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. 8

Pt. 8: Seeking the Face of the Father in Rome

St. Peter's Basilica in Rome
St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome

“Jesus Christ is the Face of the Father’s mercy.  These words might well sum up the mystery of the Christian faith.” –Pope Francis, Face of Mercy

The final stop of our pilgrimage was Rome and to enter the Holy Door of St. Peter’s Basilica on the Feast of the Assumption.  Most pilgrims to Italy begin their pilgrimage in Rome, but there was a reason that I chose St. Peter’s for the final destination of our pilgrimage and it had to do with the pope.  Sometimes our motivation for doing things isn’t always clear, not even to ourselves.  It was upon reflection, in hindsight, that I understood why the order of the pilgrimage and also why seeing the Holy Father last, was so important to me.

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

Looking back on our pilgrimage for the Jubilee Year of Mercy, we began with the image of the Face of Jesus in the Veil of Manoppello.  The bible tells us that there is only one mediator between God and man–Jesus Christ. (1 Tim 2:5) The Face of Jesus Christ is like a Door of Mercy–the face of the Church, through which we reach the Father.  We enter this “door” through devotion to the Holy Face through prayers and contemplation of the wounded Face of Jesus; by discipleship, to see Jesus in the Face of our neighbors, in the poor, the sick and the suffering; and through the Eucharistic Face of Jesus, from which we draw the grace and strength needed for our journey.  Then our faces, too, become like a “door” to our hearts and souls, and can radiate the Face of Jesus, the Face of Mercy to others.  Therefore, the “door” of the Face of Jesus was the best place for us to begin, the start of the journey.

Adoration of the Eucharistic Face of Christ in Loreto
Adoration of the Eucharistic Face of Christ in Loreto

After the sanctuary of Manoppello there were other steps along our path to seek the Face of God. The next step was Loreto–entering the door of the Holy Home in Nazareth.  God himself chose Mary as the ark of His dwelling place, by the power of the Holy Spirit, in this home.  Through Mary and the Holy Family we learn the examples of humility, obedience, and love. Here we saw the Face of Jesus in the Eucharist and in the sick and suffering.

Face of Jesus in Assisi photo: Paul Badde
Face of Jesus in Assisi
photo: Paul Badde

Next was Assisi–a powerful reminder of the Communion of Saints.  We are not alone in our quest to see the Face of God but have brothers and sisters in Heaven who have gone before us and are ready to help us if we only ask their help and guidance in trials and tribulations.  Their example encourages us to be a consolation and help, or a “Veronica,” to Jesus in our brothers and sisters here on earth. Reminding us that “…whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did it for me.” (Mt. 25:40)

Assisi Photo: Patricia Enk
Assisi
Photo: Patricia Enk
Catching a glimpse of the Holy Father, Pope Francis
Catching a glimpse of the Holy Father, Pope Francis “While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him…”(Lk.15:20)

And lastly, Rome.  Every year millions upon millions of people go to Rome just to get even a little glimpse of the pope. Most people consider those who actually have met the pope very fortunate. Why? After all, he is just a man like any other man, isn’t he? Well, yes and no.  Yes, Jorge Bergolio is a man, but as Pope Francis he is the Vicar of Jesus Christ on earth, and, whoever sees Jesus, sees the Father. (Jn. 14:9)  In a way, by seeking out the face of the pope, his words, and his blessing, we are seeking the Face of Our Father in Heaven.  All mankind has been created in the image and likeness of God and we have a natural longing, therefore, to see His Face; to enter into relationship with Him.  When the Word of God became man in Jesus Christ, at the Incarnation, what was previously impossible (to see God) became possible. In God’s infinite mercy He has not left us orphans; in and through Jesus He has given us His Church, His ministers, and His sacraments, so that is possible for us here on earth, albeit in an imperfect way, to see His Face.

Our pilgrimage mirrored the journey of the Christian soul on earth: through Jesus Christ, in the Holy Spirit, with the help of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Saints toward the Face of the Father. Our pilgrimage did not end in Rome, but begins anew each day.  We continue to seek His Face by taking up our cross and following Him in the hope that finally one day we will have the joy of truly seeing Him as He is in eternal glory.

