May the Lord Bless and keep you! – The blessing of St. Francis

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Blessing of St. Francis to Brother Leo

Within the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi is a precious relic: a small, crumpled piece of yellowed parchment with the writing of St. Francis, now displayed in a silver reliquary. It was written on Mount La Verna after St. Francis had received the stigmata. The first biographer of St. Francis, Bl. Thomas of Celano wrote that for a long time St. Francis’s friend, Brother Leo, had greatly desired to have some memorial from the words of Our Lord written by St. Francis:

St. Francis of Assisi
St. Francis of Assisi

“One day Blessed Francis called him, saying, ‘Bring me paper and ink, for I wish to write the words of God and His praises which I have been meditating in my heart.’ What he asked for being straightway brought, he writes with his own hand the praises of God and the words which he [his companion] wished, and lastly a blessing of the brother, saying: ‘Take this sheet for thyself and until the day of thy death guard it carefully.’ All temptation was at once driven away; the letter is kept and worked wonders for the time to come.” Brother Leo kept it faithfully; folding it in four, he carried it in his pocket and guarded it jealously for a good forty-six years.  The text in the middle, written in black, and marked with a large “Tau” cross is in Francis’s own handwriting, he writes the praises of God* and grants to Brother Leo the blessing from the Book of Numbers 6: 22-27 which later became known as “the Blessing of St. Francis.”

St. Francis of Assisi by Jose Beniliure y Gil
St. Francis of Assisi by Jose Beniliure y Gil

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, in his homily for the World Day of Peace, 2013, spoke of this blessing from the Book of Numbers which was for the priests and the people of Israel. “The blessing repeats the three times Holy Name of God, a Name not to be spoken, and each time linked to two words indicating an action in favor of man. Peace is the summit of these six actions of God in our favor, His most sublime gift, in which He turns toward us the splendor of His Face.”

 

The Shroud of Turin
The Shroud of Turin

This is the great blessing that St. Francis desired to impart to his friend, Brother Leo:

“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 give you His Peace!”  (Num. 6:22-27)

Amen!

 

*(St. Francis’s “Praises of God” are now now quite faded, but, this much can be still read: “Thou art holy, Lord God, who alone workest wonders. Thou art strong. Thou art great. Thou art most high. Thou art the Almighty King, Thou, holy Father, King of heaven and earth. Thou art the Lord God Triune and One; all good. Thou art good, all good, highest good, Lord God living and true. Thou art charity, love. Thou art wisdom. Thou art humility. Thou art patience. Thou art security. Thou art quietude. Thou art joy and gladness. Thou…”)

 

Pilgrimage – A Journey Toward the Face of God, Pt. 6

Pt. 6:  In Assisi – St. Francis “also had a Veronica”

St. Francis of Assisi
St. Francis of Assisi

Assisi is an incredible and beautifully preserved medieval city, known best as the place where St. Francis was born, lived, and died. I had been in Assisi once before, in 2010, but during that time I saw only one site outside of the hotel–the tomb of St. Francis. There was a reason for that odd behavior, which I will explain. But, for this pilgrimage, I had wanted to include Assisi for the Year of Mercy pilgrimage, in thanksgiving to God for His infinite mercy, and for providing us here on earth with the help and friendship of the communion of saints in our most difficult trials on life’s journey.

Now, to explain why I had only seen St. Francis’s tomb on a previous pilgrimage–In 2010 I had been traveling with my husband and three youngest children, together with a pilgrimage group, primarily to see the Shroud of Turin, which at Pope Benedict XVI’s request, was being exhibited that year. While on the pilgrimage, my third son, back in the States, had fallen very ill. He had gone to the hospital and had been told it was most likely a virus from which he would eventually recover, but as the days went by, unable to eat, suffering from fever and chills; he could no longer even take care of himself. When we learned of the situation (communication was very difficult) we arranged for another older son to travel to help him, thinking any day he would improve.  However, it soon became clear there was something more serious going on. Jaundiced and very weak, he had lost nearly thirty pounds. He was dying. Doctors could find no cause for his illness from looking at x-rays and MRIs. One doctor reluctantly began an emergency exploratory surgery as there was nothing else left to do.

