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
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.
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)
“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. 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)
We 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
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.
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”
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.
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.
At the Last Supper Jesus offers His deeply moving prayer to the Father for his disciples, the priests, which begins, “Father the hour has come…” (John 17) Jesus prays that the Father glorify Him and that He may be glorified in them (his priests) and that He keep them in His name that “they may become one as we are.” Jesus prays too, “for those who will believe in me through their word.”
“A priest is not a priest for himself,” St. John Vianney said, “he does not give himself absolution; he does not administer the Sacraments for himself. He is not for himself, he is for you.”
These men, like the first apostles, are fully human and share in the weakened condition of all of mankind since the fall of Adam. Yet they are called by God for the sanctification of God’s people. St. Paul writes:
“Every high priest is taken from among men and made their representative before God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He is able to deal patiently with the ignorant and erring, for he himself is beset by weakness and so, for this reason, must make sin offerings for himself as well as for the people. No one takes this honor upon himself but only when called by God, just as Aaron was. In the same way, it was not Christ who glorified himself in becoming high priest, but rather the one who said to him: “You are my son; this day I have begotten you;” just as he says in another place: “You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” In the days when he was in the flesh, he offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered; and when he was made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him, declared by God high priest according to the order of Melchizedek. (Heb. 5:1-10)
The faithful are entrusted to the priest’s care, who as a Good Shepherd, walks with them on the path which leads to Christ. Through the gifts of the Holy Spirit, the priest brings the people to a true knowledge of the Father and the Son and “To the contemplation of the living and pulsating reality of the Trinity ‘faciem ad faciem’ (face to face).” (St. Pope John Paul II) “The Holy Spirit,” says St. Irenaeus, “the stairway of our ascent to God, draws the priest to the Father, stirring in his heart a burning desire to see God’s Face…the Paraclete illumines the priest about his own Person, that the priest may come to see the Spirit in his own heart and history.”
Whenever a priest administers the sacraments, says St. Pope John Paul II, “the priest lendsChrist his own face and voice:” “Do this in memory of Me.” (Luke 22:19) “Priests are called to show forth the Face of the Good Shepherd and therefore to have the Heart of Christ Himself.” (St. Pope John Paul II) Therefore, let us pray for all priests and bishops, that the Holy Spirit will strengthen them in all their gifts. St. Teresa of Avila once said, “When you see a priest you should say, ‘There is he who made me a child of God, and opened Heaven to me by Holy Baptism; he who purified me after I had sinned; who gives nourishment to my soul.'” St. Therese told her sister, Celine, “Let us live for souls, let us be apostles, let us save above all the souls of priests… let us pray and suffer for them and on the last day Jesus will be grateful!” [St. Therese of Lisieux, Letter 94]
The Priest is the Face of Christ to us!
Prayer for Priests
“Eternal Father, we offer Thee, with the hands of Mary, the Holy Face of Jesus, Thy Son, and the entire generous holocaust of all that we are, in reparation for so many sins that are committed, and, especially, for offenses against the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. We make this offering, in a particular way, so that Priests, by the holiness of their lives, may show the world the adorable features of the Divine Countenance shining with the light of truth and love, for the triumph of the Church, and for the spread of the Kingdom.” (Bl. Mother Maria Pierina De Micheli)
Torrential rains have caused heavy flooding here in Louisiana on March 11 &12. In your charity, please pray for all those who have been affected. The Benedictine St. Joseph’s Abbey & Seminary College in Covington, Louisiana, has suffered tremendous damage from the flood, but, praise God, no loss of life. The Monastery took in approximately two feet of water. This is a link to their Facebook page with updates on their condition since the flooding and efforts to help: (click here)
The terrible flooding has also devastated the FOCUSTV studio destroying much of their equipment and historic archives. FOCUSTV, begun by the late Archbishop Philip Hannan (Google “The Archbishop Wore Combat Boots” to learn his story), gives glory to God through the social media. They have been instrumental in sharing the devotion to the Holy Face as well. Please pray for the good people at FOCUSTV and if you would like to help, please click (here).
