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 

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.

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

Many people, once they had been to the church of St. Nicholas, 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,


Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Pope Francis' Prayer for the Holy Year of Mercy

from the website for the Holy Year of Mercy

Lord Jesus Christ,
you have taught us to be merciful like the heavenly Father,
and have told us that whoever sees you sees Him.
Show us your face and we will be saved.

Your loving gaze freed Zacchaeus and Matthew from being enslaved by money;
the adulteress and Magdalene from seeking happiness only in created things;
made Peter weep after his betrayal,
and assured Paradise to the repentant thief.
Let us hear, as if addressed to each one of us, the words that you spoke to the Samaritan woman:
“If you knew the gift of God!”
You are the visible face of the invisible Father,
of the God who manifests his power above all by forgiveness and mercy:
let the Church be your visible face in the world, its Lord risen and glorified.
You willed that your ministers would also be clothed in weakness
in order that they may feel compassion for those in ignorance and error:
let everyone who approaches them feel sought after, loved, and forgiven by God.
Send your Spirit and consecrate every one of us with its anointing,
so that the Jubilee of Mercy may be a year of grace from the Lord,
and your Church, with renewed enthusiasm, may bring good news to the poor,
proclaim liberty to captives and the oppressed,
and restore sight to the blind. 
We ask this through the intercession of Mary, Mother of Mercy,
you who live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever.

photos by Paul Badde

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Witness to Signs of a Living Faith

James Day,  a campus minister at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. has written an article for Catholic Exchange which points to the faith and works of Paul Badde in making known in the world the Holy Face of Manoppello together with the Shroud of Turin and the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Paul Badde greeting Pope Benedict on Sept. 1, 2006 in Manoppello, with Sr. Blandina Schlomer on his left, Fr. Heinrich Pfeiffer,S.J., and Fr. Andreas Resch, C.S.S.R., on his right, Archbishop Bruno Forte behind Pope Benedict

Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Living Face of the Father's Mercy

Pope Francis in announcing a special Holy Year of Mercy Dec. 8, 2015 to November 20, 2016:

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

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

 photos by Paul Badde

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Snow Has Not Stopped the Pilgrims

Antonio Bini writes from the Shrine of the Holy Face

In the mountains of Abruzzo  the snow has returned especially on the Maiella. The Shrine of the Holy Face was without electricity for three days.  On Sunday morning (March 8) the power returned and road conditions improved. The snow has not stopped the pilgrims, who arrived at the shrine on numerous buses, as can be seen from the accompanying photo.

Many people participated in the Way of the Cross which was led in the early afternoon by the Polish nuns of the Holy Blood.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Homily of Bishop Roberto Mallari at the Enthronement of the Holy Face in Immaculate Conception Parish, Nampicuan, Nueva Ecija, Philippines

Brothers in the episcopate, Excellency Monsignor Florentino Lavarias, Archbishop of San Fernando, Excellency Msgr. Florentino Cinense, Bishop of Tarlac, dear priests led by Fr Christian Magtalas, pastor of the parish of Immaculate Conception, the organizing group for the visit of the Holy Face of Manoppello, led by the Rector of the Basilica of the Holy Face in Manoppello, Father Carmine Cucinelli, dear benefactors led by the Alzate and Gallego families, dear brothers and sisters in Christ, good afternoon to you all. We are gathered here to enthrone the Sudarium of the Holy Face of Manoppello revered as the funeral veil of Christ on which is imprinted the Holy Face of the Risen Lord.

Why is this taking place in a small parish in the country town of Nampicuan when there are basilicas, shrines and cathedrals in the dioceses and in the archdioceses of the Philippines?  A simple parish, unknown, unpopular and humble; nevertheless has been chosen to host the Sudarium of the Holy Face of Jesus, the relic most studied by many scientists. Do you know that the motto of Pope Francis 'Miserable atque eligendo',  means,'Humble and chosen'. In short, this is the summary of the Magnificat (Luke 1,46-55), where Mary praises God for having lifted up the lowly. these words embody the wisdom of God, who chooses "what is weak in the world to shame the strong '' (1 Corinthians 1:27). These words capture the experience of each of us, called by God to a mission; the experience of a community called by God for a mission such as the parish of the Immaculate Conception.

