St. Faustina Kowalska, “The Apostle of Mercy,” was known as a mystic and visionary. Her diary, Divine Mercy in My Soul, records the journey of her soul. Our Lord granted St. Faustina a deep understanding of the love and mercy of God which she was to share with the world.
The greatest sign of God’s continuing mercy for the people of the world is His hidden Presence in the Eucharist. By turning to His Eucharistic Face, gazing at Jesus’s Face in silent contemplation, “a change takes place” in our souls, because He is also gazing at us.
“O Living Host, O hidden Jesus. You see the condition of my soul. Of myself, I am unable to utter Your Holy Name. I cannot bring forth from my heart the fire of love, but, kneeling at Your feet, 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 that the time will come when You will unveil Your Countenance, and Your child will again see Your sweet Face. I am astonished, Jesus, that You can hide Yourself from me for so long and that You can restrain the enormous love You have for me. In the dwelling of my heart, I am listening and waiting for Your coming, O only Treasure of my heart! (1239 “Divine Mercy in My Soul”)
It is through the Divine Mercy of God that souls, by turning continually toward His Holy Face, learn to live in His Presence. Thus, we may reach the true treasure of all hearts, fulfilling the soul’s greatest desire, which is to see God face to Face.
“During meditation, the Lord gave me knowledge of the joy of Heaven and of the Saints on our arrival there; they love God as the sole object of their love, but they also have a tender and heartfelt love for us. It is from the Face of God that this joy flows out upon all, because we see Him face to Face. His Face is so sweet that the soul falls anew into ecstasy” (1592, “Divine Mercy in My Soul”).
St. Faustina, pray for us!
Important Update:Raymond Frost at the Holy Face of Manoppello Blogspot reports that the most recent episode of Vaticano, EWTN’s weekly television program originating in Rome there is a most beautiful segment (“Traces of the Resurrection” starting at 23:40) on the Holy Face of Manoppello as one of the “clues” which demonstrates the reality of the Resurrection of Jesus.
The sufferings of this world are as numerous as its sins. Each day brings more and more it seems; the weight of it crushing our souls. The greatest evil, and the most difficult suffering to bear, is the suffering of the innocent.
On April 5th, U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley addressed the UN Security Council about the Assad regime’s chemical attacks against its own people in Syria. She said, “Yesterday we awoke to pictures of children; foaming at the mouth, suffering convulsions, being carried in the arms of desperate parents. We saw rows and rows of lifeless bodies, some still in diapers, some with visible scars of a chemical weapons attack. Look at those pictures! We cannot close our eyes to those pictures.” A cry of helplessness rises in one’s heart, “How long, O Lord!”
“How long, O Lord, must I cry for help and you do not listen? Or cry out to you ‘Violence!” and you do not intervene? Why do you simply gaze at evil? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife and discord.” (Hab. 1: 1-3)
The suffering endured by the innocent is utterly incomprehensible. We could harden our hearts and turn away our face from what is happening–numb our minds, and anesthetize our unpleasant thoughts with distractions. Or we may fall to our knees and ask God the same question that atheists mockingly ask of Christians; the same question the prophet Habbakkuk asked of God in faith:
“Are you not from of old, O LORD, the holy God, immortal? LORD, you have appointed them for judgment, O Rock, you have set them in place to punish! Your eyes are too pure to look upon wickedness, and the sight of evil you cannot endure. Why, then, do you gaze on the faithless in silence while the wicked devour those more just than themselves?” (Hab. 1:12-13)
“How long O Lord!” we will cry. And no answer is heard. The response will be, as it was from the Lamb of God on the Cross–silence. There are no other questions.
“I know now, Lord, why you utter no answer. You are yourself the answer. Before Your Face questions die away. What other answer would suffice?” –C.S. Lewis (Till We Have Faces)
There are many “Rosaries” or “Chaplets” in addition to the Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Little Chaplet of the Holy Face is a gem, which is not only very short, but also very powerful. The words of the Chaplet derive from Psalm 67 (68 in some Bibles). St. Athanasius relates that the devils, on being asked what verse in the whole Scripture they feared most, they replied, ‘That Psalm which begins: “Arise, O Lord, and let Thy enemies be scattered. Let those that hate Him flee before His Face!’ Then they are compelled to take flight.”