Our Lord told Sr. Marie St. Pierre 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.
Prayer to reproduce the Image of God in our souls
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.
“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)
“Show us, O Lord, we pray you, Your Face ever new; that mirror, mystery-laden, of God’s infinite mercy. Grant that we may contemplate it with the eyes of our mind and our hearts: the Son’s Face, radiance of the Father’s glory and the imprint of His Nature, the human Face of God that has burst into history to reveal the horizons of eternity. The silent Face of Jesus, suffering and risen, when loved and accepted, changes our hearts and lives. “Your Face, Lord do I seek, do not hide Your Face from me.” (Ps. 27:8) –Portion of prayer of Pope Benedict XVI in honor of his pilgrimage to the shrine of the Holy Face of Manoppello
“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!” –St. Pope John Paul II
Prayer of Pope Francis for the Jubilee Year of Mercy
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 Zacchaeus 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 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: let everyone who approaches them feel sought after, loved, and forgiven by God. 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.
A historic pilgrimage of the Holy Face has taken place in Rome, though few were aware of its importance or of the great spiritual significance of the quiet procession by devoted pilgrims carrying a replica of the Holy Face of Manoppello this weekend.
Rev. Daren J. Zehnle of the United States was present for the joyous event and has posted wonderful photos and a moving, first-hand description of the procession through the Door of Mercy in St. Peter’s Basilica to the Pieta, altar of St. Veronica and to the Church of the Holy Spirit for veneration of the Holy Face and the Rosary. Mass was offered by His Excellency the Most Reverend Georg Ganswein, Prefect of the Papal Household and Secretary to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. (Fr. Zehnle’s excellent post may be found here.)
Archbishop Georg Ganswain’s spoke these words in his homily at Spirito Santo Church. “808 years ago, for the first time, Pope Innocent III carried in procession the Holy Sudarium of Christ from St. Peter’s to Santo Spirito. It was the holy veil that shows ‘the human Face of God’, which Pope Benedict XVI will never get tired of speaking about; and ‘the living face of the Father’s mercy’ to which Pope Francis has dedicated this Jubilee Year. And also back then, in January of 1208, the Divine Face of God here in this church, was connected to the concrete mercy of men; this church which much later, in 1994, St. John Paul II dedicated to the ‘Divine Mercy,’ in honor of Saint Faustina Kowalska, whose relics we venerate here. The Polish Pope was also a visionary and once more we experience that here today.”
Devotion to the Holy Face is the antidote for the ever-increasing evil in the world. The greatest sins are those against God Himself: atheism, blasphemy, the profanation of the Holy Name and the Holy Day of Sunday. The importance of Devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus, in this Jubilee Year of Mercy cannot be over stressed. “Lord, God of Hosts, bring us back. Let Your Face shine on us and we shall be saved!” (Psalm 80)
“Omnis terra adoret te, Deus, et psallat tibi!” (“Let all the earth adore you, O God and sing psalms to you”) (Psalm 65)
Homily of Archbishop Georg Ganswain at Spirito Santo
Dear sisters and brothers!
Sunday today is called “Omnis Terra” in the words of Psalm 65 that we heard at the beginning of the Mass: “Omnis terra adoret te, Deus, et psallat tibi!” (“Let all the earth adore you, O God and sing psalms to you”). This Sunday was also called this eight hundred years ago ; and even then, as now, in all Catholic churches the Gospel of the wedding at Cana was proclaimed. Since then empires have fallen, swept away like autumn leaves; the Church has seen the succession of ninety popes; violent revolutions and wars have shaken Europe; fatal divisions have torn Christianity. So it seems almost a miracle the tranquility with which, in this Sunday’s liturgy, we sing today as then: Praise the Lord, all you nations!
