Thursday, January 3, 2019

The Sudarium of Jesus on the Outskirts of Rome

article adapted from longer article which appeared in the November 2018 edition of Il Volto Santo di Manoppello the official publication of the Shrine of the Holy Face of Manoppello.  Additional text and photos are included in this posting.  Unless otherwise credited the photos are courtesy of Mrs. Daisy Neves.

At Rome, beyond the large modern freeway known as the Gran Raccordo Anulare which circles Rome, and just before the Prima Porta, in the Valle Muricana neighborhood, is the modern church and parish dedicated to Saints Elizabeth and Zechariah. The pastor Fr. Bonifacio Lopez, originally from the Philippines, is assisted by two priests. The parish territory is vast and numbers approximately 16,000 inhabitants. In May 2013 Pope Francis chose this parish as the first one to visit after his election. On that day he celebrated Holy Mass during which 40 children received their First Holy Communion. It was a huge celebration throughout the neighborhood!
Church of St. Elizabeth and Zechariah

Fr Bonifacio, or Fr. Ted to his friends, accompanied Capuchin Father Carmine Cucinelli, rector of the Shrine of the Holy Face of Manoppello, in 2015 during the Holy Face Mission to Canada, the United States and the Philippines, acting as his interpreter. Impressed by the enthusiasm of the faithful for the veneration of this image, he expressed a desire: "If I become a pastor , I propose to enthrone the Holy Face in my parish church ". Last year, in September 2017, the moment arrived. He was named pastor and wanted to keep his promise.
His new parish church's adoration chapel and stained glass windows still needed to be completed. In the central window, above the entrance portal, within the shape of a cross, Fr. Ted instructed artists to place the image of the Holy Face at the cross of the two arms, so that the faithful could better understand the meaning of the cross, where Christ has, yes, died, but then is also Risen. He is alive! And we are filled with joy.

Fr. Bonifacio "Ted" Lopez

Thus at the end of September, the Holy Face was imprinted on the glass and positioned in the plain sight of all. But Fr. Bonifacio also wanted the Face of Jesus of Manoppello to be contemplated from close up. Which place would be the most suitable? Given that a new tabernacle was to be placed in the chapel for the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, he thought of placing it there above the tabernacle. The faithful who go to the chapel to adore the Eucharistic Jesus, gazing upon
the Holy Face, could thus be helped to also contemplate the human features of Jesus and make this adoration even more fruitful.

The Holy Face in the Adoration Chapel 

The proposal had the favorable opinion of his associates
and the date was set
for the enthronement: Sunday October 14, 2018. A copy of the sacred Image, provided and blessed by Fr. Carmine the rector of the shrine of Manoppello, beautifully framed, was ready to be permanently displayed for public veneration.
Fr. Carmine at the altar with Fr. Bonficacio displaying the Holy Face

Father Carmine, rector of the shrine of the Holy Face of Manoppello presided over the celebration, with the parish pastor Fr. Bonifacio, and a host of ministers both great and small. The parish choir led the singing.

Courtesy of Il Volto Santo di Manoppello

First of all, the new Tabernacle was blessed and during the Mass a baby girl received the sacrament of baptism.

In the homily Fr. Carmine traced the story of the arrival of the Holy Face in Manoppello, following an itinerary that began at the tomb of Jerusalem, continuing to present day Turkey, then to Rome and finally Manoppello. More and more in recent years the hypothesis has come to be accepted that the Holy Veil can be identified with the Sudarium from the tomb of Jesus, of which the Gospel of John speaks: "As soon as John saw the sudarium which had been placed on the face of Jesus rolled up in a separate place, he believed in the Resurrection of Jesus".

Fr. Carmine delivering the homily (Courtesy of Il Volto Santo di Manoppello)

In 1527 after the sack of Rome a pilgrim brought the precious Relic to Manoppello in order to safeguard it from the hands of the ravaging invaders of Rome, entrusting it to a local Doctor who jealously guarded it in his care. Later it fell into the hands of a soldier who kept it for ten years. When he ended up in prison, his wife, in order to free him, sold the Holy Veil to a noble pharmacist who kept it lovingly for 20 years and wished to spread devotion to the Holy Face. Thinking that this would be difficult for him he gave it to the Capuchin friars, who had recently constructed a friary in the hills above the town, so that they might make the holy Image known to everyone. The friars since that time have promoted the sacred image through their preaching and through reproductions in the early years first with drawings, then with prints and more recently with photography and through television. In 1999 a Jesuit priest, professor of art history at the Gregorian University, Henrich Pfeiffer, announced to the international press: "The Roman Veronica has been found in Manoppello". This news caused thousands of people to flock to Manoppello: among them the faithful, journalists, scholars, the curious, bishops, cardinals and, in 2006, even Pope Benedict XVI himself. Studies and research also began. the Holy Veil was compared with the Shroud of Turin and when photos of each were superimposed on each other they revealed the same person. 1500 years ago this cloth was called an "acheropita", that is "not made by human hands". A mystery appears to us, to which it is good to inquire, not with curiosity, but with faith, that is to go beyond the image, to the Person whom this image represents, Jesus. Finally, the celebrant invited us to make an effort, to impress the face of Jesus in our hearts so as to show it to others by our good example.

The Mass continued with solemnity, with singing and with the offering of the gifts. The framed image of the Holy Face was blessed and enthroned in the adjacent chapel. At the end there were also testimonies, given by the artists of the windows and of the Tabernacle and by Mrs. Daisy Neves, of Bellevue (USA) who sponsored the enthronement of the Holy Face coming to this parish.

This was the second image of the Holy Face to be enthroned recently in a Roman parish. On November 11, 2014 at the church of Sant'Ignazio allo Statuario the pastor Fr. Jess Marano enthroned the Holy Face, the first ceremony of its kind in Rome in many centuries.
Shrine of the Holy Face in the church of Sant'Ignazio allo Statuario in Rome

1 comment:

Pat said...

How wonderful! Loved the photos--especially of the Holy Face above the tabernacle. Very beautiful, thank you!