“I pray that they all may be one” –John 17:21

The Holy Face of Jesus on a miraculous veil in Manoppello, Italy bought together over seventy Orthodox and Roman Catholic Bishops to celebrate Divine Liturgy and for theological dialogue on September 18th, 2016, taking one more important step toward fulfilling the prayer of Jesus at the Last Supper “that all may be one.” (Jn. 17:21)

A Sacred Dream – Originally at Catholic News Agency, re-printed here with permission of the author, Paul Badde

Veil of Manoppello photo: Paul Badde
Veil of Manoppello
photo: Paul Badde

A Sacred Dream by Paul Badde

It was a single word that brought about the decisive split between the Eastern and Western churches. It happened in May 581, at the Council of Toledo, when the bishops of the Visigoth kingdom added the Latin word “filioque” to the then-200-year-old Catholic creed of the Council of Nicea-Constantinople.

In English, the word means: “and the Son.” Ever since that day, Christians of the West pray in their creed: “We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son,” whereas in the Eastern Churches to this day they pray: “We believe in the Holy spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father.” This addition first attained the rank of dogma under Pope Benedict VIII, and then again in 1215, by which time alienation between East and West had substantially increased.

However, it was but this single word that became both a stumbling block and a milestone in the separation process between the Eastern and Western Church. Thousands upon thousands of highly erudite words only further deepened the rift and never could heal it.

Metropolitan Job Getcha of Talmessos giving homily. Photo: Daniel Ibanez (CNA/EWTN) Photo:
Metropolitan Job Getcha of Telmessos giving homily. Photo: Daniel Ibanez (CNA/EWTN)

But this week, in a quiet ceremony unnoticed by most media, a single image brought the Eastern and Western Church together in way that arguably has never happened before. On this Sunday, Sept. 18, in the small town of Manoppello in the Abruzzi mountains, 70 Orthodox bishops celebrated, together with two cardinals and many Roman Catholic bishops and clergymen, the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom before the image of the “Holy Face.” The holy veil had been hidden for more than 300 years in a side chapel of St Michael’s Church, until, after the great earthquake of 1915, it was publicly displayed for the first time again, in the year 1923, over the main altar of a newly constructed building, where it can be visited and adored every day.

Pope Benedict XVI Visit to the Holy Face of Manoppello in 2006
Pope Benedict XVI Visit to the Holy Face of Manoppello in 2006

Ten years after the September 2006 visit of Pope Benedict XVI, this visit of a mixed Orthodox synod, together with their Latin brothers, marked a most significant event in the process of re-discovery of this mysterious, original icon of Christ. It had long been worshiped in Constantinople as “Hagion Mandylion,” and later in Rome as “Sanctissimum Sudarium,” before it was also given the name of “Sancta Veronica Ierosolymitana.”

There were metropolitans and bishops of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople (from Finland, Estonia, Crete, Patmos, Malta, Great Britain, America, Australia, the Exarchate of the Philippines, from Europe and from Mount Athos) and patriarchs, metropolitans and archbishops of Alexandria, Antioch, Damascus, Jerusalem, the autonomous Church of Mount Sinai, and the Orthodox churches of Russia, Georgia, Serbia, Cyprus, Romania, Greece Poland, Albania, Czech Republic and Slovakia, which came before the Holy Face and celebrated the Eucharist. Only the Bulgarian Church had sent no representative.

The antiphons of the liturgy were in Italian, Russian, Greek, English, Romanian and French. In his homily, given in English, Metropolitan Job Getcha of Telmessos, who headed the service as representative of the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, praised the “image of Christ, not made by human hand” of Manoppello. He pointed out that – according to some scholars – the Image is identical with that of the Soudarion from the Gospel of the Resurrection according to John, while another tradition holds that a certain Veronica wiped the face of Jesus with this veil on his way to the Cross, though she is not mentioned in the canonical Gospels.

Archbishop Bruno Forte from nearby Chieti knows that neither bloodstains nor any residue of paint can be found in the veil. It had been his idea and initiative to bring the bishops before the face of Christ, which he likes to praise as the “North Star of Christendom.” He invited the group to Manoppello and had given the visitors a scholarly introduction on the bus trip from his diocesan town of Chieti to Manoppello.

