Hurricane & Mary’s Veil of Faith

Another Mary, Mary Magdalene embracing the Face of Jesus
Mary Magdalene embracing the Face of Jesus in Boticelli’s Deposition 

Mary’s Veil of Faith

O Jesus, hidden God, my heart perceives You, though veils hide You, You know that I love You. ~Prayer of St. Faustina Kowalska

The strongest hurricane to hit Louisiana since the 1800’s descended on us on August 29th.  Hurricane Ida brought 150 mph winds gusts, tornadoes, and where I live, 5 feet of water.  We are so grateful to God that we were spared the loss of life, and have a big family who can help with the arduous task of cleaning up the trees, mud and mess that Ida left behind. As in all times of trial, our family turns to the Blessed Mother for help, inspiration, and endless source of grace — she is most importantly, the model of our faith. With that in mind, I am reposting here “Mary’s Veil of Faith,” with grateful thanks to our dear Blessed Mother for keeping us safe beneath her mantle, and for those who have prayed for us:

The word “veil” can have many meanings. A veil can cover the face, the head, or an object; it can cover, conceal, or separate. In ancient Jewish tradition a veil in the Holy of Holies in the Temple separated sinful man from the presence of God dwelling in the midst of His People. The holiness of God was not to be taken lightly. The blinding light of the purity and glory of the Face of God could not be looked upon by sinful eyes.

But when God chose Mary to be the Mother of His Son He created her to be all-pure and sinless from the moment of her conception through the merits of her Son, Jesus. In Matthew 5:8 we read, “Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God.” What was to prevent Mary, the Immaculate Conception, who was free from all sin, from seeing the Face of God in all His glory even while she was still here on earth? The answer is, in a word, a veil.

The Virgin of the Grapes by Pierre Mignard

When the Word of God became flesh in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary, at the Incarnation, Mary became His Tabernacle. Jesus’ human flesh was His veil: “by the new and living way he opened for us through the veil, that is His flesh” (Heb. 10:20). The Angel Gabriel told Mary that she would be the mother of the Son of God.  But Mary, though “full of grace” and all-pure, would only gaze upon the human face of her child and upon the Face of her God through the veil of faith.

Elizabeth bore witness to Mary’s faith when “filled with the Holy Spirit” she greeted Mary with a loud cry: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?…“Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord” (Lk. 1:45). As Pope St. John Paul II wrote in Redemptoris Mater, “Mary entrusted herself to God completely, with the full submission of intellect and will…this response of faith included both perfect cooperation with ‘the grace of God that precedes and assists’ and perfect openness to the action of the Holy Spirit, who constantly brings faith to completion by His gifts.”

The Man of Sorrows in the arms of the Virgin Mary, by Hans Memling

In a truly heroic manner, in poverty and suffering, on her whole pilgrimage or journey towards God, Mary believed, in faith, though everything happening around her seemed to contradict God’s words to her: That “the Lord will give to him the throne of his father David.” And that “He will reign over the house of Jacob forever and of His kingdom there will be no end.” Mary believed these invisible truths about her Son, even as Jesus, suffered and died, hanging on the Cross. What was visible on an earthly level did not reflect the heavenly reality. Mary did not necessarily see her Son radiant in glory or angels ministering to Him in His Passion.  At the foot of the Cross she saw His bruised and bloodied suffering Face.

Our Lady of Sorrows

Pope St. John Paul II tells us in Redemptoris Mater that “faith is contact with the mystery of God. Every day Mary is in constant contact with the ineffable mystery of God made-man, a mystery that surpasses everything revealed in the Old Covenant… Mary is in contact with the truth about her Son only in faith and through faith!” Though all-pure, she could not see, except through faith. “Blessed is she who believed” is a key, he says, which unlocks for us the innermost reality of Mary. Mary’s all-pure eyes looked on the glory of her Son through a veil of faith, “a dark night,” to use the words of St. John of the Cross, that feeling of darkness or emptiness when a soul draws near to the brightness and glory of God. Pope St. John Paul II writes in Redemptoris Mater that Mary’s faith is: “a kind of a veil though which one has to draw near to the Invisible One and to live in intimacy with the mystery.”

