Thursday, April 28, 2011

Prayer for the Beatification of Father Domenico da Cese

Bishop Luca Brandolini of the Diocese of Sora-Aquino-Pontecorvo composed and published a prayer in 2006 for the beatification of Padre Domenico, the apostle of the Holy Face. What follows is my translation of Bishop Brandolini's prayer. To see the original Italian (and check me) click on the image of the prayer above to enlarge it.

O God, glorify in the Church your servant Father Domenico da Cese, humble Capuchin priest, to whom you gave the privilege of sharing also visibly the passion of Christ and of being able to read into the hearts of souls in order to relieve their burdens and to reconcile them with you through the sacrament of pardon, as well as the capacity of recognizing in the poor and the suffering the very Holy Face of your beloved Son, whose devotion he promoted with such zeal, through his intercession obtain for me the humility of heart and the simplicity of the little ones to whom you have revealed the secrets of the Kingdom, and in my hour of trial give me the strength to overcome the seductions of evil in order to put Satan to flight, and to merit, at the end of my earthly pilgrimage, to be able to contemplate the Holy Face of Jesus in the glory of Paradise.

Though unworthy as I am of your divine favors, I ask that you might grant, through the intercession of your faithful servant Father Domenico, the grace that I humbly ask of you...

This prayer was sent to me by Antonio Bini who received it from Mr. Nicola Iacobone of Rome during the recent Manoppello conference on Father Domenico by the express wish of Bishop Brandolini. Many thanks to each of them. In a future post I will share Bishop Brandolini's preface to the book on Father Domenico written by Mario Sgarbosso which I also received through the same channel.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Together We See and Seek The Human Face of God

"The Holy Face of Jesus (is) that Face which 'some Greeks', of which the Gospel speaks, wished to see; that Face which we contemplate in the days of the Passion disfigured by human sins, indifference and ingratitude; that Face, radiant with light and dazzling with glory that will shine out at dawn on Easter Day. Let us keep our hearts and minds fixed on the Face of Christ."

Pope Benedict XVI, March 29, 2009

"Let us ask Mary, Mother of God, to help us to welcome her Son and, in him, true peace. Let us ask her to sharpen our perception so that we may recognize in the face of every human person, the Face of Christ, the heart of peace!"

Pope Benedict XVI, January 1, 2007

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Pope Benedict Preaching and Teaching on Holy Week

From Pope Benedict's homily on Palm Sunday 2011

"We are on pilgrimage with the Lord to the heights. We are striving for pure hearts and clean hands, we are seeking truth, we are seeking the face of God. Let us show the Lord that we desire to be righteous, and let us ask him: Draw us upwards! Make us pure! Grant that the words which we sang in the processional psalm may also hold true for us; grant that we may be part of the generation which seeks God, 'which seeks your face, O God of Jacob' (cf. Ps 24:6). Amen."

from Pope Benedict's book "Jesus of Nazarareth, Holy Week", published by Ignatius Press 2011

"The reality of evil and injustice that disfigures the world and at the same time distorts the image of God -- this reality exists, through our sin. It cannot simply be ignored; it must be addressed. But here it is not a case of a cruel God demanding the infinite. It is exactly the opposite: God himself becomes the locus of reconciliation, and in the person of his Son takes the suffering upon himself. God himself grants his infinite purity to the world. God himself 'drinks the cup' of every horror to the dregs and thereby restores justice though the greatness of his love, which, through suffering, transforms the darkness." p. 232

"the greatness of Christ's love is revealed precisely in the fact that he takes us up into himself in all our wretchedness, into his living and holy sacrifice, so that we truly become 'his body'". p. 237

Monday, April 18, 2011

First DVD on Holy Face of Manoppello Available for Distribution in the USA, part two

The second video on the DVD distributed by Ignatius Press is entitled

"The Human Face of God"
produced in 2010 for Blagovest Media by Mark Riedemann
"Author of Idea": Paul Badde
Film Director: Nick Goryachkin


Paul Badde speaking in english in front of the Holy Face of Manoppello "This is the desire of the prophets... this is how He looked...we can't believe it's Him, you can't believe it's true, I can't believe it's true but the unbelievable is true".

Fr. Pfeiffer announces in 1999 that the image of the Veronica has been found in Manoppello. In the Eastern church there is another story of a miraculous face of Jesus which also disappeared. Paul Badde and Fr. Pfeiffer say both images are the same and that the Face on the Holy Shroud of Turin completely matches the Holy Face on the Veil of Manoppello.

Beautiful scenes of Manoppello and the surrounding mountains are shown with the image of the Holy Face there, an image of the risen Christ with open eyes. Some people think it's from the Middle Ages, though people from all over the world come to see it, even from Russia.

