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

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