The Bearer of Victory

Christ the Redeemer and the Virgin Mary with the “Arma Christi” c.1520’s

It becomes more and more evident, to people of faith anyway, that a spiritual battle is raging in the world. Great or small, each Christian has a role in the decisive battle to be fought, through the Cross, and under the banner of the Face of Christ.

Veronica Veil, 1480, National Gallery, Washington

History records the existence of a miraculous veil with the Face of Jesus — not made by human hands. Down through the centuries it was called by many names, however, most commonly it was known as the Veronica (Vera-icon, Latin for “True Image”).  But there was also another name by which the veil was known: Berenice, from the Ancient Greek Berenike (or pheronike).  It was the same name as Veronica (Latin transliteration of Berenice), but with an another meaning — The Bearer of Victory.

The Veil of the Holy Face of Jesus, since 574, had been carried into battles as an imperial standard, used only when the Emperor Justin II was at the head of the army.

Crusader in helmet with the instruments of the Passion

“The veil was taken out for military campaigns. Teofilaktos Simokattes wrote that during the Battle of Solachon in 586, the veil acted as divine inspiration for the Byzantine forces. Simokattes also wrote that the labarum was ‘created by God Himself and hadn’t been woven or painted by man.’ In 622, the standard played a pivotal role in the war against the Persians, inspiring Heraclius’ armies in battle against the armies of Khosrau II. The seventh century Greek poet George Pisida wrote an account of the campaign, in which he call the veil’s depiction a ‘master-Portrait created by God.’  The relic continued to act as the imperial standard until the end of the seventh century. ” (Witness to Mystery: Investigations into Christ’s Relics, Grzegorz Gorny, Janusz Rosikon)

Servant of God, Marcel Van

Servant of God Marcel Van, known as the “Little brother of St. Therese and Apostle to little children,” was a Redemptorist brother who was martyred in Communist Vietnam.  He was given a vision in which Marcel saw the banner of victory atop a cross:

 “I saw a cross appear beside little Jesus.  At the top of this cross a piece of cloth was suspended on which was printed the Face of Jesus.  Little Jesus looked at me with a joyous expression, then, showing me the cross he said to me; ‘Little brother, here is your portion of the inheritance, here is the inheritance of the children. Do you see it clearly?’ Then little Jesus, indicating himself added: ‘Little brother, here is the elevator which will allow you to take possession of this inheritance, and it will also be the same for the children. Do you understand? That is the way your sister St. Therese had led you up till now, after having followed it herself.  Little brother, tell that to the children.'”  Br. Marcel said the vision remained ingrained on his mind in every detail. The “elevator” refers to an insight of St. Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, by the “little way” of spiritual childhood — “doing little things with great love” — the elevator lifting her to the Father was Jesus’s arms of love. The Servant of God won many spiritual battles throughout his life by practicing the “little way” of St. Therese, gaining victory after victory until he was martyred in 1959.
“Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3)
Your sweet Face is for me Heaven on earth. ” ~St. Therese

“How much good the Holy Face has done me during my life! The just will recognize Him not only on the Cross — a symbol of salvation, which will precede His coming, but more exactly, by His Face, which will shine on the last day.” –St. Therese 

 

 

Pope Benedict XVI gazes at the Veil of the Holy Face in Manoppello, Photo:Paul Badde/EWTN

What is the significance for today of the Veil of the “Master Portrait created by God” being carried as a standard in battle?  Why has God gifted humanity with a  miraculous veil bearing an image of His Face? Why did Pope St. John Paul II dedicate the millennium to the Face of Christ? I would propose one answer to these questions: God is directing our gaze to the Veil of the Holy Face of Jesus because He has given this great gift to us as the means to obtain victory in the battle  against Satan — by the contemplation of the Face of Christ.  And the most efficacious way to contemplate the Face of Jesus is through the eyes of the Blessed Virgin Mary when we pray the Rosary!

“It is first of all necessary to let the Blessed Virigin Mary take us by the hand to contemplate the Face of Jesus. Mary gives us eyes and a heart that can contemplate her Son.” –Pope Benedict XVI

Pope St. John Paul II has written about a “self-portrait” of the Face Jesus in Veritatis Splendor, and so did Pope Benedict XVI in Jesus of Nazareth.  Jesus painted this masterpiece of Himself on a mountain, where He prayed “face-to-face with the Father.”  The Face of Jesus may also be revealed, though in a veiled way, in the Word of God:

The Beatitudes

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land.

Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

Blessed are the pure of heart, for they will see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God.

Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you [falsely] because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.  Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Mt. 5:1-12)

The Beatitudes by Carl Bloch

The Beatitudes, Pope St. John Paul II says in Veritatis Splendor, “are a sort of self- portrait of Christ, and for this very reason are invitations to discipleship and to communion of life with Christ.” In Jesus of Nazareth, Pope Benedict XVI describes the Sermon on the Mount as a “hidden Christology.” He writes, “Anyone who reads Matthew’s text attentively will realize that the Beatitudes present a sort of veiled interior biography of Jesus, a kind of portrait of His figure.  He who had no place to lay his head (Mt. 8:20) is truly poor; he who can say, “Come to me…for I am meek and lowly of heart” (Mt. 11:28-29) is truly meek; he is the one who is pure of heart and so unceasingly beholds God.  He is the peacemaker, he is the one who suffers for God’s sake.

The brushstrokes of the Master are the Christian virtues by which He reveals His Face: Justice, Mercy, Humility, Meekness, Purity of Heart.  Jesus painted this self-portrait as an invitation for those who seek His Face to follow Him as His disciples, calling us to communion with Him and accompanying Him to the Cross.

St. Jerome wrote: “The Face of Jesus will continue to save each time we have recourse to it, invoking His aid, Lord, God of Hosts, bring us back, let Your Face shine on us and we shall be saved!  (Psalm 80:7)

In order for the battle to be won, each Christian must also become a “Bearer of Victory” by reflecting the Face of Christ to others in our broken world — holding high the banner of the Holy Face, and the Cross of Christ!

“Today, fixing our gaze with you on the Face of the risen Christ, let us make our own your prayer of trusting abandonment and say with firm hope: Christ Jesus, I trust in you!”
Pope St. John Paul II on the occasion of the canonization Mass of St. Faustina Kowalska, April 30, 2000 

 

Lent – Preparing to Stand Before God’s Face

 

“Write this: before I come as the Just Judge, I am coming first as the King of Mercy.” –Our Lord to St. Faustina

“Prepare to meet your Maker,” one cowboy said to the other. It was good advice. No one knows exactly when or how they will “meet their maker,” so we should always be prepared. It could be by illness, old age, or a garbage truck, but it is certain each person will one day come before the Just Judge.  The sixth beatitude proclaims, “Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God.” C.S. Lewis once said, “It is safe to tell the pure in heart that they shall see God, for only the pure in heart want to.”  Would you be prepared at any moment to come before the Face of God?  The Church aids us in this eventuality through the practices of Lent: fasting, penance, almsgiving, and taking advantage of the beautiful sacrament of mercy, Reconciliation.

 

C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis once said, “It is safe to tell the pure in heart that they shall see God, for only the pure in heart want to.”  

 

It is not a coincidence that Shrove Tuesday, the day that precedes Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent, is also the Feast of the Holy Face. Most people think of Mardi Gras (Shrove Tuesday) as a day of excess and indulgence in food and drink before facing the sacrifices of Lent. But the origin of the word “Shrove” is “to absolve.” Traditionally, Shrove Tuesday was a day to obtain absolution in the sacrament of Reconciliation, to purify your soul and prepare yourself to stand before the Face of God. The first step of that preparation is “to look in the mirror” and examine our conscience.

Jesus makes Himself our mirror – “He who never meditates is like a person who never looks in the mirror, therefore, not knowing that he is untidy, he goes out looking disorderly.  The person who meditates and directs his thoughts to God, Who is the mirror of his soul, tries to know his faults, attempts to correct them, moderates his impulses, and puts his conscience in order.” — St. Padre Pio

 

The “pure in heart” are promised that they will see God face to face and be like him.  “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.  But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Cor 13: 12-13) Purity of heart is the precondition of the vision of God.

