy, is perhaps the least known of the three burial “cloths.” The Veil bears the image of the living Face of Jesus. This “miracle of light,” “not made by human hands,” was protected and hidden in an isolated church in the Abbruzzi Mountains for centuries. It is believed to be the “cloth” that covered the Face of Jesus in death, showing traces of the Passion: Bruises, swelling, wounds from the Crown of Thorns, and plucked beard. But, it is also believed to have recorded in light the Face of Jesus at the moment of His Resurrection. No, this is not a contradiction. Yes, the image changes. It shows suffering, but it also shows life!
“The cloth that had covered his head”
An explanation about the tradition of a face cloth for burial may be helpful in understanding its profound significance: In the funeral rites for priests in some Eastern churches, the veil which was used to cover the chalice and paten were placed on the face of the deceased priest. (The cloth used to cover the chalice and paten had a particular liturgical symbolism linked to the Face of Christ as well.) It was done as a symbol of both the strength and protection of God, and also of the tomb of Christ–an expression of belief in the Resurrection. In Jewish burial custom, a deceased priest’s face would be anointed with oil and then covered with a white cloth, and would have been done for Jesus.
When Pope St. John Paul II was being laid in his coffin, Archbishops Marini and Stanley Dziwisz had the honor of placing a white silk veil over the face of the pope. Poignantly, the choir sang the words from Psalm 42, “My soul thirsts for God, the living God; when will I come and see the Face of the Lord?” Many wondered about the action of covering the pope’s face with a veil because this was the first time it had been done, but was at the request of Pope John Paul II, who had dedicated the millennium to the Face of Christ.
The cloth that would cover the Face of Christ would have to be made of a material fit for a King, a High Priest, and a God. Byssus, mentioned in the Bible forty times, also known as “sea-silk,” is more rare and precious than gold and it has an exceedingly fine texture which can be woven. Made from the long tough silky filaments of Pinna Nobilis mollusks that anchor them to the seabed, it is strong enough to resist the extreme hydrodynamic forces of the sea. Byssus has a shimmering, iridescent quality which reflects light. It is extremely delicate, yet strong at the same time. It resists water, weak acids, bases, ethers, and alcohols. Byssus cannot be painted, as it does not retain pigments, it can only be dyed; and then, only purple. It can also last for more than 2000 years.
The Sudarium Veil of Manoppello is also made of rare, precious, byssus silk. The skill needed to weave a byssus veil as fine as the Veil of the Holy Face of Manoppello is exceedingly great. Chiara Vigo, known as “the last woman who weaves byssus,” has said that neither she nor anyone alive today could duplicate the gossamer-thin veil, which is sheer enough to read a newspaper through. The weave is so delicate, she says, that only the nimble fingers of a very skillful child could weave something so fine.
While the Face on the Shroud of Turin clearly shows the Face of Jesus in death with eyes closed, the Sudariam of Manoppello has eyes open–bearing witness to the Resurrection. That was the ardent belief of the former Rector of the Basilica Shrine of the Holy Face, Servant of God Padre Domenico da Cese.
There are many physiological reasons too for believing that the Face Cloth captures the first breath of the Resurrection. Sr. Blandina Paschalis Schlomer, who shares that belief, has provided meticulous research about the Veil in her book JESUS CHRIST, The Lamb and the Beautiful Shepherd, The Encounter with the Veil of Manoppello. Sr. Blandina together with the late Fr. Heinrich Pfeiffer, S.J., who had been Professor at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, have each demonstrated that the Holy Face on the Veil of Manoppello is the proto-image of the earliest icons, and other works of art depicting the Face of Jesus.
“…and he saw and believed. For they did not yet understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead.”
What did St. John see in the tomb that would cause him to believe? A cloth of blood, such as the Oviedo? The imprint of the crucified Lord as seen on the Shroud of Turin? The Shroud is a miraculous image, but shows the Face of a dead man, not a man who has ressurected. A third witness was needed in order for the disciple to believe. It could only have been evidence of something as astounding as the Resurrection; proof that Jesus was alive!
It is human nature to want to see things for ourselves. Many pilgrims, humble and great, have felt called to make the journey to visit the miraculous relic. If it is God’s handiwork, and I believe that is true, then one can only wonder at its existence, and gaze in silent contemplation, giving thanks for this tremendous gift of God… so we too may “see and believe.”
