“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is my life’s refuge; of whom should I be afraid? When evildoers come at me to devour my flesh, these my enemies and foes themselves stumble and fall. Though an army encamp against me, my heart does not fear; though war be waged against me, even then do I trust.” (Psalm 27:1-3)
It seems as though all hell is breaking loose, that every corner of the globe is filled with violence, disaster, and every kind of spiritual sickness. Our relationship with God seems permanently broken, as so many souls reject, revile, or worse, are indifferent to their own Creator. Humanity is surrounded by a maelstrom of evil from which there seems to be no escape–at least that is what the devil wants us to believe and to despair of hope. But we are not alone. God has given us powerful defenders.
Mankind is in the midst of a battle, which has been fought since the beginning of Creation; between Christ’s Angels and the fallen angels or demons. When God created the angels, they were tested before they could see Him face to face. It is believed that it was revealed to them that God would become man and not an angel. Lucifer, being a proud spirit, responded “Non Serviam” — I will not serve! St. Michael answered with the battlecry “Who is like God?” St. Michael and the Holy Angels have been given the authority from God by the power of His Holy Name to protect and defend God’s people against both human and diabolical enemies.
Devotion to the Face of Jesus is meant to repair mankind’s broken relationship with God, manifested in the world by the evil of blasphemy, sacrilege, and indifference. This work of reparation honoring His Holy Face and His Name–which is the concrete sign of God’s existence and our relationship with Him–has been given the protection and help of the Holy Angels. Sr. Marie St. Pierre was a French Discalced Carmelite nun to whom Our Lord gave revelations of the Devotion to His Holy Face. She wrote on November 18, 1843:
“One day during prayer, our Lord warned me in advance about the fury of Satan against the holy devotion, but He also consoled me, saying: ‘I give you My Name to be your light in the darkness and your strength in battle. Satan will do all in his power to crush this Work at its roots. But I assure you that the Holy Name of God will triumph, and it will be the Holy Angels who willl gain the victory in the conflict.”
St. Michael is named as the primary patron of devotion to the Holy Face. This is reflected in many ancient works of art in churches where St. Michael or the Holy Angels are portrayed holding the Veil of the Face of Christ. A fascinating article was written recently by Gelsimo Del Guercio (here) about seven sanctuaries, dedicated to St. Michael, which are linked by a straight line called the “Sword of St. Michael.” The imaginary line “represents the blow with which St. Michael sent the devil to hell.” I would like to add an eighth Sanctuary to the list: The church of the Sanctuary Basilica of the Holy Face of Manoppello. In God’s mysterious design this sanctuary, which contains a miraculous veil of the Face of Jesus, was named for St. Michael though no one who is alive today remembers why. The sanctuary, in Manoppello, Italy, falls at the center, on a map, of the legendary “Sword of St. Michael.” St. Michael and the Holy Angels come to our aid and they are bearing His Holy Face!
“Who is like God?”
“Come,” says my heart, “seek God’s face,” your face LORD, do I seek! Do not hide your face from me.” (Psalm 27:8-9)
“Lord, show me your way; lead me on a level path because of my enemies. Do not abandon me to the will of my foes; malicious and lying witnesses have risen against me. But I believe I shall enjoy the LORD’S goodness in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD, take courage, be stouthearted, wait for the LORD!” (Psalm 27:11-14)