Pilgrims carrying the Jubilee of Mercy Cross into the Holy Door of St. Peter's
Pilgrims carrying the Jubilee of Mercy Cross into the Holy Door of St. Peter’s

In Gratitude to God

“The grace of our Lord has been abundant, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. This saying is trustworthy and deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. Of these I am foremost. But for that reason I was mercifully treated, so that in me, as the foremost, Christ Jesus might display all his patience as an example for those who would come to believe in Him for everlasting life. To the King of the ages, incorruptible, invisible, the only God, honor and glory forever and ever.” (1 Tim. 1:14-17)

Christus Imperat! photo: Patricia Enk
Christus Imperat!
photo: Patricia Enk

 

Signs and Wonders

Miraculous Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe "I am your merciful Mother."
Miraculous Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe
“I am your merciful Mother.”

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.”

Sheer Veil of the Holy Face of Manoppello Photo: Paul Badde
Sheer Veil of the Holy Face of Manoppello
Photo: Paul Badde

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.”

What greater sign of His Love than the bread and wine become His Body and Blood?
What greater sign of His Love than that the bread and wine become His Body and Blood?

************

(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”

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Miraculous image of Our Lady of Guadalupe

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.

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The Holy Face on the Shroud of Turin

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.

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Pope Benedict meets Sr. Blandina at the Sanctuary Basilica for the Holy Face of Manoppello

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.

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Our Lady of Guadalupe, pilgrim image beside the Veronica Altar, at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Photo: Paul Badde, author of The Face of God: The Rediscovery of the True Face of Jesus, Ignatius Press.

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?

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The veil of Manoppello, woven with byssus, is so sheer that you can read through it. Photo: Paul Badde

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.

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“Il Volto Santo of Manoppello”

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)

Pope Francis – Misericordiae Vultus (Merciful Face) Jubilee Year

Pass through the Door of Mercy

“Whoever refuses to pass through the door of My mercy must pass through the door of my justice.” –Our Lord to St. Faustina, Divine Mercy in my Soul (1146)

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

On April 11th, Divine Mercy Sunday of 2015, Pope Francis gave a great gift to all the people of the world: Misericordiae Vultus (Merciful Face).  The first lines of the document declaring an “Extraordinary Year of Mercy” are both profound and powerful, Jesus Christ is the face of the Father’s mercy.  These words might well sum up the mystery of the Christian Faith.” In this beautiful letter (which can be read here) Pope Francis, the servant of the servants of God, extends to all who read it “Grace, Mercy and Peace.”

"The Holy Door" of St. Peter's Basilica
“The Holy Door” of St. Peter’s Basilica

The Holy Year will open on December 8, 2015, The Solemnity of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, highlighting God’s greatest mercy in the history of mankind. “When faced with the gravity of sin, God responds with the fullness of mercy” by choosing Mary to be the Mother of the Redeemer. The “Holy Doors” of Mercy will be opened beginning in Rome and then in Cathedrals and Co-Cathedrals throughout the world.  The Holy Doors “will become a Door of Mercy through which anyone who enters will experience the love of God who consoles, pardons and instils hope.”  The jubilee will close with the liturgical Solemnity of Christ the King, “the living face of God’s mercy” on the 20th of November 2016.  “On that day, as we seal the Holy Door, we shall be filled, above all with a sense of gratitude and thanksgiving to the Most Holy Trinity for having granted us an extraordinary time of grace.”

Come Holy Spirit
Come Holy Spirit

In the letter Pope Francis invokes the Holy Spirit by praying, “May the Holy Spirit, who guides the steps of believers in co-operating with the work of salvation wrought by Christ, lead the way and support the People of God so that they may contemplate the face of mercy.”  This prayer is an echo of the words of Pope St. John Paul II who prayed, ” May the Holy Spirit, which you have granted, bring to maturation your work of salvation, though your Holy Face, which shines forever and ever.”  and of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI who said, “The Face of Christ is the supreme revelation of Christ’s mercy.” 

During this Jubilee Year of Mercy Pope Francis wants us to “Keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and his merciful gaze, that we may experience the love of the Most Holy Trinity.”  He calls us to be merciful to others and reflect on the corporal and spiritual works of mercy as a way of awakening our conscience and enter more deeply into the heart of the Gospel so that “we become merciful just as our heavenly Father is merciful.” (Lk 6:36)

“Pilgrimage has a special place in the Holy Year because it represents the journey each of us makes in life.”  Pope Francis tells us that Jesus shows us the steps of the pilgrimage to attain out goal: “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap.  For the measure you give will be the measure you get back.” (Lk 6:37-38) Pope Francis reminds us that Jesus asks us to “forgive and give.” “To be instruments of mercy because it was we who first received mercy from God.”

