A Miracle of Light

The Feast of the Presentation of Christ in the temple is a feast of light, signifying by the lighting of the candles that Christ our radiant Light shines in the world.  Mary carried the Christ Child, the true Light of the World, to present Him in the Temple, but so few recognized Him, because the world had been eclipsed in darkness. It was only the prophetess Anna, “who spent night and day praying in the Temple,” and the aged Simeon, who longed to see the Messiah before  he died, who saw the light on the face of the Child Jesus and recognized their Lord.

The transparent veil on which, by a “miracle of light” the Face of Christ is visible. Hand of Cardinal Koch Photo: Paul Badde

The world today is also eclipsed in darkness, but a glimmer of light still shines, bringing hope and peace to souls. If you are prayerful, like Anna, if you long to see His Face, like Simeon the high priest, you too will recognize your Lord — in the Scripture, in the faces of those around you, and in the Most Holy Eucharist.

There is yet another “miracle of light,” a means by which the Face of Jesus shines: It is called the Veil of Manoppello.  It is a sign to a darkened world that God became man for our salvation.  As was true at the Presentation in the Temple, there are few that recognize this great sign for what it is: An *”Iconic Turn,” a gift from God to draw mankind back “to seek His Face.”

Paul Badde has written a wonderful article for Vatican Magazine, on the Omnis Terra celebration honoring the “miracle of light,” the Face of Christ on the Veil of Manoppello, and the humble men who recognized their Lord there. Thank you, Paul, for the permission to post this article, and thanks too, to Raymond Frost for your translation in English from the original German.

*”An Iconic turn…a new picture that is essentially true: with the sun in the center! –Paul Badde”

Veil of Manoppello, photo: Paul Badde/EWTN

Omnis terra in Manoppello

A Copernican turn in the fog of Abruzzo


“Omnis terra adorate, Deus, et psallat tibi”

(Let all the world adore you, O God and sing psalms to you).

Psalm 100

Cardinal Muller, Photo: Paul Badde/EWTN

On the feast day of St. Agnes the Virgin, martyred for Christ in the third century in Rome, there appeared in the New York Magazine a glossy cover story about the “gay church” by the avowed gay writer Andrew Sullivan.  That was to be expected sooner rather than later.  What was wholly unexpected was that, a day before, Gerhard Ludwig Cardinal Müller, the prefect of the Catholic Church’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith from 2012 to 2017, arrived in Manoppello to come together with the archbishops Bruno Forte from Chieti-Vasto in Abruzzo and Salvatore Cordileone from San Francisco, California, to bless the city, the world and the Church with the face of Christ on his sudarium.

The Aaronic Blessing

In Hebrew, kohanim birkat םיִנֲהֹּכ תַּכְרִּב, by which God is entreated that his face might shine upon us, is the oldest recorded blessing of the whole entire Bible. But this blessing is not given to be received from the outstretched hands of the priests, but with the “true Icon “of the human face of God- from the hands of three bishops from Germany, Italy and America –

This was unheard of and has never been this way before. The American news outlet Catholic News Service CNS had beforehand pointed to the event and could not guess what was about to happen.

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

Because as Benedict XVI on September 1, 2006, as the first Pope after four hundred years for the first time who again had bent his knee and bowed to the true facecloth of Christ,

Nevertheless, the circumstances and much resistance had allowed him little more time before the precious icon than would any Japanese tourist be allowed.  Neither the local bishop nor the guardian of the shrine could not then dare to ask the Pontiff to bless the world with the true icon. So this Sunday it was no less than a theological turning point, as Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller with two chief shepherds from the Old and the New Worlds, blessed the city of Manoppello, the world and the church with the face of Christ.

Omnis Terra Procession of Pope Innocent II in 1208 carrying “the Veronica” Face of Christ (from “Liber Regulae Sancti Spiritus in Saxia” manuscript 1350)

It was an unprecedented celebration dating back to 1208 when Pope Innocent III first made known in Rome the face of God to the Latin world of the West on the second Sunday after the feast of the apparition to the peoples (Epiphany), bearing in his hands the hitherto unknown Sanctissimo Sudarium in a solemn procession from St. Peter’s Basilica to the nearby Hospital Church of Sancto Spirito in Sassia.

This Sunday bears the name “Omnis Terra” after the Latin entrance psalm for the day. This tradition was renewed again in the same churches three years ago by the archbishops Georg Gänswein and Edmond Farhat from Lebanon with pilgrims from Manoppello. It was in the “Year of Mercy ” which Pope Francis had proclaimed. And it borders on a miracle that the spark only three years later jumped to California where the brave archbishop, whose diocese adjoins the Silicon Valley and includes the headquarters of YouTube and Facebook, on the same evening sent the following statement on the internet:

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, Photo: Paul Badde/EWTN

“My visit to the Volto Santo of Manoppello was moving and profound.  It took a very cherished idea and made it personal and real.  I will always treasure the half-hour I had to pray privately before the holy image.  It is alive; even the expression changes from different angles and with different lighting.  It is like looking at a real human face, looking into the face of Jesus.  The eyes, especially, are very alive and penetrating.  My love for Jesus Christ has become much more personal now.