“We cannot stop at the image of the Crucified One; He is the Risen One!” –Pope St. John Paul II
“”While we too seek other signs, other wonders, we do not realize that He is the real sign, God made flesh; He is the greatest miracle of the universe: all the love of God hidden in a human heart, in a human face.” ~ Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI
“Show us, O Lord, we pray you, Your Face ever new; that mirror, mystery-laden, of God’s infinite mercy. Grant that we may contemplate it with the eyes of our mind and our hearts: the Son’s Face, radiance of the Father’s glory and the imprint of His Nature (cf. Hb 1:3), the human Face of God that has burst into history to reveal the horizons of eternity. The silent Face of Jesus, suffering and risen, when loved and accepted, changes our hearts and lives. “Your Face, Lord, do I seek, do not hide Your Face from me.” (Ps. 27:8ff) How many times through the centuries and millennia has resounded the ardent invocation of the Psalmist among the faithful! Lord, with faith, we too repeat the same invocation: “Man of suffering, as one from whom other hide their faces.” (Is. 53:3) Do not hide your Face from us!” (Portion of a prayer in honor of the Holy Face of Manoppello by Pope Benedict XVI)
Jesus Christ has truly risen indeed! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
“To live from love is to dry your Face, it is to obtain pardon for sinners.”
— St. Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face
True love must be the care for the other, seeking only the good of the beloved. Love is renunciation, a willingness to sacrifice even unto death. What is this Divine madness that may be contemplated in His Face? In his book, “God is Love,” Pope Benedict XVI wrote:
“God’s passionate love for his people — for humanity — is that is turns God against himself, his love against his justice. Here Christians can see a dim prefigurement of the mystery of the Cross: so great is God’s love for man that by becoming man he follows him even unto death and so reconciles justice and love.”
— Pope Benedict XVI
Pause a moment to contemplate the innocent, humiliated, and suffering Face of Jesus in order to grow in His love…
“Let us reflect a little. I am convinced that if we apply ourselves diligently to meditate on the soul of Jesus suffering, if we often cast our eyes upon His Countenance, we shall fall in love with His virtue, and that He will Himself gradually infuse it into us.”
— St. Claude La Colombiere
Silence in suffering can make the space for God’s grace to fill and transform our souls in love…
“When you experience something unpleasant, look at Jesus crucified and be silent.”
Our first relationship is with God the Father, our Creator — “He made us; we belong to Him.” (Psalm 100:3) He has shown us His Face, and given us His Name in Jesus Christ. He has made us His Sons and Daughters in Jesus. Satan’s envy, however, seeks to destroy humanity’s relationship with God the Father by attacking fatherhood, and destroying families — leaving behind the wreckage of millions and millions broken wounded souls. As a result, the image of human fatherhood is distorted or completely shattered, causing many to mistrust and reject God our Father, who created us in His love.
Only God can heal what has been so deeply wounded and restore our image of what a father was meant to be: a just man — a Godly man — who could be trusted and relied upon for security, truth, peace, wisdom, understanding, strength — a strong man, who would never fail in love.
God has given us devotion to St. Joseph, as a reflection of His own fatherly love for us, and a means, not only to heal the broken souls, but to also fill them with His fatherly gifts, which are not material, but spiritual. Devotion requires relationship, and relationship with someone begins with a particular face and name. Through our faces we can communicate to another what is hidden deep within our souls — St. Joseph can be trusted with what is hidden and broken in our hearts. Names have meaning, giving a clue to shed light on the mystery of the person. The mysterious meaning of the name of Joseph is “He will increase.”
“The name is the icon of the person. It demands respect as a sign of the dignity of the one who bears it. The name one receives is a name for eternity. God calls each one by name. Everyone’s name is sacred.”
Therefore, St. Joseph’s name is an icon of his person, and the meaning of his name is a key to the treasures that are unveiled; it is a key to the gifts that he wants to bestow on those who are blessed to enter into a relationship with him. We can turn to St. Joseph in every need and he will be there to help heal what is wounded and restore what has been broken, above all, to restore our shattered image of fatherhood and relationship with God our Father.