Joan Mates, Mourning over the body of Christ

The stone rolled in front of tomb is also a sort of veil — seemingly impervious, unmovable, like the hardened hearts of souls closed off from God — yet hiding Our Crucified Lord within. When Mary stood in bitter desolation before the massive stone of the tomb, she knew that Jesus was dead. Still, her heart was full of hope. She heroically believed that her Son would rise again in glory. Mary’s faith was so strong that her heart believed what her eyes could not perceive. We too must believe, although Jesus may be silent and hidden completely from our eyes. If we had a little of Mary’s faith, through her intercession, even the heaviest stone could be rolled away by Our Lord, as though it were the lightest veil. Then,  the hardest of hearts could be changed, and her glorious Son would be revealed.

In this earthly pilgrimage of faith a veil lies over our hearts, as St. Paul writes: “To this day, in fact…a veil lies over their hearts, but whenever a person turns to the Lord the veil is removed… All of us, with unveiled face gazing on the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, as from the Lord who is the Spirit.” (2 Cor. 4:15-16, 18) As members of the Church, we can “look at” Jesus through Mary’s eyes of faith, in the Eucharist, in our neighbor; believing in His Word and following her example in our pilgrimage towards the Father until that time when the “veil” of faith will be finally lifted.

Mary adored Jesus beneath the Eucharistic Veil of the appearance of bread.
The Virgin of the Host, by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres

“Blessed is she who believed!”

“Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen.” (Heb. 11:1)

+++

The byssus Veil of Manoppello, which is thought to be one of the burial cloths of Jesus, photo: Paul Badde/EWTN

Prayer to the Holy Face for the liberation from the coronavirus

Lord Jesus, Savior of the world, hope that will never disappoint us, have mercy on us and deliver us from all evil! Please overcome the scourge of this virus which is spreading, heal the sick, preserve the healthy, support those who work for the health of all. Show us your face of mercy and save us in your great love. We ask you through the intercession of Mary, Your Mother and ours, who faithfully accompanies us. You who live and reign forever and ever. Amen.
+ Bruno Forte
Archbishop of Chieti – Vasto (Italy)

My Light and My Salvation – Seek His Face

Pope St. John Paul II reading Psalm 27.

Dominus Illuminatio Mea” – “the Lord is my light” are the first words of Psalm 27…

The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?

The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

Is the darkened state of the world wearing you down? You are not alone – the whole of humanity seems to be in the same miserable boat – fearing enemies around every corner. Jesus reminds us that “Fear is useless, what is needed is trust.” (Luke 8:50)

Pope St. John Paul II, “the light of Poland,” certainly lived through some very dark times, yet he never lost his faith, his hope, or his joy. He found profound inspiration, and comfort, in Psalm 27. From the time of King David, the psalms have been a source of comfort to souls living through the darkness of trials down through the centuries. The very meaning of the word “comfort” is “with strength.” It is the strength that comes from trusting in God, knowing that in spite of the odds, God will bring about our rescue.

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.”

Divine Mercy

We may “visit Him in His temple.” But, our bodies are also a temple; a temple of the Holy Spirit. We may seek God’s Face within the temple of our souls, “with shouts of joy, songs and praise,” in faith, hope, and trust. Jesus, I trust in You!

One thing I ask of the LORD; this I seek:

To dwell in the LORD’s house all the days of my life,

To gaze on the LORD’s beauty, to visit his temple.

For God will hide me in his shelter in time of trouble,

Will conceal me in the cover of His tent;

and set me high upon a rock.

Even now my head is held high above my enemies on every side!

I will offer in his tent sacrifices with shouts of joy;

I will sing and chant praise to the LORD.

“Illumina Domine Vultum Tuam Super Nos — Mane Nobiscum, Domine!” “Lord, let the light of Your Face shine upon us — Remain with us, Lord!”