The Book of Job provides ample reflections for the purification and test of faith that a soul may undergo to be fit to stand before God. Few people will have crosses as heavy as Job’s. But despite his crushing physical and spiritual struggles, as well as his complaints to God, Job’s words in the end demonstrate the kind of repentance and the purity of heart needed to come into God’s presence and see Him face to face:

“I have heard of You by word of mouth, but now my eyes have seen You. Therefore, disown what I have said and repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:5-6)

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A Blessed and Holy Lent to all

“Who shall climb the mountain of the LORD?  Who shall stand in His holy place?  The clean of hand and pure of heart, who are not devoted to idols, who have not sworn falsely. They will receive blessing from the LORD, and justice from their saving God. Such are the people that love the LORD, that seek the Face of the God of Jacob.” (Psalm 27: 3-6)

May God’s Face Shine Upon Us in 2020

May God have pity on us and bless us;
may He let his Face shine upon us.  
So may Your way be known upon earth;
among all nations, Your salvation. (Ps. 67:1)

Mary shows us her Son — From the shrine of the Holy Face of Manoppello, Photo: Paul Badde

The Feast of Mary, Mother of God

In God’s beautiful design, the Christmas liturgy continues at the beginning of the New Year by drawing us to the Face of Christ with three holy feast days. All three are tied together by a common, yet golden thread–A mother, sharing her precious Son with us, so we may see His Face.

We begin on January 1, with the Feast of Mary, Mother of God, who teaches us how to contemplate the Face of her Son by seeing the reflection of His beauty and goodness in her face. On the Solemnity of the Mother of God, Pope Francis said,  “Begin the year recalling God’s goodness in the maternal face of Mary.” We see Jesus more clearly through His Mother’s eyes, especially when we pray the Rosary

The first reading for this feast day is the priestly blessing on God’s chosen people from the book of Numbers:

The LORD said to Moses:
“Speak to Aaron and his sons and tell them:
This is how you shall bless the Israelites.
Say to them:
The LORD bless you and keep you!
The LORD let his face shine upon
you, and be gracious to you!
The LORD look upon you kindly and
give you peace!
So shall they invoke my name upon the Israelites,
and I will bless them.” (Num 6:22-27)

May Our Lord grant us His blessing in the New Year through intercession the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God. As the Incarnation of the Son of God came into the world by the power of the Holy Spirit, at Mary’s “Fiat,” through her prayers, may we obtain the grace to contemplate His Holy Face, and receive God’s greatest gift of peace.

The next holy feast, on January 3 is…

The Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus

In sacred scripture the Angel Gabriel revealed the Holy Name of the Savior of mankind to the Blessed Virgin Mary: “You shall call His name Jesus.”

When Jesus was named,  Satan was disarmed!

Mary, Mother of the Most Blessed Sacrament

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI teaches us, The expression “name of God” means God as He Who is present among men.  His name, is the concrete sign of His Existence. The Hebrew term, “panim”, which means “face” means to see The Face of God, or the presence of God.  “Panim” is a term that describes relationships. The Hebrew word “shem” meaning “name” is also a term of relationship.  “Panim” is also the Hebrew word for “Face of God” and the same word is used for “Bread of the Presence” or “Bread of the Face.” (Exodus 25:30) The “Bread of Presence” mentioned in Exodus was not the actual Face of God, but the earthly sign of His Face. The Eucharist, instituted by Christ, however, is the actual Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus. When we are gazing at the Eucharist, the sign of God’s love for us, in Adoration, we see His Holy Face veiled in the appearance of bread, and in doing so, we give honor to His Holy Name.

Who had a more tender relationship of love with Jesus than his mother Mary? Who spoke His name more lovingly? God has a Face and a Name — It is Jesus Christ, our Redeemer!  The Blessed Mother invites us to rejoice in the splendor of His Face, and contemplate the mystery of His Holy Name by entering into a relationship with her Son Jesus, especially in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist.

To rejoice in the splendor of His Face means penetrating the mystery of  His name made known to us in Jesus, understanding something of His interior life and of His will, so that we can live according to His plan for humanity.  Jesus lets us know the hidden Face of The Father through His human Face; by the gift of The Holy Spirit poured into our hearts. This, is the foundation of our peace, which nothing can take from us.” –Pope Benedict XVI

Blessed the Lord, O my soul, and let all that is within thee bless His Holy Name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and never forget all He hath done for thee. (Ps. ci. i,2)

And the third great holy day drawing us to adore the Holy Face is…

Adoration of the Magi, Giotto, 1302

The Feast of the Epiphany

 The Epiphany is closely linked to the Holy Face, as the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen and mother, presents her Son, the King of Kings, to the Magi–because the Epiphany is the feast on which Jesus Christ first shows Himself to the world represented by the Magi–and He shows Himself through a human face, the face of an infant. On the feast of the Epiphany, we ask God to shine His Face upon us, to reveal His Face to us once more as we come before Him in adoration, so that, like the Blessed Virgin Mary, we may also reflect the light of His Face to the world.