In Chieti, the pilgrims had all participated in the 14th General Assembly of a Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between Catholics and Orthodox. They had discussed a document entitled “Towards a common understanding of synodality and primacy in the service of the unity of the Church.” It was a debate that began in the previous plenary meeting in the Jordanian capital Amman in 2014 and was continued in 2015 in Rome. The Commission is the official organ of the theological dialogue between Catholics and Orthodox. It was founded in 1979 and unites 14 autocephalous Orthodox churches, which are each represented by two theologians who are mostly bishops, together with Catholic representatives.

And now the same group practically traced, as a synodal pilgrimage, that first spectacular step towards the face of Christ that Benedict XVI undertook ten years ago, against much resistance, the first pope to do so after more than 400 years.

His successor Pope Francis later – on Nov 30, 2014 while flying from Istanbul back to Rome – told journalists travelling with him: “Be careful: the Church does not have a light of its own. She needs to gaze upon Jesus Christ! On that path, we must move forward courageously.”

And following on this path, the Divine Liturgy before the Divine Face this Sunday became a milestone of reconciliation on the way to unity. Heavy rainfall had been announced. But only a few drops ended up falling.

“Pray for the Christians in the Middle East as you pray before the Holy Face. They are suffering unspeakably,” an Oriental bishop said right after the final blessing to the German sister Petra-Maria Steiner, who introduces countless pilgrims to the mystery of the light of this image in Manoppello. Earlier, at the conclusion of the celebration, Anatoliy Grytskiv, Protopresbyter of Chieti, had hailed the “miracle” of the encounter in a passionate summary in Italian.

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

Whereto from here? “Today we have gazed upon the face of God,” Cardinal Kurt Koch told CNA outside the main entrance of the Basilica after the celebration. “Probably only in view of the face of the Redeemer may unity come about. But surely it will be difficult. After all this is like a divorce, after you have grown apart – it is hard to get back together. In this case…thousand years of separation are standing between us.”

Kurt Cardinal Koch Photo: Daniel Ibanez (CNA/EWTN)
Kurt Cardinal Koch
Photo: Daniel Ibanez (CNA/EWTN)

“Yes, but fortunately it is said in the Scriptures: A thousand years are with the Lord as one day,” Sister Petra-Maria responded with a smile to the cardinal’s sober skepticism. “Perhaps now the new day of unity arises. With God, nothing is impossible. Perhaps today we have seen the dawn of this new day. This new beginning is as thin and delicate as the Volto Santo.”

Were it so, the image of Christ would indeed have briefly bridged that abyss on this Sunday, an abyss carved out, like a primeval river, by the countless words between East and West, a Grand Canyon into the very foundation of Christianity.

At those very depths, the holy “sudarium” might yet intervene, in a healing fashion, in the ancient Filioque controversy about that first word of separation. For if the veil, as John writes, was indeed lying in the grave of Christ, on the face of the Lord, it must also have absorbed the first breath of the Risen One – when the Spirit of God woke Jesus Christ from the dead – as that Spirit that is the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son.

photo by Patricia Enk
photo by Patricia Enk

(Original article may be read by clicking here.)

The Holy Capuchin of Manoppello – Servant of God, Padre Domenico da Cese

Venerable Padre Domenico da Cese 1915-1978
Servant of God, Padre Domenico da Cese 1915-1978
Holy Face of Manoppello Photo: Patricia Enk
Holy Face of Manoppello
Photo: Patricia Enk

September 17th marks the anniversary of the death of the Holy Capuchin priest of Manoppello–the Servant of God, Padre Domenico da Cese. Like his friend and fellow Capuchin, St. Padre Pio, the humble Padre Domenico was a mystic and stigmatist who had extraordinary gifts of the Holy Spirit.

(For more about St. Padre Pio’s last case of bilocation and Padre Domenico click here.)

As a nine year old boy in 1915, Padre Domenico predicted the devastating Avenzzano earthquake in Italy. A 6.7 earthquake hit that region the next morning, killing more than 30,000 people, including two of his sisters and burying him and his father in the rubble of their church.  A man he didn’t know pulled him from the rubble to safety, whose face he later recognized on his first visit as a friar to the Shrine of the Holy Face in Manoppello. When Padre Domenico knelt before the “Il Volto Santo” or Face of Jesus, the miraculous veil, he exclaimed, “This is the man who saved me from the rubble!” He remained at the Shrine as Rector until the time of his death in 1978.  To learn more about his incredible life and passionate love for the Holy Face you can watch this wonderful video of his life, “The Long Road of Fr. Domenico, from Cese to Turin” by clicking here.