As Bl. Carlo Acutis once said, “Sadness is looking at oneself, happiness is looking at God. Conversion is nothing but a movement of the eyes.” To seek God’s Face is to be in His life-giving presence. He will hear His children when they call. He does not abandon them to their enemies. His gaze is always upon us; we need only to turn the gaze of our hearts toward Him. He will not reject us, because He is love and mercy itself! He will guide us, defend us, save us…if only we “believe, take courage,” are “stouthearted,” and “wait”…for Him!

The Holy Face of Jesus, a miracle “written in light” on the Veil of Manoppello. (Photo: Paul Badde/EWTN)

Hear my voice, LORD, when I call;

have mercy on me and answer me.

‘Come,’ says my heart, ‘Seek God’s face’;

your face, LORD, do I seek!

Do not hide your face from me;

do not repel your servant in anger.

You are my help; do not cast me off;

do not forsake me, God my savior!

Even if my father and mother forsake me,

the LORD will take me in.”

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
St. Pope John Paul II “In the Eucharist, the Face of Christ is turned towards us.”

“Your life must be woven around the Eucharist. Direct your eyes to Him, who is the Light; bring your hearts very close to His Divine Heart; Ask Him for the grace to know Him, for the charity to love Him, for the Courage to serve Him. Seek Him longingly.”

— St. Teresa of Calcutta

“It is the Church’s task to reflect the light of Christ in every historical period, to make His Face shine also 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

The Divine Light on the Face of Christ

“Now this is the message that we have heard from Him and proclaim to you; God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.”

(John 1:5)
The Holy Veil of Manoppello, a miracle of light. Photo: Paul Badde/EWTN

In 2012 I first made a pilgrimage to the Basilica Shrine of the Holy Face in Manoppello, Italy, to see for myself the ancient, mysterious relic that is the veil of the Holy Face. I took no pictures at that time as it was my sole intention to pray, and not be distracted by snapping photos. At the time, it was a sacrifice. But God blessed the small sacrifice with an unforgettable experience of prayer. Fortunately for me, and by God’s Providence, Paul Badde, who is an art historian, journalist, and champion of the Holy Face, had taken thousands upon thousands of amazing photos which he has generously permitted me to share over the years. I come back to them again and again to ponder this mysterious miracle of light which causes the Face of Jesus Christ to appear on the gossamer-thin transparent veil. Why has Our Lord chosen to show Himself by means of light?

As St. John wrote: “God is light,” and so it is fitting that God, who has revealed to us His human face in Jesus Christ, has left us this precious gift of a true icon of His Holy Face written in light – the Holy Veil of Manoppello. God knows our human weaknesses; the need to see and touch. He gives us lights to illumine our minds and hearts: the light of reason, of grace, and in heaven He will illumine our souls completely by the light of glory – the Beatific Vision – when we will see Him face to face. All these lights are the same Divine Light emanating from the Face of God. God has made us in His image and likeness, we have a capacity to know and love Him. We are made to resemble Him by knowing and loving Him, to participate in the Divine Light that shines into our souls when we turn to His Face, and to reflect that light to others.

“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”

2 Cor. 3:18
Face becomes visible on the Holy Veil of Manoppello. Photo: Paul Badde/EWTN

To “behold His Face as in a mirror…” This is how I saw the Holy Veil of Manoppello as I knelt before it prayer. In that miraculous mirror the Face of Jesus turned toward me. When you love someone you want to see them more and more, but like Peter, James, and John on the mountain of the Transfiguration, we must descend the mountain and obey Jesus’s command to “Follow me” to the Cross. Though we are following, we can remain “turned to His Face,” where God perfects us by His Divine Gaze. We do this by prayer, reading the Scriptures, by living the Beatitudes, which is Jesus’s “self-portrait.” We remain under His gaze as we contemplate His Face in the Eucharist, in His images, especially as they relate to His Passion, or as we encounter Jesus in the poor, sick, and needy — in Jesus’s words, “Love God, and love our neighbor.” And here is the heart of this devotion to the Holy Face; it is charity. God has created us with a deep longing to see Him, and charity, is the means He has given us. This is what the light shimmering on the Holy Veil of the Face of Jesus says to me — Love is the light by which you will see God’s Face.