The Chaplet of the Holy Face honors the five senses by which Our Lord Jesus suffered in His Holy Face. It is also offered in reparation for blasphemy, sacrilege and indifference by which God is offended, and to entreat God for the triumph of His Church and conversion of its enemies.
The Symbolism of the Holy Face Chaplet: The Chaplet consists of 39 beads. The Cross reminds us of the mystery of Our Redemption. The 33 (“Hail Mary”, or small) beads represent the years of Our Lord’s mortal life on earth. *The three beads near the Cross represent the public years of Jesus’s Life. The remaining 30 (small) beads represent His hidden life. Chaplet is divided into five groups of six in honor of His five senses. The seven “Glory Be’s” which are said within the Chaplet represent the Seven Sorrows of Mary. The method of reciting it is very simple. (The short meditation before each group is helpful, but optional) The following form may be used individually or when praying with a group. Perfect for Lent!
Leader:(In honor of all our Lord suffered through the sense of touch in His Holy Face) O Jesus, who endured a kiss of betrayal from Judas as well as from the strikes and blows on His Holy Face from sinners….Have Mercy on us!
(First – On the next “Our Father” bead)Leader:MyJesus,mercy!
Leader: (In honor of all our Lord suffered through the sense of hearing) O Jesus, whose ears were assaulted by the curses and blasphemies which issued from the lips of those He created in His love….Have Mercy on us!
(Second – On the next “Our Father” bead)Leader: MyJesus,mercy!
Leader: (In honor of all our Lord suffered through the sense of sight)O Jesus, whose eyes were filled with tears and blood, then shamefully blindfolded by those who refused to look upon the Him who is the Truth…Have Mercy on us!
(Third – On the next “Our Father” bead)Leader:MyJesus,mercy!
Leader: (In honor of all our Lord suffered through the sense of smell)O Jesus, who suffered in His sense of smell, when His Holy Face was defiled and disfigured, covered with spittle and filth….Have Mercy on us!
(Fourth – On the next “Our Father” bead)Leader: MyJesus,mercy!
MAY the most holy, most sacred, most adorable, most incomprehensible and ineffable Name of God, be forever praised, blessed, adored, loved 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.
Jesus, may I seek your Face, may I learn to find it and to reflect it to others. May I learn how to see You in the ordinary happenings of my daily life. Amen.
*(note: Some people prefer to say the prayers for these beads, in honor of Jesus’s public life, at the end, rather than the beginning of the Chaplet. Either way is acceptable.)
“Hide yourself, my love; turn your face toward the mountains, and do not speak; but look at those companions going with her through strange islands.”–Stanza 19, Spiritual Canticle, St. John of the Cross
The great mystical Doctor of the Church, St. John of the Cross, wrote a beautiful commentary on Stanza 19 of his Spiritual Canticle, on prayer–the desire of the soul to communicate with God, the need of silence on the part of the soul, and the darkness or obscurity of faith in the soul who is seeking God’s Face.
St. John says that the bride-soul asks four things of the Bridegroom (Christ): First, that He “communicate very inwardly” in the hidden place of the soul. Second, that He inform and “shine on her faculties” with His glory. Third, “that this communication be so sublime and profound that she may neither desire nor know how to give a description of it…” Fourth, that He be enamored of the graces and virtues He has placed in her.”
“Hide yourself, my love;”
St. John says this means to ask God “to communicate Yourself in secret, manifest Your hidden wonders, alien to every mortal eye.”
“turn your face toward the mountains”
“The ‘Face’of God is the divinity and the ‘mountains’ are the soul’s faculties (memory, intellect, and will).” The verse is saying: “Let your divinity shine on my intellect by giving divine knowledge, and on my will by imparting to it divine love, and on my memory with the divine possession of glory.” The soul, St. John writes, “can only be satisfied with God’s Face.”
“and do not speak”
The communication God grants to the soul are too high and deep to be apprehended by the senses. “Let the depth of the hiding place, which is spiritual union, be of such a kind that the senses will be unable to feel or speak of it…,” says St. John of the Cross.
“but look at those companions”
“When God looks, He loves and grants favors. And the companions whom the soul tells God to look at are the many virtues, gifts, perfections, and other spiritual riches He has placed in her as the pledges, tokens, and jewels of betrothal.” This verse, says St. John is like saying, “But, Beloved, first turn to the interior of my soul, and be enamored of the company–the riches–You have placed there, so that loving the soul and through them You may dwell and hide in her. For, indeed, even though they are Yours, since You gave them to her, they also belong to her.