Altar in front of the tomb of St. Francis of Assisi
Altar in front of the tomb of St. Francis of Assisi

By the time we received this terrible news we were nearing the end of our trip and had arrived in Assisi.  Beset with grief and anxiety, unable to do anything for my son at that time, but pray, I went weeping to the tomb of St. Francis.  I prayed and cried, cried and prayed the entire day.  The friar stationed at the desk near the tomb gave me strange looks, for which I can hardly blame him.  I must have been a sight. When I tired of kneeling, I got up and walked along the tomb, and begged the intercession of the friends of St. Francis, as well, who are entombed in the surrounding walls.  Toward the back, behind the altar, in the same enclosure as the tomb of St. Francis, I found a name: “Here lies Jacoba, a holy Roman Noblewoman.”  A woman? Buried in the tomb by St. Francis? I knew nothing about her, but figured she must be someone holy if she’s buried with the saint, so I begged her intercession as well.

Toward evening we received news from the hospital–the surgeon had discovered that our son’s appendix had ruptured, weeks before, in an undetectable manner, leaking toxins into his body and closing off the portal vein to his liver.  He was still a very sick young man, but would recover.  (His recovery took nearly three months.)  I felt certain that I owed St. Francis  and the saints at his tomb a debt of gratitude for petitioning, on my behalf, for my son before the throne of God–which is why I wanted to return one day to offer thanks.  So, the day had come when we could give thanks at St. Francis’s tomb. We knelt in gratitude before the altar, and this time with the additional joy of thanksgiving that our son and his wife had just had their first child,a son.

Frate Jacopa de Settesoli
Frate Jacoba de Settesoli

We went on to see what I had missed in the Basilica; the incredible frescoes and relics. In the Relic Chapel after seeing St. Francis’s patched and tattered tunic and other precious relics, I stood in front of a display case which contained a beautifully embroidered silken veil and read the name, “Jacoba Settesoli.” I read on, “Like Jesus on his way to Calvary, Francis also had a Veronica.” (Veronica is the woman, tradition tells us, who wiped the Face of Jesus. She is the model of those who make reparation to the Face of Christ.)

Lady Jacoba was a noblewoman and widow, with two children from Rome, who became a follower of St. Francis. After having heard him preach she sought his guidance on how to be charitable.  When Francis traveled to Rome, he would stay with Lady Jacoba as her guest and she cared for him when he was sick. She gave some of her property in Trastevere to the brothers, which they used to care for lepers.  She gave up her life of comfort in order to help the poor.  Woman were not normally permitted to be in company of the brothers, however, St. Francis made an exception in her case, jokingly referring to her as “Brother Jacoba.”

As Francis lay dying he sent an urgent letter by messenger to Lady Jacoba: “Brother Jacoba, the servant of the Most High, health in the Lord and communion in the Holy Ghost.  Dearest, I want you to know that the blessed Lord has done the grace of revealing that the end of my life is nigh.  So, if you want to find me still alive, hurry to Santa Maria degli Angeli as soon as you receive this letter.”  He went on to request that she bring a gray cloth to wrap his body in, candles for burial, and almond cookies that she had made for him in Rome when he was sick. Before the messenger arrived in Rome, Lady Jacoba had already anticipated St. Francis’s needs by the light of the  Holy Spirit and was on her way to Francis’s deathbed.

St. Francis’s biographer, Bl. Thomas Celano, wrote that Lady Jacoba brought not only the gray cloth, the candles, and the almond cookies, but also a pillow for his head, and a “sindomen pro facie” (a veil to cover his face in death, which was displayed in the Relic Chapel). So, St. Francis, an alter Christus who bore the stigmata, also had his “Veronica” in Lady Jacoba, who brought him consolation in his passion.  (to be continued in Pt. 7)

The bells of the church of St. Stephen the Martyr which rang by themselves when St. Francis died.
The bells of the church of St. Stephen the Martyr in Assisi which rang by themselves when St. Francis died.