With this praise, however, today we also remember the fact that here 808 years ago, for the first time, Pope Innocent III carried in procession the Holy Sudarium of Christ from St. Peter’s to Santo Spirito. It was the holy veil that shows “the human Face of God”, which Pope Benedict XVI will never get tired of speaking about; and “the living Face of the Father’s mercy” to which Pope Francis has dedicated this Jubilee Year. And also back then, in January of 1208, the Divine Face of God here in this church, was connected to the concrete mercy of men; this church which much later, in 1994, St. John Paul II dedicated to the “Divine Mercy”, in honor of Saint Faustina Kowalska, whose relics we venerate here. The Polish Pope was also a visionary and once more we experience that here today.
In fact, 808 years ago, in that very first procession, Pope Innocent III decreed that the holy image was not brought to the nobles of Rome, but to the sick pilgrims and the poor of the city, whose most important abode back then was this hospital of Santo Spirito. He also ordered that the papal chaplain, drawing from Peter’s Pence, should distribute three coins to each of the three hundred sick and the thousand poor who were invited to attend the ceremony and who came from all over the city: one for bread, one for wine and the third for meat. He also connected substantial indulgences to visiting the “true image” and for participating in its procession.
In fact it was an anticipation of the Holy Year, which only later, in 1300, was introduced to Rome by Boniface VIII. This all began right here!
From that time to the present modern age processions and expositions of the Holy veil have never ended. Soon there were countless pilgrims to Rome who wanted to contemplate the Face of God. Later, it was in one of these processions that Dante learned to know the Face of God. It is the Face before which he ends the “cosmic excursion” of his Divine Comedy, as Pope Benedict XVI said ten years ago, when he presented his encyclical Deus Caritas Est. It is the Face of the love that “moves the sun and the other stars”, as Dante wrote in the best known passage in Italian literature.
It is the love of God who rejoices in us as “the bridegroom to the bride,” as we have just heard in the words from the prophet Isaiah; and the strength of the Holy Spirit of whose various gifts St. Paul has once again made us aware in this church of Santo Spirito. And yet, nowhere else does this Spirit speaks more clearly and with more evidence as in the silent Face of Christ, before whom we are gathered here today.
Because “this is the vocation and the joy of every baptized person: to bring and give Jesus to others”, as Pope Francis said on January 3. And this is exactly what today is given to us – to become witnesses, in the moment when the good Capuchin friars of Manoppello here “bring and give Jesus”, in whose Face God himself shows his Face.
In conclusion I would add just one thing on the Gospel of the wedding at Cana, about which so many instructive things have been said: who, in fact, could still wonder that Jesus worked his first public miracle exactly in favor of marriage and the family which are in such danger today that Pope Francis has dedicated synods to each of these! Indeed, in this time of Christmas in which we are still, we can understand perfectly that first miracle as a necessary extension of the mystery of the incarnation of God. For it is only within a family that we become human! With a mother and a father and – if we are lucky – with brothers and sisters. For this reason Christian artists have always portrayed the Face of Jesus referring to his mother’s, and vice versa. Because if God is the Father of Jesus, His Face should and can only look like hers. And it is this most ancient Face that today in an almost miraculous way has returned to Santo Spirito in Sassia, that Face which seems to be almost identical to the Face of the Divine Mercy which has been venerated here for more than two decades.
It is a copy of that ancient original that Pope Innocent III showed the pilgrims and which for four hundred years was kept in Abruzzo, on the Adriatic, in an outlying area of Italy, which today for the first time has been brought back to where its public worship began. From here, countless copies brought all over the world the true Face of God that Christians knew. Precisely in this lies the deeper meaning of this moment. Before coming to Rome, the Holy Veil was kept in Constantinople, earlier in Edessa and even before in Jerusalem. It is not possible, in fact, that this Face could be the property, could be the treasure of anyone, not even of the Pope. It is the signature of Christians. Only we know that God has a Face – how and who He is. For this reason, the Face of Christ is the first, the most noble and most precious treasure of all Christendom, even more: of all the earth. Omnis Terra! Before this Face we ought to open ourselves again and again. Always as pilgrims; always to the outlying areas; and always having before our eyes one goal: that moment when we will be before him face to Face.
