“The Greatest Relic of the Church”

Update: EWTN Bookmark Interview with Paul Badde by Doug Keck may now be viewed (scroll down for Youtube video)

Holy Veil of Manoppello
Photo: Paul Badde/EWTN

What if you had discovered something that was beyond incredible–something that was, in fact, supernatural–drawing you more deeply in love with Jesus Christ? Would you be willing to suffer skepticism, mockery, and even hostility from others in order to share this treasure of love and mercy with the world?  Well, something like that does exist: It is called the Veil of Manoppello, and Satan is enraged, because this fragile veil is turning souls toward the Face of God.

St. Padre Pio

St. Padre Pio called the Veil of Manoppello “the greatest relic of the Church.”  Shrouded in mystery for centuries, the story of what was known as “the Veronica” or the “true icon” has recently come to light, in part due to the unshakeable conviction of the author, Paul Badde, who has had the courage to tell what he knew to be true; for proclaiming that the Veil of Manoppello is one of the burial cloths of Christ — as did the Servant of God, Padre Domenico da Cese, former Rector of the Shrine of the Holy Face. So, why do so few people know about this “greatest” of relics?

The Veil of the Holy Face of Manoppello “the Living Face”
Photo: Paul Badde/EWTN

During Holy Week we will have an opportunity to learn more about the Holy Veil, and are invited to share this precious gift with others — EWTN  will air The Human Face of God in the Holy Veil of Manoppello.  And beginning on Easter Sunday, EWTN Bookmark with Doug Keck will interview Paul Badde about his recent book, The Holy Veil of Manoppello. (Details on days and times are listed below.) Though skeptics abound, those who have actually made the pilgrimage to see it with their own eyes have this to say about the miraculous relic of a veil displayed for all the world to “come and see” in the Sanctuary Basilica of Manoppello:

Archbishop Ganswain holding the replica of the Holy Veil of Manoppello at Spirito Santo Church in Rome. 2016

“The Face of Christ is the first, the noblest, and the most precious treasure of the whole of Christendom — more, of the whole earth.” –Archbishop Ganswein, prefect of the Pontifical Household

 

“Here in Manoppello we meet the face of God face to face, and when we look at Him, His gaze cleanses and heals us, God be blessed.” –Robert Cardinal Sarah

Robert Cardinal Sarah at the Sanctuary Basilica of the Holy Face(photo: Paul Badde/EWTN)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joachim Cardinal Meisner with Veil of the Holy Face of Manoppello (Photo: Paul Badde/EWTN)

“The Face is the monstrance of the heart. In the Holy Face the heart of God becomes visible.”

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

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

Gerhard Cardinal Müller Photo: Paul Badde/EWTN

Much remains hidden from the wise and prudent, that God however does reveal to lesser minds in the humility of Faith. Gazing into the most holy face of Jesus, as it was traced into the sudarium on his head, should give us new strength that our life may hold true in the eyes of God. For we believe and know that we will one day see God through and in Christ, the image of God, “face to face” (1 Corinthians 13:12) –Gerhard Cardinal Müller

Cardinal Tagle delivers homily at the Basilica Sanctuary of the Holy Face (Photo: Paul Badde/EWTN)

“A Face of Truth and Love.” –Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle

“I saw the Holy Face under the changing of the light, not only a Face of tenderness, but of welcoming.  I saw a Face smiling at me, almost saying, “Welcome Luis Antonio!”  It is a Face that speaks, it is alive, yes, it is the message, the Word is the Face,  It is also a Face turned towards me, but I did not feel fear, fear in front of a judge, or of a face which condemns.  A Face of Truth, and the Truth is love, love wins out over fear.”  

 

Archbishop Edmond Y. Farhat giving blessing with Holy Face. Photo: Paul Badde/EWTN

“It is not an object of another time; it is the icon of the eternal Face, the Face of goodness and of friendship, of mercy and of peace. The Face that speaks, that examines, that asks, that awaits a response. It seems to say: ‘Look at me, you who are tired. Come to me and I will give you rest.’…We fix our gaze on the Holy Face and we will be transformed by God’s mercy. The sign is not an end in itself; the sign is a pointer on the way of the return, the return to the Father.”  –Archbishop Edmond Y. Farhat

 

 

Pope Benedict XVI with Paul Badde on the occasion of the Pope’s pilgrimage to see The Holy Veil in 2006.
The Holy Face of Manoppello and Paul Badde(CNS photo/Paul Haring)

The Human Face of God in the Holy Veil of Manoppello will air on EWTN:

Monday, April 15 at 8:00 am ET

Good Friday, April 19 at 2:00 am ET

Holy Saturday, April 20 at 10:30 am ET

 

I only wish this fascinating interview were longer!  “It is much more easy to believe that God is dead than the living God and Resurrected Christ.” Paul’s comment hits the nail on the head about the current crisis of faith, and the deep significance of the meaning of the reappearance of this holy relic of the Face of Christ in Manoppello.

EWTN Bookmark with Doug Keck – Interview with author Paul Badde  on his book The Holy Veil of Manoppello will air:

Easter Sunday, April 21 at 9:30 am ET

re-airing on Easter Monday, April 22 at 5:00 am and 5:00 pm ET, and the following Saturday, April 27 at 1:30 pm.  It will also be broadcast on EWTN Radio (See local times)

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

Wishing you all a very blessed Holy Week and Easter!

 

 

 

Four Stories – One Face, Part 4

Face of Jesus Christ, Bl. Fra Angelico c. 1446-47
Face of Jesus Christ, Bl. Fra Angelico c. 1446-47
Pietro Cavallini, St. Cecilia in Trastevere
1293, Pietro Cavallini, St. Cecilia in Trastevere in Rome

A change in appearance of the Veronica of Rome and an appearance of a Veil in Manoppello

Before the Sack of Rome in 1527 everyone knew quite well what the Veronica looked like.  The veil was displayed to the many pilgrims at the Vatican; it was carried publicly in procession; artists made reproductions of the image for the faithful to use for veneration, prayer, and contemplation.  The specially made reliquary (which was later broken) had not one, but two panes of crystal, so that the veil could be viewed from either side. Prior to 1527, when pilgrims viewed the Veronica they saw these general characteristics:

Face of Jesus on veil by Michael Wolgemut, teacher of Albrecht Durer.
Detail from Mass of St. Gregory, Michael Wolgemut,c. 1450-70

“the Face of the living Christ on a sheer veil or cloth–a human face of a man who has suffered, with traces of wounds, bruises, and swelling visible, especially on the left cheek. His wavy hair is long and parted with a small, short lock of curls at the center. His beard is sparse as though torn, and divided in two. His open eyes are peaceful and looking slightly to one side. His mouth is partially opened.” (Pt. 1)

Opusculum by Jacopo Grimaldi (altered date of 1618
Opusculum by Giacamo Grimaldi (altered date of 1618)

However, after the Sack of Rome, the image at the Vatican was shown less, and what was being presented as the Veronica Veil caused a change in the reaction of the pilgrims and in artists’ portrayals. The painted images began to depict the Face of Christ in more diverse and imaginative ways, more often with the Crown of Thorns, or as merely a veil with a reddish smudge, or even as the face of a dead man with eyes and mouth closed.

Giacomo Grimaldi, a canon who had the task of illustrating and recording inventory for the Vatican, recorded the Veronica Veil on an inventory document called the Opusculum (shown left with an obviously altered date of 1618). Grimaldi noted that the living face shown (with wavy hair, parted in the middle, and the eyes open) was faithful to the image that he saw in 1606 (before the first demolition of the Old St. Peter’s). A copy made in 1635 by Francesco Speroni of the Grimaldi Opusculum inventory shows a dramatically different drawing–with the Face of Christ appearing as a dead man. (below)

 Opusculum of the Holy Face by Francesco Speroni
Opusculum of the Holy Face by Francesco Speroni
One of the copies made of Veronica Veil by Pietro Strozzi, Vienna
One of the copies made of Veronica Veil by Pietro Strozzi, Vienna 1617

Pope Paul V, in 1616, had prohibited any copies to be made of the Veronica without permission and later Urban VIII ordered that all copies of the Veronica be handed in to a local priest or bishop under pain of excommunication. In 1629, the image with the death-like face was placed in the newly completed Veronica Altar in St. Peter’s Basilica–covered with another outer veil–and a notice was placed nearby stating that anyone who removed the veil covering the Holy Face without papal approval would be excommunicated. It was only shown once a year from a distance of 20 meters.  All that could be seen was a dark cloth within a frame in the shape of a face. Not surprisingly, interest in the Veronica and therefore devotion to the Holy Face soon dwindled.

While one must be very careful not to ascribe any sort of malicious motive to the apparent incongruity and change of the appearance of the image; one must also be honest in saying that the two images on the Opusculum couldn’t be more different. It is certainly a great mystery which remains to be unraveled.

4-xp-4
Manoppello, Italy

In 1638, on the other side of Italy, towards the Adriatic coast, “a devout and well-respected man” named Don Antonio Fabritiis donated a precious Veil bearing the Face of Christ to the Capuchin monastery in the small, isolated mountain village of Manoppello, Italy. A document entitled Relazione Historica re-telling the local legend of the Veil was written by Capuchin Donato da Bomba and notarized in 1646 and then, certified by sixteen local witnesses. The story told of the arrival of the Veil in Mannoppello, “in around 1506,”(the date was vague) in the hands of a mysterious stranger who was thought to have been a holy angel.  (Aside from the “angel,” the main characters in the story have been historically verified.)

The recorded story told was this: “There lived in Manoppello the very famous Giacomo Antonio Leonelli, doctor in medicine…one day when he was out in the public square just outside of the door of the Mother church of the town of Manoppello, St. Nicholas Bari, in honest conversation with other peers, and while they were speaking a pilgrim arrived unknown by anyone, with a very venerable religious appearance, who having greeted this beautiful circle of citizens, he said, with many terms of manners, and of humility to Dr. Giacomo Antonio Leonelli that he had to speak with him about a secret thing which would be very pleasing, useful and profitable for him.  And thus, taking him aside just inside the doorway of the church of St. Nicholas Bari, gave him a parcel, and without unfolding it told him that he ought to hold this devotion very dear, because God would do him many favors, so that in things both temporal and spiritual he would always prosper.”  So the doctor took the parcel and turning towards the holy water fount carefully opened it, and “seeing the Most Sacred Face of Our Lord Christ…he burst into most tender tears…and thanking God for such a gift…turned to the unknown pilgrim to thank him…but he did not see him anymore.”  When the good doctor, “shaken” and “filled with wonder,” went outside to his friends and asked where the man went, his friends replied that they never saw him exit the church. They searched high and low but never found the mysterious pilgrim, “hence all judged that the man in the form of a pilgrim to be a heavenly Angel, or else a Saint from Paradise.” 

Photo: Ibanez (CNA/EWTN)
Photo: Ibanez (CNA/EWTN)

The Holy Veil remained the property of the Leonelli family for nearly a century, until a family member in need of money sold the Veil to Don Antonio Fabritiis, who in turn gave it to the Capuchins in 1638.  The Holy Veil, called the “Il Volto Santo,” was kept in a dimly lit side chapel until the church was renovated in 1960, when it was decided that the Veil should be moved to a more prominent place behind the altar.

What did the Face on the gossamer-thin Veil look like?  Here are portions of a description that Capuchin Donato da Bomba gave of the Holy Face: “He has a rather long, well-proportioned face, with a venerable and majestic look. His hair, or locks are long with thin twisted curls–in particular at the top of the forehead about fifty hairs wind into a little corkscrew, distinct from each other and well arranged. His left cheek is swollen and bigger than the other because of a strong blow across the cheek.  The lips are very swollen.  His teeth show.  It seems the Holy Face is made of living flesh, but flesh that is afflicted, emaciated, sad, sorrowful, pale and covered in bruises around the eyes and on the forehead. The eyes of Christ are similar to those of a dove…He is serene and tranquil.” 

Holy Face "Il Volto Santo" of Manoppello
Holy Face “Il Volto Santo” of Manoppello

“Those who gaze on it are never satisfied with contemplating it, and wish to  always have it before their eyes.  And when they eventually leave it, with heavy sighs full of love, they are forced to leave Him their hearts, bathed in tears.” –Capuchin Donato da Bomba 1646

On September 1, 2006, another pilgrim (some also may say an “angelic pilgrim”) came to Manoppello to see for himself the Holy Face of Jesus on the Veil–Pope Benedict XVI, who has elevated the status of the Shrine to a Sanctuary Basilica. “Your Face O Lord I seek–seeking the Face of Jesus must be the longing of all Christians, indeed, we are ‘the generation’ which seeks His Face in our day, the Face of the ‘God of Jacob.’  If we persevere in our quest for the Face of the Lord, at the end of our earthly pilgrimage, He, Jesus, will be our eternal joy, our reward and glory forever.”–Pope Benedict XVI, September 1, 2006

"Come and see"--Pope Benedict XVI
“Come and you will see”(Jn 1:39) Pope Benedict XVI and the Holy Face of Manoppello

The Face of Manoppello, which may be viewed from both sides, is described as “dark,” “light,” “bluish”, “golden” or it may even “vanish completely”…all are different, but, it is one Face!

 Holy Face of Manoppello, Italy Photo: Paul Badde
“dark”
Manoppello,photo: Paul Badde
“light”
Image of Manoppello Photo by Paul Badde
“bluish”
"Golden"
“golden”
image-24
“or vanish completely”

To read more-Book Sources: True Icon: From the Shroud of Turin to the Veil of Manoppello, The Rediscovered Face, the Unmistakeable Features of Christ, and Witnesses to Mystery, Investigations into Christ’s Relics

Online publication sources: Holy Face of Manoppello Blogspot, The Holy Face of Manoppello From Manopello to the World

Also highly recommended–for a very scholarly, fascinating talk on Manoppello read Fr. Daren Zehnle’s “More than an Abstraction”

Paul Badde pondering the Holy Veil of Manoppello
Paul Badde pondering the Holy Veil of Manoppello

Grazie mille! to Paul Badde for generously sharing his photo images and love of the Holy Face!

 

 

 

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.