Update: Please take a look at Raymond Frost’s Manoppello Blogspot to read an special article by Paul Badde which is tremendously helpful in understanding the origins, and presence of the Holy Veil in Manoppello, Italy: “The Latest Transformations of Devotions to the Holy Sudarium of Manoppello” by Paul Badde.

Below is a video taken by Agatha and Angelo Rytz of the Transfiguaration celebration in Manoppello, including the Solemn Mass, procession and fireworks:

St. Elijah and Contemplation

Seeking the Face of God in Prayer

Icon of St. Elijah written by Patricia Enk

There he came to a cave, where he took shelter. Then the Lord said: “Go outside and stand on the mountain before the Lord; the Lord willl be passing by.” A strong and heavy wind was rending the mountains and crushing rocks before the Lord–but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake–but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake there was fire–but the Lord was not in the fire. After the fire there was a tiny whispering sound. When he heard this, Elijah hid his face in his cloak and went and stood at the entrance of the cave. A voice said to him, “Elijah, why are you here?” He replied, “I have been most jealous for the Lord, the God of Hosts.” (1 Kings 19)

Fixing our eyes on God

Pope St. Gregory explains why Elijah is described as standing at the mouth of the cave (“where we direct our mental gaze, there we may be said to stand.”) and veiling his face when he heard the voice of the Lord speaking to him: “…as soon as the voice of heavenly understanding enters the mind through the grace of contemplation, the whole man is no longer within the cave, for his soul is no longer taken up with matters of the flesh: intent on leaving the bounds of mortality, he stands at the cave’s mouth.”

Humility and Detachment – the keys to contemplation

“But if a man stands at the mouth of the cave and hears the word of God with his heart’s ear, he must veil his face. For when heavenly grace leads us to the understanding of higher things, the rarer the heights to which we are raised, the more we should abase ourselves in our own estimation by humility: we must not try to know ‘more than is fitting; we must know as it befits us to know.’ Otherwise, through over-familiarity with the invisible, we wish going astray; and we might perhaps look for material light in what is immaterial. For to cover the face while listening with the ear means hearing with our mind the voice of Him who is within us, yet averting the eyes of the heart from every bodily appearance. If we do this, there will be no risk of our spirit interpreting as something corporeal that which is everywhere in its entirety and everywhere  uncircumscribed…while our feet stand within the walls of His holy Church, let us keep our eyes turned toward the door; let us mentally turn our backs on the corruption of this temporal life; let us keep our hearts facing toward the freedom of our heavenly fatherland.”

Almighty, ever-living God, your prophet Elijah, our Father, lived always in your presence and was jealous for the honor due to your name. May we, your servants, always seek your Face and bear witness to your love. We ask this through our Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen. 

— Pope St. Gregory

Proof of Love

“Il Volto Santo” The Holy Face of Manoppello. (Photo by Paul Badde/EWTN)

The first thing I noticed, the very first time that I saw the Holy Face of Manoppello, was Jesus’s eyes filled with love and His Face covered with blood. The Precious Blood on His Holy Face from the strikes, blows, and thorns, and from His beard cruelly torn and ripped out. Like the image of the Holy Face on the Shroud of Turin, the sight affected me very deeply. Here is the proof of His love on His Face, and the “price of our salvation.”

“You were not redeemed with corruptible things as of gold or silver… but with the Precious Blood of Christ, as of a lamb unspotted and undefiled.”

(1 Peter 1:18)

What should be the response of the soul to our God who has given such costly proof of His love? The answer is: our devotion. Fr. John Hardon, S.J. wrote, “Devotion is a composite of three elements: It is first, veneration, it is secondly, invocation, and it is thirdly, imitation.” Veneration, he says, is “a composite of knowledge, love, and adoration.” By veneration we understand when we gaze on His Face what our sins have done. When a man’s name is reviled it is reflected on his face. The indignities suffered by Our Lord in His Passion represent the sins against the first three Commandments. Blasphemy, the disrespect of God and sacred things, atheism, and the profanation of the Holy Name and the Holy Day of Sunday are the greatest sins against God and are reflected in the Holy Face of Jesus Christ, stained, bloody, bruised, covered with filth, dirt, and spittle. As we look upon His Face, we are moved to console Him. “Whoever gazes on Me, already consoles Me.” — Our Lord to Bl. Mother Maria Pierina De Micheli

Next, devotion is manifested through invocations and prayers by which we give God the praise that is due Him, making reparation, and asking God’s help.