Servant of God, Padre Domenico da Cese, Pray for us!
Servant of God, Padre Domenico da Cese…
Pray for us!

Pilgrimage – A Journey Toward the Face of God, Pt. 4

Pt. 4: “Here the Word was made flesh” – The Holy House of Loreto

Pope Benedict XVI in the Holy House of Loreto
Pope Benedict XVI in the Holy House of Loreto

“While we too seek other signs, other wonders, we do not realize that He is the real sign, God made flesh; He is the greatest miracle of the universe: all the love of God hidden in a human heart, in a human FACE.”–Pope Benedict XVI

Holy Face of Manoppello Photo: Patricia Enk
Holy Face of Manoppello
Photo: Patricia Enk

Our last morning in Manoppello the skies cleared and it promised to be a beautiful day and evening on which to hold the procession in honor of the Holy Veil.  After Mass I spoke again to Sr. Petra-Maria about the miraculous image.  The Holy Veil of Manoppello seems to be an icon written in light by the Holy Spirit, telling the whole of the Gospel in one human Face–the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, He suffered and died for us, He rose again!  We walked slowly around the reliquary, looking at the Face of Jesus from each angle, His eyes following us.  I wondered if the world has gotten so accustomed to man-made marvels of technology, flashing images and special effects, that it can no longer recognize a true miracle.  Sr. Petra-Maria and I agreed that there was only one thing more marvelous and miraculous in this world than the Holy Veil and that is the continuing miracle of the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus in the Eucharist!

Sr. Petra-Maria had also had given me a glimmer of hope of attending the procession that nightIMG_5629 after all.  She said the Sanctuary of Loreto, where we were heading, was only an hour or so away.  We could possibly make it back for the procession after we checked into our hotel in Loreto.  I paid one more visit to the Holy Veil before regretfully parting. Later, we left Manoppello by taxi to pick up a rental car in Pescara and then drove north along the beautiful blue Adriatic Coast toward Loreto.  The drive was pleasant and filled with beautiful glimpses of the blue Adriatic.  About forty minutes into the drive, we suddenly slowed to a crawl–there had been an accident ahead that was being cleared.  The delay would take nearly 3 hours, making it too late to get back for the procession in Manoppello that night. For hundreds of years, the Veil of Manoppello was only taken out in procession once a year, on August 6th.  Later, there would be an additional procession on the third Sunday in May.  It had been very important to me, for reasons only God knows, to be part of that procession that evening, but now, it did not seem that it was God’s Will for us to be there.

The Basilica of the Holy House of Nazareth in Loreto, Italy
The Basilica of the Holy House of Nazareth in Loreto, Italy

The Basilica of Loreto soon appeared on the horizon and I turned my thoughts to the Blessed Mother and the Holy Spirit.  “The Holy House of Loreto, the first shrine of international renown dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, has been a true Marian center of Christianity for several centuries.”–Pope St. John Paul II  According to tradition, the Basilica contains the Holy House of Nazareth– it was the birthplace of Mary, the place of the Annunciation, where the mystery of the Incarnation of the Word in Mary’s womb took place through the power of the Holy Spirit, and it was the home of the Holy Family.

The Angel said t Mary: "The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee." (Lk.1:35)
The Angel said to Mary: “The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee.” (Lk.1:35)

“And where could one speak more effectively of the Holy Spirit’s role than in the Shrine of Loreto, which recalls the moment and the place where He fulfilled the most supreme of His “life-giving” deeds, giving life to the humanity of the Saviour in Mary’s womb? For this reason the Holy House is first and foremost the shrine of the Holy Spirit. Christians who come here feel the need to invoke the Divine Paraclete to obtain His seven holy gifts in order to remain faithful to their baptism through which they were united to Christ and made to participate in His grace of Redemption.”–Pope St. John Paul II

If you have never heard of the Holy House of Loreto–to make a long history short–in 1291, when the Holy Home in Nazareth was in danger of being destroyed by the Muslims, it was transported by Angels across the Mediterranean Sea, then several more times before resting finally, on December 10th in 1294, in the middle of the road on the hill of Loreto.

Diagram of the Home of Loreto and the Grotto at Nazareth in the Holy Land highlighting that the two parts were contiguous and coexisted.

