Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas Greetings from the Capuchin Friars of the Shrine of the Holy Face of Manoppello

Fr. Carmine Cucinelli, Br. Crispino Valeri and Fr. Paolo Palombarini

Fr.. Carmine Cucinelli, O.F.M., Cap. and his fellow Capuchin Friars Fr. Paolo and Br. Crispino send Christmas greetings from the Shrine of the Holy Face of Manoppello to the many devotees of the Holy Face around the world.

All this while preparations are underway for the opening of the Holy Door this coming January with the mountains surrounding Manoppello covered with snow.

with thanks to Antonio Bini for the photos and direction

Monday, November 30, 2015

Holy Face to be Venerated On January 16 and 17 in the Upcoming Holy Year of Mercy at the Church of Santo Spirito in Rome

Paul Badde reports that on January 16 and 17, 2016, during the Holy Year of Mercy, the Holy Face will  be venerated at the Roman church of Santo Spirito (Holy Spirit) close by to St. Peter's Basilica and which is closely connected with the first procession of the Holy Face in Rome.  

Paul writes:

On January 20, 1208 ("Omnis Terra" Second Sunday after the feast of Epiphany) Pope Innocent III solemnly carried in procession for the first time in Rome the Holy Sudarium from St. Peter's to  show to the sick pilgrims in the Santo Spirito Hospital.

We can say that from this moment the news of the authentic and true icon of the human face of God has spread throughout the Church of the West.

A few years later the pope wrote the famous hymn "Salve Sancta Facies" for the veneration of the Holy Face.

And today we arranged (by the grace of God) with Mons. Jozef Bart, the rector of the Church of the Holy Spirit, that on the eve of the next  "Omnis Terra" Sunday (Saturday, 16 January 2016), a beautiful replica of the Holy and Merciful Face will be exposed in the Church of the Holy Spirit where it will remain until the celebration of a Solemn Holy Mass on the  following evening of Sunday, January 17, Year of Mercy.

And think and remember well: this church was renamed by Saint Pope John Paul II. as the "Church of the Divine Mercy" when he had introduced a "Divine Mercy Sunday" in the calendar of the Catholic Church. It is a beautiful church near St. Peter today containing relics of Sister Faustina Kowalska and Pope John Paul II. - With a large copy of the Divine Mercy in Krakow

Friday, October 30, 2015

Archbishop Georg Gänswein Makes Private Visit to the Shrine of the Holy Face of Manoppello

by Antonio Bini

Archbishop Georg Gänswein, Prefect of the Papal Household of Pope Francis and personal secretary to Pope Benedict XVI, made a private visit last Tuesday October 27 to the shrine of the Holy Face, accompanied by two religious. "It was an unannounced visit - which took us by surprise" - relates Fr. Carmine Cucinelli, Rector of the Shrine - "The Archbishop's visit made us especially happy because it was actually a return visit."

Fr. Carmine, Msgr. Georg and Sr. Petra-Maria

In fact, Msgr. Georg, as he is commonly known in Italy due to the complexities of his surname, came to Manoppello, accompanying Benedict XVI on the occasion of the historic papal pilgrimage of September 1, 2006. Msgr. Georg's visit fuels the hypothesis of a possible future visit to the Shrine by Pope Francis during the upcoming special Jubilee Year of Mercy. Advance notice of an invitation of this kind had been shared with the Capuchin friars of Manoppello by the Capuchin Minister General, Fr. Mauro Johry, during his visit to Manoppello in June of this year, accompanied by the Capuchin Provincial of Abruzzo, Fr. Carmine Ranieri. (Cf.

Here it seems appropriate to remember that Pope Francis' Bull of Indiction announcing the special Jubilee  "Misericordiae Vultus" begins by calling to mind the face of Christ: "Jesus Christ is the face of the Father's Mercy. These words might well sum up the mystery of the Christian faith."