“Who is like God?” St. Michael holding high the Face of Jesus (Sculpture by Cody Swanson, which stands at the side of Old St. Patricks Catholic Church in New Orleans.) Photo: Patricia Enk
Ryan Matherne, OCDS, prepares for Holy Face Devotions

Devotional invocations and prayers may of course be private, but it should also, in some way, be public — because the sins against Our Lord were public. Although Holy Face Devotions had been held since the Discalced Carmelite nuns had founded their first monastery here in New Orleans, the regular public devotion had been interrupted by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Ryan Matherne, President of the Secular Discalced Carmelites in New Orleans, moved by a strong desire to reinstate the public devotion to the Holy Face, led the way to making it possible for the devotions to be held for the first time since 2005 on Sunday, June 27th, 2021. They will continue to be held every fourth Sunday of the month, following the noon Mass at Old St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in New Orleans. Other new groups have sprung up here in the United States and around the world. Fr. Lawrence Carney, founder of the League of St. Martin, was also moved by his deep love and devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus, and “in response to the growing crisis in the Church,” has been encouraging and organizing groups to hold public devotions.

“Oh Savior Jesus, who didst will that reparation should be as public and universal as had been the offense, penetrate us with the true spirit of reparation.  Give us the grace to love Thy Divine Face, to make it known and loved by the whole world, in order that it may be to us a source of light and means of salvation.  Amen. ” 

— Blessed Mother Maria Pierina De Micheli
Holy Face image at Sacred Heart side altar, Old St. Patrick’s Photo: Sally Vlosich, OCDS

Finally, as Fr. Hardon reminds us, devotion means imitation. We are able to show our love for Jesus by giving proof of our love through imitation of Jesus — in pain, humiliation, suffering, and by the shedding of His blood. “That is what the Church means when she has us say that when Christ offers Himself daily on the altar in the Sacrifice of the Mass, we are told to identify with that sacrifice. His and ours. He, the Head of the Mystical Body, can no longer suffer, but thank God, we can!” –Fr. John Hardon, S.J. We can offer any sufferings that will inevitably come to us in this life, in union with Jesus’s sacrifice, in imitation of Him, as a proof of our love, and in gratitude to the “Lamb who was slain for our salvation.”

A Test of 2,000 Years

(Photo: Randall Enk) Sculpture commemorating JPII visit to St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, 1976. Inscription reads: “The joy which accompanies the birth of the Messiah is seen to be the foundation and fulfillment of the joy at every child born into the world.” —The Gospel of Life — Pope John Paul II

“We are now standing in the face of the greatest historical confrontation humanity has gone through…”

— Cardinal Karol Wojtyla

Pope St. John Paul II spoke these stunning and prophetic words while he was yet a Cardinal, during his visit to the United States in 1976. He went on to say:

“I do not think that wide circles of the Christian community realize it fully. We are now facing the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-Church, of the Gospel versus the anti-Gospel. This confrontation lies within the plans of divine Providence; it is a trial which the whole Church, and the Polish Church in particular, must take up. It is a trial of not only our nation and the Church, but, in a sense, a test of 2,000 years of culture and Christian civilization with all its consequences for human dignity, individual rights, human rights and the rights of nations.”

— Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, 1976

His prophecy has proven to be true. Most of the Christian community did not see it coming in 1976. But Cardinal Wojtyla, who had lived under a Communist government in Poland, was able to recognize the signs that the historic confrontation was at our doorstep. The Polish Church has certainly taken up the fight for Christianity, as they have for a thousand years. But, elsewhere in the world two thousand years of culture and Christian civilization has been rapidly disappearing before our eyes. Who could deny it? The trial that he spoke of is already upon us, the clash between “the Church and the anti-Church, of the Gospel versus the anti-Gospel.”


