Merry Christmas!!!

“Come let us adore Him!”

Infant Jesus wrapped in Byssus (the Veil of Manoppello is also of Byssus)
Infant Jesus wrapped in sheer Byssus, fit for a King, a High Priest, and God *(about byssus, see below)

What does it mean to “see” God?

When Christ comes, God will be seen by men

(From St. Ireneaus) “There is one God, who by his word and wisdom created all things and set them in order.  His Word is our Lord Jesus Christ, who in this last age became man among men to unite end and beginning, that is, man and God.

The prophets, receiving the gift of prophecy from this same Word, foretold his coming in the flesh, which brought about the union and communion between God and man ordained by the Father.  From the beginning the word of God prophesied that God could be seen by men and would live among them on earth; he would speak with his own creation and be present to it, bringing it salvation and being visible to it.  He would free us from the hands of all who hate us, that is from the spirit of sin, and enable us to serve him in holiness and justice all our days.  Man was to receive the Spirit of God and so attain to the glory of the Father. 

The prophets, then, foretold that God would be seen by men.  As the Lord himself says: Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God.  In his greatness and in expressible glory no one can see God and live, for the Father is beyond our comprehension.  But in his love and generosity and omnipotence he allows even this to those who love him, that is, even to see God, as the prophets foretold.  For what is impossible to men is possible to God.

By his own powers man cannot see God, yet God will be seen by men because he wills it.  He will be seen by those he chooses, at the time he chooses, and in the way he chooses, for God can do all things.  He was seen of old through the Spirit in prophecy; he was seen through the Son by our adoption as his children, and he will be seen in the kingdom of heaven in his own being as the Father.  The Spirit prepares man to receive the Son of God, the Son leads him to the Father, and the Father, freeing him from change and decay, bestows the eternal life that comes to everyone from seeing God.

As those who see light are in the light sharing its brilliance, so those who see God are in God sharing his glory, and the glory gives them life.  To see God is to share in life.” ~St. Ireneaus

Merry Christmas! May His Face shine upon you and your loved ones, today and always!

“In Thee God will manifest the splendor of His presence, for the whole world to see”~Baruch 4

Detail of byssus veil wrapping the babe's tiny feet
Detail of byssus veil wrapping the babe’s tiny feet


Our Lady of the Bowed Head, Vienna, Austria (notice her byssus veil)
Our Lady of the Bowed Head, Vienna, Austria (with byssus veil)

*What is Byssus? – Byssus is a cloth of exceeding fine texture used by the ancients. Fit for Royalty, a King, a High Priest, and God. Known as “sea-silk,” it is more rare and precious than gold. Made from the long tough silky filaments of Pinna Nobilis mollusks that anchor them to the seabed–strong enough to resist the extreme hydrodynamic forces of the sea. Byssus has a shimmering, iridescent quality which reflects light. Byssus is extremely delicate, yet strong at the same time. It  resists water, weak acids, bases, ethers, and alcohols. It can’t be painted, as it does not retain pigments, it can only be dyed; and then, only purple.  It can also last for more than 2000 years.

Byssus is mentioned in the Bible forty times–For just a few examples: in Genesis, Pharaoh took off his ring from his hand, and put it on Joseph’s hand, and arrayed him in clothes of byssus, and put a gold chain on his neck. (Genesis 41) The curtains of the tabernacle (Exodus 26) were twined with byssus. Kingly and priestly garments were made with byssus. (Exodus) Solomon made a veil for the Holy of Holies with cherubim embroidered upon it in byssus.

Gossamer-thin veil of Manoppello Photo by Paul Badde
Sheer and delicate, yet the Face of Christ is miraculously visible. Photo by Paul Badde

The Veil of the Holy Face of Manoppello is also made of rare, precious byssus silk.  The skill needed to weave a byssus veil as fine as the Veil of the Holy Face of Manoppello is exceedingly great.  Chiara Vigo, known as “the last woman who weaves byssus” has said that neither she or anyone alive today could duplicate the gossamer-thin Veil, which is sheer enough to read a newspaper through.  The weave is so delicate, she says, that only the nimble fingers of a very skillful child could weave something so fine.