“going with her through strange islands.”
Here the soul is saying, “Since I go to you through a spiritual knowledge strange and foreign to the senses, let Your communication be so interior and sublime as to be foreign to all of them.”
To “seek God’s Face” is to seek Him in prayer; to “look at Him” is to take the time to contemplate Him. When we do this, St. John of the Cross tells us, God is doing great things in our soul…He shines His Face upon us!
The Lord is the Spirit, and where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into His likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (2 Cor 3:17-18)
“I will wait for the Lord who hath hid His Face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for Him.” (Isaiah 8)
Is there anyone who enjoys waiting? Our human nature rebels against all forms of it: there is the mundane waiting we must endure in lines, in traffic, at ball games, practices, and in doctor’s offices; the anxious waiting for phone calls, for results, or for the end of sufferings; the joyful waiting for birthdays, anniversaries, graduations and other celebrations. Then there is the heavy combination of all three types of waiting–which is of a mother waiting for the birth of her child.
Our weak human nature does not like to wait. We want to “get there” right away, to “know” right away, for something to be “done” right away. Waiting requires patience and most of humanity has very little. But wait we must, and since everything in life is permitted by God solely for our good, waiting must be very good for us since we spend so much of our lives doing it.
If waiting is indeed good for us, then it is certain that the evil one will do everything possible to trip us up as he did with the children of Israel while they were waiting, waiting, waiting for Moses to come down from the mountain with the Ten Commandments. When God was telling Moses, “I am the Lord, thy God: thou shall not have strange Gods before me,” the devil was tempting them to pride; the Israelite’s did not want to endure waiting to see the Face of God so they fashioned an idol, the “work of their own hands.” Here lies the temptation for us all in what should be a grace-filled period of time: distraction in turning the eyes of our soul away from the Face of God and toward the false faces or idols of the world–bright, sparkly, enticing and all around us. How can we resist falling into the traps of idolatry?
The ultimate good is to see the Face of God and therefore Mary must have waited like no one has ever waited before! Mary, for the love of God, waited in patience, humility, faith, charity, in hope, and in supreme fortitude. She did this by fixing the eyes of her soul on Jesus, her Redeemer and God–Whose Face she could not yet see within her womb. Mary’s uncomplaining acceptance of God’s Will–to seek His Face and only His Face–bore the most sublime fruit in Mary’s soul of divine PEACE, which the world can never take away. So, this Advent and in all times of waiting, wait with Mary, and her reward will also be ours…to see the Face of her Son!
In the Rule of his Order St. Benedict gives the key to discerning a true vocation in those seeking admittance to the Benedictine Order: “Let us examine whether the novice is truly seeking God.” (Ch. 58, Rule) Since the Order’s inception, up to this day, the sons and daughters of St. Benedict have taken for their motto “Ora et Labora.” This “Prayer and Work” for many Benedictines is truly seeking the Face of God in the “prayer” of contemplation and the “work” of reparation to the Face of God covered with the blood, wounds, dust and spittle of blasphemy–to stand, together with the Blessed Mother, before the endless crosses on which the Son of God continues to be crucified. If there is a common thread among the holy men and women of the Order, it is woven through the veil of the Face of Christ.
But, they will tell you in their own words…
St. Gertrude (1256-1302), while making reparation to the Adorable Face of Jesus, wounded and disfigured, said to Him, “Tell me, O Lord, the remedy that can soothe the suffering of Thy Divine Face!” Jesus replied: “If anyone meditates upon my sufferings with tenderness and compassion, his heart will be to Me as a soothing balm for these wounds.” Jesus gave St. Gertrude this promise: “All those who meditate frequently on my Divine Face, attracted by the desires of love, shall receive within them, through My Humanity, a bright ray of My Divinity, which shall enlighten their inmost souls so that they shall reflect the light of My Countenance in a special manner throughout eternity.”
St. Mechtilde (1240-1299) once exclaimed to her sisters, “Let us all, full of holy desire, hasten to venerate the sweetest Countenance of Our Lord, which will in Heaven be our all–all that a glorified soul can desire!”
