A new book will be available in May about the life of the Servant of God Padre Domenico Da Cese, the holy Capuchin, and former Rector of the Shrine of the Holy Face of Manoppello. Padre Domenico spent countless hours praying before the Holy Veil which miraculously bears the image of the Face of Jesus. Like his friend and fellow Capuchin St. Padre Pio the humble Padre Domenico was a mystic and stigmatist who had extraordinary gifts of the Holy Spirit.
(For more about St. Padre Pio’s last case of bilocation and Padre Domenico click here.)
As a nine-year-old boy in 1915, Padre Domenico predicted the devastating Avenzzano earthquake in Italy. A 6.7 earthquake hit that region the next morning, killing more than 30,000 people, including two of his sisters and burying him and his father in the rubble of their church. A man he didn’t know pulled him from the rubble to safety, whose face he later recognized on his first visit as a friar to the Shrine of the Holy Face in Manoppello. When Padre Domenico knelt before the “Il Volto Santo” or Face of Jesus, the miraculous veil, he exclaimed, “This is the man who saved me from the rubble!” He remained at the Shrine as Rector until the time of his death in 1978.
“When will the veil be lifted for me as well? Although I see and feel to a certain extent how very thin is the veil separating me from the Lord, I long to see Him face to face; but let everything be done according to Your will.”
“O King of Glory, though You hide Your beauty, yet the eye of my soul rends the veil”
“I cast upon the Tabernacle the gaze of my soul, a gaze of faithfulness. As for You, You are ever the same, while within my soul a change takes place. I trust the time will come when You unveil Your Countenance, and Your child will again see Your sweet Face…I am listening and waiting for Your coming, O only Treasure of my heart!” –St. Faustina
“Be blessed, merciful God, Eternal Love, / You are above the heavens, the sapphires, the firmaments, / The hosts of pure spirits sings You praises, / With its eternal hymn: Thrice Holy.
And, gazing upon You, face to face, O God, / I see that You could have called other creatures before them, / Therefore they humble themselves before You in great humility, / For well they see that this grace comes solely from Your mercy.”
“Kept in a village church in the mountains of Italy is a veil bearing what some believe to be the image of the face of Jesus….”
Kathryn Jean Lopez, contributing editor to Angelus Magazine, and editor-at-large of National Review Online has written a fine article about the Veil of the Holy Face of Manoppello, and how devotion to the face of Jesus can make all the difference in our lives. With permission, it has been re-printed here:
A Window Into His Love
by Kathryn Jean Lopez/Angelus
There’s an altar dedicated to the Holy Face of Jesus at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan, New York, where I find myself many days for Mass and prayer. It is one of the spots I am always drawn to. It has a cloth with an image of our Lord.
Despite being in the middle of everything — and maybe it’s all the more powerful because it is — there can be great quiet there, right on Fifth Avenue in one of the busiest cities in the world, and opportunities for deep prayer. I’m forever seeing piety from daily visitors, joggers, and tourists who appear to be seeking the face of God whenever the doors of the church are open.
This particular altar is definitely no exception. I’ll often see flowers left behind, a man kneeling, a woman lighting a candle. And I always feel like I am being drawn deeper into a love story — God’s love for us.
From the Holy Face, my route is largely the same every time I’m there on my way to the Blessed Sacrament chapel dedicated to Our Lady. I always stop at the sixth station on the wall and look at the depiction of the face of Jesus there.
I always try to get into the line of sight, between Jesus and Veronica. Veronica is so moved by the suffering of Christ in his passion that she walks up and gives him her veil to wipe his sweat and blood on, to give him a moment’s relief.
Sometimes I see someone working on the frontlines of love — whether it be family life, or supporting struggling families, or another more hidden or thankless ministry; sometimes it’s the priesthood, and I want to do the same.
Whatever church I’m in, truth be told, it does not have to be as grand as the cathedral in Manhattan or anywhere else — I’m always drawn to this station. I imagine myself looking at Jesus in his passion. Sometimes I’m pretty sure I can see him looking at me.
We make him suffer and he knows our suffering. We’re together every day. These two profound realities are how we can more consciously live our lives with God.
Lent is about remembering that, returning to him in love, knowing his presence. Seeing his face — most importantly in the Eucharist, especially after a good Confession — makes all the difference.
It often doesn’t take very long after leaving a church in a city to encounter his face again in the faces of others.
The other day it was the counterterrorism officer who was checking the outside of the cathedral with a dog who was sniffing everything that could be a potential hidden threat (the dirt and grass by the handicap ramp; the box that keeps the traffic light on the corner sidewalk running).
