“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
Sr. Marie St. Pierre was a Discalced Carmelite nun who lived in the mid 1800’s. She had 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.”
— Sr. Marie St. Pierre
Our Lord told Sr. Marie St. Pierre that she could comfort and console Him for blasphemy against God by her praises, such as in the words of 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, in Heaven, on earth and in the hells, by all the creatures of God, and by the Sacred Heart of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. Amen.
— The Golden Arrow Prayer, praises in reparation for blasphemy.
“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 Jesus in order to contemplate the beauty of the Holy Trinity:
“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 it’s radiance so that it may imprint itself on us.” –Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity, O.C.D.
“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”
There are three solemn feast days celebrated each year to honor of the Holy Face in Manoppello, Italy: the “Transfiguration” on August 6th, “Omnis Terra” in January, and the May memorial of the mysterious arrival of the “Veronica” to Manoppello in the early 1500’s. This year, the historic May anniversary of the Holy Face was celebrated with a traditional procession between the Basilica Sanctuary of the Holy Face in Manoppello, and the church of San Nicola di Bari. A Solemn Mass was presided over by the Archbishop of the Chieti-Vasto Diocese, Bruno Forte, and was concelebrated by the Minister of the Order of Capuchin Friars Minor, Provincial Father Friar Matteo Siro in the church of San Nicola di Bari.
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.
Many thanks to the intrepid Paul Badde for sharing his amazing photos of the Holy Face!
Lord Jesus, Face of eternal love, in this holy place, guardian of the veil in which you show yourself in the signs of pain and let the infinite mercy of your Divine Heart shine through, grant us to live a new beginning on the journey of faith, of charity and hope, that you call us to travel together with You. May your gaze fill us with the light that comes from the Father to illuminate our steps and lead us to the pastures of heaven, and pour the Holy Spirit into our hearts, perfume of your grace and imprint of your beauty. And Mary, who first looked at Your Face and kissed it with the tenderness of a Mother, She who saw him close his eyes on the arms of the Cross, contemplated him risen and now contemplates him in glory, help us to seek your ever new desire. Face of King crucified out of love, victorious over evil and death, to meet you in the embrace of your Church, recognize you in your sacraments and bear witness to you in the works and days of our life. Amen!
“I have come to ask the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart, and the Communion of reparation on the First Saturdays. If my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace; if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred; the Holy Father will have much to suffer; various nations will be annihilated.”
–Our Lady of Fatima to the three children of Fatima: St. Jacinta Marto, St. Francisco Marto, and Sr. Lucia Santos
The children of Fatima had no idea that Russia was a country; they thought that “Russia” was a sinful woman who was in need of conversion. Although the consecration to the Immaculate Heart had been fulfilled, according to Sr. Lucia, the Communions of Reparation on First Saturdays perhaps have not, since poor Russia has not yet converted. The “errors” of communism have certainly grown and spread “throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church. In fact, like a malignant cancer, the speed at which communist ideology has spread here in the United States is alarming. The battle is not over, and it must be fought – but how?
Pope St. John Paul II was perhaps the greatest obstacle threatening the existence of communism in the past century. On the anniversary of the first apparition of Fatima, May 13th, 1981, an assassination attempt was made to kill him, and almost did, but the bullet that was meant for his heart was deflected by the hand of the Blessed Mother. That bullet now rests in the crown of her statue in Fatima. Great strides were made by “tearing down the wall” in his lifetime, but much remained to be done…
In 1997, Pope St. John Paul II asked for an International Congress for studying the words on 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 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 in 1936. One side of the medal bears a replica of the Holy Face image and an inscription based on Psalm 66:2: “Illumina, Domine, vultum tuum super nos”, that is: “May, O Lord, the light of Thy countenance shine upon us.” On the other side of the medal, there is an image of a radiant Sacred Host, the monogram of the Holy Name (“IHS”), and the inscription “Mane nobiscum, Domine” or “Stay with us, O Lord.”
Being a good shepherd, Pope St. John Paul II did not leave this world without giving the Church the weapons needed to fight atheistic communism. For this purpose, he directs our eyes to the Face of Jesus as he placed the new Millennnium under “the radiant sign of the Face of Christ.”
“To contemplate the Face of Christ, and to contemplate it with Mary, is the ‘program’ which I have set before the Church at the dawn of the third millennium…It is the Church’s task to reflect the light of Christ in every historical period, to make His Face shine also before new generations of the new Millennium. Our witness, however, would be hopelessly inadequate if we ourselves had not first contemplated His Face.”
Lies, disinformation, propaganda, and fake news that multiply at every click of a computer, must be fought with the “Splendor of the truth shining on the Face of Christ:”
“As a result of that mysterious original sin, committed at the prompting of Satan, the one who is ‘a liar and the father of lies’ (Jn 8:44), man is constantly tempted to turn his gaze away from the living and true God in order to direct it toward idols (cf. 1 Thes 1:9), exchanging ‘the truth about God for a lie’ (Rom 1:25). Man’s capacity to know the truth is also darkened, and his will to submit to it is weakened. Thus, giving himself over to relativism and scepticism (cf. Jn 18:38), he goes off in search of an illusory freedom apart from truth itself...
