Beauty and Benediction for “Omnis Terra” procession in Manoppello

 

Sanctuary Basilica of the Holy Face of Manoppello, photo: Sr. Blandina Pachalis Schloemer
Sanctuary Basilica of the Holy Face of Manoppello, photo: Sr. Blandina Pachalis Schlomer

The beauty of the glory of the Face of God is reflected in the mountains surrounding the Sanctuary of the Holy Face in Manoppello in the days leading up to the historic “Omnis Terra” feast and procession.  (Sr. Blandina Paschalis Schlomer took this breathtaking photo of the Sanctuary and hills covered in pure white snow and a beautiful rainbow.) On the second Sunday of Epiphany, January 15, 2017, the Basilica of the Holy Face established the first new feast and procession, making it the third on the calendar of the Sanctuary, since the year of 1712.

detail of Face of Jesus on the Holy Veil from the precious manuscript "Liber Regulae Sancti Spiritus in Saxia"
Detail of procession with the Face of Jesus on the Holy Veil from the precious manuscript “Liber Regulae Sancti Spiritus in Saxia”

The “Omnis Terra” (All the Earth) procession in honor of the Holy Face had its beginning in 1208 when Pope Innocent III processed with the Veil of the Holy Face from St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome to Spirito Santo church and hospital, giving alms to the poor and the sick along the way.  It was very fitting then that Our Lord’s Holy Face should be specially honored by a new feast and procession at the Basilica Sanctuary of the Holy Face in Manoppello on this same Sunday.

Holy Face of Manoppello, phot: Patricia Enk
Holy Face of Manoppello, photo: Patricia Enk

Journalist Paul Badde, who loves the Holy Face of Manoppello and has written so well about the rediscovery of this Holy Veil of the Face of Jesus, was present for the sacred occasion and related the following details of the day:

Sanctuary Basilica of the Holy Face of Manoppello, photo: Sr. Blandina Paschalis Schlomer
Sanctuary Basilica of the Holy Face of Manoppello, photo: Sr. Blandina Paschalis Schlomer

“It was as if the sky had opened a window over Manoppello for exactly that day. It had been snowing all the time before, then on Friday a rainbow appeared. On Saturday it was immaculately blue. On Sunday, Omnis Terra, the clouds had come back. And on Sunday night Manoppello was covered with snow again.
Liturgy of the Eucharist and the procession with incense, candles and beautiful music by the choir of Maestro Cosantini was so noble and “degno” [worthy] that it couldn’t have been performed more nobly in Saint Peter`s in Rome.

The homily of Don Americo [Mons. Americo Ciani] was absolutely powerful and very clear with great parts he added by heart with great enthusiasm.  

Before the procession and benediction a prayer by Padre Carmine [Capuchin Rector of the Sanctuary] for all the victims of the earthquakes was said, then a beautiful new litany of the Holy Face by the absent Sr. Petra Maria.”

Dom Americo Ciani carrying Veil of the Holy Face of Manoppello in procession, photo: Paul Badde
Dom Americo Ciani carrying Veil of the Holy Face of Manoppello in procession, photo: Paul Badde
Mons. Ciani (Right) holding reliquary of Pope Urban VIII
Mons. Ciani (Right) holding reliquary of Pope Urban VIII

Mons. Americo Ciani, Canon of the Patriarchal Basilica of St. Peter’s in the Vatican, was presider for the Liturgy of the Eucharist and gave the beautiful homily (translation of the homily by Mr. Raymond Frost below).  Mons. Ciani was formerly a judge of the Roman Rota, the highest judicial office of the Church, from the year 2000 to 2009.  As a canon, Mons. Ciani was also one of the very few persons to have displayed the famous reliquary of Pope Urban the VIII in St. Peter’s Basilica at the balcony over the Veronica altar during Passion Week.

(Some may also recall Monsignor Ciani from the Catholic New Agency article “Willy’s Story-the Homeless Man Buried at the Vatican” on Willy Hereteer, a pious homeless man who lived on the streets near St. Peter’s Basilica and was befriended by Mons. Ciani and Paul Badde.)