If I’m at St. Patrick’s, frequently the first people I see there are tourists taking selfies. “May they see Christ’s image in them!” I whisper in prayer — sometimes as a plea, because God would appear furthest from their minds, on the surface between Victoria’s Secret and NBA store bags (such is the neighborhood).
Most especially, Jesus’ face can be — and must be, for the sake of our souls and for the love of every man and woman and child on earth, which is how we love God in this mess of a world — seen in a man nesting on concrete, asking for spare change or a meal, desperate to be noticed, never mind loved.
In so many of the artistic depictions of the Holy Face of Jesus, both his love and our need are laid bare. (If you were to Google now, you will find plenty of them. I’m partial to El Greco, but I always am.) There’s something about artistic renditions of his face that always seem to capture the depths of love.
The human imagination captures something both of the truth of God and our longing for him. And as beautiful as so many of them are, they only begin to tell the story. They flow from the love of Jesus on the cross, a love that most of us have not even begun to fully truly appreciate.
There’s no requirement to believe the Shroud of Turin or the Veil of Manoppello are, in fact, evidence of the Lord’s death and resurrection. But they do seem yet more windows into his love for us, not just in the images themselves but in the possible physical evidence for the skeptical and notes of love for the faithful they so many pilgrims believe them to be.
As German journalist Paul Badde has laid out, the two of them, when brought together, show the exact same face — one a man who has died, and one of the same man with his eyes opened — and healed.
Badde has literally written the book on the Holy Face, which is preserved at a shrine in the mountain village of Manoppello, Italy. Ask him to talk about the face of Christ, and he will immediately be making plans to show you things.
If you can’t plan a day trip to Manoppello with the Holy Face, he will show you a replica in his apartment, and likely hand you a card with its image before you part ways.
He says it was the Blessed Mother under the title of Our Lady of Guadalupe who first brought the Holy Face of Jesus to his attention — because she always brings you to her Son. He’s since written of the Veil of Manoppello as an adventurous investigation.
He’s convinced this is the face of Jesus and that it is about the most important relic there is because of the deeper knowledge it draws us into, the reality of Jesus in our lives and in our world. God “didn’t become a book, he became a person. God became a person. Man.”
Badde is not the only evangelist for Manoppello. In 2006, Pope Benedict XVI took a pilgrimage to the shrine where it resides in the Abruzzo mountains.
He said at the time: “As the Psalms say, we are all ‘seeking the Face of the Lord.’ And this is also the meaning of my visit. Let us seek together to know the face of the Lord ever better, and in the face of the Lord let us find this impetus of love and peace, which also reveals to us the path of our life.”
The “Volto Santo” (“Holy Face”) has very much become a ministry for Badde. He believes it is critical in this age of disbelief to stop and look and consider the implications of a God who would live and die and be resurrected for love of us and to redeem us for our sins for eternity.
He fears that so many — even at high levels in the Church — don’t actually believe in the Resurrection. The Holy Face can change this, he believes. And he’s not only talking about people in the pews, but theologians and bishops, too.
Maybe that explains how scandals can happen — the weakness of belief, the rise of unbelief and outright hostility to real religious faith, even where it would be expected to be most solid. They think resurrection is “good preaching or … a living community.
“No, resurrection is real. Jesus was dead and he resurrected from the dead. He’s alive. From the dead to alive. … That’s so important. It’s so important against all the heresies about it, because all the heresies … at the foundation … are about not believing in the Resurrection anymore.”
He believes the veil bears witness to the reality of the Resurrection, which is why he is somewhat tenderly relentless about telling its story.
In his own reflection on the relic, Cardinal Robert Sarah says: “In Manoppello we encounter God face-to-face. It is such a moving place. One is so touched by the gentleness of Christ’s eyes, with their extraordinary penetrating and calming power. And when we let ourselves be seen by him, his gaze purifies and heals us. We can really sense how much Jesus has loved us — so much as to die for us. For true love is dying for the one you love.”
It’s hard to miss that when I ask Badde about the veil, his morning routine, and how he spends his days. All he can talk about is the love of God and the love he draws us into in the Eucharist and the eyes we see on the face on the veil.
When meditating on the Holy Face of Jesus, whether the Shroud of Turin, the Veil of Manoppello, your parish’s sixth station of the cross, or whatever image your Google search seeking his face lands you on, be drawn in to the truth of what we celebrate as “Good” on that last Friday before Easter year after year.
There’s no guarantee any one of us will live to see another Paschal Triduum — so don’t let Holy Week be reduced to a series of mere obligations and traditions.