Miraculous Holy Face Veil of Manoppello Photo: Paul Badde
Miraculous Holy Face Veil of Manoppello Photo: Paul Badde

It has been speculated–perhaps even the young Blessed Virgin Mary learned to weave byssus, as a young child in the temple, for the priestly garments.  Perhaps, she herself wove this particular miraculous Veil with her own pure hands, which was placed as a face-cloth (sudarium) on the Face of Jesus in the tomb, and is thought to have recorded the very moment of the Resurrection of Jesus, true God and true Man, High-Priest and King!

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Pinna Nobilis

(Click here for a BBC article on the last woman who weaves byssus, Chiara Vigo.)

 

Signs and Wonders

Miraculous Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe "I am your merciful Mother."
Miraculous Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe
“I am your merciful Mother.”

Why does God work signs and wonders?  There can only be one answer: His Merciful Love.  Our Creator knows our human weakness.  Our faith may be weak, or we may have no faith at all.  We experience things and come to knowledge through our senses, so God grants us signs that we can see, hear, smell and touch signs of His goodness.  The Old Testament is filled with signs and wonders that God granted to all mankind to reveal His Presence and show His power and might.  But what could be more miraculous than the New Testament miracle that a virgin should be with child and bear a son? That God should become a tiny infant in the womb or that bread and wine should become the Body and Blood of Christ? Through these unimaginable signs God shows Himself to be not only all-powerful, but also all-good, all-humble, all-merciful, all-LOVE!

Signs and wonders do not end with the New Testament, but are on going.  They continue today.  For instance, in 1531, Our Lady appeared as a virgin with child to a humble Juan Diego and left an image of herself on his tilma as a sign for all peoples of her maternal love and of the merciful love of God.  The wondrous image was “painted” not by brush and paint, but by the hands of Our Lady herself as she gently arranged miraculous Castillian roses in Juan Diego’s tilma as a proof for his Bishop that a church should be built at the site of her appearance.  The image of Our Lady of Guadalupe speaks volumes to people of all times. As she told Juan Diego, “I am your merciful Mother, the Mother of all who live in this land and all of mankind.  I hear the weeping and sorrows of those who love me, cry to me, and have confidence in me, and I will give them consolation and relief.”

Sheer Veil of the Holy Face of Manoppello Photo: Paul Badde
Sheer Veil of the Holy Face of Manoppello
Photo: Paul Badde

To enumerate the many scientific studies done on the miraculous images of the tilma of Our Lady of Guadalupe, or the Shroud of Turin, or the Holy Veil of Manoppello may demonstrate to those who need proof that they are indeed miracles.  But faith is still required for belief and some, in spite of the facts or reliable testimony, may still have doubts or sadly choose not to believe.

Perhaps we have trouble believing miracles because at heart we have trouble believing that God loves us and that He would stoop down from Heaven to show that love in some tangible way. Proof or not, the gifts of the Love and Mercy of God are still there so that we may “see and believe.”  God has given us these wondrous signs and they should not be taken for granted!  He is communicating something to each individual through these signs.  Let us pray for ourselves and for unbelievers, “Lord, help us in our unbelief.”

What greater sign of His Love than the bread and wine become His Body and Blood?
What greater sign of His Love than that the bread and wine become His Body and Blood?

************

(Below is a re-post from 12/2014 for the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe)

Look Closely – Our Lady of Guadalupe “Not made by Human Hands”

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Miraculous image of Our Lady of Guadalupe

The miraculous image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Shroud of Turin, and “Il Volto Santo,” the veil of Manoppello all have something in common.  They are all Acheiropoieta, a Greek word meaning: “made without hand.”  They are said to have come into existence miraculously, not created by a human painter.

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The Holy Face on the Shroud of Turin

The extensive research that has been done on these three images, and the results are astounding.  Although I have not been to Mexico to view the miraculous tilma of Our Lady, I have seen both the Holy Shroud of Turin and the Veil of Manoppello in person.  Studying them has been my own personal passion.