“May the Lord grant that in the new millennium, the Church will grow ever more in holiness, that she may become in history a true epiphany of the merciful and glorious Face of Christ the Lord.”   — Pope St. John Paul II at the Closing of the Holy Door, January 6, 2001

Face of the Child Jesus by Fra Angelico

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A Little Litany by G. K. Chesterton

When God turned back eternity and was young,
Ancient of Days, grown little for your mirth
(As under the low arch the land is bright)
Peered through you, gate of heaven – and saw the earth.

Or shutting out his shining skies awhile
Built you about him for a house of gold
To see in pictured walls his storied world
Return upon him as a tale is told.

Or found his mirror there; the only glass
That would not break with that unbearable light
Till in a corner of the high dark house
God looked on God, as ghosts meet in the night.

Star of his morning; that unfallen star
In the strange starry overturn of space
When earth and sky changed places for an hour
And heaven looked upwards in a human face.

Or young on your strong knees and lifted up
Wisdom cried out, whose voice is in the street,
And more than twilight of twiformed cherubim
Made of his throne indeed a mercy-seat.

Or risen from play at your pale raiment’s hem
God, grown adventurous from all time’s repose,
Of your tall body climbed the ivory tower
And kissed upon your mouth the mystic rose

.Madonna and Child from the Robert Lehman Collection, Metropolitan Museum of Art

“Our Lady, in whose face – more than any other creature – we can recognize the features of the Incarnate Word.” –Pope Benedict XVI

 

Jesus Our King

 

Jesus, our King crowned with thorns

There is but one time in all four Gospels when Our Lord is addressed by His Holy Name, “Jesus.” It is surprising, but true. He was called “Rabbi,” or “Master” by his disciples. He was mockingly called “the King of the Jews” by Pilate and the soldiers at His Crucifixion, and even, with contempt, “Messiah” by the bad thief. As Jesus was dying a shameful death on the Cross, crucified between two criminals, the crowds were shouting, “If he is the King of Israel; let him come down from the cross, and we will believe him.” One of the thieves hanging there reviled, and mocked Jesus to His Holy Face. “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”

But the one called “the Good Thief” or “St. Dismas,” is also known as a saint of the Holy Face, because although he too was suffering on a cross, St. Dismas acknowledged his own guilt and publicly defended Jesus, rebuking the thief who had blasphemed Him, saying, “Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation? And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal.” (Lk, 23:40-41)  What came next is a testament to heroic faith, because although the thief saw the suffering, humiliated, and disfigured Face of Jesus, he addressed Him, (the first time in the Gospels) by His Holy Name — Jesus — and he acknowledged Him as  King: 

“Jesus, remember me when You come into Your Kingdom.” 

St. Dismas, calls Jesus, “Jeshu” recalling the successor of Moses — Joshua — who led the people of Israel into the Promised Land.  St. Ambrose wrote that the Good Thief “prayed that the Lord would remember him when he reached His Kingdom, but the Lord responded, ‘Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.’ Life is being with Christ, because where Christ is, there is His Kingdom.”  It was the supreme moment of grace and mercy for the Good Thief. By turning to the Holy Face, pronouncing the Holy Name of Jesus, and accepting His kingship,  St. Dismas bears witness to the saving power of faith and devotion to the Face of  Christ. The Good Thief had stolen the Kingdom through sharing in the suffering of Christ and reparation to the Holy Face of Jesus, and so entered into His divine glory.  

Thy Kingdom come, O Lord!