Fr. Paolo, Fr. Carmine and Msgr. Georg

Msgr. Georg after pausing in prayer before the Holy Face visited the exhibit hall of the Shrine guided by  Fr. Paolo Palombarini and Sr. Petra-Maria Steiner who described for him the recently reorganized exhibit which 
illustrates the relationship of the Holy Face in continuity with the images of Veronica and the Shroud of Turin. An actual size reproduction of the Shroud has recently been included in the exhibition. Before leaving Manoppello Msgr. Georg signed the guest book of the Shrine.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Pope Francis Reflecting on His Visit to Cuba and the USA

at the General Audience St. Peter's Square, August 26, 2015
September 2015 saw Pope Francis bringing the message of Jesus Christ and His Church to Cuba and the United States.  The month prior to his trip Pope Francis had received a beautiful copy of the Holy Face of Manoppello.  A few weeks  before the start of his visit  the 2015 Holy Face Mission arrived on the West Coast of the USA even to the city which could be called the "metropolis of the West Coast" -- Los Angeles.  Let's take to heart the words which Pope Francis spoke at his General Audience at St. Peter's Square today

"The climax of the trip was the Meeting with Families at Philadelphia, where the horizon extended to the whole world through the “prism”, so to speak, of the family. The family, namely the fruitful bond between man and woman, is the answer to the great challenge of our world, which is a double challenge: fragmentation and massification, two extremes that coexist and sustain one another, and together they sustain the consumerist economic model. The family is the answer because it is the cell of a society that balances the personal and the communal dimension, and which at the same time can be the model of a sustainable management of the goods and resources of Creation. The family is the leading subject of an integral ecology, because it is the primary social subject, which contains within itself the two basic principles of human civilization on earth: the principle of communion and the principle of fecundity. Biblical humanism presents this icon to us: the human couple, united and fecund, placed by God in the garden of the world, to cultivate and protect it."

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Holy Face at University of Santo Tomas in Manila on September 15

Students and staff of the University line up to venerate a replica of the Holy Face of Manoppello 

Fr. Carmine speaking in the University church with Fr. Ted translating

photos by Paul Badde

Friday, September 11, 2015

You Shall Be My Witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria to the End of the Earth (Acts 1:8)

from the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, Los Angeles, California
Wednesday, September 9, 2015

                                                                  Psalm 67

                         May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us

            that your way may be known upon earth, your saving power among all nations.

                             Let the peoples praise you, O God, let all the peoples praise you!

                       Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you judge the peoples with equity
and guide the nations upon earth. Let the peoples praise you O God, let all the peoples praise you!

                      The earth has yielded its increase; God, our God has blessed us.  God has blessed us;
                                                        let all the ends of the earth fear him!

Acts of the Apostles 1:9-11   And when he had said this, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight.  And while they were gazing into heaven as they went, behold two men stood by them in white robes, and said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand  looking into heaven?  This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven."

Photos by Paul Badde

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Novena in Nampicuan in Preparation for First Anniversary Celebration of Holy Face Enthronement

street poster announcing Nampicuan Holy Face celebration

Diocese of San Jose de Nueva Ecija 
Immaculate Conception Parish 
Nampicuan, Nueva Ecija, Philippines 

11 12 August 2015 
NAMPICUAN, Nueva Ecija - A grand and festive array of activities await the Catholic Laity, Faithful and Pilgrims when the Parish of Immaculate Conception in this town under the Diocese of San Jose, Nueva Ecija celebrates the first Anniversary of the enthronement of the Holy Face of Jesus on September 16. 
The replica of the Holy Face of Jesus, the veil that was used to cover the face of Jesus after dying on the Cross, was brought to the Philippines last year and permanently enshrined in the Parish church by Fr. Carmine Cucinelli, the official Caretaker of the original relic in Manoppello, Italy. 

It could be remembered that the arrival and enthronement activities last year gathered a throng of Catholic faithful never before witnessed by Pilgrims and Parishioners whose living testimonies and miraculous accounts related to the Holy Face have since been notably told and retold. 