Research has discovered that the small home consists of three original brick walls, approximately three meters high, complete with graffiti and relics from the Crusaders in Holy Land and is standing without foundation on an ancient road. In it’s original form, the Holy House has only three walls because the eastern side, where the altar stands, opened onto a Grotto. (diagram) The structure and the brick of the home is not of the type found in the area of Loreto. A technical comparison between the Holy House of Loreto and the Grotto at Nazareth show the three walls and measurements match exactly the fourth wall, which is a grotto and the original foundation which can still be seen in Nazareth. (Diagram of the Home of Loreto and the Grotto at Nazareth in the Holy Land highlighting that the two parts were contiguous and coexisted.)

We entered the shrine, prayed in the Holy House and then again in the exquisitely beautiful French Chapel which contains the Blessed Sacrament.  After leaving the shrine to find something to eat (gelato for dinner works for me) we took a walk around the outside walls. I was still feeling a little sad about missing out on the procession in Manoppello when we came back along the side of the Basilica toward the piazza.  Lo’ and behold! I found myself in a procession!

Eucharistic procession and rosary for the sick and disabled
“In the Eucharist, the Face of Christ is turned toward us.”–St. J.P.II     Eucharistic procession and rosary for the sick and disabled

As the priest holding the monstrance made his way around the piazza he paused and blessed us.  By seeking Mary in the Holy House of Loreto, she had led me to the Eucharistic Face of her Son and the Face of Jesus in my neighbors around me.  The Holy Spirit was at work! I was able to honor Him in a procession of the Holy Face after all.  Praised be Jesus!  (…to be continued in Pt. 5)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pilgrimage – A Journey Toward the Face of God, Pt. 2

 

photo by Patricia Enk
photo by Patricia Enk

Pt. 2: The Feast of the Transfiguration in Manoppello

“Jesus took Peter, James and John…and led them to a high mountain by themselves.  And He transfigured before them; His Face shone like the sun and His clothes became as white as light…Lord, it is good to be here.” (Mt. 17:1-2,4)

There are several important feasts of the Holy Face–Shrove Tuesday (the day preceding Ash Wednesday) and Good Friday are two, each focused on reparation to the Face of Christ. In Manoppello, the day the Holy Veil arrived in the hands of a mysterious stranger is celebrated as a joyful feast in May, as well as a celebration on August 6th, the feast of the Transfiguration.

Being in Manoppello on the feast of the Transfiguration reminded me of an important event in the life of  St. Therese. The day before the feast of the Transfiguration, a few weeks before her death,  St. Therese of the Holy Face and the Child Jesus lay dying.  Her sisters brought her a picture of the Holy Face and placed it where she could see it, pinned to her bed curtains.  St. Therese exclaimed, “Oh, how much good that Holy Face has done me in my life!” The Transfiguration was always celebrated in the Lisieux Carmelite convent by honoring the Holy Face.  St. Therese had, on a previous feast of the Transfiguration, sprinkled the image with perfume and tossed rose petals before it. (I always wondered why Discalced Carmelite nuns had the perfume, but, after all, it was France!) It was on the Transfiguration that Therese, along with a few companions, made a solemn consecration to the Holy Face as an extension of their Oblation to His Merciful Love, desiring to be “Veronicas” by consoling Jesus in His Passion and offering souls to Him. The Transfiguration is always a preparation for the mystery of the Cross.

The Divine Prisoner, Holy Face of Manoppello photo: Patricia Enk
The Divine Prisoner, Holy Face of Manoppello
photo: Patricia Enk

“O Beloved Face of Jesus!  As we await the everlasting day when we contemplate Your infinite Glory our one desire is to charm Your Divine Eyes by hiding our faces too, so that here on earth no one can recognize us. O Jesus!  Your veiled gaze is our heaven!”–St. Therese

When we visited Manoppello, the blessed day of the Transfiguration was to be celebrated at the Sanctuary Basilica of the Holy Face by bringing the Veil in procession from the reliquary high above the altar to another in front of the altar where it could be viewed and venerated on all sides by the faithful.  Music and celebrations were planned in the piazza for the day and in the evening there was to be a solemn procession through the lighted streets culminating with Benediction.