The season of Lent for the Jubilee Year will be a time to meditate on Sacred Scripture “to help rediscover the merciful Face of the Father.”  The Pope cites (Hos 11:5) speaking of the unfaithful people of God who deserved a just punishment and anger, in which the prophets speech “reveals the true face of God:”  “How can I give you up, O Ephraim!  How can I hand you over, O Israel!  How can I make you like Admah!  How can I treat you like Zeboilim!  My heart recoils within me, my compassion grows warm and tender.  I will not execute my fierce anger, I will not again destroy Ephraim; for I am God and not man, the Holy One in your midst, and I will not come to destroy.”  “Gods anger lasts but a moment, His mercy forever.”

The Holy Father also turns his gaze to the face of Mary, Mother of Mercy and our Mother, “May the sweetness of her countenance watch over us in this Holy Year, so that all of us may rediscover the joy of God’s tenderness.” Pope Francis asks us to address our Merciful Mother in the words of the Salve Regina (Hail, Holy Queen), “a prayer ever ancient and ever new, so that she may never tire of turning her merciful eyes toward us, and make us worthy to contemplate the face of mercy, her Son, Jesus.”

Sorrowful Mother
Sorrowful Mother

The primary task of the Church, Pope Francis urges us,  is to be “a herald of mercy,” “especially at a moment full of great hopes and signs of contradiction, is to introduce everyone to the great mystery of God’s mercy by contemplation of the Face of Christ.”

Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, "the living Face of God's Mercy."--Pope Francis
Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, “the living Face of God’s Mercy.”–Pope Francis

 

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.

 

 

 

 

“The Face of Christ: …the supreme revelation of Christ’s Mercy.”

“The Face of Christ is the supreme revelation of Christ’s mercy.”

–Pope Benedict XVI

Divine Mercy Jesus, I trust in You!
Divine Mercy
Jesus, I trust in You!

Pope St. John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis, although differing in personality and charism, all have something in common, if we connect the pontifical dots… and the dots are: Mercy, the Face of God and Peace.

Beginning with Pope St. John Paul II, who established Divine Mercy Sunday, canonized St. Faustina, the Saint of Divine Mercy and wrote in an encyclical: “The Message of Divine Mercy has always been near and dear to me… which I took with me to the See of Peter and which in a sense, forms the image of this Pontificate.”

The message of Divine Mercy to the world began in 1931, when Our Lord appeared to a Polish nun, St. Faustina, in a vision.  She saw Jesus clothed in a white garment with His right hand raised in blessing.  His left was touching His garment in the area of His Heart, from where two large rays came forth, one red and the other pale. Jesus said to her:

Paint an image according to the pattern you see with the signature: Jesus I trust in You.  I promise that the soul that will venerate this image will not perish.  I also promise victory over [its] enemies already here on earth, especially at the hour of death.  I Myself will defend it as My own glory. (Diary, 47, 48) I am offering people a vessel with which they are to keep coming for graces to the fountain of mercy.  That vessel is this image with the signature: “Jesus, I trust in You” (327) I desire that this image be venerated, first in your chapel, and [then] throughout the world.

At the request of her spiritual director, St. Faustina asked the Lord about the meaning of the rays in the Image.  She heard these words in reply:

Divine Mercy in the waters of Baptism
Divine Mercy in the waters of Baptism

The two rays denote Blood and Water.  The pale ray stands for the Water which makes souls righteous.  The red ray stands for the Blood which is the life of souls.  These two rays issued forth from the depths of My tender mercy when my agonized Heart was opened by a lance on the Cross. …Happy is the one who will dwell in their shelter, for the just hand of God shall not lay hold of him (299)

The image represents the graces of Divine Mercy poured out upon the world, especially through Baptism and the Eucharist.