Awareness to the calendar of Events kicks-off on September 7 through daily Novena Masses until September 18 spearheaded by the Parishioners of the Immaculate Conception Parish-Home of the Holy Image.

Most Rev. Roberto Mallari D.D., Bishop of the diocese will celebrate the Mass in the morning of September 16 at 10:30 in the morning which will also be concelebrated by priests coming from neighboring Dioceses. It will also be the launching of the celebration of the Year of Mercy activities of the Diocese and the blessing and opening of the Fountain of Mercy Garden within the parish compound. 

As a prelude to the celebration,the 9-day event will also feature Poster-Making Contest, Medical Mission coinciding with the birthday of Mama Mary on September 8, Jesus Festival on September 14 and a Solemn Procession in honor of the Holy Face on September 15. 

A much awaited part of the occasion will be the anointing of the Holy oil of Manopello to the sick and devotees by Fr. Cucinelli in the evening of September 16. This rare activity is expected to become a major part of the occasion even as Fr. Christian Magtahas echoes his invitation to everyone not to miss this event. 
The whole activity will be capped by songs and dances in the evening. 

Parish Priest 

Monday, September 7, 2015

Vancouver Welcomes Holy Face Mission 2015

photos courtesy of Paul Badde and Ethelyn David

Here are some first photos of the Holy Face Mission to Vancouver, British Columbia showing some of the many memorable meetings and liturgies with Church officials, clergy, consecrated religious and the lay faithful.

Fr. Carmine Cucinelli, O.F.M., Cap. with Msgr. Joseph Nguyen, Vicar General of Archdiocese of Vancouver

    Fr. Bonifacio (Ted) Lopez , Msgr. Nguyen, Fr. Carmine at Mass at Vancouver Archdiocese Chancery Chapel

Altar of Vancouver Archdiocese Chancery Chapel

Poor Clare Sister Marie Celine with Fr. Carmine

Paul Badde, Fr. Carmine, Ethelyn David, Ellen Badde

Fr. Ted,  with pastor Fr. Gino Aloisio,  Fr. Carmine and Paul at St. Francis of Assisi Church

Fr Carmine, Fr. Aloisio, Fr. Ted

Fr. Carmine, Benedictine Abbot John Braganza, Fr. Ted

Daisy Neves, Paul Badde, Ethelyn David, Ellen Badde

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

International Mission for the Holy Face of Manoppello

by Antonio Bini
Head of Communications for the Shrine of the Holy Face of Manoppello

Vancouver, Los Angeles and Manila the most significant stops

Vancouver, Canada, is where the new international mission of the Holy Face will begin, bringing to ever more people the knowledge of this extraordinary image venerated at the Shrine of Manoppello and considered the true-icon of Christ. On September 5, Father Carmine, rector of the Shrine of Manoppello, will be busy in the church of Saint Patrick at Vancouver, British Columbia. After the Mass, concelebrated by Fr. Bonifacio (Ted) Lopez, a priest originally from the Philippines, who will accompany Fr. Carmine for the entire mission, an artistic reproduction of the Holy Face will be enthroned in the Church. This act will begin the reverence of the extraordinary image. Representing Archbishop Michael Miller will be Fr. Joseph Nguyen, vicar general of the Archdiocese of Vancouver.   This gathering will be preceded by a similar one to be held the day before in the city of Delta,  followed by a meeting with Fr Abbot John Braganza in the Abbey of Westminster of Mission City, British Columbia. It must be recalled that in the early nineteen seventies  it was the emigrants from Abruzzo who were the first to introduce the cult of the Holy Face in Canada, at Richmond Hill, a town in the metropolitan area of ​​Toronto, where every first Sunday of August is held a procession of the Holy Face.  