Christ the King of the Universe

“Every time that anyone gazes at my Face, I will pour my love into hearts and by means of the Holy Face, the salvation of many souls will be obtained.” –Our Lord to Bl. Mother Pierina de Micheli, “Missionary of the Holy Face”

 

A War Broke Out in Heaven


“Now a war broke out in Heaven. Michael and his Angels fought against the dragon and his angels.” (Rev. 12:7)

St. Michael soars above the Heavens bearing the Veil of the true image of the Face of Christ. 1516, Albrecht Durer

Mankind is in the midst of a battle, which has been fought since the beginning of Creation; between Christ’s Angels and the fallen angels or demons.  When God created the angels, they were tested before they could see Him face to face.  “God created man in His image; in the divine image he created him; male and female He created them.” (Gen. 1:27) It is believed that it was revealed to the angels that God would become a man and not an angel. Then, Lucifer, being a proud spirit, responded “Non Serviam!” — I will not serve! St. Michael answered with the battlecry “Who is like God?” St. Michael and the Holy Angels have been given the authority from God by the power of His Holy Name to protect and defend God’s people against both human and diabolical enemies

St. Veronica column in St. Peter’s Basilica

There is a strong association between St. Michael and the devotion to the Face of Christ. For many centuries St. Michael was depicted with the Sudarium Veil of the Face of Jesus. Devotion to the Face of Jesus is meant to repair mankind’s broken relationship with God, manifested in the world by the evil of blasphemy, sacrilege, and indifference.  This work of reparation honoring His Holy Face and His Name–which is the concrete sign of God’s existence and our relationship with Him–has been given the protection and help of the Holy Angels. Sr. Marie St. Pierre was a French Discalced Carmelite nun to whom Our Lord gave revelations of the Devotion to His Holy Face.  She wrote on November 18, 1843:

“One day during prayer, our Lord warned me in advance about the fury of Satan against the holy devotion [to the Holy Face of Jesus], but He also consoled me, saying: ‘I give you My Name to be your light in the darkness and your strength in battle. Satan will do all in his power to crush this Work at its roots. But I assure you that the Holy Name of God will triumph, and it will be the Holy Angels who willl gain the victory in the conflict.” 

Engraving by Albercht Durer
Church of St. Michael/Sanctuary Shrine of the Holy Face of Manoppello (photo: Paul Badde)

St. Michael is named as the primary patron of devotion to the Holy Face.  This is reflected in many ancient works of art in churches where St. Michael or the Holy Angels are portrayed holding the Veil of the Face of Christ. A fascinating article was written by Gelsimo Del Guercio (here) about seven sanctuaries, dedicated to St. Michael, which are linked by a straight line called the “Sword of St. Michael.” The imaginary line “represents the blow with which St. Michael sent the devil to hell.”  I would like to add an eighth Sanctuary to the list: The church of the Sanctuary Basilica of the Holy Face of Manoppello. In God’s mysterious design this sanctuary, which contains a miraculous veil of the Face of Jesus, was named for St. Michael though no one who is alive today remembers why. The sanctuary, in Manoppello, Italy, falls at the center, on a map, of the legendary “Sword of St. Michael.”  St. Michael and the Holy Angels come to our aid and they are bearing His Holy Face!

Holy Face Veil of Manoppello, in the Church of St. Michael, Sanctuary Basilica of the Holy Face, photo: Patricia Enk

There is a hard battle being fought all around us in the Heavens and on earth. We would do well, therefore, to imitate St. Michael, Prince of the Heavenly Hosts, who humbly chose as his weapons to adore the Holy Face and invoke the Holy Name of God!

Detail of St. Michael sculpture holding the Holy Face by Cody Swanson
Angels adoring the Holy Face of Jesus, Venice, Illustration for the Divine Comedy of Dante, 13th Century”

The Supreme Revelation of Christ’s Mercy – His Holy Face

“The Face of Christ is the supreme revelation of Christ’s Mercy.” –Pope Benedict XVI
St. Faustina “Apostle of Mercy”

“When will the veil be lifted for me as well? Although I see and feel to a certain extent how very thin is the veil separating me from the Lord, I long to see Him face to face; but let everything be done according to Your will.”