Archbishop Bruno Forte and Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, Photo: Paul Badde/EWTN

I will also always be thankful for the opportunity to concelebrate the Mass with Cardinal Muller, along with the Archbishop of Chieti-Vasto, the Most Reverend Bruno Forte, the next day – “Omnis terra” Sunday.  To participate with them in blessing the people with the Holy Face and then having the privilege to carry it in returning it to its place of safe keeping was a blessing I will never forget.

I encourage everyone who professes faith in Jesus Christ and love for him to cultivate a devotion to this holy image he has left us – a picture of the first instant of the Resurrection.”

. – Salvatore Cordileone, Archbishop of San Francisco, California,

– Manoppello, on January 20, 2019 ”

L-R: Archbishop Bruno Forte, Cardinal Gerhard Muller holding the Veil of the Holy Face, and Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, Photo: Paul Badde/EWTN

The American archbishop “Lionheart” from San Francisco and his Italian brother and Manoppello’s local bishop Bruno Forte, fellow celebrities at the side of the German cardinal, could not be more different from each other. The savvy Monsignor Forte had already fourteen years prior laconically stated that the enigmatic veil icon “sorrow and Light are brought so close together, as only love can do “. Since then – and especially after the visit of Pope Benedict XVI -numerous Cardinals have streamed here and are so very enthusiastic in their homage to the image, as the evangelist Matthew related of the biblical wise men from the East in front of the child in Bethlehem.

Kurt Cardinal Koch observes the transparency of the Veil of Manoppello. Photo: Paul Badde
Cardinal Tagle delivers homily at the Basilica Sanctuary of the Holy Face (Photo: Paul Badde/EWTN)
Robert Cardinal Sarah (photo: Paul Badde/EWTN)

Most recently it was the Cardinals Kurt Koch from Switzerland, Robert Sarah from Africa and Antonio Tagle from Asia. Who knows the portrait, knows: the power of silence rests in it.   It has been scientifically proven for decades that it is not painted and contains no imaging color or blood traces. Nevertheless, there is a decades long conspiracy of professors and experts (who have for the most part never seen it) against the spiderwebs sheath made of mussel silk, since it was first identified in the seventies of the last century by the Capuchin Domenico da Cese as the hagion soudarion, which the evangelist John prominently mentioned next to other cloths in the empty tomb of Christ in his report on the resurrection of Christ from the dead.  The dispute should be no surprise. Already in the first millennium the Soudarion led to the extremely violent wars and dislocations of the “iconoclast controversy”. In fact, the issue raised today is not about images but about the question of God: “You, who do you think I am?”.  The spectacular response of Cardinal Muller, is even more of a breakthrough than the visit of Pope Benedict to Manoppello, in which one of the most prominent Church theologians at the end of the Gutenberg Age (dominated by Dr. Luther’s maxim “Sola scriptura”) in front of this great icon and mother of the images not made by human hands, but still, so to speak,  before the book of evidence has been closed, and without even speaking in his homily of the day’s Gospel (the wedding of Cana), but said the following:  link to homily

“Il Volto Santo” the Holy Face of Manoppello, Photo: Paul Badde

Thus the words of Cardinal Muller’s sermon. Even more telling, however, were the photos taken at the end of the solemn pontifical Mass with his brothers in their common blessing gesture with the facecloth.. It was a Copernican revolution, and yes, it really was a breakthrough that in its meaning must be compared with the book “De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium” of Nicolaus Copernicus of 1543. The analogy is neither reckless nor indiscriminate. A lot of the facts of Copernicus were wrong and almost all the details.  Nevertheless, we honor him for being one who has drawn a new picture that is essentially true: with the sun in the center!

Archbishop Bruno Forte (L), Cardinal Gerhard Muller (Center), Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone (R) Photo: Paul Badde/EWTN

And now the three bishops raised like hardly ever before in the liturgy this new blessing with the human face –God’s return of the visible Jesus Christ to the center of the world and the Church– and made it clearer than ever that the Creator of the Heaven and the earth has not become a book at the end of days, but man, and with it also picture. It was an unprecedented translation of all theology into the new and universal imagery that has become the digital revolution of the world in its entirety

“Iconic Turn” as a new means of communication.

Now it was suddenly as if the time of the eclipse haunting the earth, the world and the church finally ends in the misty Abruzzo with the look into the merciful eyes of Christ by the three shepherds

Venice, Illustration for the Divine Comedy of Dante, 13th Century”

There was no further dispute on the overwhelming, sometimes almost suffocating, problems and capital sins that the Church of our day poses, but with the holy facecloth Christ has steered a whole new look towards his face, as the head of the church and the face of love, “that moves the sun and the other stars” as Dante, the prince among poets, still formulated at the goal of the cosmic pilgrimage in his Divine Comedy. Ω

Miraculous Veil of the”Holy Face of Manoppello” in Italy Photo:Paul Badde/EWTN
The Holy Sudarium: the Veil of Manoppello, Italy Cardinal Gerhard Muller, Photo: Paul Badde/EWTN