For little Jesus, St. Joseph’s name was “Abba” – Father, Daddy. His was the first man’s face that the Christ Child saw, with all the virtues reflected there – humility, patience, obedience, faith, hope, charity… St. Joseph’s face was the mirror of the image of God the Father, and his name was the echo of the Holy Name of God.
When we go to St. Joseph, as our model, in prayer and contemplation, “he will increase” the fatherly gifts of grace, virtues, and God’s mercy in us. And Jesus will look on us, with eyes of love, as He looked upon the face of His father on earth, the glorious St. Joseph.
You gave St. Joseph a share in Your fatherhood and placed him as a father to Jesus on earth. Help us to be obedient to Your will as he was. Teach us the way of prayer that we may enjoy the friendship of Mary and Jesus as did St. Joseph. During life's hardships, give us courage to walk with those who need us that we may be enriched by their gifts. Carry us through sufferings and trials with St. Joseph at our side. And may we look to him at the final hour of death. We ask this through your Son, Jesus, Amen.
“Christ’s response, ‘Whoever has seen me, has seen the Father, lead us into the heart of Christological faith.’ ” — Pope Benedict XVI
The Act of Consecration to the Holy Face of Jesus
O Lord Jesus, we believe most firmly in You, we love You. You are the Eternal Son of God and the Son Incarnate of the Blessed Virgin Mary. You are the Lord and Absolute Ruler of all creation. We acknowledge You, therefore, as the Universal Sovereign of all creatures. You are the Lord and Supreme Ruler of all mankind, and we, in acknowledging this Your dominion, consecrate ourselves to You now and forever. Loving Jesus, we place our family under the protection of Your Holy Face, and of Your Virgin Mother Mary most sorrowful. We promise to be faithful to You for the rest of our lives and to observe with fidelity Your Holy Commandments. We will never deny before men, You and Your Divine rights over us and all mankind. Grant us the grace to never sin again; nevertheless, should we fail, O Divine Saviour, have mercy on us and restore us to Your grace. Radiate Your Divine Countenance upon us and bless us now and forever. Embrace us at the hour of our death in Your Kingdom for all eternity, through the intercession of Your Blessed Mother, of all Your Saints who behold You in Heaven, and the just who glorify You on earth. O Jesus, be mindful of us forever and never forsake us; protect our family. O Mother of Sorrows, by the eternal glory which you enjoy in Heaven, through the merits of your bitter anguish in the Sacred Passion of your Beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, obtain for us the grace that the Precious Blood shed by Jesus for the redemption of our souls, be not shed for us in vain. We love you, O Mary. Embrace us and bless us, O Mother. Protect us in life and in death. Amen.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.
The Sudarium Veil of the Human Face of God
Since ancient times a veil bearing the image of the Face of Christ has been venerated in the Church. How did we come to recognize this face as the Human Face of Jesus Christ?
“When Simon Peter arrived after him [John], he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there, and the cloth that had covered his head, not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place.” –John 20:6-7
Scripture goes on to say that “the disciple” John, who had arrived at the tomb first went in after St. Peter, “and he saw and believed.” (John 20: 8) What did St. John see that caused him to believe in the Resurrection? Perhaps the body was stolen. The cloths used to soak up the sacred blood? (The sudarium of Oviedo) That would be expected. The cloth now known as the Shroud of Turin? The faint marks on the cloth could not be seen clearly, especially within a darkened tomb, and the image on the Shroud of Turin is that of Jesus in death. Perhaps what had caused St. John to believe was the “cloth that had covered his head,” revealing in a miraculous way the Face of the living and Risen Christ.
We can look at ancient mosaics and paintings and immediately recognize the Face of Jesus. But why this particular face, one that bears signs of the Passion yet at the same time is a living face miraculously present on a veil?
Legends and traditions have varied through the centuries but the face is the same. The image was known by many names, but the veil came to be known as “the Veronica,” Vera Icon, the true image. (See Four Stories, One Face)
Later, in the twelfth century legends sprang up about a woman who wiped the Face of Jesus on Calvary, who came to be known as “St. Veronica.” The story of St.Veronica points to the deepest truth about devotion to the Face of Christ — which is that each act of charity, every act of compassion, will leave the imprint of the Face of Jesus in our souls, transforming us into His own Image.