Good Friday, the day on which Jesus died and “Blood and Water poured forth for souls” begins the first day of the Divine Mercy Novena, which ends on Divine Mercy Sunday, the second Sunday in Easter.  (The novena can be found here: http://thedivinemercy.org/message/devotions/novena.php)

Pope St. John Paul II died on April 2nd, the eve of Divine Mercy Sunday in 2002. Pope Benedict XVI recalled the words of Pope St. John Paul II at the dedication of the Divine Mercy Shrine in Krakow, Poland: “Outside the mercy of God there is no other source of hope for human beings.” Pope Benedict said, “His message, like St. Faustina’s, leads back to the face of Christ, the supreme revelation of God’s mercy. Constantly contemplating that face: This is the legacy that he has left us, which we welcome with joy and make our own.”

Pope Benedict XVI did indeed make the message of Divine Mercy his own, connecting it to devotion to the Holy Face.  He spoke again and again of the Holy Face of Jesus, “that mirror, mystery-laden of God’s infinite Mercy.”

"This Mercy of God, which has a concrete face, the Face of Jesus, the Risen Christ." --Pope Francis
“This Mercy of God, which has a concrete face, the Face of Jesus, the Risen Christ.” –Pope Francis

Continuing to “connect the dots,”  Pope Francis, on Divine Mercy Sunday 2013 said:

“Each one of us is invited to recognize in the fragile human being The Face of The Lord, who in human flesh, experienced the indifference and loneliness to which we often condemn the poorest, either in the developing nations or in the developed societies. Each child that is unborn, but is unjustly condemned to be aborted, bears the Face of Jesus Christ, bear the Face of The Lord, who even before he was born, and then soon as he was born experienced the rejection of the world. And also each old person and – I spoke of the child, let us speak of the elderly, even if infirm or at the end of his days, bears the Face of Christ. They cannot be discarded, as the “culture of waste proposes! They cannot be discarded!”

Pope Francis recently made the joyful announcement of a special Holy Year of Mercy, again relating the message of Mercy to the Face of God:

“Dear brothers and sisters, I have often thought about how the Church might make clear its mission of being a witness to mercy.  It is a journey that begins with a spiritual conversion.  For this reason, I have decided to call an extraordinary Jubilee that is to have the mercy of God at its center.  It shall be a Holy Year of Mercy.  We want to live this Year in the light of the Lord’s words: “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” (cf. Lk 6:36)

This Holy Year will begin on this coming Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception and will end on November 20, 2016, the Sunday dedicated to Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe — and living face of the Father’s mercy.”

Jesus Christ, King of the Universe
Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

When the world turns to the merciful and glorious Face of God there will be peace, as Pope St. John Paul said in his prayer to the Holy Face:

“Holy Face, which looks at us and searches for us, kind and merciful, You who call us to conversion and invite us for the fullness of love, we adore and bless you.  In Your luminous Face, we learn to love and to be loved, to find freedom and reconciliation, to promote peace, which radiates from you and leads to you.” 

In Pope Benedict XVI’s homily on the World Day of Peace in 2013, he said that peace is “His [God’s] most sublime gift, in which He turns toward us the splendor of His Face.”

Come Holy Spirit
Come Holy Spirit

Let us pray that the fruit of the upcoming “Holy Year of Mercy” announced by Pope Francis will be peace, not as the world gives, but by the gift of The Holy Spirit poured into our hearts.”  This, Pope Benedict XVI said, is the foundation of our peace, which nothing can take from us.” 

“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!”

Peace! Holy Face of Manoppello, Italy Photo: Paul Badde
Peace! Holy Face of Manoppello, Italy Photo: Paul Badde

 

The Holy Face of Jesus and Lourdes

Today is The Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes and The World Day of the sick.  There is also a special connection between Lourdes and The Holy Face of Jesus.

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Sanctuary Basilica Lourdes
The Most Reverend Bishop Perrier of Tarbes-Lourdes 2010 visit to Manoppello Shrine
The Most Reverend Bishop Perrier of Tarbes-Lourdes 2010 visit to Manoppello Shrine

France is known for it’s special devotion to The Holy Face of Jesus. (Sr. Marie St. Pierre, The Holy Man of Tours, St. Therese of The Child Jesus and the Holy Face, to name a few examples.)  In April of 2010, the bishop of the diocese of Tarbes-Lourdes, Monsignor Philippe Perrier, had visited the Shrine of the Holy Face of Manoppello, accompanied by a delegation which included Francois Vayne, editor of the Lourdes Magazine and Doctor Alessandro De Franciscis, director of the organism which documents and investigates miracles which take place in the Lourdes. The French Bishop was welcomed by the Archbishop of Chieti-Vasto Bruno Forte and by the rector of the Shrine, Fr. Carmine Cucinelli.  Bishop Perrier celebrated the Mass in French, remaining in prayer before the Holy Face.  Deeply moved, the Bishop stated that he had “seen in the suffering Face of Manoppello the sufferings of the Madonna of Lourdes”, inviting those present to “be worthy of this extraordinary treasure of grace”.