Mons. Americo Ciani and Holy Face of Manoppello, photo: Paul Badde
Mons. Americo Ciani and Holy Face of Manoppello, photo: Paul Badde

Manoppello Feast of the Holy Face   January 15, 2017  Omnis Terra Sunday

(homily of) Monsignor Ciani                      

We are commemorating that most ancient procession which the great pontiff Innocent III desired in 1208 during which he had carried for the first time the Holy Sudarium of Christ from the Basilica of St. Peter to the Church of Santo Spirito in Sassia.  It was a foretaste of the Holy Years, the first of which was decreed by Pope Boniface VIII in 1300.  On that memorable occasion the numerous faithful would have been able to contemplate the Holy Face impressed on the mantilla [veil] of Saint Veronica.  The Holy Relic, preserved in the patriarchal Basilica of St. Peter in the Vatican, disappeared in 1527 during the Sack of Rome.

We have repeated the same solemn procession with the Holy Face, preserved here in Manoppello, from the Basilica of St. Peter in the Vatican to the Church of Santo Spirito in Sassia, in January 2016, where we celebrated the Holy Mass, presided by Archbishop Monsignor Georg Gänswein and a second one presided by Archbishop Monsignor Edmund Farhat, who just a few days ago has left us to return to the House of the Father.

Here we are gathered to contemplate the Face of God, who became man in His Son Jesus.  This precious relic is “the human Face of God”, which since 1636 has been jealously cared for here at Manoppello and venerated by Pope Benedict XVI on September 1, 2006, a good 479 years later, when he knelt before that which had been the most precious treasure of the Popes.

From the first chapter of the Gospel of St. John, “No one has ever seen God,” the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has made Him known.
On the Face of Christ shines the majesty of God, who in His turn God has shown Himself under the form of a man.

Let us fix then our gaze upon the Face of the Son of God made man.

The image belongs to our everyday life.  We are immersed in the culture of images, in private and in public.

With how much care we display the photos of our loved ones!  Go into the rooms of young people, the walls of which are an exposition of images of leaders, from the world of fashion, of sport, of singers, etc.  Go silently into cemeteries, how many images to remember loved ones! The list would be too long, and it’s not necessary for us to go on about it.

The image speaks louder than the word, in fact the word passes but the image remains.  The Church in addition to place, to gesture, to word, to song, has utilized the image, from the beginning she has created a treasury of images to communicate, to evangelize., it is the “Bible of the poor”.

The word passes, the image remains and can be admired, contemplated by everyone and in all kinds of circumstances.  Word and image speak together in the Church.

We are gathered here to contemplate this Image, the Holy Face, which is the Face of God who died and is risen, Jesus Christ, Son of God, He who is Himself God.

The Holy Bible, especially in the Psalms, touches on the theme which today is for us so dear:  “The Face of God”, the seeking of the Face of God, the desire to see the Face of God, and the invocation to see the Face of God.

From Psalm 27:  Confidence in God in times of danger: “My heart repeats your exhortation:  Seek my face!  Your face, O Lord, do I seek.  O Lord, do not hide your face from me.”

Psalm 31:16 “Let your face shine on your servant; save me in your steadfast love”.

Psalm 88:15 “Why O Lord do you cast me off, why do you hide your face from me?”

Psalm 102:3 “Do not hide your face from me, in the day of my agony, turn your ear towards me.  When I call upon you, respond to me quickly Lord.”

Psalm 105:3-4 “ Let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice, Seek the Lord and his strength, seek his face continually.”

Psalm 119:135 “Make your face shine on your servant, and teach me your statutes”.

The problem which today torments us, is precisely fear and terrorism!

My beloved this sublime truth consoles us:  “The Lord is my light and my salvation, of whom should I be afraid?”

The psalm exhorts us to a solid hope: “Hope in the Lord, be strong, let your heart take courage, and hope in the Lord.”

All of us, whether small or great, need to cast out fear, to cast it far away from us, to succeed in controlling it and in conquering it.

The Face of God manifested itself in the Face of His Son Jesus Christ, born of Mary of Nazareth.  God made Himself one of us, went about doing good, gave Himself for us and for our sins, and to make us His people.

Let our desire to see Jesus be as strong as those pagans who asked the Apostle Philip: “We want to see Jesus” and as Zacchaeus, the publican, who “wanted to see Jesus”, and climbing up a tree, because he was short of stature, precisely so that he could see Jesus.  Jesus passed by, looked up and called him by name: “Zacchaeus, come down, today I wish to come to your house”.  And from that encounter came the miracle of the conversion of Zacchaeus.