It should be no small consolation that although we are in in the midst of this historic confrontation between light and darkness, we are assured that it “lies within the plans of divine Providence.” Therefore, even little souls need not fear, because, as David said to Goliath, “I come against you in the name of the LORD of hosts… the battle is the Lord’s, and He shall deliver you into our hands.” (1 Sam 17: 45-47)

“The issue is now quite clear. It is between light and darkness and everyone must choose his side.”

— G. K. Chesterton, as he lay dying, 1936.

In order to fight and persevere, we must first choose our side. The spiritual battle is being fought on so many fronts that the battle lines have been obscured. The foremost battle being fought is over life itself. It is the grave evil of abortion, with over sixty-six million babies sacrificed in the name of “choice” since abortion was made legal in the United States. Yet, sadly, even Catholics will quarrel over that bloody fact, pointing to lesser evils occurring, that they deem equally important, as though that could ever justify perpetuating such an atrocity. The devil is busy doing what the devil does – sowing confusion and division, especially among Christians, and particularly within the Catholic Church where the worst harm can be done. Perhaps this is due to a rejection of authority, a lack of faith, trust, and humility, or the lack of willingness to suffer as Christ did. The remedy to the confusion and division is devotion to the Face of Christ – the contemplation of the splendor of the truth shining on the Face of Christ to bring light to our darkened world, and to reconcile us with the Father.

Mourning over the dead body of Christ, Joan Mates, 1492 (Photo: Paul Badde/EWTN)

“In contemplating Christ’s face, we confront the most paradoxical aspect of His mystery, as it emerges in His last hour, on the Cross. The mystery within the mystery, before which we cannot but prostate ourselves in adoration….In order to bring man back to the Father’s face, Jesus not only had to take on the face of man, but He also had to burden Himself with the ‘face’ of sin. ‘For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.'” (2 Cor 5:21)

— Pope St. John Paul II, Novo Millenio Ineunte

Like David, we may not have the power, armor, or strength to take down the enemies of God, whether they are within ourselves or the world. David put His trust in the Name of the Lord, as he picked up his sling and “five smooth stones from the wadi” (1 Sam 17:40). It only took one stone to bring Goliath down. We take up the “trial” as we take up our rosary beads, contemplating the Face of Christ with Mary as we pray the mysteries, giving honor and glory to His Holy Name. When we contemplate the Face of Christ by praying, and studying Scripture, we are being transformed by the Holy Spirit who restores God’s image in our souls, so we are prepared to evangelize by spreading the light on the Face of Christ to others. As we contemplate the Face of Jesus in the sick, suffering, and in those in need, we draw closer to His suffering Heart, and are able to extend compassion to our neighbor. As we contemplate and adore the Face (the Real Presence) of Jesus in the Eucharist, we cast away the false faces of idols, and are humbled before the Eucharistic Face of an all-powerful God who humbles Himself by remaining in the form of a small piece of bread out of love for us.

These are the simple means God has given us for the “test of 2,000 years of Christian culture and civilization with all its consequences for human dignity, individual rights, human rights, and the rights of nations” as prophesied by Pope St. John Paul II: God gives us His Name, His Face, and His own Mother. We can’t lose.

And speaking of those who fight the good fight… Read here the response of Archbishop Cordileone to the American Democratic Catholic legislators “Statement of Principals.” with excellent commentary by “One Mad Mom Blog.”

Heart to Heart, and Face to Face

“You know that I myself do not see the Sacred Heart as everybody else. I think that the heart of my Spouse is mine alone, just as mine is His alone, and I speak to Him then in the solitude of this delightful heart to heart, while waiting to contemplate Him one day face to face.” — St. Therese of the Holy Face and the Child Jesus

“For God so loved the world”

To the Sacred Heart of Jesus 

by St. Therese of the Holy Face and the Child Jesus

St. Therese of Lisieux

At the Holy Sepulcher, Mary Magdalene,
Searching for her Jesus, stooped down in tears.
The angels wanted to console her sorrow,
But nothing could calm her grief.
Bright angels, it was not you
Whom this fervent soul came searching for.
She wanted to see the Lord of the Angels,
To take him in her arms, to carry him far away.