“O King of Glory, though You hide Your beauty, yet the eye of my soul rends the veil”

I cast upon the Tabernacle the gaze of my soul, a gaze of faithfulness. As for You, You are ever the same, while within my soul a change takes place.  I trust the time will come when You unveil Your Countenance, and Your child will again see Your sweet Face…I am listening and waiting for Your coming, O only Treasure of my heart!” –St. Faustina

Venice, Angels of Heaven adoring the Face of Christ. Illustration for the Divine Comedy of Dante, 13th Century
Holy Face of Jesus of Manoppello (photo: Paul Badde/EWTN)

“Be blessed, merciful God, Eternal Love, / You are above the heavens, the sapphires, the firmaments, / The hosts of pure spirits sings You praises, / With its eternal hymn: Thrice Holy.

And, gazing upon You, face to face, O God, / I see that You could have called other creatures before them, / Therefore they humble themselves before You in great humility, / For well they see that this grace comes solely from Your mercy.”

–St. Faustina, Divine Mercy in My Soul 

Bringing the Face of Christ to the World

 


Daisy Neves in front of her Beloved Holy Face of Jesus
Photo: Paul Badde/EWTN

“We have no need of wings to go and search for Him, but have only to find a place where we can be alone and look upon Him present within us.”

So said St. Teresa of Jesus, and yet even this Doctor of the Church recommended having an image of Jesus before us to come to the aid of our human weakness. “Never set aside the Sacred Humanity of Christ,” she said. We cannot come to the Father except through Him.  Intimacy with Jesus draws us into the life of the Trinity. “If we can, we should occupy ourselves in looking at Him Who is looking at us; keep Him company; talk with Him; pray to Him; humble ourselves before Him; have our delight in Him.”  This mutual gaze of love, which is prayer, bears fruit in the soul and a burning desire to share in some way the love of Christ with others — to make Him known and loved. Such was the desire of Daisy Neves.

Pope Benedict XVI gazes at the Veil of the Holy Face in Manoppello, Photo:Paul Badde/EWTN

Daisy, first glimpsed the Holy Face of Manoppello in 2006, in a newspaper photo of Pope Benedict XVI in prayer before the holy relic. She made up her mind then that she must see it. Five years later, at Easter in 2011, she found herself face to face before the Holy Veil bearing the Face of Jesus. Her heart was moved to such a degree that she placed all her money in the collection before returning home to America.

From that moment on, she told everyone she met about the Veil with the Face of Jesus in Manoppello, Italy. Daisy travelled the world, in spite of illness and obstacles, and she relentlessly sought whatever means she could to share the love of Jesus made manifest by the veil of His Holy Face. Daisy has now entered into Eternal Life. But by the fruit of her deep love and devotion, she brought the image of Holy Face to basilicas, churches, and orphanages. Through her efforts, replicas of the Holy Veil have been enthroned in many churches throughout the world, drawing many souls to contemplate in prayer and experience, as she did, the merciful loving gaze of her beloved Jesus. May she gaze on God’s Face for all eternity. Daisy Neves, Requiescat in Pace!

Patriarch Bartholomew with Daisy Neves and the “True Icon” the Holy Veil of Manoppello.
Daisy Neves with Raymond Frost, bringing the Holy Face to Los Angeles in 2015, Photo: Paul Badde/EWTN

 

 

Feast of the Holy Face 2019 – Act of Consecration

“Christ’s response, “Whoever has seen me, has seen the Father, lead us into the heart of Christological faith.”–Pope Benedict XVI
Jesus Christ the Alpha and the Omega
Jesus Christ the Alpha and the Omega

The Ace 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 

Holy Veil of Manoppello said to be the image of the Resurrected Christ
Photo: Paul Badde/EWTN
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? 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.

Christ Pantocrator, St. Catherine Monastery, Sinai
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?
Legends and traditions have varied through the centuries but the face is the same. 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.

 

Detail of the Veil of the Face of Jesus from the precious manuscript “Liber Regulae Sancti Spiritus in Saxia”

 

Church of St. Veronica, Lecco, Italy c. 1280

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.

One of the copies made of Veronica Veil by Pietro Strozzi, Vienna

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.

"Holy Face of Tours"
Image venerated  after “The miracle of the Vatican” in 1849 – known also as the “Holy Face of Tours”
St. Therese

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.

The Shroud of Turin

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!

Drawing of The Shroud of Turin by Sr. Genevieve of the Holy Face (Celine Martin, the sister of St. Therese)
Drawing of the Shroud of Turin by Sr. Genevieve of the Holy Face (Celine Martin, the sister of St. Therese)

Sr. Genevieve, 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.