 

 

 

 

Holy Face Novena – Day 3

Holy Face Novena Alpha-Omega Prayer and Act of Consecration to The Holy Face for ourselves and our families

Each days prayers will be posted for the novena and the Act of Consecration to the Holy Face will be posted on The Feast of the Holy Face.  (All Novena prayers may also be found in the tab above.)   Urgent Prayer Request:  In your charity please pray for our friend the author and journalist Paul Badde who is recovering from  heart bypass surgery. He is an ardent lover of the Holy Face of Jesus and gives everything he has to make the Holy Face of Manoppello known and loved in the world!

“I firmly wish that my face reflecting the intimate pains of my soul, the suffering and love of my heart, be more honored!  Whoever gazes upon me already consoles me.” (Our Lord to Blessed Mother Pierina De Micheli)

"Oh Jesus, who in Thy Cruel Passion didst become the "Reproach of men and the Man of Sorrows," I worship Thy Divine Face." --St. Therese
“Oh Jesus, who in Thy Cruel Passion didst become the “Reproach of men and the Man of Sorrows,” I worship Thy Divine Face.” –St. Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face

Day 3: Daily Preparatory Prayer:

O Most Holy and Blessed Trinity, through the intercession of Holy Mary, whose soul was pierced through by a sword of sorrow at the sight of the passion of her Divine Son, we ask your help in making a perfect Novena of reparation with Jesus, united with His sorrows, love and total abandonment.

We now implore all the Angels and Saints to intercede for us as we pray this Holy Novena to the Most Holy Face of Jesus and for the glory of the most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Third Day – Holy Face Novena

Psalm 51: 6-7

You are just when you pass sentence on me, blameless when you give judgement.  You know I was born guilty, a sinner from the moment of conception.

Bl. Pope Pius IX
Bl. Pope Pius IX

Prayer of Pope Pius IX

O Jesus! Cast upon us a look of mercy; turn your Face towards each of us as you did to Veronica; not that we may see it with our bodily eyes; for this we do not deserve, but turn it towards our hearts, so that, remembering you, we may ever draw from this fountain of strength the vigor necessary to sustain the combats of life.  Amen. our Mother Mary, and St. Joseph, pray for us.

Through the merits of your precious blood and your Holy Face, O Jesus, grant us our petition, …Pardon and mercy.

IMG_0460Prayer of St. Francis

All highest, glorious God, cast your light into the darkness of our hearts, give us true faith, firm hope, perfect charity and profound humility, so that with wisdom, courage and perception, O Lord, we may do what is truly your holy will.  Amen.

To the Angels and Saints

We salute you, through the Holy Face and Sacred Heart of Jesus,  all you holy Angels and Saints of God.  We rejoice in your glory, and we give thanks to our Lord for all the benefits which He has showered upon you; we praise Him, and glorify Him, and offer you for an increase of your joy and honor, the most Holy Face and gentle Heart of Jesus.  Pray that we may become formed according to the heart of God.  Amen.

Pray one (1) Our Father, three (3) Hail Mary’s, one (1) Glory Be.

O Bleeding Face, O Face Divine, be every adoration Thine. (3 times)

"Their Face is the Face of Christ" --Pope Francis
“Their Face is the Face of Christ” –Pope Francis

“The Face of God is like that of a merciful Father that always has patience and is willing to forgive…All of us have felt joy, sadness, and sorrow in our lives.  Have we wept during the darkest moment?  Have we that gift of tears that prepare the eyes to look, to see the Lord?” — Pope Francis

 

Feb. 10th, Day 3 – Holy Face Novena

"Oh Jesus, who in Thy Cruel Passion didst become the "Reproach of men and the Man of Sorrows," I worship Thy Divine Face." --St. Therese
“Oh Jesus, who in Thy Cruel Passion didst become the “Reproach of men and the Man of Sorrows,” I worship Thy Divine Face.” –St. Therese

Alpha-Omega Holy Face of Jesus,Novena Prayers and Consecration

Daily Preparatory Prayer

O Most Holy and Blessed Trinity, through the intercession of Holy Mary, whose soul was pierced through by a sword of sorrow at the sight of the passion of her Divine Son, we ask your help in making a perfect Novena of reparation with Jesus, united with His sorrows, love and total abandonment.