Close by the tomb, the last one to stay,
She had come well before dawn.
Her God also came, veiling his light.
Mary could not vanquish him in love!
Showing her at first his Blessed Face,
Soon just one word sprang from his Heart.
Whispering the sweet name of: Mary,
Jesus gave back her peace, her happiness.

O my God, one day, like Mary Magdalene,
I wanted to see you and come close to you.
I looked down over the immense plain
Where I sought the Master and King,
And I cried, seeing the pure wave,
The starry azure, the flower, and the bird:
“Bright nature, if I do not see God,
You are nothing to me but a vast tomb.

“I need a heart burning with tenderness,
Who will be my support forever,
Who loves everything in me, even my weakness…
And who never leaves me day or night. ”
I could find no creature
Who could always love me and never die.
I must have a God who takes on my nature
And becomes my brother and is able to suffer!

You heard me, only Friend whom I love.
To ravish my heart, you became man.
You shed your blood, what a supreme mystery!..
And you still live for me on the Altar.
If I cannot see the brilliance of your Face
Or hear your sweet voice,
O my God, I can live by your grace,
I can rest on your Sacred Heart!

O Heart of Jesus, treasure of tenderness,
You Yourself are my happiness, my only hope.
You who knew how to charm my tender youth,
Stay near me till the last night.
Lord, to you alone I’ve given my life,
And all my desires are well-known to you.
It’s in your ever-infinite goodness
That I want to lose myself, O Heart of Jesus!

Ah! I know well, all our righteousness
Is worthless in your sight.
To give value to my sacrifices,
I want to cast them into your Divine Heart.
You did not find your angels without blemish.
In the midst of lightning you gave your law!…
I hide myself in your Sacred Heart, Jesus.
I do not fear, my virtue is You!…

To be able to gaze on your glory,
I know we have to pass through fire.
So I, for my purgatory,
Choose your burning love, O heart of my God!
On leaving this life, my exiled soul
Would like to make an act of pure love,
And then, flying away to Heaven, its Homeland,
Enter straightaway into your Heart.

Stay With Us, O Lord!

Hand holding a Host viewed through the Face on Holy Veil of Manoppello in Italy. Photo: Paul Badde/EWTN

On the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, in 2001, Pope St. John Paul II wrote:

The invisible Face of Christ, the son of God, is manifest in His Body an Blood in the simplest and, at the same time, the most exalted way possible in this world.

The ecclesial community responds to people in every age who ask perplexed: “We wish to see Jesus” (Jn 12,21), by repeating what the Lord did for the disciples of Emmaus: He broke the bread. In the breaking of the bread, the eyes of those who seek Him with a sincere heart are opened. In the Eucharist, the intuition of the heart recognizes Jesus and His unmistakable love lived “to the end” (Jn 13,1). And in Him, in that gesture, it recognizes the Face of God!

— Pope St. John Paul II

In 1997, St. Pope John Paul II asked for an International Congress for studying 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 front of the medal bears an image of the Holy Face from the Shroud of Turin and an inscription based on Psalm 66:2: “Illumina, Domine, vultum tuum super nos”,  “May, O Lord, the light of Thy countenance shine upon us.”  The other side of the medal, bears an image of a radiant Sacred Host, representing the Eucharistic Face of Christ, the monogram of the Holy Name (“IHS”), and the inscription “Mane nobiscum, Domine” or “Stay with us, O Lord,” which are the words of the disciples on the road to Emmaus when they recognized Jesus in the breaking of the bread. The Holy Face medal is a tangible reminder of the “invisible face of Christ” made manifest in His Most Holy Body and Blood in the Blessed Sacrament.

Holy Face Medal design - front and reverse

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.  Mother Pierina, with the help of her spiritual Director received the permission of the Curia of Milan, Italy.