After the meetings in Canada the mission will continue on to the United States, to Duarte close by to Los Angeles on September 8 and the next day in the city of Los Angeles, as already announced on August  15 by the newspaper Asian Journal. A reproduction of the Holy Face, coming directly from the Shrine of Manoppello, will be honored throughout the day of September 9 at the Our Lady of Angels Cathedral of the American metropolis. The date coincides with the 165th anniversary of the admission of California as the 31st state of the United States of America.  The days in Southern California dedicated to the Holy Face come just two weeks before the pastoral visit of Pope Francis to the USA,  during which- among other things - Pope Francis will canonize Fr. Junipero Serra, the Franciscan founder of a number of missions in California. Among the first missions Fr. Junipero founded was San Juan Capistrano (1776), which he dedicated to the Franciscan saint of Abruzzo, St. John Capistrano, named for the town of Capestrano in Abruzzo located a short distance from Manoppello which is twinned with the eponymous California town -

In the USA and Canada there are spreading Facebook pages and websites which are dedicated to the Holy Face, often drawing on the information and images on the blog started in 2008 by Raymond Frost of San Francisco.

But it is mainly in the Philippines that the mission will develop intensively on the following dates: September 12: Bulacan, Bethlehem House of Bread Orphanage Baliuag; September 13 - Lipa, Batangas - Montemaria, "Mother of All Asia" Shrine; September 14 and 15 - Taguig, Enthronement of the Holy Face of Manoppello at Sagrada de Familia Church; September 16 - Nampicuan, Nueva Ecija - September 17 - Quiapo, Basilica of the Black Nazarene,  September 18 - Baclaran Church; September 19 - Manila, San Augustin and Manila Cathedral; September 20 - Bagumbayan, St. Martin Chapel Mahogany.

Carmine and Fr. Bonifacio (Ted) Lopez, will be accompanied by Paul Badde, veteran journalist and writer, author of two books on the Holy Face published recently in the United States, "The Face of God" and "The True Icon" ( both by Ignatius Press of San Francisco) who will illustrate for the public a  historical outline as well as his own research of the Holy Face, which is identified with the legendary Veronica, and in close relationship with the Shroud of Turin. Paul Badde, who is currently on assignment in Rome for the American Catholic television network EWTN, will be accompanied by his wife Ellen, who collaborates with him in the historical research. The dioceses being visited were informed of the Mission by Bruno Forte, archbishop of Chieti-Vasto, the diocese to which the Holy Face shrine of the Capuchins of Manoppello belongs.

Before departure Fr. Carmine Cucinelli stated "I remember with emotion the previous mission in 2014, especially in the Philippines, for the warmth and the enthusiasm with which the Holy Face was greeted by thousands of devoted people. The organization of the program required the involvement of many volunteers to whom I extend my most heartfelt thanks. I can not forget the role played by Mrs Daisy Neves, an American of Filipino origin, to whom we owe  not only significant financial support for the project but also the indefatigable network of relationships with host groups in the various cities visited by the mission, composed of people who are devotees of the Holy Face ". What do you consider the most significant stage of your journey? - we ask Fr. Carmine: "I think it is the town of Nampicuan, where I will be present on September 16 to celebrate one year from last year's visit, which turned the church into the Shrine of the Holy Face, the first in Asia honoring the image of Manoppello."

establishment of Shrine of Holy Face at Nampicuan by diocesan Bishop Roberto Mallari 

The shrine has become a pilgrimage site for people from throughout the Philippines and has established on May 31 a volunteer group "Servants of Holy Face" - as well as a website for purposes of spreading devotion to the Holy Face and welcoming pilgrims. "In recent months some miracles were also registered," reports Fr. Carmine. "It 's amazing what is happening. It's as if the Holy Face had decided the time and manner of dissemination of his image by involving people from different countries, each with their own participation and contribution of faith."  On the feast of the Holy Face of Nampicuan, which will see the presence of Mrs. Mercedes Tuason, Philippine ambassador to the Holy See, the use of a new precious reliquary for the image of the Holy Face will be inaugurated. 

Philippine Ambassador to the Vatican Mrs. Mercedes Tuason and Fr. Carmine Cucinelli, O.F.M., Cap.