This experience manifests the continuous love of God as the Good Shepherd and his preference for the poor. In short, these words are a summary of the whole divine economy. As our Blessed Mother Mary, the community of the parish of the Immaculate Conception, despite its littleness, is privileged, called and chosen to take care of this relic of the Holy Face. Each of you are invited, through the intercession of Blessed Mother Mary, the Immaculate Conception, to look and to know God by fixing your eyes on the face of his son Jesus. Father Raniero Cantalamessa reminded us during the retreat of the national clergy, "You become what it is you gaze upon!” We become Jesus if we look constantly upon him with love.

Fr. Christian Magtalas told me about the extraordinary spiritual renewal that took place during the preparation for this important event: he said it is the experience of being risen from sin, from the darkness, from human frailty.  This gift, that is, to have the Holy Face of Jesus, brings us light, conversion from a sinful life, unity and healing from our weakness. He said that many people began to attend Holy Mass. It is like a spark that brings enlightenment to those who had not bothered to attend Mass and to enrich their relationship with God.

Many stories have been heard about conversion, that that is “pagbabalik sa Diyos” (return to the way of God).  A very concrete example, he said, was a group of young people- altar boys when they were younger- and others who have helped in the preparation of our celebration today. They worked to beautify the surroundings of the parish church. These young men were starting to work from 5pm right out of school and continued until midnight.

They thus found joy and a new meaning for having put themselves at the service of the Church. Many of them approached for sacramental confession with a common reason: “‘we want to purify ourselves before welcoming the Holy Face of Jesus.”  Father Christian after listening to their confessions, said that “they were the most significant of his ministry”

According to the pastor, there have already occurred many healings, especially in interpersonal relationships. Many people were attracted by the unity and let themselves be drawn by this force to work together as a single body. Each extends a hand to help, and so it began. . Even more, some people who though belonging to other religions have contributed to the preparation of this great event.

Also, there are those who have turned their back on the Church and now are returning. Even before its arrival we already have felt the presence of the Holy Face of Jesus.

The people of Nampicuan and the entire Diocese of San Jose welcome the sudarium of the Holy Face of Jesus as a blessing. And for this great gift, we sincerely thank the Lord. The gifts received during the preparation for this event can affirm this reality. Indeed, many have become so generous and open in welcoming the presence of the Lord in the persons of our brothers and sisters. Everyone really gave something according to his ability.  We really have experienced the true ministry. To God be the glory!

Dear faithful of Nampicuan, I pray sincerely to the Lord that the experiences of light, healing and conversion that you experienced in recent weeks and months can become a permanent experience especially now that the veil of the Holy Face of Jesus is enthroned in your parish.

Pope Benedict XVI reminded the faithful in his homily during his visit to the Shrine of Manoppello that if we have the desire to know God, we can know him through the face of Christ. He said that this is the reason why we venerate the images that tradition considers as exceptional ways to glimpse this face, both in Manoppello as in Turin. "The Shroud of Turin," he said, "is an icon written in blood.  Every trace of blood speaks of love and of life. ""While the veil of Manoppello is the sudarium of Christ. This is the mysterious second cloth from the grave of the Crucified Christ that John the Evangelist discovered about 40 hours after the death of Jesus- along with another, linen sheet." 

In Manoppello, we glimpse on his face an initial ray of the light that the apostle saw on Tabor during the Transfiguration, as is narrated by St. Matthew 5:3-14. Both cloths contain images of light, on one weak and shadowy, while on the other truly clear. The cloth of the tomb is gigantic; the other is the size of a napkin. His portrait is exactly the size of a human face, on which we perceive him alive, that is, after his death and not before- with the wounds of his passion, but liberated, peaceful, benevolent.

The Shroud of Turin contains, in addition to the discreet image, many stains of blood from a totured man; while the napkin illustrates the "Lamb of God" killed, but intact and fully pure and cleansed, with a face that closely unites pain and sorrow and light as only love can do. As Archbishop Bruno Forte said. "This reminds us that Christ died and rose, never to die again. Here the history of humanity has decisively changed"

In today's first reading, we are reminded that we are one body in Christ and drink of the same spirit, the source of different gifts in the mystical body of Christ. Our celebration today, invites us to glimpse that this Mystical Body of Christ has a head, Jesus Christ.