Our constant prayer is the commitment: “I want to see your Face”.

History is not ensnared in a blind alley, closed off from hope.  Our society today is lost, suffers from nightmares, because it has lost “the Face of God”.  It does not perceive the ways of God in history.

God the Father has sent His Son Jesus among us.  He is the youthfulness and the freshness of history.  Jesus is the Son of God, of the God that is the joy of our youth.  For over 2000 years God has shown His face to the world by the Incarnation of His Son Jesus, from whom beauty and richness has poured out security, above all for those of us who need security:  the poor, the oppressed, the “least ones”, because He “ will judge with justice the poor and with equity the oppressed”.  So that humanity, turned toward the presence of Christ, will be able to breathe deeply.

To judge how things are going, today, one might think that Christ is pretty much just a dream.  Christ renews us and make us true.  We need purity and to be purified.  Jesus has come to accompany us, to put Himself at our disposition.  He comes.  Jesus in us and we breathe liberty.

In Jesus we know where we come from, who we are and where we are going:  we who can accompany him, we who have listened to him, we have the power to become sons of God, we are a “new race”, created by God and by Him regenerated in Christ the Lord, Wisdom of the Most High, Word of God, is “the true light which enlightens every man”.  He is the Wisdom of God that became love and the love became light.

Here is the tragedy of yesterday and today: “He came into the world but the world did not recognize Him.  He came to his own but his own did not receive Him.”

And our struggle continues:  It is the mess in which we find ourselves still caught up in (“How long, O Lord? When will you return and finally liberate us?”)   Let us repeat with faith “Come Lord, do not delay”.  Today we cling to Jesus and tomorrow we run away from Him.

We need to enter more vividly into the mystery of Christ.

All of us, fragile and sinners, we can take a deep breath, a liberating breath, and even a cry of liberty and hope.  Slaves of sin, we can resist sin, we can defeat it, because Jesus has come and will always remain with us, He who “opens the eyes of the blind, sets prisoners free and delivers those living in darkness.”

Thus, holiness is possible, even for those who must rise from the depths, because Jesus has come “to do good and to heal all those who are under the power of the devil”.  Before, we were under the power of the devil, now no more; the chains on our feet have been broken and we can walk towards the heights.

Hope is rekindled in us, “God will return soon and will show his face to the world and shake the foundations with his all-powerful voice”.

Just as the Apostle John who entered the Tomb after the Resurrection, “saw and believed”, so it happens for each us today, we see and contemplate the Face of God and we firmly believe.

Holy Father, accept with benevolence our prayers and guide us to the seeking of Your Face, which you have revealed in fullness in Jesus, Your Son.

O Lord, make Your Face to shine on us so that we might enjoy your goodness in the peace we are protected by your powerful hand, freed from every sin by the strength of your outstretched arm, and saved from those who hate us unjustly.

Grant harmony and peace to us and to all the inhabitants of the earth, as you have granted to our fathers, when they invoked you devoutly in faith and in truth, you alone, O Lord, can grant us these good things. (Translation by Raymond Frost)

Archbishop Edmond Farhat and Mons. Americo Ciani, Photo: Paul Badde
Archbishop Edmond Farhat and Mons. Americo Ciani, Photo: Paul Badde

(Bishop Farhat, on left, died December 17, 2016-May he gaze on God’s Face!)

“The Polar Star of Christianity” – The Face of Mercy

image
Veil of Manoppello (hand of Kurt Cardinal Koch seen through transparent veil) Photo: Paul Badde

“We saw in the Face the mercy of God”: A dialogue with Cardinal Koch

Paul Badde interviews the president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity on a special event
By Paul Badde
(Manoppello, September 2016 / 9:15 a.m.)

Kurt Cardinal Koch observes the transparency of the Veil of Manoppello. Photo: Paul Badde
Kurt Cardinal Koch observes the transparency of the Veil of Manoppello. Photo: Paul Badde

In 2017, it will be 500 years since in the West the Lutheran brothers and sisters began to separate themselves from the Pope and from the Roman Catholic Church. However, even older than the Reformation and the division of the Western Church is the Great Schism of the East, and the division of Christianity into the Church of the East and the Roman Catholic Church in the West, which occurred in 1054 between Rome and Constantinople. Only on December 7, 1965 Pope Paul VI from Rome and the Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras from Istanbul solemnly cancelled the reciprocal anathemas “from the memory and from the center of the Church” “abandoning them to oblivion.” But the Eastern Church and the Western Church remained estranged, above all from the cultural point of view. Now, however, at the invitation of Archbishop Bruno Forte of Chieti-Vasto, on September 18, 2016, seventy Orthodox bishops celebrated the “Divine Liturgy” of Saint John Chrysostom under the Face of Christ, there exposed above the principal altar, together with two cardinals and numerous other prelates of the Roman Catholic Church in the Basilica of the Holy Face of Manoppello.