 According to writer Paul Badde "the mission will be a trip to the future. It's very important to bring a copy of the image of the Holy Face, the true icon, to Los Angeles, which is the world metropolis of images and of the digital revolution, very close, by the way, to Hollywood and Silicon Valley. In my opinion, this pilgrimage will be an essential step forward in the process of the rediscovery of the Most Holy Sudarium of Jesus Christ. It is really an "iconic turn"  in the history of Christianity that makes one think of "the living image of the Father's mercy", as Pope Francis recalled during his announcement of the upcoming  extraordinary Holy Year of Mercy ".

The initiative is promoted by the Shrine of Manoppello with the financial and organizational support of a group of devotees in the US and the Philippines. In addition to Mrs. Daisy Neves there can not be forgotten the spouses Lenlen and Ernest Alzate, all to be regarded as generous and tireless pioneers of the devotion of the extraordinary image in the world, which is registering the participation of hundreds of people in the organization of the events. The movement that is being created is the most obvious result of the international mission begun last year with the effects most pronounced in the Philippines, a country of reference for Catholics of the Asian continent.

Cardinal Tagle, Archbishop of Manila (photo from Wikipedia Italia)

Before concluding their trip to the Philippines Fr. Carmine and Paul Badde will meet with Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, Archbishop of Manila and leading figure of Catholicism in Asia.  With a message of greeting on August 19, 2015 Cardinal Tagle expressed his satisfaction for the anniversary of the enthronement of the Holy Face at Nampicuan begun last year and stated his encouragement for the new mission of Fr. Carmine.  

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Pope Francis Receives Beautiful Copy of the Holy Face of Manoppello Presented to Him Today in St. Peter's Square

General Audience-


© L'Osservatore Romano

Servizio Fotografico
 Paul Badde informs us that today "a copy of the Holy Face was brought to the Holy Father by the Rulli Family who are running the restaurant "Lu Gattone" 

Monday, August 17, 2015

Holy Face of Manoppello Mission to Canada September 4 and 5

For the first time Fr. Carmine Cucinelli, O.F.M. and author and journalist Paul Badde will make a visit to Canada to promote the knowledge of the Holy Face of Manoppello.  Arrangements have been made at Immaculate Conception Church in Delta, British Columbia and St. Patrick Church in Vancouver, British Columbia for a presentation after  Mass which Fr Carmine will concelebrate with Fr. Bonifacio (Ted) Lopez, a priest from the Philippines who is also part of the mission .   In each of the churches at the end of Mass the Holy Face will be enthroned.

The party will meet with Fr. Joseph Nguyen, the Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Vancouver, representing Archbishop Michael Miller who will be out of town at the time.

They will also meet with Fr Abbot John Braganza at Westminster Benedictine Abbey in Mission, BC. and with Mother Superior Marie Celine and the other Sisters of the Poor Clare Monastery.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Holy Face of Manoppello at Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral in Los Angeles September 9

Holy Face  at Mass and throughout the day on September 9  in the Los Angeles Cathedral 

Through the efforts of a group of devout women a day of prayer and veneration of the Holy Face of Manoppello has been organized at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles, California.

Wednesday September 9 promises to be a very special moment in the 2015 Holy Face Mission to Canada, the United States and the Philippines led by the Capuchin Franciscan Friar Fr. Carmine Cucinelli, Rector of the Basilica Shrine of the Holy Face of Manoppello where the sacred image of the Holy Face is on permanent public display above the main altar.

A chapel of the Cathedral will be open to the public at 9am on September 9 for veneration of a blessed copy of the Holy Face followed by a concelebrated Mass with the Pastor of the Cathedral, Msgr. Kevin Kostelnik,  at 12:00 Noon with veneration of the Holy Face continuing afterwards.

The celebration of the Holy Face in the Cathedral will come the day following the episcopal ordinations in the Cathedral of  three new auxiliary bishops for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles:  Bishops-elect Joseph Brennan, David O'Connell and Robert Barron.