Pilgrims traveled great distances to see the relic veil of the “Veronica” at the Vatican. During the Sack of Rome, in 1527, it was rumored that the “Veronica” had been stolen, and another “Veil” had taken its place –it was not a sheer cloth on which the face of Jesus could be seen from both sides — but instead, it showed the face of Christ in death, with his eyes closed. The faithful, under pain of excommunication, were to return copies of the Veronica showing the living Face of Jesus. Devotion to the Face of Christ gradually dwindled. The “Veronica” was no longer shown publicly, except at a great distance. However, the Face as it had been seen on the original veil could still be seen in the artwork of churches across Europe.
Many centuries later, in 1849, a time of great crisis in the Church, Pope Pius IX asked that the darkened cloth, held at the Vatican be exposed for the faithful to pray and beg God’s mercy and help. After three days, the faithful were rewarded for their perseverance in prayer: a face, with eyes closed, appeared to glow for three hours on the greatly darkened cloth. This was known as the Epiphany Miracle. Copies were made at once by artists, and once again devotion to the Holy Face was renewed for a time. The Archconfraternity of the Holy Face was approved and prayers were offered before the Holy Face in reparation for blasphemy, sacrilege, the profanation of the Holy Name, and the Holy day of Sunday, as well as prayers for then end of atheistic communism, which was then just rearing its ugly head in the world.
St. Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face is most often associated with the “Holy Face of Tours,” the image which was promoted in France in her lifetime; in fact, the whole Martin family joined the Confraternity of the Holy Face.
“Jesus, Your ineffable image is the star which guides my steps. Ah, You know, Your sweet Face is for me Heaven on earth. My love discovers the charms of Your Face adorned with tears. I smile through my own tears when I contemplate your sorrows.”
“O Jesus, Whose adorable Face ravishes my heart, I implore Thee to fix deep within me Thy Divine Image and to set me on fire with Thy Love, that I may be found worthy to come to the contemplation of Thy glorious Face in Heaven. Amen.” ==St. Therese
After the death of St. Therese (in 1897), the first photographic negatives of the Shroud of Turin could be seen thanks to the photographer Secondo Pia in 1898, revealing the face of a crucified man in death:
The sister of St. Therese, Sr. Genevieve of the Holy Face (Celine), while marveling at the beautiful photographic negatives of the Face of Jesus on the Shroud of Turin, heard the voice of her sister St. Therese telling her,“Paint Him! Paint Him as He truly is!”
Sr. Genevieve of the Holy Face, who was also an excellent artist, rendered a beautiful drawing of the Face on the Shroud of Turin, which won a silver medal in a Canadian exhibition.
But what happened to the “Vera Icon”, the true image, the recognizable living face of Jesus on a precious sheer veil, as portrayed in this artwork centuries before?
Another image of the Face of Jesus fits the unique characteristics of the stolen miraculous “Veronica” veil of the Vatican — a sheer byssus veil with a living face — It is the Holy Veil of Manoppello. History throughout the centuries recorded what the original “True Icon” looked like.
Although the Veil of Manoppello had been hidden away for centuries in the mountain village of Manoppello, Italy, it has been recently “re-discovered.” (Paul Badde has written about this inThe Human Face of God: the Holy Veil of Manoppello)Pilgrims throughout the world are now able to see this “miracle of light” on a sheer veil which reveals the Face of Jesus from both sides.
Like the Shroud of Turin, the image is “not made by human hands,” and shows no traces of pigment. The former Rector of the Shrine of the Holy Face, the Servant of God Padre Domenico da Cese, believed the Holy Veil of Manoppello to be the sudarium veil — “the cloth that had covered His Head.” The Veil shows not only traces of the Passion but is also said to have recorded the first moment of the Resurrection — something so amazing that it caused Sts. Peter and John to believe that Jesus had Ressurected from the dead! Pope St. John Paul II, who dedicated the millennium to the Face of Christ, has said, “We cannot stop at the image of the Crucified One; He is the Risen One!” The Holy Veil of Manoppello bears witness to the Incarnation, the life, passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ; “true God and true man.” St. Padre Pio called the Veil of Manoppello “the greatest relic of the Church.”