CNA: Lord Cardinal, Archbishop Bruno Forte calls the “Holy Face” of Christ “the polar star of Christianity.” For him, there is no reasonable cause to doubt that the image on the veil is the sudario of Christ that John cites in the Holy Sepulchre near the burial clothes. But is it not also a provocation for the Orthodox brothers?

Cardinal Koch: Christians believe in one God who showed his concrete face in Jesus Christ. When we know more closely the Face of Christ and when we more deeply identify ourselves with him, the more deeply we become one, as well. For this is a miraculous event to be in front of the Face of Christ, to pray, to venerate the Face, because it fulfills his [Christ’s] desire that we be one.

Catholics have something to bring to the Orthodox. Also for the Orthodox it is so, as for instance for their culture of the veneration of icons. Could it be that from this day forward also in the Catholic Church the images can come to be understood and evaluated in a new way – in the midst of that mighty “Iconic Turn” that the experts of communication today note, in which the images expect a general role in communications like never before?
Yes, the very profound mystery of ecumenism is an exchange of gifts. Today the Church has her gifts. And a particular gift the Orthodox have are the icons. So I think that also many Christians in the West can find a new access to the icons and thus deepening the faith. It is a great gift. It is very important that we also re-evaluate the images in the Western tradition. With the Reform of the sixteenth century, we have placed a whole new accent on the word. But the Word has become flesh, the Word became visible, so also the images belong to the faith. This is a gift from the Orthodox that we welcome gratefully.
At Chieti, in these recent days the delicate question of the theological and ecclesiological relations between primacy and synodality in the life of the Church, then the role of Peter and that of all bishops, was discussed within the commission that has come on pilgrimage to Manoppello. Ten years ago Peter came here in the vesture of Pope Benedict. Since then, there has been an enormous turning point in the evaluation of this image of Manoppello that has become famous throughout the world. What significance do you think will be given to this day of pilgrimage, in which the synod of bishops gathered here?
It is very beautiful that we could come here on this anniversary ten years later. Pope Benedict came in the name of the whole Catholic Church. Today is present here the Church of the East and of the West. So this anniversary maybe can also help in the search for the unity between the Church in the East and the Church in the West.
You, as president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, are responsible to Rome for ecumenism. In this regard, Pope Francis affirmed: “Look at Christ and go ahead with courage!” Which next step would indicate to you today to go with courage to encounter Christ, in a day in which notwithstanding the difference between the Eastern Church and the Western Church you have come together before this image?
In reality, we are always on the way towards Christ. Because it is His Will that we find unity, it is not a human project. Christ himself on the eve of His Passion prayed that His disciples might be one, that the world might believe. The credibility of this testimony depends on the fact that we are one. This is also a particular request of Pope Francis, when he says that when we can walk on the same road toward Christ, then we find unity.
Misericordiae Vultus”: with these first Latin words begins the Bull of Indiction with which Pope Francis announced this year of the Jubilee of Mercy. The “Face of Mercy” has given to this year a very particular meaning. What do you sense today being here before the merciful gaze of Jesus, who looks at us from this wonderful veil?
It is a magnificent message that we can have a merciful God, for which we know that there are no cases without hope. Per as long as a man can fall down, he can never fall lower than the hands of God. Now you can really see this face, encounter it, it is naturally a marvelous deepening of this message of the Holy Year. The men of today need nothing more than the mercy of God. And if they can look on the Face of the merciful God it is a marvelous gift.
And what will you tell Pope Francis about this event in case you will have the opportunity?
I will certainly tell him that we saw in the Face his great message of the mercy of God. And that this Face is important for the whole Church. It is in a certain way the manifesto of the Church: the merciful Face of God!