We now implore all the Angels and Saints to intercede for us as we pray this Holy Novena to the Most Holy Face of Jesus and for the glory of the most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Third Day – Holy Face Novena

Psalm 51: 6-7

You are just when you pass sentence on me, blameless when you give judgement.  You know I was born guilty, a sinner from the moment of conception.

Bl. Pope Pius IX
Bl. Pope Pius IX

Prayer of Pope Pius IX

O Jesus! Cast upon us a look of mercy; turn your Face towards each of us as you did to Veronica; not that we may see it with our bodily eyes; for this we do not deserve, but turn it towards our hearts, so that, remembering you, we may ever draw from this fountain of strength the vigor necessary to sustain the combats of life.  Amen. our Mother Mary, and St. Joseph, pray for us.

Through the merits of your precious blood and your Holy Face, O Jesus, grant us our petition, …Pardon and mercy.

IMG_0460Prayer of St. Francis

All highest, glorious God, cast your light into the darkness of our hearts, give us true faith, firm hope, perfect charity and profound humility, so that with wisdom, courage and perception, O Lord, we may do what is truly your holy will.  Amen.

To the Angels and Saints

We salute you, through the Holy Face and Sacred Heart of Jesus,  all you holy Angels and Saints of God.  We rejoice in your glory, and we give thanks to our Lord for all the benefits which He has showered upon you; we praise Him, and glorify Him, and offer you for an increase of your joy and honor, the most Holy Face and gentle Heart of Jesus.  Pray that we may become formed according to the heart of God.  Amen.

Pray one (1) Our Father, three (3) Hail Mary’s, one (1) Glory Be.

O Bleeding Face, O Face Divine, be every adoration Thine. (3 times)

“The Face of God is like that of a merciful Father that always has patience and is willing to forgive…All of us have felt joy, sadness, and sorrow in our lives.  Have we wept during the darkest moment?  Have we that gift of tears that prepare the eyes to look, to see the Lord?” — Pope Francis

 

Sr. Marie St. Pierre
Sr. Marie St. Pierre
Promises of our Lord Jesus Christ
(To Sr. Mary of St. Peter, Discalced Carmelite Nun of Tours, France,
in Favor of those Who Honor His Holy Face)

This devotion is to have the two-fold purpose of reparation for blasphemy and reparation for the profanation of Sunday and Holy Days of Obligation, the two principal sins which in modern times are provoking the anger of God. Sr. Mary of St. Peter said: “He then made me see that this frightful sin wounds His Divine Heart more grievously than all other sins, showing me how by blasphemy the sinner curses Him to His Face, attacks Him publicly, nullifies His Redemption, and pronounces his own judgement and condemnation…The Savior made me understand that His justice was greatly irritated against mankind for its sins but particularly for those that directly outrage the Majesty of God–that is Communism, Atheism, cursing, and the desecration of Sundays and the Holy Days. He said, ‘The executioners crucified Me on Friday, Christians crucify Me on Sunday.”

1. By offering My Face to My Eternal Father, nothing will be refused, and the conversion of many sinners will be obtained.

2. By My Holy Face, they will work wonders, appease the anger of God and draw down mercy on sinners

3. All those who honor My Face in a spirit of reparation will by so doing perform the office of the pious Veronica.

4. According to the care they take in making reparation to My Face, disfigured by blasphemers, so will I take care of their souls which have been disfigured by sin. My Face is the Seal of the Divinity, which has the virtue of reproducing in souls the image of God.

5. Those who by words, prayers or writing defend My cause in the Work of Reparation, especially My priests, I will defend before My Father, and will give them My Kingdom.

6. As in a kingdom they can procure all that is desired with a coin stamped with the King’s effigy, so in the Kingdom of Heaven they will obtain all they desire with the precious coin of My Holy Face.

7. Those who on earth contemplate the wounds of My Face shall in Heaven behold it radiant with glory.

8. They will receive in their souls a bright and constant irradiation of My Divinity, that by their likeness to My Face they shall shine with particular splendor in Heaven.

9. I will defend them, I will preserve them and I assure them of Final Perseverance.