But, no darkness of error or of sin can totally take away from man the light of God the Creator. In the depths of his heart there always remains a yearning for absolute truth and a thirst to attain full knowledge of it… No one can escape from the fundamental questions: What must I do? How do I distinguish good from evil? The answer is only possible thanks to the splendor of the truth which shines forth deep within the human spirit, as the Psalmist bears witness:
“There are many who say: ‘O that we might see some good! Let the light of your face shine upon us, O Lord’” (Ps 4:6)
“The light of God’s face shines in all its beauty on the countenance of Jesus Christ, “the image of the invisible God” (Cor 1:15), the “reflection of God’s glory” (Heb 1:3), “full of grace and truth” (Jn 1:14). Christ is “the way, and the truth, and the life” (Jn 14:6). Consequently the decisive answer to every one of man’s questions, his religious and moral questions in particular, is given by Jesus Christ, or rather is Jesus Christ himself, as the Second Vatican Council recalls: “In fact, it is only in the mystery of the Word Incarnate that light is shed on the mystery of man. For Adam, the first man, was a figure of the future man, namely, of Christ the Lord. It is Christ, the last Adam, who fully discloses man to himself and unfolds his noble calling by revealing the mystery of the Father and the Father’s love.”
— Pope St. John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor
The Church was warned about the threat of communism on March 7, 1847, when Our Lord spoke to a cloistered Carmelite nun, Sr. Marie St. Pierre, “Rejoice, my daughter, the hour approaches of the truth of the most beautiful work which may be under the sun.” “That is,” said Our Lord, because “it is the essence of charity” — like the act of the compassionate woman, known as “Veronica,” who tradition tells us wiped the Face of Jesus on His way to Calvary.* The “most beautiful work” is devotion to the Face of Christ.
At that time in France the seeds of atheistic communism were being planted. Communism wasn’t well known then, and went by many other names, such as socialists, liberals, and communists. Jesus told Sr. Marie “that the sectarians called communists had only made an attempt to blindfold us. Oh! If you only knew their secrets and diabolical machinations! If you could comprehend their anti-Christian principles! They are only waiting a favorable moment to set France in flames, therefore, be earnest in your supplications for the Work of Reparation.” (Devotion to the Holy Face) Sr. Marie St. Pierre wrote, “France is asleep at the mouth of a volcano… They [Communists] usurped the control of the press. They numbered among their party the most distinguished men of the day.” Jesus “commanded to “cross swords with the communists, who as He told me, were the sworn enemies of the Church, and of her Christ.”
Jesus then presented her with the weapons she need to “wage war.” Her “weapons,” of course, were the Holy Name of God, the instruments of the Passion, prayers for the conversion of communists, and the enemies of the Church, all through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary:
“May God arise and may His enemies be scattered,
and may all those who hate Him flee before His Face.
May the thrice Holy Name of God overthrow all their plans.
May the Holy Name of the Living God split them up by disagreements.
May the terrible Name of the God of eternity annihilate all their impiety.
Lord, You do not desire the death of a sinner,
but that he may be converted and live.
Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.“
Conversion is turning back to God. In your charity, please pray with all the means the Church has given us, not only for Russia, but for all those who have turned away “for they know not what they do.” So that they “will be converted, and there will be peace”– Our Lady of Fatima.
“May the Lord bless and keep you; may He make His Face shine upon you and be merciful to you; may He turn His Countenance toward you and give you His Peace!” (Num. 6:22-27)
*Pope St. John Paul II wrote this beautiful meditation on the tradition of St. Veronica in 2000, the same year in which he dedicated the millennium to the Face of Christ:
Veronica does not appear in the Gospels. Her name is not mentioned, even though the names of other women who accompanied Jesus do appear. It is possible, therefore, that the name refers more to what the woman did. In fact, according to tradition, on the road to Calvary a woman pushed her way through the soldiers escorting Jesus and with a veil wiped the sweat and blood from the Lord’s face. That face remained imprinted on the veil, a faithful reflection, a “true icon”. This would be the reason for the name Veronica. If this is so, the name which evokes the memory of what this woman did carries with it the deepest truth about her.
One day, Jesus drew the criticism of onlookers when he defended a sinful woman who had poured perfumed oil on his feet and dried them with her hair. To those who objected, he replied: “Why do you trouble this woman? For she has done a beautiful thing to me . . . In pouring this ointment on my body she has done it to prepare me for burial” (Mt 26:10, 12). These words could likewise be applied to Veronica. Thus we see the profound eloquence of this event.
The Redeemer of the world presents Veronica with an authentic image of his face. The veil upon which the face of Christ remains imprinted becomes a message for us. In a certain sense it says: This is how every act of goodness, every gesture of true love toward’s one’s neighbor, strengthens the likeness of the Redeemer of the world in the one who acts that way. Acts of love do not pass away. Every act of goodness, of understanding, of service leaves on people’s hearts an indelible imprint and makes us ever more like the One who “emptied himself, taking the form of a servant” (Phil 2:7). This is what shapes our identity and gives us our true name.
This is the deep meaning and call to every Christian revealed in the presence of the unknown woman we call “St. Veronica”– 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.