Lighted streets in Manoppello ready for the feast day
Lighted street in Manoppello ready for the feast day procession

I had planned my pilgrimage around the feast of the Transfiguration after seeing Paul Badde‘s beautiful photos of the procession in honor of the Holy Face on Pentecost, May 15th. I had such a great longing to honor His Holy Face in this way by participating in a jubilant procession such as the one on Pentecost!  It was the whole impetus for my making the pilgrimage and I looked forward to the event with great joy and expectation.  However, man’s plans are not God’s plans and “into every life a little rain must fall” and so it did. It rained, and it rained and it rained.  Cats and dogs!  The procession was cancelled, or rather post-poned till Sunday night when the weather was more favorable and when I would not be there.

Naturally, I was disappointed but, still, here He was before me in the church, so that is where I remained for the day. The previous day Sr. Petra-Maria had given me a tour of the beautiful museum and filled my mind and heart with the research, history, treasures, and mysteries of the Sacred Veil of Manoppello.  I haven’t spoken much about the Holy Veil itself so far, for one reason: that it is too great to be expressed in words.  But I will make a pitiful attempt, like the photographs, which–although some are quite beautiful–can never fully capture what is seen by the viewer. The Veil of Manoppello is an image “not made by human hands” it is a miracle of light and a reflection of Creation–ever changing, ever new.  It is dark, it is brilliant, it is somber, joyful, always merciful, always peaceful. If you see nothing, stand at a different angle–and there He is!  Sr. Petra-Maria told me that there is one angle from which you can always see the image–but “you must become like little children.” (Mt. 18:3)

Veil of Manoppello Photo: Paul Badde
Veil of Manoppello
Photo: Paul Badde

I can attest to the truth of what Sr. Petra-Maria said, “you must become like little children.” Back in 2012, when I first climbed the stairs and stood high behind the altar to view the Veil, the Face of Jesus appeared, bruised, bloodied, swollen. I could see the marks from thorns, the torn beard, His eyes peaceful yet filled with tears.  I then knelt down in prayer and sorrow.  From this angle, the perspective of a little child, I saw the Holy Face anew, no longer bloodied and bruised, but as though a living reflection in a mirror, and once held in that Gaze my heart has been captivated by it ever since.  It is the Face of Mercy!

Throughout the day, as I prayed,  I was greatly edified by the reactions of the people who streamed in to pay their reverence and express their love.  I stayed until evening when my husband arrived, umbrella in hand, and we made our way through the pouring rain back to the hotel. The next morning after Mass we would leave the Holy Face Sanctuary for the Sanctuary of the Holy House of Loreto. (to be continued in Pt. 3)

View from the empty window above the altar into the church photo: Patricia Enk
View from the empty window above the altar into the church
photo: Patricia Enk
Feast of the Transfiguration veneration of The Holy Face photo: Patricia Enk
Feast of the Transfiguration veneration of The Holy Face
photo: Patricia Enk
Sr. Petra-Maria, Cynthia Krystyna Simla and other religious before His Face
Sr. Petra-Maria, Cynthia Krystyna Simla Photo: Patricia Enk
Gazing at the Face of her Spouse in faith and love. photo: Patricia Enk
Gazing at the Face of her Spouse in faith and love.
photo: Patricia Enk

 

Pilgrimage – A Journey Toward the Face of God Pt. 1

Part 1:  The Face of Mercy in Manoppello

Manoppello, Sanctuary Basilica of the Holy Face, photo: Paul Badde
Manoppello, Sanctuary Basilica of the Holy Face, photo: Paul Badde

“The practice of pilgrimage has a special place in the Holy Year, because it represents the journey each of us makes in this life.  Life itself is a pilgrimage, and the human being a viator, a pilgrim traveling along the road, making his way to the desired destination…each according to his or her ability will have to make a pilgrimage. This will be a sign that mercy is also a goal to reach and requires dedication and sacrifice. May pilgrimage be an impetus to conversion; by crossing the threshold of the Holy Door, we will find the strength to embrace God’s mercy and dedicate ourselves to being merciful with others as the Father has been with us.”  –Pope Francis from The Face of Mercy, Misericordiae Vultus

Human beings are made in the image and likeness of God, and so our souls have a yearning, a natural longing for the infinite.  We are called to communion with God, to see Him “face to face.”  He is calling us to seek Him, to know Him, and love Him with all our heart, mind, and strength.  The history of salvation can be described as a gradual discovery of the Face of God by nations and individuals, marked by their battles, falls and triumphs, as they turn toward or away from the Face of God, on a pilgrimage–a journey which will only end when each person comes “face to face” with God.