As we look to the Holy Face of Jesus, let our first principle be that the Lord Jesus remain always as our head, so that the gifts we possess are always offered to the service of the mystical body. This will be a concrete way to avoid competition and jealousy; to really work together always for the building of the body of Christ, the Church. I was talking to Archbishop Lavarias this morning and I asked him why even in Church we cannot avoid jealousy and rivalry among members.  He replied, 'perhaps because many times we lose sight of the head of the Church, Jesus'.

St. Therese of the Child Jesus, known as St. Teresa of the Holy Face of Jesus, when she realized she was part of this mystical body of Christ,   cried ecstatically:  "I want to be love in the heart of Church!” Today, as we look upon the Holy Face of Jesus of Manoppello, as we gaze upon our Head, we pray that we can find our place in the mystical body of Christ and shouting ecstatically as did St. Teresa, "I too want to be love in the head or hands or feet of Jesus." Let us pray that we find our place in the Church, and to give ourselves wholeheartedly to the glory of God and the Church.

When I was chosen as bishop, Pope Benedict XVI, commissioned me: "Teach, dear son, the faithful to know how to recognize the presence of Christ in every person, so they can find and see his face in the midst of the other, but especially in the poor."

I realized that to do this, one of the first things that I needed to do is also to challenge you and ask you to always look upon the face of Jesus so that it is imprinted forever in your hearts. This surely will remind us of our Head and become a challenge to offer ourselves as a gift for the whole mystical body of Christ, especially the sick, the poor and the marginalized.

 May the Lord Jesus through every member of this parish of the Immaculate Conception give notice to the sick, to the poor and to those who are and lifeless: 'I tell you, little girl or boy, arise! “May the arrival of the veil of the Holy Face of Jesus bring us spiritual renewal, healing and salvation, so that we may be able to exult: "God has truly visited his people!”Amen.

S. E. Rev. Msgr. Roberto Calara Mallari

Bishop of the Diocese of San Jose, Nueva Ecija, Philippines

translated from the Italian version of the homily which appeared in the December 2014 edition of Il Volto Santo di Manoppello, the journal of the Shrine of the Holy Face of Manoppello

Sunday, February 15, 2015

The Holy Face in the USA 2014

(we continue to report on the Mission of the Holy Face to the Philippines and the USA in September 2014.  This article originally appeared in the journal of the Shrine of the Holy Face of Manoppello -- Il Volto Santo di Manoppello, December 2014 edition)

by Father Carmine Cucinelli, O.F.M, Cap.

Bellevue (Washington)

From Philadelphia, after flying across the entire US, we landed in Seattle. Mrs. Daisy Neves, the benefactor who financed  the mission for the dissemination of the Holy Face in America, greeted us at the airport and brought us to Bellevue, where she wanted us to begin, in her hometown, in her own parish.The church is modern, named after St. Madeleine Sophie Barat, the founder of the Religious of the Sacred Heart, and rises up on the top of a hill.

The structure is mostly made of wood with some parts in concrete, with a single nave which has a large crucifix behind the main altar.  To the left is the place for the musicians  complete with drums, organ, brass, flutes, guitars etc. and the place for the choir with several microphones on stands.   It must be really exciting to participate at the Mass on Sunday.   After preparing an adjacent room for the talk on the Holy Face, we celebrated the Holy Mass.  The pastor presided and I preached  the homily in Italian which Don Danilo translated into english.

A giant poster of the Holy Face was placed in front of the altar. Something notable:  the faithful are given the possibility to  receive Holy Communion under both species.  The priest distributed  communion with the Host while a lay person held the chalice a little distance away so that the faithful who wished could partake.  At the end the pastor thanked all for the excellent program and asked both Don Danilo and me to speak.  Then in a reception hall the presentation on the Holy Face began.  Everyone was very attentive as Don Danilo spoke in English and translated for me.   Afterwards, refreshments were served, Filipino style, a buffet filled with all kinds of food including dessert.

