“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)