The Year of Mercy cannot be complete until we have made some sort of pilgrimage toward God.  Although I had made a local pilgrimage to the Door of Mercy at St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans, I had felt a very strong tug in my heart to return to Italy and re-visit places of pilgrimage that were especially meaningful to me. Together with my husband, I made the necessary preparations, but, the most important “packing” for the journey was to remember on our pilgrimage all those God has given us to love, and their intentions, people that we would like to have with us, but could not make the journey. We especially carried within our hearts those who were too sick, or too old, as well as those who have lost their faith, the deceased, and people in our country and in the world in need of someone’s prayers, placing all in our hearts so that we could carry them, in spirit, through the Doors of Mercy.

We began with the place in which I encountered the Face of Mercy in a very profound way in October of 2012: the Sanctuary Basilica of the Holy Face in the small mountain village of Manoppello. This humble, beautiful village has hidden in its heart, for centuries, what St. Pio of Pietrelcina called “The greatest relic of the Church”–a gossamer-thin byssus veil, bearing, in a miraculous way, an image of the human Face of Jesus.

Panel on Holy Door of Shrine commemorating the visit of Pope Benedict XVI in 2006
Panel on Holy Door of Shrine commemorating the visit of Pope Benedict XVI in 2006

We arrived very late at night after 28 hours of travel to a hotel in the village very near the Sanctuary.  The next morning we walked to the Basilica for Mass, entering the beautiful dedicated Holy Door, engraved with depictions of events in the history of the Veil.  My favorite was the panel recalling the visit of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI to the Shrine in September of 2006.  It was a year later, that he wrote his moving prayer to the Holy Face in honor of that occasion and elevated the Shrine to the status of a Basilica.

Rector of the Shrine Padre Carmine Cucinelli places the Holy Veil in the movable reliquary
Rector of the Shrine Padre Carmine Cucinelli places the Holy Veil in the movable reliquary

The day after we arrived was a special occasion as well, as the next day, August 6th, was a Feast of the Holy Face, the Transfiguration.  The Veil, normally kept in a special reliquary high above the back of the altar (but accessible by a stairway from behind) was to be brought down after the Mass and placed in another movable reliquary, used in processions, near the front of the altar. The Veil would remain there throughout the day for prayers and veneration of the faithful, then be returned to its place behind the altar for the night.

Earlier in the day, on the steps leading up to the relic, I bumped into journalist Paul Badde, who has taken more photos perhaps than anyone of the Holy Veil and written so much about its amazing re-discovery.  I couldn’t have been more surprised than if I had bumped into Lazarus emerging from the tomb!  Paul has been making an amazing recovery from heart surgery, stroke, and a coma which lasted for more than

Sr. Petra-Maria gazes at the Veil of Manoppello
Sr. Petra-Maria gazes at the Veil of Manoppello

three weeks during Lent of 2016. Paul later introduced me to Sr. Petra-Maria, who, I soon discovered, shares with pilgrims her extensive knowledge and love for “Il Volto Santo.”  Like two other nuns, who shared similar names–Sr. Marie St. Pierre, a Discalced Carmelite nun associated with the Holy Face in Tours, and Bl. Mother Maria Pierina, an Immaculate Conception nun associated with the Holy Face Medal–Sr. Petra-Maria is a true apostle of the Holy Face of Manoppello.  The Holy Face draws her like a magnet; she never tires of gazing at His Face or drawing others to His peaceful, merciful countenance and telling and re-telling the incredible details of the features, the history, and especially, the spiritual significance of the miraculous image.  (I’ll have to save those details for a special post.)

Basilica of the Holy Face of Manoppello on Vigil of the Transfiguartion
Basilica of the Holy Face of Manoppello on Vigil of the Transfiguartion

Celebrations and entertainment were held in honor the Holy Face in the piazza in front of the Basilica in the evening by local musicians and very talented young people of the community, who gave a very enjoyable musical performance of the life of St. Francis. I’ll never forget the line of young “Franciscan monks” on the stage singing “Andiamo! Andiamo!…” “We go! We go! For the Blessed Mother!”  The next day the Holy Veil was brought out after Mass on the Feast of the Transfiguration for the day and in the evening there was planned a solemn procession with the Veil and benediction.  But, as in all things in life, plans change… (To be continued in Pt.2)

"Andiamo! Andiamo!"
“Andiamo! Andiamo!”