Gaze at the Lord in his passion, walk with him even to the gates of hell on Holy Saturday. Go to the empty tomb with Mary Magdalene in prayer. Make his love story for us the story of your life, because this is what he wants, this is our identity as Christians.
Look at him with love and let him look at you with just a touch of a taste of the enormity of his love for you. And you will see this more and more as everything. And you will see his face more and more in the world, just as others will be able to see his face in yours by how you look at them with love.
Manoppello is worth reading more about. But even if you don’t, remember the love with which the Lord looks down at you from the cross, remember the love with which he forgives and heals and makes you new again. Keep seeking his face.
Update: EWTN Bookmark Interview with Paul Badde by Doug Keck may now be viewed (scroll down for Youtube video)
What if you had discovered something that was beyond incredible–something that was, in fact, supernatural–drawing you more deeply in love with Jesus Christ? Would you be willing to suffer skepticism, mockery, and even hostility from others in order to share this treasure of love and mercy with the world? Well, something like that does exist: It is called the Veil of Manoppello, and Satan is enraged, because this fragile veil is turning souls toward the Face of God.
During Holy Week we will have an opportunity to learn more about the Holy Veil, and are invited to share this precious gift with others — EWTN will air The Human Face of God in the Holy Veil of Manoppello. And beginning on Easter Sunday, EWTN Bookmark with Doug Keck will interview Paul Badde about his recent book, The Holy Veil of Manoppello. (Details on days and times are listed below.) Though skeptics abound, those who have actually made the pilgrimage to see it with their own eyes have this to say about the miraculous relic of a veil displayed for all the world to “come and see” in the Sanctuary Basilica of Manoppello:
“The Face of Christ is the first, the noblest, and the most precious treasure of the whole of Christendom — more, of the whole earth.” –Archbishop Ganswein, prefect of the Pontifical Household
“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.” –Robert Cardinal Sarah
“The Face is the monstrance of the heart. In the Holy Face the heart of God becomes visible.”
–Joachim Cardinal Meisner, Archbishop of Cologne
“My visit to the Volto Santo of Manoppello was moving and profound. It took a very cherished idea and made it personal and real. I will always treasure the half-hour I had to pray privately before the holy image. It is alive; even the expression changes from different angles and with different lighting. It is like looking at a real human face, looking into the face of Jesus. The eyes, especially, are very alive and penetrating. My love for Jesus Christ has become much more personal now.” — Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone
Much remains hidden from the wise and prudent, that God however does reveal to lesser minds in the humility of Faith. Gazing into the most holy face of Jesus, as it was traced into the sudarium on his head, should give us new strength that our life may hold true in the eyes of God. For we believe and know that we will one day see God through and in Christ, the image of God, “face to face” (1 Corinthians 13:12) –Gerhard Cardinal Müller
“I saw the Holy Face under the changing of the light, not only a Face of tenderness, but of welcoming. I saw a Face smiling at me, almost saying, “Welcome Luis Antonio!” It is a Face that speaks, it is alive, yes, it is the message, the Word is the Face, It is also a Face turned towards me, but I did not feel fear, fear in front of a judge, or of a face which condemns. A Face of Truth, and the Truth is love, love wins out over fear.”
“It is not an object of another time; it is the icon of the eternal Face, the Face of goodness and of friendship, of mercy and of peace. The Face that speaks, that examines, that asks, that awaits a response. It seems to say: ‘Look at me, you who are tired. Come to me and I will give you rest.’…We fix our gaze on the Holy Face and we will be transformed by God’s mercy. The sign is not an end in itself; the sign is a pointer on the way of the return, the return to the Father.” –Archbishop Edmond Y. Farhat
The Human Face of God in the Holy Veil of Manoppellowill air on EWTN:
Monday, April 15 at 8:00 am ET
Good Friday, April 19 at 2:00 am ET
Holy Saturday, April 20 at 10:30 am ET
I only wish this fascinating interview were longer! “It is much more easy to believe that God is dead than the living God and Resurrected Christ.” Paul’s comment hits the nail on the head about the current crisis of faith, and the deep significance of the meaning of the reappearance of this holy relic of the Face of Christ in Manoppello.
EWTN Bookmark with Doug Keck – Interview with author Paul Badde on his book The Holy Veil of Manoppello will air:
Easter Sunday, April 21 at 9:30 am ET
re-airing on Easter Monday, April 22 at 5:00 am and 5:00 pm ET, and the following Saturday, April 27 at 1:30 pm. It will also be broadcast on EWTN Radio (See local times)
Wishing you all a very blessed Holy Week and Easter!