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.”
St. Faustina Kowalska, “The Apostle of Mercy,” whose feast day is October 5th, was known as a mystic and visionary. Her diary Divine Mercy in My Soul is a record of 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. Because Pope Francis has declared a “Jubilee Year of Mercy” beginning December 8, 2015, it would be beneficial to read St. Faustina’s message of mercy to better understand the significance of the upcoming holy year.
Our Lord spoke strongly to St. Faustina about putting mercy into action:
“I demand from you deeds of mercy which are to arise out of love for me. You are to show mercy to your neighbors always and everywhere. You must not shrink from this or try to excuse yourself from it.” (742)
Pope Francis exhorts us in the Jubilee Year “to introduce everyone to the great mystery of God’s mercy by contemplating the face of Christ.” Practicing the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy will also enable us to fulfill the Lord’s command to let your light “shine before people, so that they will see the good things you do and praise your Father in heaven.” (Mt. 5:16) Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has said, “The Face of Christ is the supreme revelation of Christ’s Mercy.”
“I have ever before my eyes His sorrowful Face, abused and disfigured. His divine Heart pierced by our sins and especially by the ingratitude of chosen souls.” (487) –St. Faustina
The Jubilee Year will also have a “door”—a “Door of Mercy”—a Holy Door at St. Peter’s Basilica and other designated churches through which “anyone who enters will experience the love of God who consoles, pardons and instills hope.” (The Face of Mercy) St. Faustina, in her diary, wrote of “a door of mercy”: “While there is yet time, let them have recourse to the fountain of my mercy.” (848) … He who refuses to pass through the door of My mercy must pass through the door of My justice.” (1146)
I have often reflected on the meaning of this Holy Door and the Face of Mercy. I believe they are both one and the same: The Face of Jesus Christ, the face of the Church, who leads us to the Father. We enter this “door” through devotion to the Holy Face by discipleship, to see Jesus in the faces our neighbors, through prayer and contemplation of the wounded Face of Jesus and through contemplation of the Eucharistic Face of Jesus. Our faces, too, are like a “door” to our hearts and souls, which can radiate the Face of Jesus, the Face of Mercy to others. When Pope Francis came to the United States he spoke to the homeless in St. Patrick’s Parish in Washington, D.C., “Jesus keeps knocking on our door in the faces of our brothers and sisters, in the faces of our neighbors, in the face of those at our side.”
“Write this: before I come as the just Judge, I am coming first as the King of Mercy.” — Our Lord to St. Faustina
The Jubilee Year will end on November 20, 2016, on the Sunday dedicated to “Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe–and living Face of the Father’s Mercy.” (The Face of Mercy, Bull of Indiction)
St. Faustina’s Prayer for Divine Mercy
O Greatly Merciful God, Infinite Goodness, today all mankind calls out from the abyss of its misery to Your mercy — to Your compassion, O God, and it is with its mighty voice of misery that it cries out: Gracious God, do not reject the prayer of this earth’s exiles! O Lord, Goodness beyond our understanding, Who are acquainted with our misery through and through and know that by our own power we cannot ascend to You, we implore You, anticipate us with Your grace and keep on increasing Your mercy in us, that we may faithfully do Your holy will all through our life and at death’s hour. Let the omnipotence of Your mercy shield us from the darts of our salvation’s enemies, that we may with confidence, as Your children, await Your final coming — that day known to You alone. And we expect to obtain everything promised us by Jesus in spite of all our wretchedness. For Jesus is our Hope: Through His merciful Heart as through an open gate we pass through to heaven. (1570).