 

 

 

From Manoppello With Love

image
The Holy Veil of Manoppello, Italy (photo by Patricia Enk)

“Il Volto Santo of Manopello” The Face of Mercy, Love and Peace!

 

UPDATE: CNA (Catholic News Agency) has recently featured a marvelous article about the Manopello image in which journalist Paul Badde interviews Archbishop Bruno Forte regarding his memories of the historic visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the Sanctuary: (click here for article) http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/an-encounter-with-the-manoppello-image-of-the-face-of-christ-95030/

 

The Trinity and the Face of Christ

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.

Discalced Carmelite Nun Sr. Marie St. Pierre holding "The Golden Arrow" The three circles representing the Holy Trinity
Discalced Carmelite Nun Sr. Marie St. Pierre holding “The Golden Arrow” The three circles representing the Holy Trinity

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:

"Holy Face of Tours"
“Holy Face of Tours”

“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.” 

The beautiful Holy Face of Manoppello photo: Paul Badde
The beautiful Holy Face of Manoppello
photo: Paul Badde

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

Holy Face on The Shroud of Turin
Holy Face on The Shroud of Turin

 

 

 

Pentecost in Mannopello

Rose petals like "tongues of fire of the Holy Spirit" tossed before the Holy Face on Pentecost. photo: Paul Badde
Rose petals like “tongues of fire of the Holy Spirit” tossed before the Holy Face on Pentecost. photo: Paul Badde
Beautiful photo of "Il Volto Santo" Pentecost 2016, photo by Paul Badde
Beautiful photo of “Il Volto Santo” Pentecost 2016, by Paul Badde
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Sheer Veil of the Holy Face of Manoppello disappears in the light Photo: Paul Badde

Journalist Paul Badde has generously shared these beautiful photos of “Il Volto Santo” the Holy Face of Manoppello, Italy, taken on the 15th of May for the great Feast of Pentecost.  The photo images of the miraculous veil capture so well the changeability and infinite beauty, mercy and peace found by gazing on the Holy Face.   The gossamer-thin byssus veil is not painted but seems to be “written by the Holy Spirit” as an icon in light, which according to the light, may be clearly seen with blood and wounds, or as fresh and healed, or disappear.  As Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has said, “Faith is seeing and hearing.” May those who contemplate His Holy Face, like St. Peter and St. John in the tomb on Easter, “see and believe,” and as we gaze upon His Face may we be attentive as well to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit in our hearts, who will lead us through Jesus to the Merciful Face of the Father.

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Veil of the Holy Face of Manoppello, Pentecost 2016 photo: Paul Badde
Veil of Manoppello, May 15, 2016 photo: Paul Badde
Veil of Manoppello in procession, Pentecost 2016 photo: Paul Badde
"Little Angels" is Holy Face Procession Photo: Paul Badde
“Little Angels” in Holy Face Procession Photo: Paul Badde
Holy Face of Manoppello changes according to light. Pentecost 2016 photo: Paul Badde
Holy Face of Manoppello changes according to light. Pentecost 2016 photo: Paul Badde
May the Lord bless and keep you; May He make His Face shine upon you and be merciful to you; May He turn His Countenance toward you and grant you His Peace!" (Num. 6: 22-27) Photo: Paul Badde Pentecost 2016
May the Lord bless and keep you; May He make His Face shine upon you and be merciful to you; May He turn His Countenance toward you and grant you His Peace!” (Num. 6: 22-27)
Photo: Paul Badde Pentecost 2016

 

A “Must Read” on the Holy Face: There is an excellent post “More than an Abstraction,” the text from a conference given by Fr. Daren Zehnle.  It is a very clear, well-documented and informative history of “The Veronica,” and the miraculous “Veil of Manoppello” in the context of the Jubilee Year of Mercy.
It can be read on his “Servant and Steward”blog. (click here)

Face of Mercy – This is the time to change our lives

“This is the opportune moment to change our lives!  This is the time to allow our hearts to be touched!” — quotes from Pope Francis, Misericordiae Vultus 

"Jesus Christ is the Face of the Father's Mercy." -- Pope Francis
“Jesus Christ is the Face of the Father’s Mercy.” — Pope Francis

“Jesus Christ is the Face of the Father’s Mercy.  These words might well sum up the mystery of the Christian faith.  Mercy has become living and visible in Jesus of Nazareth, reaching it’s culmination in Him…We need to constantly contemplate the mystery of mercy.  It is a wellspring of joy, serenity, and peace.  Our salvation depends on it.  Mercy:  the word reveals the very mystery of the Most Holy Trinity.”  “With our eyes fixed on Jesus and His merciful gaze, we experience the love of the Most Holy Trinity.  The mission Jesus received from the Father was that of revealing the mystery of Divine Love in its fullness. ‘God is love.'” (1Jn 4:8,16)

“…wherever there are Christians, everyone should find an oasis of mercy.”