Just two weeks later, on September 23, Pope Francis, during his pastoral visit to the United States, will canonize in the nation's capital the Franciscan friar Junipero Serra, 18th century missionary apostle to California, founder of many missions throughout California which has earned him the title "founder and father of California".

September 9 is also  Admission Day in the state of California.  This year marks the 165th anniversary of California in 1850 becoming the 31st state of the United States of America.

The mission of the Holy Face of Manoppello to the mother church of Los Angeles thus comes at a particularly auspicious time.  May the prayers and worship offered to Our Lord Jesus Christ by means of the veneration of His Holy Face help to bring about a new era of peace and reconciliation so desired by the peoples of the earth.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Holy Face of Manoppello, World War II and Liberation

 Company of pilgrims from San Valentino in Abruzzo Citeriore in procession in front of the Shrine of the Holy Face of Manoppello at the end of the 1940's.
 Photo courtesy of the Associazione San Rocco di San Valentino paese della Vall Pescara

Stories of war amidst memory and devotion to the Holy Face, seventy years after Liberation

by Antonio Bini

A great mobilization anticipated the Liberation, an authentic explosion of masses of people and communities in movement on foot who felt the need to offer their gratitude to the Holy Face with processions and pious pilgrimages to the Shrine, from all over, beginning in the early days of April 1945, well before April 25, the date that marks the end of the German occupation in Italy, the fascist regime and thus the conclusion of World War II.  An information sheet sent to emigrants in January 1947 by "The Organizing Committee for the Solemn Celebrations in Honor of the Holy Face of Jesus" recalled the "indescribable gifts of gratitude to the Holy Face ... even from the most distant areas of Abruzzo in 1945 and 1946" that justified the collection of funds for a new monstrance in gold and silver, a kind of collective votive offering, a spontaneous sign of gratitude and constant devotion to the sacred veil and at the same time of the resumption of the life of the community engaged in the problematic work of reconstruction and the difficult relaunching of the economy.

From the appeal itself, which does not contain expressions of resentment, there emerges the picture of death, destruction and suffering endured by the people of Manoppello from October 1943 to June 1944, as did many other localities which became refuge and hostage for German troops concentrated on the Gustav Line, the front that split lengthwise Abruzzo and thus Italy, from Ortona to Cassino, with German troops to the north and the Allied forces to the south, 

from the Canadian newspaper "The Gazette" January 19, 1944 showing the Gustav Line

The leaflet recalls how the Germans requisitioned lodgings and food, driving out families from their homes, assaulting farmhouses and looting cattle, at times while Allied bombers cut across the sky. In this context, the Shrine remained "the only dispenser of comfort and courage."

In the "Handbook for the Faithful of the Holy Face of Our Lord Jesus Christ in Manoppello", published at the time of the celebrations in 1956, the Capuchins described in the brief introduction devoted to  historical notes how the new reliquary surmounted by a golden crown was offered by the people to the Holy Face of Manoppello "in thanks for divine assistance experienced on many occasions during the long months of the war." But it had been the Capuchins themselves who were in danger as the Handbook makes a passing mention to "difficulties of every kind" suffered by the religious in that period.

From the documents examined, it shows that for at least seven months a part of the monastery, probably the one where the seraphic college had formerly been located, was continuously occupied by forces of the Wehrmacht.

Evidently it was the location of the Sanctuary, situated on a hill, then almost completely isolated and with very few rural homes nearby, overlooking the village and the surrounding area to justify the choice, which was certainly not held back by the sacredness of place. From other documentation, ascribable to  Padre Fedele da Vasto  who became superior of the Shrine in the immediate post-war period, it can be seen how the German occupiers destroyed the compass (the wooden structure at the front doors of the church which serves to separate the interior of the church from the outside), the twenty pews of the Church,  as well as the four confessionals and other furnishings. The church, which was greatly expanded only in the nineteen sixties, was then about 15 meters shorter than it is currently and the number of pews suggests that they were distributed in two rows of ten.