After his encounter with The Holy Face at The Shrine of Manoppello, Bishop Perrier proposed an extraordinary event; an exhibition titled “L’IMAGE DU CHRIST A TRAVERS LE VISAGE DE LA VIERGE” – “The image of Christ through the face of the Virgin” which was  held in the exhibition hall of the famous Marian Shrine of Lourdes from September 1 – October 2 in 2011.   A significant part of the exhibition focused on the relationship between the Holy Face and the Face of the Madonna in the various expressions of devotion and faith that are common to Lourdes and Manoppello, the faces of sick, suffering and pilgrims.

Sixth Station of the Cross at Lourdes, Veronica wipes the Face of Jesus
Sixth Station of the Cross at Lourdes, Veronica wipes the Face of Jesus

As Pope Francis reminds us so often, “Every sick and fragile person can see in your face the Face of Jesus, and you can also recognize in the suffering person the body of Christ.”  He continually demonstrates that element of devotion to The Holy Face of discipleship in seeking the Face of Christ in the poor, the sick and the weak and by being the Face of Christ to them.

The world was stunned when Pope Francis embraced a severely disfigured man shown in the photo below.  What compassion! Today is the 4th day of the Holy Face Novena, which can be found in the previous post. As we lift up the sick before the Holy Face of Jesus this day let us also place them in the most compassionate, Immaculate Heart of Our Lady of Lourdes who sees in them the Face of her Son.  Remember, too, in our prayers doctors, nurses and all healthcare workers and caregivers, who make great sacrifices in order to show the loving Face of Christ to the sick. May God grant us all compassion for the sick and patience in suffering.

Pope Francis embracing the sick
Pope Francis embracing the sick

May God bless them and shine His Face upon them!

Grotto of Lourdes
Grotto of Lourdes

Our Lady of Lourdes

Prayer
Be blessed, O most pure Virgin, for having vouchsafed to manifest your shining with life, sweetness and beauty, in the Grotto of Lourdes, saying to the child, St. Bernadette: “I am the Immaculate Conception.” A thousand times we congratulate you upon your Immaculate Conception. And now, O ever Immaculate Virgin, Mother of mercy, Health of the sick, Refuge of sinners, Comforter of the afflicted, you know our wants, our troubles, our sufferings deign to cast upon us a look of mercy.By appearing in the Grotto of Lourdes, you were pleased to make it a privileged sanctuary, whence you dispense your favors, and already many have obtained the cure of their infirmities, both spiritual and physical. We come, therefore, with the most unbounded confidence to implore your maternal intercession. Obtain for us, O loving Mother, the granting of our request.
(state your request)
Through gratitude for your favors, we will endeavor to imitate your virtues, that we may one day share your glory.
Our Lady of Lourdes, Mother of Christ, you had influence with your divine son while upon earth. You have the same influence now in Heaven. Pray for us; obtain for us from your Divine Son our special requests if it be the Divine Will. Amen.Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us.Saint Bernadette, pray for us.

 

Look Closely – Our Lady of Guadalupe “Not made by Human Hands”

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Miraculous image of Our Lady of Guadalupe

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.

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The Holy Face on the Shroud of Turin

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.

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Pope Benedict meets Sr. Blandina at the Sanctuary Basilica for the Holy Face of Manoppello

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.

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Our Lady of Guadalupe, pilgrim image beside the Veronica Altar, at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Photo: Paul Badde, author of The Face of God: The Rediscovery of the True Face of Jesus, Ignatius Press.

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?

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The veil of Manoppello, woven with byssus, is so sheer that you can read through it. Photo: Paul Badde

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.

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“Il Volto Santo of Manoppello”

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)