Being an artist, (and near-sighted) I tend to look at things more closely.  I study each little detail, shape, line, form, color, and  value. I may spend hundreds of hours studying while I work.  I can’t help but know every little nuance by the time I am done painting.  Sr. Blandina Paschalis Schloemer, a Trappist nun from Germany, is also an artist, a painter of icons.  Icon painting is very exact when it is done in the traditional manner.  Sr. Schloemer began to notice striking similarities between ancient icons and images of the Face of Christ, and the images on the Shroud of Turin and the Veil of Manoppello.  With the permission of her order the research has become her life’s work as well as part of her vocation.

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Pope Benedict meets Sr. Blandina at the Sanctuary Basilica for the Holy Face of Manoppello

Her research indicates that both images on the Shroud of Turin and the Manoppello Image are of the same man.  I agree with her, wholeheartedly, although it is not at first glance apparent.   There are also many similarities between these two images  of Jesus’ Face and the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  First, all are on a cloth.  The image of Our Lady of Guadalupe is on cactus fiber, which should have disintegrated hundreds of years ago according to scientists. The Shroud of Turin is on linen and the Manoppello Image is on woven sea-silk, called byssus.

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Our Lady of Guadalupe, pilgrim image beside the Veronica Altar, at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Photo: Paul Badde, author of The Face of God: The Rediscovery of the True Face of Jesus, Ignatius Press.

Byssus  is more rare and more precious than gold.  Mentioned in the Bible, byssus, has a shimmering, iridescent quality which reflects light. Byssus is extremely delicate, yet strong at the same time. It  resists water, weak acids, bases, ethers or alcohols. It can’t be painted, as it does not retain pigments, it can only be dyed; and then, only purple.  Did I mention that it can last for more than 2000 years?

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The veil of Manoppello, woven with byssus, is so sheer that you can read through it. Photo: Paul Badde

Another similarity between the Guadalupe image and the Manoppello image is the changeability of the images.  Pilgrims  have related how the image of Our Lady on the tilma appears to change in color, brightness and depth.  Scientists can’t explain how the Guadalupe image appears on the tilma, it is not painted… it is “just there.”  The Shroud of Turin has been described similarly. The veil of Manoppello, or “Il Volto Santo” as it is also known,  is even more incredible, if that can be possible, because in addition to the image being on a veil so sheer that it can be read through, it also changes in detail, color,  and shape.  It even disappears… entirely. It is called a “living image” and so it is.  No two people will see it in the same way.  No single person will see it in the same way twice.

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“Il Volto Santo of Manoppello”

Julian of Norwich, the English mystic of the 14th century,  mentions changeability as a characteristic of the Veil of Veronica in Rome, “the diverse changing of color and countenance, sometime more comfortably life-like, sometime more rueful and death-like.” The Veil of Veronica, it is now believed, was most likely stolen a hundred years later, during the sack of Rome.  But, Julian of Norwichs’ description of the Veil of Veronica certainly fits “Il Volto Santo” of Manoppello.

But, there is more.  There is something about the faces… if you study the faces in particular, especially  the eyes, as one opthamalogist did. On the eyes of Our Lady of Guadalupe, you will notice that something.  Similar research has been done on the eyes of “Il Volto Santo.”  There are delicate, natural, details in all three images that cannot be accomplished without the aid of paint or brush, on a rough, cactus cloth, or on a linen burial shroud or on gossamer-thin sea-silk.  If you have an opportunity, look closely.  Yes, there is something about the faces, and it is something supernatural.  They are not made by human hands, but by the Hand of God.

“O Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Guadalupe,

By your presence you made the desert bloom with flowers

may your love transform us into the image of Your Son, Jesus Christ.  Amen.”

(Prayer by Dom Mark Kirby, Prior, Silverstream Monastery, Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland)

Look Closely – Our Lady of Guadalupe “Not made by Human Hands”

IMG_0678
Miraculous image of Our Lady of Guadalupe

The miraculous image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Shroud of Turin, and “Il Volto Santo,” the veil of Manoppello all have something in common.  They are all Acheiropoieta, a Greek word meaning: “made without hand.”  They are said to have come into existence miraculously, not created by a human painter.

image-16
The Holy Face on the Shroud of Turin

The extensive research that has been done on these three images, and the results are astounding.  Although I have not been to Mexico to view the miraculous tilma of Our Lady, I have seen both the Holy Shroud of Turin and the Veil of Manoppello in person.  Studying them has been my own personal passion.