Mr. Silvio Menichilli, witness of those dramatic days, remembers that this was a hard winter with frequent snowfalls. "There was more than a meter of snow," he says, considering it possible that the furnishings were used for heating.

An action easily avoidable considering the proximity of rich woodlands. "The Banality of Evil" comes to mind, recalling the title of the famous essay by Hanna Arendt on the Eichmann trial.  Mr. Antonio Napoleone also has not forgotten that time. He has always lived about a kilometer away from the Shrine in the direction of the mountain. In later years he was the watchman of the powder magazine at the nearby asphalt mine of Foce Valle Romana which had been closed during the war. In the winter of 1944 he was almost 18 years old and recalls, among other things, that he had seen military vehicles inside the church, practically reduced to a garage once freed of the front door and furniture. (It should be noted that up to the mid-sixties, the church was located at street level). The Shrine thus became a military target and as such was exposed to Allied bombing.

In Manoppello the story is  told  of an American pilot who returned in the nineteen sixties still interested in knowing exactly what was the target  that he could not hit due to the presence of a cloud "stopped" as if embracing the Shrine.

Despite everything, the religious activity, though made very difficult and greatly compromised, was never interrupted altogether. Mrs Gina, wife of Antonio Napoleone and very devoted to the Holy Face, was a girl at the time and lived almost opposite the church. Forced to leave her home, "displaced" nearby with her family, she remembers how for months it was impossible to go to pray at the shrine, in which the friars nevertheless continued to celebrate Mass, perhaps also without the presence of the faithful.

Unlike other similar cases the friars were not removed, remaining essentially prisoners in their own monastery. This circumstance suggests a work of resistance from the religious community eager to safeguard the Holy Face. The superior then was Padre Salvatore da Musellaro, appointed to guide the Shrine in November 1941. At that time the Holy Face was still kept in the chapel on the right side of the church, although it is possible that the sacred image was placed in safety elsewhere, though still in the territory of the monastery. One can not help but remember how also in the same period the Shroud of Turin was hidden in the shrine of Montevergine, in Irpinia, to remove it from the danger of theft or destruction.

Compared to the looting and bleak devastation of the sacred site, the inspection of the files in the archives of the monastery restores a small glimmer of humanity and faith when paging  through the monastery's register which records income I note on the date of April 30, 1944 the entry of a gift of 100 lire, with the notation "from a German for a blessing". It was from a soldier who was one of the occupiers, tearing himself away from the ideological madness of the Nazi regime, especially concerned about the fate of the war and for his own future.

from the records of the Shrine dated April 30, 1944 showing donation on the second line above
"da un tedesco per benedizione" (from a German for a blessing) 100 lire
 inscribed in the book by the superior of the Shrine, Padre Salvatore da Musellaro

At the time of liberation the church and the monastery exhibited damage also to the walls. The Capuchins engaged immediately in certain urgent jobs and the replacement of windows, to recover the essential functions of the church and the monastery and to begin again to welcome the many faithful who finally could again arrive at the Shrine. Mr. Menichilli still keeps alive the memory of Padre Fedele da Vasto, who  after the war was actively engaged in restoring functionality and decoration of the church and the monastery. He recalls how Padre Fedele would go on foot from Manoppello to Pescara or Chieti to ask for aid.

At the end of the article below we report the dates for companies of pilgrims in procession to the Holy Face. It can be seen that some communities repeated the pilgrimage several times.  The list does not include companies not registered in as much as they did not make a monetary donation.  Also not included are groups, entire families and the many individuals who came to the Shrine, all with their own stories. A portion of their testimony is found in the many votive offerings related to World War II present in the "treasure room".