Kurt Cardinal Koch contemplates the Holy Veil of Manoppello Photo: Paul Badde
Kurt Cardinal Koch contemplates the Holy Veil of Manoppello Photo: Paul Badde

(Re-printed with the Author’s permission) Translation from the Italian by Fr. Daren J. Zehnle

 

“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.)

In Heaven and on Earth

The Mass of St. Gregory I by Robert Campin 15th Century
The Mass of St. Gregory I by Robert Campin 15th Century

The book of Revelation of St. John unveils for its reader the beauty of the liturgy of the Mass.  “A throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne:” “The Lord God.” (Rev. 4:2)  It then shows the Lamb (Jesus Christ), “standing, as though it had been slain” (Rev. 5:6): Christ crucified and risen, the one high priest of the true sanctuary, the same one “who offers and is offered, who gives and is given.” (St. John Chrysostom) All in heaven and on Earth who take part in the service of the praise of God participate in the eternal liturgy whenever we celebrate the mystery of salvation.  The sacramental celebration is woven with signs and symbols which are rich in meaning.  “God speaks to man through visible creation.  The material cosmos is so presented to man’s intelligence that he can read there traces of its Creator.” (CCC 1147) “…these perceptible realities can become means of expressing the action of God who sanctifies men, and the action of men who offer worship to God.” (CCC 1148)

We may not know or appreciate the meaning of these “signs and symbols” in the liturgy, but they are there all the same.  For example, We may give little thought to the meaning of a simple action by the priest or deacon of handling or folding the altar linen or the corporal, but a German theologian, Klaus Berger,  has recently made a stunning discovery which shines a bright light on the deep symbolism contained in this humble action.  Mr. Berger, while doing research for an extensive commentary on Revelation by St. John, uncovered the surprising connection between the altar linens prescribed for the liturgy and the burial cloths of Christ mentioned in the Gospels.  Mr. Berger then shared his amazing discovery, which reveals the key liturgical role of the cloths, with Paul Badde, who has written extensively on the sudaria or burial cloths of Jesus (The True Icon).  Paul has written a truly fascinating article about the discovery for Catholic News Agency (German) The translation may be found on Raymond Frost’s Manoppello blogspot (click here for full article in English).

In the article Paul Badde explains the theological connection between the burial cloths which touched the Body and Blood of Jesus and the altar cloth and corporal, the white linen napkin on which are placed the vessels containing the Body and Blood of Christ during Mass. The corporal, which was to be made of pure linen, could only be touched reverently by the priest with his thumb and forefinger in the old rite.

Detail of Mass of St. Gregory I
Detail of Mass of St. Gregory I

The connection between these altar cloths used in the liturgy and the sudarium, or burial cloths of Jesus (Shroud of Turin and Veil of Manoppello) says Paul Badde, can be understood in reference to  a vision of Pope Gregory I during a Mass when Jesus, appeared as the Man of Sorrows during the Consecration of the Eucharist, reflecting the true Presence of Christ.  Pope St. Gregory the Great, “The Father of Christian Worship,” is renown for his exceptional efforts is revising the liturgy of his day.

The cloths used in the liturgy are rich in symbol and meaning which can aid us in our devotion. During the Mass we may not see Christ with our bodily eyes, but He is present. Knowing our weakness, in His infinite mercy He has left us His image to contemplate on the Shroud of Turin and the Veil of Manoppello  so that we may call them to mind when gazing with faith on the simple linen cloths used in the Mass.  The images make manifest the “cloud of witnesses” (Heb. 12:1) mentioned in St. John’s Revelation: The Heavenly powers, all creation, the servants of the Old and New Covenants the new People of God especially the martyrs “slain for the word of God,” and the all-holy Mother of God (the Woman clothed with the sun with the moon at her feet), The Bride of the Lamb, and finally “a great multitude which no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes, and peoples and tongues.” (Rev.7:9)

Face of Jesus on veil by Michael Wolgemut, teacher of Albrecht Durer. The “Veil of Veronica” in artwork before 1the early 1500’s resemble the “Il Volto Santo” of Manoppello.

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

“Illiterate men can contemplate in the lines of an image what they cannot learn by means of the written word.” – Pope St. Gregory the Great

“The beauty of the images moves me to contemplation, as a meadow delights the eyes and subtly infuses the soul with the glory of God.”–St. John Damascene

The Veil of Manoppello, photo by Paul Badde
The Veil of Manoppello, photo by Paul Badde

 

 

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)