“Mercy is not contrary to justice but is the behavior of God toward the sinner…God does not deny justice. He rather envelops it and surpasses it with an even greater event in which we experience love as the foundation of true justice” (MV, 21). Jesus is the face of the mercy of God the Father: “God so loved the world […] [that] the world might be saved through him [the Son]” (Jn 3:16, 17)

FullSizeRender-11We are called to be merciful to each other and seek the Face of Jesus in our neighbor. “It is my burning desire that, during this Jubilee, the Christian people may reflect on the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.  It will be a way to reawaken our conscience, too often grown dull in the face of poverty.  And let us enter more deeply into the heart of the Gospel where the poor have a special experience of God’s mercy.  Jesus introduces us to these works of mercy in His preaching so that know whether or not we are living as His disciples.  Let us rediscover these corporal and spiritual works of mercy: to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, welcome the stranger, heal the sick, visit the imprisoned, and bury the dead.  And  let us not forget the spiritual works of mercy:  to counsel the doubtful, instruct the ignorant, admonish sinners, comfort the afflicted, forgive offences, bear patiently those who do us ill, and pray for the living and the dead.”

“Life is a pilgrimage, and the human being is a viator, a pilgrim travelling along the road, making his way to the desired destination.” Let us keep our faces turned toward the Merciful Face of Jesus while on our pilgrimage, and “introduce everyone to the great mystery of God’s Mercy by contemplating the Face of Chirst.”  (Misericordiae Vultus) 

Prayer of Pope Francis for the Jubilee of Mercy

Have Mercy on us! Holy Face of Manoppello Photo: Paul Badde
Have Mercy on us!
Holy Face of Manoppello
Photo: Paul Badde

Lord Jesus Christ,
you have taught us to be merciful like the heavenly Father, and have told us that whoever sees you sees Him. Show us Your Face and we will be saved.  Your loving gaze freed Zaccheus and Matthew from being enslaved by money; the adulteress and Magdalene from seeking happiness only in created things; made Peter weep after his betrayal, and assured Paradise to the repentant thief.  Let us hear, as if addressed to each one of us, the words that You spoke to the Samaritan woman: “If you only knew the gift of God!”

You are the visible Face of the invisible Father, of the God Who manifests His power above all by forgiveness and mercy: let the Church be Your visible Face in the world, its Lord risen and glorified.  You willed that your ministers would also be clothed in weakness in order that they may feel compassion for those in ignorance and error: and forgiven by God.

Come Holy Spirit!
Come Holy Spirit!

Send Your Spirit and consecrate every one of us with its anointing, so that the Jubilee of Mercy may be a year of grace from the Lord, and Your Church, with renewed enthusiasm, may bring good news to the poor, proclaim liberty to captives and the oppressed, and restore sight to the blind.

We ask this through the intercession of Mary, Mother of Mercy, You Who live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever. Amen.

 

Pope Francis also recommends we pray the Salve Regina (Hail Holy Queen)  so that Mary, our Mother of Mercy “may never tire of turning her merciful eyes towards us, and make us worthy to contemplate the Face of Mercy, her Son Jesus.”

The Salve Regina or “Hail, Holy Queen”

Queen Beauty of Carmel
Queen Beauty of Carmel

Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy, our life, our sweetness and our hope! To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve. To thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears! Turn, then, O most gracious Advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us, and after this, our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.

V. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

“Woe to that man…”

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

The Son of Man indeed goes, as it is written of Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed

St. John of the Cross has said, “It is great wisdom to know how to be silent and look at neither the remarks nor deeds, nor the sins of another.”  We have all had a part in the betrayal of Jesus through our sins. But, when we turn back to His Face by contemplating Jesus in His Passion, He makes Himself our mirror and helps us to recognize our sinfulness and put our conscience in order.  Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.