Archbishop Bruno Forte of the diocese of Chieti-Vasto of which Manoppello is a part states in english that the Holy Face of Manoppello is the Veronica which Dante and many other people saw in Rome. He also goes on to say that it was "saved by Gian Pietro Carafa, Bishop of Chieti then Bishop of Rome" (Pope Paul IV)"

Paul Badde speaking in front of the massive statue of Veronica at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome summarizes the history of the Veronica which is taught by Fr. Pfeiffer and other scholars. In the papacy of Pope John VII during the early 700's the Holy Face arrives in Rome but is unknown to the world until the "first downfall of the Byzantine Empire" in the 1200's when Pope Innocent displayed the Holy Face for the first time. "

"This veil drew many, many pilgrims to Rome until the new St. Peter's Basilica was built in the 16th century to be a special place to show it, but then they didn't show it from close range as they did before"

Saverio Gaeta, editor in chief of the Italian Catholic weekly magazine Famiglia Cristiana and the author of many books, including several on the Holy Face of Manoppello, states that the Veronica disappeared during the Sack of Rome in 1527 when Spanish and German troops of the Emperor overran the city and forced the pope to flee to the Castel Sant'Angelo.

Archbishop Forte says that the Veronica and the Holy Face of Manoppello are identical and the "canon of all oriental icons" is the Holy Face. Paul Badde states that the Veronica was only known in the West, and then only since the 13th century. The East has the Abgar story which is a much older legend. The East knew about the image much earlier than the West. "There is one Christianity, one image for both legends" (Veronica and Abgar)

A Russian expert, Irina Shalina, speaks of the important date of August 16, 944 AD when the Holy Image of the Face of Christ was moved to Constantinople from Edessa. "The Holy Face was much better known (in the East) after that time."

Martin Mosebach, author of "The Heresy of Formlessness" says that "the most amazing thing is that on the veil the eyes of Christ are written with disproportion". He continues that in the history of icons "it is as if there was some kind of photographic image" of the face of Christ. "This is seen in the early icons of Mt. Sinai".

Saverio Gaeta describes the thesis of Fr. Pfeiffer, renowned professor of art history at the Gregorian University in Rome, that the first prototype for all icons is the Holy Face of Manoppello.

The devotion to the Holy Face in Russia is demonstrated by a number of scenes from Russian churches. The likeness of the Holy Face in Russia is very similar to that of the Holy Face in Manoppello.

A group of pilgrims, including Paul Badde, are shown at Mass in the Basilica of the Holy Face of Manoppello. Paul Badde relates how then Cardinal Ratzinger read his first article on the Holy Face of Manoppello and told him "it's a beautiful article" when they met by chance. Badde sent the first copy of his book on the Holy Face of Manoppello which was published soon after the Cardinal had become Pope Benedict XVI. The tradition of the "true icon" is well known by Pope Benedict who has said "to know God the Father we have to look in the face of the Son."

The visit of Pope Benedict to Manoppello and the Holy Face is shown while the traditional hymn is sung "O Volto Santo di Gesu'"

Archimandrite Zenon is quoted by Paul Badde "in the past the Church defended images, now images have returned to defend the Church"

The video ends with Paul Badde praying the rosary on the bridge across the Tiber leading to Castel Sant'Angelo in front of the large statue of Veronica with the veil as the Holy Face of Manoppello is slowly superimposed. Adding to the drama of the moment is the recitation in the background of "Veronica Veil" a poem by the modern Russian poet Liudmila Kolodiazhnaia.

Monday, April 11, 2011

First DVD on Holy Face of Manoppello Available for Distribution in USA

Ignatius Press has recently released the first DVD for distribution in the USA on the Holy Face of Manoppello entitled "The Holy Face, the Veil of Manoppello" which contains two videos, one produced in 2006 by a Polish production company and the other in 2010 by a Russian company. By viewing both videos anyone can learn from experts the basic story of the Holy Face of Manoppello, see the wondrous image in various lights and angles, as well as enjoy the splendid geography of the area surrounding Manoppello, and not least rejoice in the wondrous expressions on the faces of those privileged to behold the Holy Face in person. Here is a summary of the first of the two videos:

The Holy Face produced in 2006 by Mirar for Program 1 TVP S.A., Poland
a film of Maciej Bodasinki, Leszeck Dokowicz and Grzegorz Gorny

During a thunder and lightning storm a small group of pilgrims prays before the Holy Face. The Rector of the Shrine, Fr. Carmine Cucinelli, OFM, Cap., describes the story of Fr. Donato da Bomba regarding the arrival of the Holy Face in Manoppello in 1506 through a mysterious pilgrim to the Church of San Nicola. Fr. Cucinelli summarizes how the Capuchins have provided for the veneration of the Holy Face since the 16th century.