Second City: San Francisco (California)

We arrived by plane and landed in the early afternoon.   Raymond Frost came to pick us up and brought us to our hotel.  I wish to point out that Raymond edits a blog in english based in San Francisco which is entirely dedicated to the Holy Face of Manoppello, very up to date, with news, photos and

The first stop was the nearby city of East Palo Alto, in the church of St. Francis of Assisi.   Here we celebrated Mass presided by the the pastor, who said some parts in English and others in Spanish.  Among those present at the Mass was Mrs.  Augustine Pham, the lady who following her visit to Manoppello helped make it possible for me to come to San Francisco.  After Mass, the presentation was given in Spanish with Don Danilo also speaking  in English.   It is a very unique parish community made up of faithful from  a number of ethnic groups speaking Spanish for the most part, but of English speaking groups as well, so that the liturgies are very unique.

The next morning at the church of St. Ignatius of Loyola. At 10am the presentation was given in English. The sacristans set up  in the sanctuary a large screen with the projection from behind.  Amazingly, the response to the presentation was beyond expectations.  There were numerous questions raised by those present seeking clarification.  We saw the tremendous desire to learn more about this topic.

The main sacristan, Raymond Frost, who organized the event including the  publicity with flyers and internet and newspaper postings, was very satisfied with the participation of those present.  At Noon we celebrated Holy Mass with the assistant pastor presiding.  In the afternoon Augustine took us for a tour of the city, bringing us over the famous Golden Gate Bridge and then for a visit to the very modern style Cathedral.  Then she took us  to the airport for our flight to Las Vegas.

Third city: Las Vegas (Nevada).

The flight from San Francisco to Las Vegas was very short, only an hour and twenty minutes.   Awaiting us there were Ms. Daisy, Joanne, Tita and other friends with a welcome sign showing the Holy Face.  In the afternoon they were all there at  Rancho Destino, in the parish of Don Nadin Abou Said, dedicated to St. Charbel.   The Mass was celebrated in Italian, I presided and gave the homily. Italians were, in reality, very few, most were Filipinos and other ethnic groups.  From time to time it was translated into  English.  The choirs performed songs in Italian which were taught to them by a talented lady.  The Mass was celebrated in a large multi-purpose hall, used for liturgy as well as other events:  receptions, banquets and such.

After the Mass I gave a chasuble with the image of the Holy Face to Don Nadin, who wore it until the last moment of the day.   A presentation followed with projections of the images of the Holy Face, video, and comments in english.  At the end the community offered a buffet supper to all.

What is  Las Vegas like at night? So many lights of diverse colors.  Along a main road were built hotel-casinos, each with a theme: vintage Roman Empire with large buildings Roman columns, statues etc, London with its famous bridge, Pirates with ships, Paris  with the Eiffel tower, the world of fairies, Venice with Piazza San Marco, the bridge of Rialto.  An unending line of shops selling the latest fashion clothing,  jewelry, leather goods and every other kind of luxury.

But what is most impressive are the slot machines, hundreds and hundreds in every structure. The center of all the attractions is located in the Bellagio. Lights, flowers, gardens. The beautiful performance of the hotel's fountain on the lagoon named "Como" with jets that shoot spectacular bursts of water into the air to the sound of music.

North of the city there is the parish of Our Lady of Las Vegas, which is very well attended.The church was full of people of all ages.  Some volunteers showed those who arrived late to the remaining empty seats.  Very organized.  A mixed choir of about 25 members,  to the right of the sanctuary with a piano in the back,  three violins and a viola, with a dozen microphones.  The assistant pastor presided over the celebration and we concelebrated.

The sacristan Adna Martinez, who organized the gathering at the parish served as lector for the readings and prayers of the faithful.  Some of the songs performed were in english but the majority were in the language of the Philippines (Tagalog).  To allow everyone to follow the songs the words were projected on two screens up high to the right and left of the altar.

It worked very well.   Everyone was very attentive.  At the end of the presentation there were many questions.   Afterwards many of the faithful approached to have a picture taken close to the Holy Face but  above all, to receive the blessing of the priest.

This city, which has a bad reputation in the world to be the "Sin City", of corruption and vice, however, has nevertheless  many devout and religious people trying to live a Christian life according to the plan of God.