Blessed Columba MarmionO.S.B.(1858-1923) writes that our relationship with God hinge upon two things; our walking in the truth of our nature as creatures, who remain always in humble adoration before our Creator and our dignity as children of God. “Our adoption as children supposes that we act always as loving children towards Our Heavenly Father, constantly seeking His good pleasure: Seek His Face evermore! This Facies Dei, Face of God, is the smile of His loving approbation. If you always keep the truth of this twofold relation, you will be more and more fixed in truth and in peace.” “Look your Heavenly Father in the Face, and show him your soul in truth,” Bl. Marmion counsels, “…do not forget that He is God the Infinite! The love of the creature, in order to be true, must be the love of adoration; the spirit of fear of the Lord. If you keep the eye of your soul fixed on God alone, you will receive many graces.” “It is good sometimes, when alone with God, to stretch out our hands and look at Him in faith showing Him the depths of our soul that His eye may penetrate into those abysses that are hidden in the recesses of the heart. Then our prayer is pure and very powerful, for the child gazes into the Father’s Face, seeking His Face, that is to say His good pleasure: “Seek ye the Lord, seek His Face EVERMORE!”
Mother Marie des Douleurs (1902-1983) Foundress of the Congregation of the Benedictines of Jesus Crucified emphasizes the relationship between the Sacred Heart of Jesus and His Holy Face: “We must discover on this Face the revelation of the secrets of His Heart.” She also points to the Holy Spirit, whose work it is to restore the image of God in our souls: “Devotion to the Holy Face is the particular aspect by which the Holy Spirit makes us learn all we need to know to become the saints that Jesus desires. This devotion is of such central importance and so vital for us that we cannot live without it!”
Blessed Ildephonsus Cardinal Shuster, O.S.B. (1880-1954) wrote, “The Face of Jesus in Heaven is the cause of joy to the angels, but on earth it is a token of pity for sinners. We say to the Father Respice in faciem Christi tui, (Ps 83:10) (Look upon the Face of Thy Christ) but let us fix our own gaze on that Face of Jesus, lest we lose sight of it. As the Eternal Father, when He beholds the Face of Jesus, is touched with compassion for the wretched children of Adam, so let us show a holy reverence for that Sacred Face and for those pure eyes that look on us so tenderly; let us take care that all our actions are worthy of the ineffable sanctity of that Divine regard.”
Last but not least, is the Servant of God, Ildebrando Gregori O.S.B. (1894-1985) founder of the women’s religious congregation the Benedictine Sisters of Reparation of the Holy Face. The devotion to the Holy Face was rooted and imprinted on his Congregation: “The title that sets you apart is Reparation of the Sacred Face of Our Lord Jesus Christ. It is the story of Jesus’ Passion that manifests itself, in a particular way, in the love which St. Benedict had for that Face. The Face of Jesus which was seen dripping blood, crowned with thorns, spat upon; His eyes were bruised, the broken eyebrows, broken lips. His Face, more beautiful than Paradise, appeared like the face of a leper. So Adorers of the Holy Face, Reparation of his wounds in the contemplation of prayer (Ora), in the service of the needy (Labora)… (adoration of the Face of Christ) is essential to make reparation, to create harmony with Christ Jesus who makes us love what the beloved loves, to want what He wants and rejecting what brings Him pain, injury, suffering.”
This apostle of devotion to the Face of Christ applied the Rule of St. Benedict to a work of human and spiritual formation for the poorest and most abandoned children, victims of World War II, in whom he saw the suffering face of Jesus. He later extended that work to include the elderly. At the time he was Abbot General he met Blessed Mother Maria Pierina de Micheli, of the Daughters of the Immaculate Conception, to whom Our Lord gave the mission of the propagation of the Holy Face Medal. He became her Spiritual father and director until the time of her death in 1945. Padre Gregori shared with Bl. Mother de Micheli the love, devotion and deep desire to make reparation to the Face of Jesus and to propagate the Holy Face Medal throughout the world.