Sr. Blandina Paschalis Schloemer, Paul Badde, Redemptorist Fr. Andreas Resch,Fr. Antonio Tedesco give their expert analysis of the Holy Face. Sr. Blandina, who was the first person to widely promote the idea of the complete match between the Holy Face of Manoppello and the Shroud of Turin, noticed the "identical symmetry of the faces on the Veil and the Shroud" and that there is "geometrical analogy between the wounds on both cloths". Fr. Andreas Resch states that "there is a 100% correspondence in structure and dimensions" and that "both images present one and the same person". Fr. Carmine describes how the veil has never been examined nor touched by anyone, and has never been studied by invasive techniques. He noted how the image disappeared when the glass panes were removed several hundred years ago and only re-appeared when the panes were put back as they were before. However there have been non-invasive studies conducted using infrared and ultraviolet photography. Fr. Antonio Tedesco, curator of the Roman Pantheon, alerts us to the fact that the image is not painted, that there are no traces of color. The fabric of the veil is in fact byssus which can not absorb paint. The veil is as thin as nylon but is well over 400 years old. Paul Badde states that byssus, or sea silk, is the most ancient and most expensive material which we know of as having come down to us. It is made from the threads of the mollusk coming the Mediterranean Sea. A narrator with beautiful film of an underwater diver harvesting the mollusks, describes how byssus was mentioned 46 times in the bible and that it is as thin as spider web and not commercially available for 2000 years. Byssus today is woven in only one place in the world, the island of Sant'Antioco off the coast of Sardinia. Chiara Vigo, the world's most proficient weaver of byssus, tells some of the characteristics of byssus. It can last for 5,000 years, it can not be painted but only dyed. It is resistant to fire and to moths. The veil of Manoppello has a rainbow like transparency and the image completely disappears from view in direct light. The image of the Holy Face changes expressions depending on when it is viewed from different angles and in different light.

Paul Badde speaks about the burial of Jesus which he says "was worthy of a king although he died like a dog, a criminal". He theorizes that it was Mary Magdalen who covered the face of Jesus with the veil which came from her wardrobe. It was her "final farewell" for one whom she loved so much. Raphael's work of art shows Mary Magadalen holding a cloth of byssus, with no facial image, pressed into Jesus's cruficied hand while he is being carried in a linen cloth to the tomb. The papal ritual for burial was changed by Pope John Paul II to include the placing of a face cloth on the dead pontiff. Cardinal Dziwisz made this gesture during the funeral rites for John Paul II. Pope Benedict was informed by Cardinal Meisner about his visit to Manoppello which helped to encourage the Pope to also make this visit. Cardinal Meisner after his visit said "today I have met the risen Christ".

Sunday, April 10, 2011

I am the Resurrection and the Life

Psalm 130

"With the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption, I trust in the Lord; my soul trusts in his word. More than sentinels wait for the dawn, let Israel wait for the Lord."

"Our hearts are restless until they rest in thee, O Lord."
St. Augustine

"Now therefore, O our God, hearken to the prayer of thy servant and to his supplications and for thy own sake, O Lord, cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary, which is desolate"

Daniel 9:17

Send forth your Spirit, O Lord, and renew the face of the earth

Monday, April 4, 2011

Supporters of the Cause for Beatification of Father Domenico da Cese Meet in Manoppello

For many he was Father Domenico of the Holy Face

by Antonio Bini

Around 200 people coming from various parts of Italy and also from foreign countries met in Manoppello on the occasion of the 106th anniversary of the birth of Father Domenico da Cese, in order to confirm the testimonies given in the past regarding the extraordinary facts relating to the life of the Capuchin. The meeting was held in response to the desire of Father Eugenio Di Giamberardino, assigned as temporary postulator by the Father Provincial Father Carmine Ranieri.

Fr. Carmine Cucinelli, Rector of the Shrine of the Holy Face speaking with some of the participants in the meeting

Father Domenico -- whose given name was Emidio Petracca -- was born in Cese, part of the commune of Avezzano (province of Aquila') on March 27, 1905 -- and for years belonged to the community of friars of the shrine of the Holy Face of Manoppello. In 1978 Father Domenico traveled as pilgrim to Turin to see the Shroud during its extraordinary exhibition. After his visit to the Cathedral he was hit by an automobile and mortally injured. According to several witnesses he had foreseen his death affirming in his last hours of life that "This sacrifice is for the Shroud of Turin and for the Holy Face of Manoppello". It seems that the concerns for the Shroud were linked at that time to the hypothesis which placed into question its authenticity, considering that precisely during that exhibit there began the STURP project (Shroud of Turin Research Project) which led to the controversy resulting from the Carbon 14 radiation studies.

