Friday, February 22, 2008

Light and Motion

A unique and extremely fascinating aspect of the Holy Face of Manoppello is that it changes before one's eyes in constant motion depending on the light. No single photograph, nor even 1000 photographs can ever capture the entire experience of what is present to the eyes above the altar at Manoppello. Thus the characteristic of the image/fabric is delightful yet demanding, even humbling. I have chosen here to post my translation of a passage from each of the books on the Holy Face written by Paul Badde and Saverio Gaeta which introduce us to some understanding of what we are seeing.

From The Other Shroud by Saverio Gaeta, p. 20

"The noted biblical scholar Jean Galot has called attention to the stress that the Evangelist John placed in distinguishing between the burial cloths and the cloth which had covered Jesus' head. Of the latter, in fact, the evangelist did not speak at the moment of burial, but only after the resurrection, as if suddenly this fabric had acquired a new importance which before it did not have. Writes Fr. Galot, 'When he had stopped at the entrance to the tomb and had bent down to take a first look, John had simply seen the cloths lying there; for him it was a first surprise. When he entered the tomb after Peter he was struck by one detail: the cloth that had been placed on the head of Jesus was separate from the laid out cloths. The fact of underlining this distinction shows that the disciple attributed great importance to the position of the cloth that had covered the head''. (The quote from Fr. Galot is taken from the article "Vedere e credere" (seeing and believing) in Civilta' Cattolica II (2000), 244.)

From The Second Shroud by Paul Badde, p. 91

quoting Fr. Pfeiffer "It is possible that both relics remained at Edessa until the 5th century. Definitely it is right to affirm that both cloths were steeped in a solution of aloes and myrrh which would have rendered them photo sensitive. The Shroud is clearly a negative image; the face on the veil, that presumably was placed on top, is clearly a positive image. From the point of view of photographic technique, this latter image must have been found on the exterior. "
(Badde) "Does this mean that you would have us believe that God is a photographer?"
(Pfeiffer) "The Greek word photos means "light"; graphein means "to write". There is not a better way to describe the technique by which these two images were created: they were "written with light". Who else could have been able to do this?"

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