The Capuchin Apostle of the Holy Face, with a Life Parallel to that of Padre Pio
By Antonio Bini
Fr Domenico da Cese, in his lifetime, had repeatedly maintained that he would be written about only after his death, as also his friend and first biographer, Bruno Sammaciccia, wrote. He asked that we should not talk about him, but about the Holy Face. Those who knew him or who became aware of his figure only in recent years know how much the life of the Capuchin born in Cese, a hamlet of Avezzano, has been full of extraordinary facts.
So, it was with a certain sense of disbelief that Father Eugenio Di Gianberardino, speaking at the commemoration of Father Dominic da Cese, held in Manoppello on September 17, 2016, had to mention the interest of a Brazilian publisher who had requested authorization to to publish in Portuguese his 2014 biography on the Servant of God. Probably he was not convinced of the interest shown over the ocean towards the life of the humble Capuchin of Abruzzo and that the publication would ever be actually realized.
The book was then published by Ecclesiae, of Campinas, in the state of São Paulo, with the title "Padre Domenico de Cese, apostolo da Sagrada Face de Manoppello" (Father Dominic da Cese, Apostle of the Holy Face). The emphasis on the connection with the Holy Face, was appropriately made by the publisher himself, Diogo Chiuso, who personally oversaw the book's introduction, explaining how the figure of the Servant of God was closely linked to that of the sacred image, of which Father Dominic was a devout and tireless promoter, until his death on September 17, 1978 in Turin, where he had gone for the exposition of the Shroud.
The introduction recalls the life of the Capuchin from Abruzzo as being parallel to that of Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, who, when he was alive, often recommended to many of his devotees from the north of Puglia that they save themselves the trip to San Giovanni Rotondo by visiting Fr. Dominic at Manoppello instead. And there are many testimonies which have been obtained in this regard, and what's more, from people still living.
To try to understand what were the circumstances that led to the publication I contacted Prof. José Eduardo Câmara who, knowing the Italian language, had handled the relationship between the Brazilian publisher and the author of the Italian edition, Father Eugenio Di Gianberardino, Vice- postulator of the cause of beatification of the humble Capuchin from Abruzzo.
Professor. Camara has long known about the Holy Face, while the story of Father Dominic he had learned about more recently, while consulting a book that collects the profiles of holiness of Capuchins in the world. The story of the Capuchin then came to the notice of another Brazilian scholar of the life of Father Pio of Pietrelcina and of the extraordinary phenomena that marked his life.
|Prof. José E. Câmara (left) with the editor Diogo Chiuso|
The scope of these discussions ended up involving the publisher Diogo Chiuso, who was particularly attracted by the story of Father Dominc and his unique relationship with Padre Pio, a report re-introduced in 2011 by an article - entitled "Padre Pio's last visit" - which described the bi-location of Padre Pio in Manoppello, in front of the Holy Face, at the dawn of the last day of his earthly life, which was published in "The Voice of Padre Pio" by the authoritative Australian journalist Paul MacLeod, a scholar of the Saint of Pietrelcina , recently passed away.
The article, also repeated on this blog at http://holyfaceofmanoppello.blogspot.com/2012/02/padre-pio-padre-domenico-da-cese-and.html, extending the story told years earlier by the German Catholic magazine PUR (Spezial No. 4/2005).
The phenomenon of the bi-location would be completed, just a few days following Padre Pio's death, with Fr. Dominic's presence at the funeral of Padre Pio at San Giovanni Rotondo,despite Father Dominic not having moved from the shrine of Manoppello, receiving as many people there as every other day. (cf. report with video at http://holyfaceofmanoppello.blogspot.com/2013/02/padre-domenico-da-cese-mysteriously.html)
The two Capuchins, united by their ability to read people's souls, had met in 1940, when Fr. Dominic, then a military chaplain, first in Trieste and then in Ragusa, in the former Yugoslavia, wanted to go to San Giovanni Rotondo, during a furlough, to personally meet Padre Pio. On this occasion he stayed in the Capuchin friary of Padre Pio in the Gargano for five days. Fr. Dominic's father, like Padre Pio's, was a farmer and both were emigrants to the United States.
Prof. Câmara himself admits that the Brazilian edition of the book represents "a small miracle", considering the circumstances that preceded it and all the difficulties in publishing texts of spirituality in Brazil and in particular biographies of saints.
It is also surprising how different people, including the publisher Diogo Chiuso, descendant of Italian emigrants to Brazil, have approached the Holy Face through the knowledge of the figure and the life of Father Dominic da Cese, or Emidio Petracca as he was known before entering the Capuchins.
In addition to this, in the past there were many Italian emigrants to various countries who had written letters to Fr. Dominic from various countries, entrusting him with their sorrows and personal and family tragedies. But there were also many Austrian, German and Swiss devotees who in the sixties and seventies organized pilgrimages to Manoppello and San Giovanni Rotondo, as documented by recently recovered German language Catholic magazines.
The Portuguese edition of the biography of Father Dominic is sober, well edited and includes, along with the Italian edition, in addition to the aforementioned introduction, also the text of the prayer for the beatification of Father Domenico, written in 2006 by Luca Brandolini, then bishop of Sora.
The Capuchin would say that he would be spoken and written about only after his death. From Brazil comes one confirmation, among many, of his prophetic message.