“It is the Church’s task to reflect the light of Christ in every historical period, to make His Face shine before the generations of the new millennium. Our witness, however, would be hopelessly inadequate if we ourselves had not first contemplated His FACE!” – Pope St. John Paul II
While there are many beautiful images of the Face of Christ, the great gift of the Holy Face of Manoppello has been made known to the world in our time to give us hope in His Mercy, and His Peace in the midst of trial — to shine the light of His Face upon us – bringing light to the darkness of our world. If you cannot go to Manoppello as a pilgrim, as Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI did in 2006, you can enjoy these incredible, beautiful photos of the Holy Veil by Paul Badde:
Prayer to reproduce the Image of God in our souls
Our Lord told Sr. Marie St. Pierre, a Discalced Carmelite Nun, from France, that the image of His Holy Face is like a Divine stamp, which if applied to souls, through prayer, has the power of imprinting anew within them the Image of God.
I salute You! I adore you and I love you, O adorable face of my beloved Jesus, as the noble stamp of the Divinity! Completely surrendering my soul to You, I most humbly beg You to stamp this seal upon us all, so the image of God may once more be reproduced in our souls. Amen.
“All of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image.” (2Cor 3:18)
“Oh Savior Jesus, who did will that reparation should be as public and universal as had been the offense, penetrate us with the true spirit of reparation. Give us the grace to love Your Divine Face, to make it known and loved by the whole world, in order that it may be to us a source of light and means of salvation. Amen.” –Bl. Maria Pierina de Micheli, “Missionary of the Holy Face”
Prayer to the Holy Trinity
O Most Holy and Blessed Trinity, through the intercession of Holy Mary, whose soul was pierced through by a sword of sorrow at the sight of the passion of her Divine Son, we ask your help in making a perfect Novena of reparation with Jesus, united with His sorrows, love and total abandonment.
We now implore all the Angels and Saints to intercede for us as we pray this Holy Novena to the Most Holy Face of Jesus and for the glory of the most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.
Psalm 51: 18-21
For in sacrifice you take no delight, burnt offering from me you would refuse, my sacrifice a
contrite spirit. A humbled, contrite heart you will not spurn. In your goodness, show favor to Zion; rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Then you will be pleased with lawful sacrifice, holocausts offered on your altar.
Sacred Face of our Lord and our God, what words can we say to express our gratitude? How can we speak of our joy? That you have deigned to hear us, that you have chosen to answer us in our hour of need. We say this because we know that our prayers will be granted. We know that you, in your loving kindness, listened to our pleading hearts, and will give, out of your fullness, the answer to our problems.
Mary our Mother, intercede for us, St. Joseph, pray for us.
Through the merits of your precious blood and your Holy Face, O Jesus, grant us our petition, …Pardon and mercy.
Prayer to the Holy Trinity
Most Holy Trinity, Godhead indivisible, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, our first beginning and our last end. Since you have made us after your own image and likeness, grant that all the thoughts of our minds, all the words of our tongues, all the affections of our hearts and all our actions may be always conformed to your most Holy Will, so that that after having seen you here on earth in appearances and in a dark manner by the means of faith, we may come at last to contemplate you face to face, in the perfect possession of you forever in paradise. Amen.
Pray one (1) Our Father, three (3) Hail Mary’s, one (1) Glory Be.
Tomorrow is the Feast of the Holy Feast and Act of Consecration
Our Lord told Sr. Marie St. Pierre that the image of His Holy Face is like a Divine stamp, which if applied to souls, through prayer, has the power of imprinting anew within them the Image of God.
Prayer to reproduce the Image of God in our souls
I salute You! I adore you and I love you, O adorable face of my beloved Jesus, as the noble stamp of the Divinity! Completely surrendering my soul to You, I most humbly beg You to stamp this seal upon us all, so the image of God may once more be reproduced in our souls. Amen.
Tomorrow, Tuesday, March 1st, will be The Feast of the Holy Face and The Act of Consecration to the Holy Face
“All of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image.”
“It is the Church’s task to reflect the light of Christ in every historical period, to make His Face shine before the generations of the new millennium. Our witness, however, would be hopelessly inadequate if we ourselves had not first contemplated His FACE!” –St. Pope John Paul IIMay the Lord bless and keep you; may He make His Face shine upon and be merciful to you; may He turn His Countenance toward you and grant you His PEACE! (Num 6:22-27)