Monday, February 3, 2014

Report on March 2013 Seminar on the Holy Face of Manoppello

Translation of an article which appeared in the July 2013 edition of Il Volto Santo di Manoppello, the official journal of the Shrine of the Holy Face of Manoppello.

by Padre Domenico del Signore
photos by Paul Badde

A seminar dedicated to studies on the Holy Face was held on the Saturday just before Palm Sunday (March 23) in the auditorium of the Shrine of the Holy Face which had also welcomed Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. Among those present were Father Paolo Martinelli, Dean of the Franciscan Institute of Spirituality of the PUA (Pontifical University of the Antonianum)and Father Luca Bianchi, Professor of spirituality at the same university. A number of specialized scholars participated. There were theologians, experts in history, in liberal arts, in iconography, scientific researchers, etc. coming from many different places: Rome, Otranto, Bari, Milan, Lugano and Chicago with the participants representing a wide range of prestigious universities.

The program for the day was the following:

10:45am Introduction and presentation of the projects already underway

Historical Research, Cristina Terzaghi
Presentation of the Exhibit "The Rediscovered Face", Raffaella Zardoni
Spirituality of the Holy Face, Father Luca Bianchi

12:30pm Visit to the Veil and praying of the Angelus

1pm Lunch

2:30pm to 4pm Discussion on the projects

Having received prior to the seminar the gift from one of the participants of the beautiful volume of Evdokimov: "The Theology of the Beautiful", the author of this article brought the scholars together with a thought from the same author: "When "knowing" is no longer an attitude of adoration, a praying communion, knowledge is separated from contemplation. One renounces the deepening of interiority which leads towards the encounter with the gain a "knowledge for the sake of power". The implicit invitation to "studium" understood as love and desire of the true and of the beautiful was favorably received by those present.

After the profound presentations and the expositions of the themes laid out in the program, the participants expressed their thoughts according to their various fields of study. Father Paolo Martinelli described the reason for his presence referring to a previous gathering which took place at the Antonianum in the presence of, among others, the Provincial Minister of the Capuchin province of Abruzzo, Father Carmine Ranieri. He underscored the fact that the Antonianum has a center for spirituality promoted by the Capuchins within a structure which plays a leading role for the friars minor. "We spoke of this project of studies on the Holy Face in order to be able to connect together with an academic institution, of spirituality in particular, in order to provide a specific contribution also in joining together with other research. The purpose is that of accompanying study on the cloth of Manoppello which is cared for by our Order. The goal would be that of developing a spirituality that begins from the Holy Face" and which -- I would add-- unites itself to the franciscan spirit which gives great importance to the mystery of the Passion, Incarnation and Resurrection of Christ.

The idea of deepening the studies on the Holy Face was given favor by the idea of presenting to the Meeting of Rimini the theme: "The Rediscovered Face: The unmistakable features of Christ". The curator of the exhibit is Raffaella Zardoni, assisted by the historical research of Professor Cristina Terzaghi and with the participation of exponents with various titles from the exhibit committee of Rimini.
Father Paolo Martinelli, in an e-mail sent after the meeting, expressed the wish that "we might truly think about for the future the celebration of a conference on the veil of Manoppello to be held regularly, which would attend to the scientific-historical aspect, but that would above all promote the spirituality of the Holy Face.

Fr. Luca Bianchi encouraged and proposed to the friars the possibility of developing a concise text on the history of the spirituality of the Face of Jesus and/or choosing some students or scholars to do research on the various topics for doctoral theses, there would also be the opportunity to organize days of study on the theme of the Holy Face.

Some information which emerged from the discussion and from correspondence following the gathering would seem already to be encouraging: the historian Terzaghi holds that the persons cited in the "Relazione Historica" of Padre Donato da Bomba are not made up figures but really existed. The expert on medieval studies, liberal arts and the Renaissance, Michele Colombo, writes: "that the analysis of da Bomba's text which you have permitted me to examine at Manoppello confirms, considering the nature of the corrections it contains, that we are dealing with an original official copy, which strengthens its testimonial value". The analytical research, conducted up until now with competence, accuracy and great discretion has not denied --which is a negative verification, although still a verification-- the possibility that the Holy Face may be something other than a simple painting.

The iconographic examination shows an unmistakable face which served as a prototype for the classic works coming from noted artists in the history of art.
I conclude these notes with the reflection of Raffaella Zardoni: "The discreet allure of this Veil remains unusually powerful"

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