Being an artist, (and near-sighted) I tend to look at things more closely.  I study each little detail, shape, line, form, color, and  value. I may spend hundreds of hours studying while I work.  I can’t help but know every little nuance by the time I am done painting.  Sr. Blandina Paschalis Schloemer, a Trappist nun from Germany, is also an artist, a painter of icons.  Icon painting is very exact when it is done in the traditional manner.  Sr. Schloemer began to notice striking similarities between ancient icons and images of the Face of Christ, and the images on the Shroud of Turin and the Veil of Manoppello.  With the permission of her order the research has become her life’s work as well as part of her vocation.

IMG_0172
Pope Benedict meets Sr. Blandina at the Sanctuary Basilica for the Holy Face of Manoppello

Her research indicates that both images on the Shroud of Turin and the Manoppello Image are of the same man.  I agree with her, wholeheartedly, although it is not at first glance apparent.   There are also many similarities between these two images  of Jesus’ Face and the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  First, all are on a cloth.  The image of Our Lady of Guadalupe is on cactus fiber, which should have disintegrated hundreds of years ago according to scientists. The Shroud of Turin is on linen and the Manoppello Image is on woven sea-silk, called byssus.

DSC08115
Our Lady of Guadalupe, pilgrim image beside the Veronica Altar, at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Photo: Paul Badde, author of The Face of God: The Rediscovery of the True Face of Jesus, Ignatius Press.

Byssus  is more rare and more precious than gold.  Mentioned in the Bible, byssus, has a shimmering, iridescent quality which reflects light. Byssus is extremely delicate, yet strong at the same time. It  resists water, weak acids, bases, ethers or alcohols. It can’t be painted, as it does not retain pigments, it can only be dyed; and then, only purple.  Did I mention that it can last for more than 2000 years?

DSC06317
The veil of Manoppello, woven with byssus, is so sheer that you can read through it. Photo: Paul Badde

Another similarity between the Guadalupe image and the Manoppello image is the changeability of the images.  Pilgrims  have related how the image of Our Lady on the tilma appears to change in color, brightness and depth.  Scientists can’t explain how the Guadalupe image appears on the tilma, it is not painted… it is “just there.”  The Shroud of Turin has been described similarly. The veil of Manoppello, or “Il Volto Santo” as it is also known,  is even more incredible, if that can be possible, because in addition to the image being on a veil so sheer that it can be read through, it also changes in detail, color,  and shape.  It even disappears… entirely. It is called a “living image” and so it is.  No two people will see it in the same way.  No single person will see it in the same way twice.

image-1
“Il Volto Santo of Manoppello”

Julian of Norwich, the English mystic of the 14th century,  mentions changeability as a characteristic of the Veil of Veronica in Rome, “the diverse changing of color and countenance, sometime more comfortably life-like, sometime more rueful and death-like.” The Veil of Veronica, it is now believed, was most likely stolen a hundred years later, during the sack of Rome.  But, Julian of Norwichs’ description of the Veil of Veronica certainly fits “Il Volto Santo” of Manoppello.

But, there is more.  There is something about the faces… if you study the faces in particular, especially  the eyes, as one opthamalogist did. On the eyes of Our Lady of Guadalupe, you will notice that something.  Similar research has been done on the eyes of “Il Volto Santo.”  There are delicate, natural, details in all three images that cannot be accomplished without the aid of paint or brush, on a rough, cactus cloth, or on a linen burial shroud or on gossamer-thin sea-silk.  If you have an opportunity, look closely.  Yes, there is something about the faces, and it is something supernatural.  They are not made by human hands, but by the Hand of God.

“O Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Guadalupe,

By your presence you made the desert bloom with flowers

may your love transform us into the image of Your Son, Jesus Christ.  Amen.”

(Prayer by Dom Mark Kirby, Prior, Silverstream Monastery, Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland)