Monday, July 13, 2015

Minister General of Capuchins and Superior General of Marianhill Missionaries Visit the Holy Face of Manoppello

On June 29, the feast of St. Peter and Paul, the Minister General of the Capuchin Friars, Fr. Mauro Johri, O.F.M., Cap., and the Superior General of the Marianhill Missionaries, Fr. Damian Weber, C.M.M., paid a visit to the Basilica of the Holy Face of Manoppello.

Fr. Ranieri, Fr. Johri, Fr. Palombarini, Fr. Weber
The two religious leaders, both of who are Swiss born, met with the Capuchin provincial, Fr. Carmine Ranieri, O.F.M., Cap.;  the Rector of the Basilica, Fr. Carmine Cucinelli, O.F.M., Cap.; and other members of the Capuchin Community of the shrine including Fr. Paolo Palombarini, O.F.M., Cap..

Paul Badde gave an explanation of the Holy Face with details about the life of the Servant of God Domenico da Cese, Apostle of the Holy Face.  Fr. Johri expressed his thanks to all those, far and near, who collaborate with the Capuchins of the shrine in spreading devotion to the Holy Face around the world, and also expressed his conviction that the shrine would be one of the principal destinations for the upcoming Holy Year of Mercy.

Fr. Johri listening to Paul Badde's explanation of the Holy Face

thanks to Antonio Bini for photos and information on the visit

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Shroud Effect on the Holy Face

by Antonio Bini

Pilgrims from Burma (Myanmar)

Irish Pilgrims from County Donegal at Mass in the Basilica of the Holy Face of Manoppello

                                                                             (all photos by Antonio Bini except as noted)

A few days after the conclusion of the period of display of the Shroud (24 June 2015) it is possible to make some assessment on the positive effects that it has had for the Holy Face of Manoppello.

The German magazine Der Pilger (The Pilgrim)  predicted in its December 2014 issue "there will be many pilgrims before or after a visit to the Shroud who will travel to Manoppello, seven hundred kilometers further south." Also according to the Catholic magazine, "if literature on the Holy Face is not as extensive as that on the Shroud, it is likely that the small cloth of Manoppello, which is no less mysterious, has been revered for much longer than its counterpart in Turin ".An obvious allusion to the Veronica.

photo by Paul Badde

Many people did take the opportunity to visit the Shroud (19 April to 24 June 2015) together with the Holy Face.  Certainly visits to Manoppello did not record the great numbers seen in Turin, where it is estimated the total flow to be a million and a half people, but the phenomenon of increased visits to the shrine in Manoppello, already perceived during the previous exposition of 2010,  occurred in even larger numbers in 2015, especially in regards to pilgrims from abroad.

An effect probably unexpected by the Piedmontese organizers of the Exposition, who made use of large public and private contributions - something impossible for the Holy Face - for promotional advertising, publishing initiatives, conferences, etc.
One such meeting was held in Vienna on  March 17 and 18, with the title "Spuren vom Heiligen Antlitz: Sindon, Sudarium, Mandylion, Veronica, the Holy Face" (Traces of the Holy Face:  Shroud, Sudarium, Mandylion, Veronica, Volto Santo) whose purpose seems to have been to make even more uncertain and confused the historical context referring to the images of Christ, even resorting to mocking and polemical assertions regarding the Volto Santo (Holy Face of Manoppello). I refer, in particular,to  the controversy between the Prof. Karlheinz Dietz and the writer Paul Badde which ended up on the pages of the German newspaper Die Tagespost. So much hostility towards Badde seems to stem from the success of his books, rather than  from a documented thesis by scholars who have never even seen the Holy Face of Manoppello.

Even in many publications produced in Italy during the exposition and largely supported by the organizers there has even been found the deletion of references to the Holy Face of Manoppello, even where they were present in the same issue at the previous exposition of 2010. Singular the fact that many of these articles, pamphlets or magazine supplements referred back to the Shroud any known image of Christ, from Veronica to the Mandylion of Edessa, which some also identified  as the Shroud.

And yet respect and veneration is nurtured towards the Shroud by scholars who are interested in the Holy Face of Manoppello and by the Capuchins themselves, as is also demonstrated by the reproduction of the Shroud in the original size recently exhibited in the restored  Exhibit Hall of the shrine where there were also already present reasoned comparisons between the two faces while a judgment has never been made on the results of the examinations performed in 1988 by three separate laboratories (Tucson in Arizona, Oxford and Zurich) on the Carbon 14 radiocarbon dating, which attributed the cloth as being from a late medieval period, but without ever being able to explain how the image was imprinted.

Original Size Copy of the Shroud of Turin on Display at the Shrine of the Holy Face of Manoppello

Returning to the pilgrimages, significant, compared to 2010, is the presence of organized groups from the United States, with pilgrimages from Green Bay (Wisconsin), Tampa and Crystal River (Florida), Westerville (Ohio), Ypsilanti (Michigan), Hollywood ( California), etc.

Worth highlighting is the pilgrimage of a large group of people from Manchester (Connecticut), who arrived on May 19 in Manoppello, before their visit to the Shroud.  It was led by an American priest living in Rome who reported that it was Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke to suggest the trip to Manoppello.  Cardinal Burke himself had visited the shrine on two occasions.  The pilgrims from Connecticut were impressed by the Holy Face, expressing wonder and emotion. Many claimed to have seen the true face of Jesus.

Pilgrimage from Manchester, Connecticut (USA)

Various travel operators have offered focused itineraries, as is the case with "Catholic Journeys" of New Orleans which offers a tour called "The Passion of Christ", with visits to Turin and Manoppello. Both destinations have also been offered by Mater Dei, Unitours and other operators.

Groups from Poland, Germany and Austria were noted, as well as the presence  for the first time of groups from Burma, Singapore, the Philippines, South Korea, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and Sri Lanka, which confirm the emerging interest in the Holy Face among Catholics from Asian countries. Many young people, with enthusiasm and intense faith, have approached the mystery of the Holy Face. It is believed that these presences are a reflection of the mission of the Holy Face of September of 2014, in one country, the Philippines, a reference for other Asian countries in which the presence of Catholics is very small. When it was possible to personally meet these groups it has generally been able to verify that the Asian pilgrims who arrived in Italy during the period of the exposition of the Shroud had not included Turin in their itineraries.

Pilgrims from Sri Lanka

Pilgrims from Indonesia

 For many visitors and organizers of pilgrimages the Holy Face of Manoppello appears on the same level as the Shroud or otherwise the two images are perceived as complementary.  This is similarly seen in some sources of information, such as the already mentioned German magazine Der Pilger, which link the two faces together, or, at times, seem to favor the Holy Face for the immediate visual perception that is laid  without mediation before visitors whether devotees or not.  A living image that expresses its apparent uniqueness, even without special scientific supports or interpretive aids, which nevertheless are not lacking.
In this regard it seems interesting to note that on May 22, 2015, during the exhibition of the Shroud, the Pier Giorgio Frassati Cultural Center of Turin organized a conference with the title   1898-2006 - The Rediscovered Face" with the participation of Raffaella Zardoni, curator of the exhibition "The Face of Jesus: From That Gaze, the Human Person is Born", which was held in the Manhattan Center of New York City from January 17 to 19, 2014 as part of the New York Encounter 2014.  The conference, during which the Holy Face was spoken about for the first time in Turin, was eagerly attended by many people among whom were volunteers at the Exhibition of the Shroud, demonstrating an attitude of openness among believers, including among those who are more connected to the Shroud, who are informing themselves about the Veil of Manoppello without prejudice.  Among those in attendance was Mario Trematore the firefighter who rescued the Shroud from destruction during the fire of April 1997.

The exposition of the Shroud ended June 24, while that of the Holy Face continues every day to welcome visitors from around the world at the Shrine of Manoppello.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Nihil Obstat for the Cause of Beatification of Padre Domenico da Cese -- Apostle of the Holy Face

Recently I received the good news from Antonio Bini of the decision of the Vatican's  Congregation for the Cause of the Saints to grant the Nihil Obstat for the Cause of Beatification of the Servant of God Padre Domenico da Cese, O.F.M., Cap. (1905-1978) the Apostle of the Holy Face of Manoppello.  Padre Domenico resided at the Shrine in Manoppello from 1965 to 1978.  He promoted the Holy Face in every way possible and lived an exemplary life as a religious.

Padre Domenico da Cese promoting the Holy Face of Manoppello at the Eucharistic Congress in Pescara in 1977

Here is a copy of the Nihil Obstat from the Congregation addressed to the Archbishop of Chieti-Vasto Bruno Forte. Thanks to Antonio Bini for this news and the copy of the Nihil Obstat.  The faithful devoted to Padre Domenico who have witnessed extraordinary events that would be useful to the process of beatification are asked to send the pertinent information to the Santuario del Volto Santo 65024 Manoppello - Italy

To learn more about Padre Domenico see the following posts

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Know that I am With You Always, Until the End of the World! the Gospel of Matthew 28:20

photo by Paul Badde
                                                 "Rejoice in the Lord always! Again I Say Rejoice!"
                                                 ( from the Letter of the Apostle Paul to the Philippians 4:4)

Monday, June 8, 2015

Plans for New Mission to the Philippines, Canada and the USA


                                Ambassador Mercedes Arrastia Tuason with Fr. Carmine Cucinelli, O.F.M., Cap.

Fr. Cucinelli  between the ambassador Mercedes Arrastia Tuason– at his right – and her secretary Ms. Josephine Bantug to his left.  Next to the ambassador is  Sr. Petra-Maria Steiner, who accompanied the guests to the renovated museum of the Holy Face.

by Antonio Bini

Following the success of the first mission launched in September 2014 , which was announced by a press release on the website of the Episcopal Conference of the Philippines:

 a new mission of the Shrine of the Holy Face is being organized for the Philippines.

The program for the mission, which is currently being finalized, also includes several stops prior to the arrival in the Asian country -- in Canada (Vancouver) and USA (Los Angeles).  In the Philippines, the mission will begin in the capital Manila.

The initiative is sponsored by a devotee of the Holy Face, Mrs. Daisy Neves, an American citizen of Filipino origin, living in the city of Bellevue, Washington. The rector of the Sanctuary p. Carmine Cucinelli, will be assisted by Fr. Bonifacio Lopez, Filipino priest in Rome, acting as translator, religious advisor and spokesman.  

Also part of the delegation will be the author and journalist Paul Badde, well known writer and scholar of the Holy Face in the international arena, author of the books "The Face of God" and "The True Icon" published in the USA by Ignatius Press of San Francisco.

Badde, who is currently working with the television network EWTN, recalls that "years ago John Paul II prophesied that the third millennium would be the millennium of Asia for the Catholic Church. In that vision, it is clear that now - in a crisis situation for the church universal - the pilgrims from the Philippines and other Asian countries are beginning to rediscover and recognize the True Human and merciful face of God in the ancient Holy Sudarium of Manoppello.”

The purpose of the mission is in line with the next special Jubilee proclaimed by Pope Francis.

In reality, the extraordinary result of the mission last year led the religious authorities and government of the Philippines to choose the Church of the Immaculate Conception of Nampicuan, in the province of New Ecija, which Fr.  Carmine Cucinelli had given an accurate reproduction of the Holy Face, as a reference center of the devotion of the Holy Face in the Philippines.   Fr.  Carmine still recalls with emotion the day of the visit and the solemn ceremony presided over by Bishop Roberto Mallari, of the Diocese of San Jose, along with two other bishops and religious, and the enthusiastic participation of a huge crowd of the faithful.

In recent months the church was elevated to become the Shrine of the Holy Face of Jesus, as a result of actions by government as well as ecclesiastical authorities:

The complex organizational network is made up of three groups of volunteers, one from each country, coordinated by Mrs Daisy Neves and composed predominantly of women devoted to the Holy Face, enthusiastic in helping in the work of spreading the devotion "for the greater glory of God." 

The groups are reaching out to parish priests, carrying out awareness-raising in the areas which will be visited. The effort began with a greeting from the Archbishop of the diocese of Chieti-Vasto, Mons. Bruno Forte, directed to the bishops of the dioceses involved in the program, with reference to the purpose of the Mission. The program will be defined in the coming weeks.

The overall activities of the mission were explained for Mrs. Mercedes Arrastia Tuason, Philippine ambassador to the Holy See, during a visit to the Shrine of the Holy Face of Manoppello.  Mrs Tuason, who was accompanied by her secretary Ms Josephine Bantug and a small delegation, expressed satisfaction for the important initiative that follows the one already largely positive realized last year.

The rector of the Shrine thanked the Ambassador for her visit and for her interest in the new mission, and took the opportunity to express his deep gratitude to Mrs Daisy Neves and all those enthusiastically working in the Philippines, as well as in Canada and the United States towards the organization of this initiative which will involve thousands of people, especially in the Asian country.

Editor's note:  to see record of 2014 mission to the Philippines and the USA go to the following posts:

Monday, May 18, 2015

Antonio Bini Reporting on the Feast of the Holy Face of Manoppello May 2015

the procession from the Basilica of the Holy Face of Manoppello to the Church of San Nicola Sunday May 17 

all photos by Antonio Bini except as noted

Dear Ray,

Once again the annual feast of the Holy Face was celebrated on the third Sunday in May -- this year by a huge crowd -- much larger than those of recent years. The mass of people could follow only part of the route of the procession after having reached the entrance of the town which is known for its narrow winding streets. The organizing committee did its best to prepare for the procession and related events.  Participating in the procession was Fr. Heinrich Pfeiffer who was greeted affectionately by Fr. Carmine Cucinelli, rector of the Basilica, and by Mayor Gennaro Matarazzo.

 It must be noted that the Jesuit, who is the main person responsible for the  important historical  research done on the Holy Face since the nineteen eighties, is still recovering from four strokes suffered last summer in Mexico during the summer courses which for some years he has taught at universities  in Mexico City and Puebla. Despite his precarious health conditions he still did not want to miss the feast of the Holy Face and concelebrated, together with Don Nicolino, the Mass that was subsequently held in the church of San Nicola after the arrival of the Holy Face.

 Paul Badde was there too, with his ever-present camera, having just completed his latest publishing effort -- the production of an inexpensive booklet in multiple languages ​​on the faces of the Shroud of Turin and the Holy Face of Manoppello, seizing upon the current interest linked to the  Exposition of the Shroud.  Also participating in the procession was Raffaella Zardoni, whose exhibition Il Volto Ritrovato (the Rediscovered Face) is on display these days in the province of Verona.  A number of German pilgrims were present. The head of the procession was left as usual to the company of pilgrims from Vacri (province of Chieti), followed by the company from Santa Giusta, nearby to Lanciano, in the wake of centuries-old traditions of devotion to the Holy Face.

Twenty children dressed as angels went before the members of religious orders and the Holy Face.

photo by Paul Badde

The band from Bracigliano (Salerno) alternated with the choir of the Basilica of the Holy Face, conducted by Nicholas Costantini, with breaks for the recitation of prayers. Before arrival in the town the Holy Face was greeted by the shooting off of cannons and fireworks.

Video of Holy Face procession entering town in May 2011 to the sound of fireworks

at the Church of San Nicola:  photo by Paul Badde

Many people, once they had been to the church of San Nicola, also visited the exhibit prepared by Sr. Blandina, located in nearby Piazza Marcinelle.

The overnight prayer vigil was led by the  Sisters of the Most Holy Blood until the morning procession for the return of the Holy Face to the Basilica.

Among the most interesting initiatives related to these May celebrations  I have to point out the first edition of the Cammino of the Holy Face, which began in Rome on May 6 starting at St. Peter's Basilica.  The Cammino is meant to recall the journey of the Veronica to Manoppello. The initiative, promoted by the young councilman Emanuele De Luca, and supported by the archbishop of the diocese of Chieti-Vasto, Bruno Forte, took place on foot over a period of 10 days, with various stages, following the ancient route of Tiburtina- Valeria, along pathways and roads. 15 travelers left Rome and were joined by others on the way, including some on horseback, arriving in Manoppello on the afternoon of  May 16. All bore the neckerchief of the Cammino. Upon arrival, the group was welcomed at the Basilica by Fr. Carmine who blessed the participants, noting how in the past it was foot travel which characterized  pilgrimages to the Holy Face.

Best wishes,