Veronica’s Veil, Flemish 15th Century “Veronica” or “true image”

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.

Pope Benedict XVI gazes at the Veil of the Holy Face in Manoppello, Photo:Paul Badde/EWTN

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 in The 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!”  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:

The sheer Veil of Manoppello Photo: Paul Badde/EWTN
Hand behind the sheer Veil of Manoppello, “not made by human hand” clearly shows the miraculous nature of “Il Volto Santo” Photo: Paul Badde/EWTN
Gossamer-thin veil of Manoppello
Photo by Paul Badde
Holy Veil of Manoppello, Photo: Paul Badde/EWTN
Miraculous Veil of the”Holy Face of Manoppello” in Italy Photo:Paul Badde/EWTN
Holy Face of Manoppello Veil, Photo by Paul Badde/EWTN
“Il Volto Santo” The Holy Face of Manoppello. (Photo by Paul Badde/EWTN)
The Holy Face of Manoppello, (Photo: Paul Badde)
Holy Face of Manoppello, Italy Photo: Paul Badde
The Veil of the Holy Face of Manoppello “the Living Face”
Photo: Paul Badde/EWTN
The Holy Face of Manoppello- photo: Paul Badde/EWTN

 

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.

 

"Il Volto Santo" Holy Face of Manoppello, Italy
“Il Volto Santo” Holy Face of Manoppello, Italy

“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)

 

St. Veronica, the model of reparation to The Holy Face
Hans Memling’s “St. Veronica c.1470-75  – St. Veronica, the model of reparation to The Holy Face

 

Happy Feast of the Holy Face!

Holy Veil of Manoppello Seek His Face! photo: Patricia Enk
Volto Santo in Sankt Michael/Photo: Paul Bsdde/EWTN

Blasphemy: Attacks against the Face of God and Reparation

Mocking of Christ by Bloch

Catholic News Agency recently reported an increasing number of acts of desecration of Catholic churches in France.  Tabernacles have been knocked down, the Eucharist scattered or destroyed, crosses torn down, altar cloths burnt…in other words: blasphemy.

When God became man at the Incarnation, He showed us His human face in Jesus Christ. Through the Face of Jesus we enter into relationship with God. He lets us know the hidden Face of the Father through His human Face, by the gift of the Holy Spirit poured into our hearts. Blasphemy is rejecting the tender love God offers to mankind, then attacking and spitting in His Face.

Because of this relationship between God and man — reflected in His Name and Face — sins committed against Him cause pain and suffering to His Sacred Heart, and are reflected in the Face of Christ. The manifestation of our sins on His Countenance come about through blasphemy, atheism, disrespect of God in sacred things, the profanation of Sunday, hatred of God’s Church.  These crimes, committed by those who do not know God, pale in comparison to the most horrible and destructive blasphemy which has been committed by those who should be closest to the Heart of Jesus, within the Church, who have betrayed Him. All these indignities suffered by Our Lord in His Face represent the most serious sins, because they are against God Himself.

Left: The Holy Face of Manoppello / Right: Painting by Hans Holbein
Photo: Paul Badde/EWTN

The damage done by our sins to our precious relationship with God, reflected in the Face of Jesus Christ, needs reparation. For this reason, devotion and reparation to the Holy Face and the Holy Name are fitting in order to make amends for what we have done to Him.  If you would like to console Jesus, prayers of reparation may be found in the “Prayer tab” above. In addition, The Holy Face Novena for 2019 will be from Sunday, February 24 to Monday, March 4.  The Feast of the Holy Face  is then celebrated on “Shrove Tuesday” March 5, 2019 – the day before Ash Wednesday. The Novena prayers will be posted each day of the Novena on this website, or if you would like to receive each day’s novena prayer by e-mail, just click the “Follow” button.

