“Christianity has died many times and risen again, for it has a God who knew the way out of a grave.” — G.K. Chesterton
The former Rector of the Shrine of the Holy Face in Manoppello, Servant of God Padre Domenico da Cese, firmly believed with all his heart that, like the Shroud of Turin, the Holy Veil of Manoppello was one of the many burial cloths in Jesus’s tomb — the holy sudarium which covered the Face of Jesus in death–and also miraculously bears witness to His Resurrection. An incredible claim, to be sure, but one for which Padre Domenico offered his own suffering and death.
Since the pilgrimage by Pope Benedictict XVI to the shrine in 2006, the veil of the Face of Christ has become more widely known after having been hidden away in the Abruzzo Mountains for centuries. Other pilgrims who have seen and pondered the “Il Volto Santo” have contemplated the significance of this particular image of the Face of Jesus, and it’s message for the Church and the world. The Face on the Holy Veil is unique above all images of the Face of Christ in many ways, but especially for the fact that it records, in a miraculous way, on byssus silk, not only the Passion of Jesus, but the first breath of His Resurrection. Therein, I believe, lies the message of this holy image for our tumultuous times.
The Catholic Church has been mortally wounded by scandal upon scandal recently, and may be only just at the beginning of its death throes. But, this would not be the first death of the Faith, as author G.K.Chesterton pointed out nearly a century ago. Lauren Enk Mann has written an excellent essay on Catholic World Report, The Sixth Death of the Church, which gives us reason for hope–if. If we are prepared as a Church to take courage and suffer together with Christ in His Passion in order to share in His Resurrection.
“Lord, show me your way; lead me on a level path because of my enemies…Wait for the Lord, take courage; be stouthearted, wait for the Lord!” (Pslam 27:11-14)
The Church’s “summer of shame” has devastated the faithful. The McCarrick revelations, the Pennsylvania grand jury, and the Viganò testimony have sent reverberations of scandal right through the highest clerical ranks. Catholics in the pews feel betrayed and abandoned, in solidarity with the victims who have suffered so much. Each new day has brought to light fresh wounds, and it seems as if the Church is hemorrhaging, bleeding to death from the inside out.
Thinking on this critical state, I recalled a passage from G. K. Chesterton’s 1925 classic book The Everlasting Man that seems to hold the key to hope. I flipped through my copy and found what I was looking for in his penultimate chapter, titled “The Five Deaths of the Faith”.
“Christianity has died many times and risen again,” he writes, “for it had a God who knew the way out of the grave…” (click here to continue reading The Sixth Death of the Church on Catholic World Report)
If you would like to learn more about the Veil of Manoppello – Paul Badde’s new bookThe Holy Veil of Manoppello: The Human Face of God may now be pre-ordered on Amazon. The book is set to be released in October, 2018.
Cardinal Robert Sarah wrote: “Here in Manoppello we meet the face of God face to face, and when we look at Him, His gaze cleanses and heals us, God be blessed.”
So also is the resurrection of the dead.
It is sown corruptible; it is raised incorruptible.
It is sown dishonorable; it is raised glorious.
It is sown weak; it is raised powerful.
It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body.
If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual one…
we shall also bear the image of the heavenly one. (1 Cor. 15)