Sunday, April 15, 2018

The Celebration of the 39th Anniversary of the Death of Father Domenico da Cese, Apostle of the Holy Face

After the 39th Anniversary of the death of the Capuchin Father Domenico da Cese a push for the transferral of his mortal remains to the Basilica of the Holy Face

by Antonio Bini

On September 17, 2017, the 39th anniversary of Father Domenico's death was celebrated. Whoever thought that after the passing of the years the fame of holiness of the friar would have become extinct, were proven wrong by the massive presence of his devotees and former spiritual children, who flocked from all over on the day of the commemoration, packing the church and participating in the remembrance of his Christian and Religious life which he had lived in an exemplary way. Coaches arrived from Cese, Ruvo di Puglia and Andria and automobiles from: Chieti, Pescara, Rome, Sulmona, Ascoli Piceno, Vasto and other neighboring cities.

In the shrine's San Damiano hall there was a presentation on the work of a team in the process of gathering and arranging the documents concerning the servant of God including letters written and / or received by the friar, various testimonies of the faithful recounting episodes that occurred to them or benefits received through his intercession and articles of newspapers and magazines, as well as the transcription of  manuscript texts and a series of black and white and color photographs. We have writings of 493 people, arranged in about fifteen collections, and the texts from various sources amount to 908 so far. To these are added 166 binders concerning the correspondence of Father Domenico with his superiors and his personal documents. We have 100 of his letters to the faithful.

Sr. Petra-Maria Steiner and Sr. Tabita cataloging documents regarding Fr. Domenico

Recently several copies of the Austrian Catholic magazine "Grüß Gott" were acquired, which before the death of Father Domenico, published articles on the pilgrimages of Austrian and German devotees to San Giovanni Rotondo and to Manoppello where they went to meet Father Domenico. Films and vocal recordings are also being collected.

The readers of this article who would have any of these or be aware of them, are asked to send them or report them to the Shrine. This working group has as its animator Sr. Petra-Maria Steiner and is composed of Dr. Antonio Bini, the lawyer René Udwari, the librarian Dr. Dirk Weisbrot, Fr. Vincenzo D'Elpidio, the Vice-Postulator of the cause of beatification, Fr. Eugenio Di Giamberardino (Vice-Postulator of the cause of beatification), and the rector of the Holy Face Basilica, Fr. Carmine Cucinelli.

In concluding her speech in which she retraced the main stages of the Servant of God's life, Sister Petra-Maria recalled an episode recounted in the aforementioned Austrian magazine by Mrs Ida Loidl:
«Father Domenico said when you have a problem or need help, send me your guardian angel and say to him:" Angel of God, you are my guardian, go to Father Domenico and tell him in my name (and here you must add your name ) that I need this grace '».
When I, several years later, went to Manoppello, he saw me from afar and exclaimed: "Ah, here is the lady who sends me the angels around midnight". I was a bit 'dazed but he reassured me by adding: "Keep on doing so, you are a mother and mothers have so many things to do!"

During the meeting several devotees also spoke, telling extraordinary facts of which they were direct witnesses.

The day was also accompanied by good weather. Father Claudio Calvarese, provincial vicar of the Capuchin friars of Abruzzi, presided over the concluding Eucharist. He highlighted the figure of his confrere by framing him in the liturgy of the day which spoke of love, in particular of the forgiveness that is its highest and sometimes most heroic attribute. Concelebrating were: Father Eugenio Di Giamberardino, Father Carmine Cucinelli, the parish priest of Cese (AQ) Fr. Onwujiogu Valentine Obinna and a Kenyan priest his friend.

The great participation of devotees led the provincial father of the Capuchins of Abruzzo - Fr. Nicola Galasso - to start the process of transferring the mortal remains of Fr. Domenico from the private chapel of the small cemetery in Cese to the Basilica of the Holy Face. To this end, once the positive opinion had been informally expressed by Archbishop Forte of the archdiocese of Chieti-Vasto,  Fr. Nicola Galasso asked, on January 16, 2018, for the consent to the transfer from the six nieces and nephews of Fr. Domenico.

Fr. Eugenio Di Giamberardino and Fr. Nicola Galasso

The father provincial justified the initiative by expressly recalling "Fr. Domenico's tenacious and passionate commitment to the promotion of the Holy Face, without forgetting that this was certainly his aspiration and that of many of his devotees and admirers ".

The nieces and nephews enthusiastically endorsed the proposal, expressing their consent with a joint letter. The procedure requires several further steps, including the conclusive opinion of the Vatican Congregation for the Causes of Saints. We will update you on further stages of the process.

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