“I wish that the Lord bless you as He blessed the holy pious women, that He will fill you with His holy Love. His Blessed Face is your ideal, and will piously torment you with the desire to give Him love and praise, this is the perfect reparation. “–Servant of God Ildebrando Gregori OSB
The importance of Devotion to the Holy Face has been underscored by our last three Popes: St. Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict and Pope Francis. But, it was to a hidden, cloistered Carmelite nun in the mid-1800’s that Our Lord first entrusted what He called “The Most Beautiful Work Under the Sun!” It was the impetus for the resurgence of a forgotten devotion that has ultimately resulted in the dedication of the millennium to The Holy Face by St. Pope John Paul II and the emphasis on Jesus Christ, the Face of the Father’s Mercy by Pope Francis for the Jubilee Year of Mercy. Through the Merciful Face of Christ we may be reconciled with the Father, so that the Holy Spirit may restore God’s image in our souls.
Sr. Marie St. Pierre, is best known for Devotion to the Holy Face and “The Golden Arrow” (prayer below) a prayer of reparation for blasphemy–sins against the Face of God. She had many interior visions regarding the Holy Face and the work of reparation, including a sublime conception of the The Holy Trinity and the Holy Face which she tried to express in these words she received from Our Lord:
“Remember, O my soul, the instruction which thy celestial Spouse has given thee today on His adorable Face! Remember that this Divine Head represents the Father who is from all eternity, that the mouth of this Holy Face is a figure of the Divine Word, engendered by the Father, and that the eyes of this mysterious Face represent the reciprocal love of the Father and the Son; for these eyes have but one and the same light, the same knowledge, producing the same love, which is the Holy Spirit. In his beautiful silken hair contemplate the infinitude of the adorable perfections of the Most Holy Trinity in this majestic head, the most precious portion of the Sacred Humanity of thy Saviour; contemplate the image of the unity of God. This, then, is the adorable and mysterious Face of the Saviour, which blasphemers have the temerity to cover with opprobrium: thus they renew the sufferings of His Passion, by attacking the Divinity of which it is the image.”
Our Lord told Sr. Marie St. Pierre that she could comfort and console Him by her praises, then He added:
“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.”
Below are two beautiful prayers of Sr. Marie St. Pierre “The Golden Arrow” praising the Holy Name, which is reparation for blasphemy and also a prayer to ask Our Lord to “reproduce the image of God in our souls.”
THE GOLDEN ARROW
MAY the most holy, most sacred, most adorable, most incomprehensible and ineffable Name of God, be forever praised, blessed, adored, loved 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.
Prayer to ask Our Lord to Reproduce the Image of God in Our Souls
I salute You! I adore You and I love you, Oh 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.
“By My Holy Face you will work marvels!” –Our Lord to Sr. Marie St. Pierre
“The Lord God opens my ear that I may hear; And I have not rebelled, have not turned back. I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard: My face I did not shield from buffets and spitting. The Lord God is my help, therefore I am not disgraced; I have set my face like flint, knowing that I shall not be put to shame.” (Isaiah 50:4b-7)
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.”
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.”
(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”
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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)
“Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God.”
Pope Francis has chosen December 8th, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, as the opening of the Holy Jubilee Year of Mercy, “because of its rich meaning.” “After the sin of Adam and Eve, God did not wish to leave humanity alone in the throes of evil. So he turned his gaze to Mary, holy and immaculate in love (cf. Eph 1:4), choosing her to be the Mother of man’s Redeemer. When faced with the gravity of sin, God responds with the fullness of mercy.” Pope Francis (Face of Mercy)
Mary was “Blessed in Christ with every spiritual blessing,” (cf. Eph 1:3) chosen by God from all eternity to be the Mother of the Redeemer. It is she who leads us to Jesus, so that we may contemplate, together with her, the Face of Mercy. As the Immaculate Conception, Mary bears in herself the most perfect reflection of the face of God. Pope St. John Paul II wrote, “The Blessed Virgin saw shining upon her, as no other creature, the face of the Father, rich in grace and mercy.”
As the Jubilee Year of Mercy begins, let us fix our gaze on Mary rather than on the profane things of the world. We keep Mary before our eyes in order to contemplate in her everything that is good and true and beautiful. “She is the proclamation of a merciful God who does not surrender to the sin of his children,” Pope St. John Paul II tells us “in Mary shines forth God’s sublime and surprising tenderness for the entire human race. In her, humanity regains its former beauty and the divine plan is revealed to be stronger than evil…” In Mary “the Creator has kept the original beauty of creation uncontaminated” so that in the Immaculate Conception, “the Father’s original, wondrous plan of love was reestablished in an even more wondrous way.”
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.