“For God so loved the world

“Do you see how I suffer? Yet, very few understand me. Those who say they love me are very ungrateful! I have given my HEART as the sensible object of my great LOVE to men and I give my FACE as the sensible object of my sorrow for the sins of men. I wish that it be venerated by a special Feast on Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday. I wish that the feast be preceded by a novena in which the faithful make reparation with Me, joining together and sharing in my sorrow.” –Words of Our Lord to  Bl. Mother Maria Pierina de Micheli  

 

 

 

 

Mass of The Roses 2018

Fr. Ephrem Arcement, OSB 2015
St. Therese by Brenda Burke

The Discalced Carmelite Nuns of Covington, Louisiana will again celebrate the solemn Feast Day of St. Therese of the Holy Face and the Child Jesus, also known as “the Little Flower,” with their annual “Mass of the Roses” on Sunday, October 7, 2018.  St. Therese,  was a French Discalced Carmelite Nun who died of tuberculosis at the age of 24.  She became a Saint and Doctor of the Church, inspiring others by her “Little Way” of doing small things with great love to attain holiness. She promised that when she died “a shower of roses” would fall from Heaven in the graces obtained through her intercession. (Her Feast Day is October 1st, however the Mass of Roses is celebrated on the first Sunday of October – this year it falls on October 7th.)

Fr. Jorge Cabrera-Marrero, OCD blesses the children’s roses (Photo:Patricia Enk)

The “Mass of the Roses.” will open at 9:00 a.m. with a flute prelude by Sr. Grace, OCD.  The Holy Eucharist will be celebrated at 9:30 am with Rev. Stephen Sanchez, OCD, as the main celebrant and homilist.  Immediately following Mass, the children are invited to join in procession, carrying roses to the altar  to be blessed and distributed.

Photo: Patricia Enk

Photo: Patricia Enk
Children come in procession for “the blessing of the roses.”
“St. Therese doll” handmade by the Carmelite nuns

Many gifts, food, and handmade items may be purchased; the proceeds will help the Carmelite nuns meet their financial needs for the year. Delicious refreshments will be served after the Mass, thanks to many gracious sponsors and volunteers.  Hand-made items by the sisters, as well as cookies, pies and bread from the Sister’s kitchen will be for sale as well as a variety of religious articles, books and gifts. A  children’s area will be set up for face-painting, artwork and other fun activities. Holy Face booklets, Chaplets, and medals will also be available.

Mass of the Roses 2014 – Fr. Vic Messina

Although, St. Therese is more commonly known for her way of “Spiritual Childhood” and devotion to The Child Jesus, her sister, Mother Agnes gave this testimony for St. Therese’ beatification:

“Devotion to the Holy Face was the Servant of God’s special attraction.  As tender as was her devotion to the Child Jesus, it cannot be compared to her devotion to the Holy Face.”  

Icon of St. Therese (2017) – Patricia Enk

St. Therese’ sister Celine (Sr. Genevieve of the Holy Face), also wrote: “Devotion to the Holy Face was, for Therese, the crown and complement of her love for the Sacred Humanity of Our Lord.  The Blessed Face was the mirror wherein she beheld the Heart and Soul of her Well-Beloved.  Just as the picture of a loved one serves to bring the whole person before us, so in the Holy Face of Christ Therese beheld the entire Humanity of Jesus.  We can say unequivocally that this devotion was the burning inspiration of the Saint’s life… Her devotion to the Holy Face transcended, or more accurately, embraced, all the other attractions of her spiritual life.”

 

Prayer of St. Therese to The Holy Face

“O adorable Face of Jesus, sole beauty which ravishes my heart, vouchsafe to impress on my soul Your divine likeness so that it may not be possible for You to look at Your spouse without beholding Yourself!  O my Beloved, for love of You I am content not to see here on earth the sweetness of Your glance, nor to feel the ineffable kiss of Your sacred lips, but I beg of You to inflame me with Your love so that it may consume me quickly and that soon I may behold Your glorious countenance in Heaven.” 

For more information on the “Mass of the Roses” (click here)

St. Therese reminds us to pray for vocations to the priesthood (Photo: Patricia Enk

 

Also… below are wonderful photos by Paul Badde of St. Therese’s relics visiting the Sanctuary Basilica of the Holy Face in Manoppello, Italy, on November 4th, 2006:

St. Therese reliquary covered with rose petals. Shrine of the Holy Face of Manoppello. Nov. 4, 2006 (Photo: Paul Badde/EWTN)
Relics of St. Therese at the altar of the shrine of the Holy Face in Manoppello, November 4, 2006 (Photo: Paul Badde/EWTN)