In 1936, Our Lord told Bl. Mother Pierina, “I will that My Face, which reflects the intimate pains of My Spirit, the suffering and the love of My Heart, be more honoured. He who meditates upon Me, consoles Me. Every time that My Face is contemplated, I will pour My love into the hearts of men and through My Holy Face will be obtained the salvation of many souls.”

The Blessed Mother also told  Sr. De Micheli, “This medal is a weapon of defense, a shield of courage, a guarantee of love and of mercy that Jesus wishes to give to the world in these times of sexuality and of hatred towards God and His Church. Diabolical snares are laid to tear the faith from the hearts of men, evil is spreading, the true apostles are few, a divine remedy is necessary and this remedy is the Holy Face of Jesus. 

St. Pope John Paul II “In the Eucharist, the Face of Christ is turned towards us.”

“Your Face, O Lord, I seek” (Ps. 27:8). The ancient longing of the Psalmist could receive no fulfilment greater and more surprising than the contemplation of the Face of Christ. God has truly blessed us in Him and has made “His Face to shine upon us” (Ps 67:1). At the same time, God and man that He is, He reveals to us also the true face of man, “fully revealing man to man himself” (Gaudium e spes, 22).

Gazing on the face of Christ, the Bride contemplates her treasure and her joy. ‘Dulcis Iesus memoria, dans vera cordis gaudia‘: how sweet is the memory of Jesus, the source of the heart’s true joy! Heartened by this experience, the Church today sets out once more on her journey, in order to proclaim Christ to the world at the dawn of the Third Millennium: he ‘is the same yesterday and today and forever’” (Heb 13:8).

— Pope St. John Paul II

““Illumina, Domine, vultum tuum super nos”,  “May, O Lord, the light of Thy countenance shine upon us — “Mane nobiscum, Domine” or “Stay with us, O Lord!” 

Adoro Te Devote by St. Thomas Aquinas
"Jesu, whom I look at shrouded here below,
I beseech thee send me what I thirst for so,
Some day to gaze on thee face to face in light
And be blest for ever with thy glory’s sight. Amen." 
--Last Stanza of "Adoro Te Devote"
The Virgin of the Host, by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres

The Beauty of the Trinity in the Face of Jesus

Holy Face of Jesus of Manoppello (photo: Paul Badde/EWTN)

“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:

Discalced Carmelite Nun Sr. Marie St. Pierre, holding “Golden Arrow” with three circles representing the Trinity.

“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.
“For God so loved the world”

“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.

“I want to gaze on You always.” –St. Elizabeth of the Trinity, OCD

“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”

— St. Elizabeth of the Trinity

Manoppello, Italy Celebrates Historic Anniversary

May 2021 procession of the Veil of the Holy Face in Manoppello, Italy. Photo: Paul Badde/EWTN

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.

Veil of the Holy Face of Manoppello in the processional reliquary. Photo: Paul Badde/EWTN

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.)

Photo: Esther Dinh

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.

Holy Veil of Manoppello. Photo: Paul Badde/EWTN

Holy Veil of Manoppello. Photo: Paul Badde/EWTN
Processional Reliquary of the Holy Veil Photo:Paul Badde/EWTN

Holy Face Procession. Photo: Paul Badde/EWTN
Through the luminous, transparent veil, the Face of Jesus is still visible.
Photo: Paul Badde/EWTN
Holy Face of Manoppello. Photo: Paul Badde/EWTN

Many thanks to the intrepid Paul Badde for sharing his amazing photos of the Holy Face!

More may be read here – on Holy Face of Manoppello Blogspot, in an article by Antonio Bini, including other beautiful photos and video of the Solemn Mass.

Opening Benediction of the celebration, Saturday, May 15th, with the Holy Face by the Rector of the Sanctuary, Padre Antonio Gentili.

PRAYER TO 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!

  • Bruno Forte
    Archbishop of Chieti-Vasto
Closing blessing with the Holy Face by Archbishop Bruno Forte, Monday, May 17th, when the Holy Face was brought back to to Basilica on Tarigni hill from the parish church in San Nicola. Video by Esther Dinh