Thus there deserves to be remembered the story of  a woman from Abbateggio, Chiara Di Pierdomenico, linked to the return of her son, a prisoner of the concentration camp of Dachau. The son himself, Ermando Parete, born in 1922, recalls with emotion how, after the liberation of the camp which took place April 29, 1945, after having barely escaped execution, he decided with a few other surviving prisoners to walk back to Italy since there were no other alternatives. With an extraordinary willpower, while the other comrades decided little by little to stop due to exhaustion, Ermando went on through hardships such as destroyed bridges  and feeding himself however he could, finally reaching his village which welcomed him with the sound of  bells as at festival time. It was the middle of June 1945. After a few days, just enough time to recover, his mother asked him to accompany her to Manoppello, to fulfill the vow she had made, walking barefoot along paths and fields, crossing the river Lavino to reach the Shrine of the Holy Face. Heedless the son's plea  that his mother should put on shoes or cover her head with a scarf. The day was warm and sunny her son still remembers. Nothing to do:  the vow -- if the son were returned alive from the concentration camp-- had been made in those terms by the mother and she was happy to be able to fulfill it. They were the same paths that Ermando had traveled as a child along with the community procession from Abbateggio, with the pastor and the banner at the head.

Mr. Ermando Parete

Parete (prisoner no. 142192) has always kept alive the memories of those dramatic days. His eyes seem to look far away. After so many years he still can not forget and give a plausible explanation of so much gratuitous violence against persons who could not even stand up. "They had lost their minds, they had lost their minds," he continues to repeat to himself even before he says it to me as I listen carefully, thanking him for his intense witness.

It was still then that Abruzzo which was described by Silone as "shaped by Christianity." The writer claimed that the region, "one of the most religious of Italy", was, through the ages, mainly a creation of Saints and workers -- "after having understood the mountains which are its body, to understand the whole moral structure of Abruzzo one must therefore know its saints and its poor "(1948).

Not surprisingly, even extraordinary events regarding the presence of the Holy Face in Manoppello, occurring in not very distant times, have remained shrouded in silence, unknown even before being forgotten. However, the same events of World War II in Abruzzo, until now considered marginal, only in recent years have been the subject of studies and historical analysis which allow us to assert their relevance in the context of Italian history.

At a distance of seventy years this brief reconstruction of those dramatic days seems a necessary contribution of knowledge and reflection. We like to think that, in addition to the American pilot,  the German soldier blessed by the Capuchins also  returned one day as a pilgrim to the Shrine.

List of Pilgrimages Spring 1945

April 3: Chieti (Madonna delle Grazie); 

April 8: Chieti (S. Maria Calvona); 

April 15: Casalincontrada; Lettomanoppello; 

April 23: Ripacorbaria, Casalincontrada; 

April 29: Abbateggio, Alanno, Santa Maria Imbaro, Bolognano, San Valentino, Alanno Stazione; 

May 3: Scafa; 

May 8 Chieti (Santa Filomena), Cepagatti, Lettomanoppello, Serramonacesca,Cepagatti; 

May 10: Scafa (Sant’Antonio del Lavino), Ripacorbaria, Madonna delle Piane, Fara Filiorum Petri, 

May 13: Pretoro, Francavilla (San Pasquale), 

May 22 - Roccamontepiano, Alanno paese, 

May 25 - Alanno stazione; Feste di maggio: Crecchio, Lanciano (Contrada Santa Giusta), Filetto, Loreto Aprutino, Caramanico, Giuliano Teatino, Poggio Fiorito, Semivicoli, Lanciano (Sant’Amato + Madonna del Carmine), Pescara (viale Ronchi), Casacanditella, Cugnoli, Pescosansonesco, Vacri, Badia di Frisa, Lanciano (Santa Maria dei Mesi), Francavilla al mare, Chieti (San Salvatore), Carpineto della Nora, Caprara, Pescara (San Donato), Cepagatti, Villa Oliveti Rosciano, Chieti (San Martino), Chieti (Buonconsiglio), Chieti Scalo, Villa San Giovanni, Villanova, Alanno; Lanciano (S. Liberata), Frisa, Alanno stazione, Lanciano, Torrevecchia Teatina, Ripacorbaria, Manoppello stazione,  Bucchianico.