After the celebration of Mass which was presided by Father Carmine Raineri, Provincial of the Capuchins of Abruzzo, the postulator asked that written testimony be turned in now or provided later. Particularly moved was Brother Vincenzo d'Elpidio, who for years has persistently kept in touch with so many devoted followers of Father Domenico in Italy and beyond.

Br. Vincenzo d'Elpidio in the foreground with Fr. Eugenio Giamberardino speaking at the podium

Mrs. Gina Orfei of Acquasanta Terme (Ascoli Piceno) devoted follower of Father Domenico with her testimony of how he healed her of a breast tumor at the end of the 1970's.

Among those present were Caterina, the niece of Father Domenico da Cese, Father Pietro di Guglielmo, who traveled to Turin to assist the dying Capuchin, and Sr. Blandina Paschalis Schloemer, who by singular coincidence lives near the Shrine on Via Cese, that is the street dedicated to the birthplace of Father Domenico. Also at Manoppello was Paul Badde, who in his book "The Face of God" dedicated a chapter to Father Domenico and to his life which paralleled that of Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, relating the singular episode of the bilocation of Padre Pio in prayer before the Holy Face early in the morning on the last day of his earthly life. Badde himself expressed his intention to write a book on the extraordinary life of the friar who like Padre Pio had the stigmata during some periods of his life.

Significant also was the presence of Sr. Maria, Disciple of the Holy Face, coming from Ruvo di Puglia (province of Bari), in continuity with the human and religious events of the life of Sr. Amelia di Rella, who in the year 1970 received a miracle through Father Domenico. In front of the shrine she stood up on her feet and began to walk normally again after having since the age of 10 years old been confined to a wheelchair.

The miracle granted to the young woman - who later decided to take vows of religious life -- is publicly known and there are thousands of people who yearly come on pilgrimage to the Holy Face from Ruvo di Puglia and from surrounding cities. Father Domenico himself inaugurated and blessed (1977) the altar dedicated to the Holy Face in the ancient Cathedral in Puglia
The Capuchin was an untiring promoter of the Holy Face of Manoppello. It was owing to his perseverance that the exhibit from the Shrine was displayed in Pescara in September 1977 in conjunction with the Eucharistic Congress which culminated in the arrival of Pope Paul VI.

This exhibit, which was excluded from the official programs, was visited by chance by a journalist who reported on this unique image for a german language swiss catholic periodical, creating the necessary conditions for a new phase in the knowledge of the Holy Face beyond the regional and national boundaries. In fact the periodical ended up in the hands of the iconographer Sr. Blandina Paschalis Schloemer, who noted the similarities to the face of the Shroud, sending her first findings to Professor Werner Bulst, the great german scholar of the Shroud who shared her research with Father Heinrich Pfeiffer, who dedicated years of research to the image of Manoppello, and whose conclusions led, along with other studies, to the "rediscovery" of the Holy Face.

Father Domenico da Cese at the exhibit of the Holy Face which he organized for the National Eucharistic Congress held in Pescara in 1977.

For so many devoted followers Father Domenico during his life was already a saint due to his extraordinary capacity to listen and to read the souls of the many suffering people who turned with hope to him daily. Father Domenico invited them to always pray to "the Holy Face of our Lord Jesus Christ", as he wrote to a lady in the attached letter. This letter is only one of thousands which he wrote with infinite patience to the many suffering people who turned to him from Italy and beyond in order to obtain a word of relief and of hope.

a letter sent by Father Domenico dated September 1975 in which he says "Dear Lady, I pray much to the Holy Face of Our Lord Jesus Christ to obtain the graces that you desire, I bless you all of good heart, Father Domenico"

Precisely because his life appears inseparable from the Holy Face, a number of people have expressed the desire that the mortal remains of Father Domenico be interred in the cemetery next to the Shrine, alongside the other friars, in order to allow the devoted followers who come to Manoppello to also pray at this tomb.

The meeting closed in the widespread hope that the long awaited process of beatification of Father Domenico may finally begin, overcoming delays and postponements.

Also by means of this blog all those who wish to furnish their own testimony on the venerated Capuchin are invited to send it, along with corresponding letters or documents, to the Rector of the Shrine of the Holy Face of Manoppello:
P. Carmine Cucinelli
Rettore Santuario del Volto Santo di Manoppello
via Cappucini, 26
Manoppello, Italy