Sunday, March 31, 2024

Christ is Risen, Alleluia!


Photo by Paul Badde

O God of Hosts Let Your Face Shine, and We Shall be Saved!

Psalm 80

Sunday, February 11, 2024

Live Streaming of the Holy Face of Manoppello

It is now possible to see the Holy Face of Manoppello Livestreaming on the YouTube channel of the Basilica.  What a blessing to see the Face of Jesus constantly! By scrolling through the previous moments of the Live Streaming anyone can see how the vision of the Holy Face changes over time depending on the light.  Thanks to the Capuchin Friars of the Basilica and all who have made this possible!

Friday, February 2, 2024

Feast of Omnis Terra at the Shrine of the Holy Face of Manoppello

Video filmed by Esther Dinh, provided to me through the courtesy of Paul Badde, of the Procession with the Holy Face following the Mass of Omnis Terra last Sunday January 28 at the Shrine of the Holy Face of Manoppello.  Archbishop Bruno Forte of the Diocese of Chieti-Vasto carries the monstrance of the Holy Face assisted by the Rector of the Shrine, Fr. Antonio Gentili.  A video of the complete Mass and procession including Archbishop Forte blessing the faithful with the Holy Face can be seen on the Facebook page of the Shrine .  

At the conclusion of his homily Archbishop Forte recited the following prayer which he composed.  


Lord Jesus, Face of eternal Love, in this holy place, guardian of the veil upon which You reveal Yourself in the signs of suffering and let the infinite mercy of Your divine Heart shine through, grant us to live with ever new fidelity the journey of faith, charity and hope that you call us to walk together with you.

May your gaze fill us with the light that comes from the Father to illuminate our steps and lead us to the pastures of heaven, and pour into our hearts the Holy Spirit, the fragrance of your grace and the imprint of your beauty.


And Mary, who was the first to look upon your face and kiss it with the tenderness of a Mother, she who saw you close your eyes upon the arms of the Cross, contemplated you risen from the dead and now contemplates you in glory, help us to seek with ever new desire your Face as a King crucified for love, victorious over evil and death, to meet you in the embrace of your Church, to recognize you in your sacraments and to bear witness to you in the works and days of our lives.


We beseech You, answer our prayer and grant us what we ask of You in faith. You, who with God the Father live and reign in the unity of the Holy Spirit for ever and ever. Amen!

+ Bruno Forte
Archbishop of Chieti-Vasto

Friday, January 26, 2024

In San Francisco Archbishop Cordileone Calls Attention to the Feast of Omnis Terra and the Veil Bearing the Holy Face of Jesus

 (photo: Screenshot / Archdiocese of San Francisco)

Archbishop Cordileone at the Shrine of the Holy Face of Manoppello January 20, 2019
(Photo by Antonio Bini)

On January 20, 2019, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, together with Cardinal Gerhard Müller and Archbishop Bruno Forte celebrated Holy Mass at the Basilica Shrine of the Holy Face of Manoppello on the feast of Omnis Terra.   Exactly five years later, on January 20, 2024 Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone began his homily during the annual Mass celebrated at the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption in San Francisco just prior to the Walk for Life West Coast by drawing the attention of the faithful coming from all over the West Coast, who filled the massive church to overflowing, to the historical roots of the feast in Rome of Omnis Terra and its relationship with the veil bearing the Holy Face of Jesus. 


photo credit:  Jose Aguirre/Catholic San Francisco.

The Archbishop began:
"The entrance chant for our Mass today – “All the earth will worship you, O God, and will sing to you, sing to your name” – happens to be the same entrance chant prescribed for last Sunday’s Mass, the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, popularly referred to as “Omnis terra” Sunday, taken from the first words of the chant in Latin, as we just heard it at the beginning of Mass, “Omnis terra adoret te, Deus.” Every Mass has a prescribed entrance chant, usually a Scripture verse, very often from one of the Psalms, and the Mass gets its name from the first word or two of that chant (such as “Gaudete” Sunday and “Laetare” Sunday).

The Holy Face of Jesus

Why do I bring this up? It recalls a bit of Church history that underscores why Jesus came into the world. The story is told that in pre-Christian Rome the Emperor decided to have all Roman residents originally from other places take soil from their homeland and deposit it in a designated place close to the Vatican Hill, less than a quarter of a mile away. There he built a temple to honor the pagan Roman gods, as it contained soil from all the earth, “omnis terra.”

After Rome became Christian, the Pope built a church over that spot, which we know as the church of the Holy Spirit, and every year on that Sunday, “Omnis terra” Sunday, he would process from St. Peter’s Basilica to the church of the Holy Spirit with a veil bearing the face of Jesus. The veil in question was preserved from antiquity as one of the burial cloths that covered Jesus’ face, and was believed to be such an accurate representation of his face that it was called “the true icon of Rome,” in Latin, vera icona Romana: “vera icona,” whence the name, “Veronica.” This is how the story circulated later in the Middle Ages of a woman by that name who wiped our Lord’s face as he carried his Cross to Calvary.

There are many truly remarkable, even miraculous, features about this cloth that point to its authenticity, but that is a subject for another discourse. The point for us here today is that that procession instituted in the Middle Ages was to claim Jesus Christ as the one Savior of all the world, the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity, the one, true God to whom all the earth owes worship and allegiance. This is the spiritual lesson of the ritual that developed around that veil.

The story of Veronica, though, also bears for us a spiritual message. As Pope St. John Paul II reflected in his meditation on the sixth Station of the Cross, every act of charity done in the name of Jesus Christ, with the spirit of his love, leaves the imprint of his image. This is how we translate the universality of the salvation Jesus won for us into language people can understand in our own time and place. The love of Christ is truly a universal language, understood everywhere and in every culture, leaving his image and thus changing both persons involved in that encounter of authentic Christian charity."

Archbishop Cordileone continued his homily giving a masterful explication of the Church's teaching on marriage and its meaning as seen in the Word of God and its centrality to the development of the human person.

The Archbishop concluded his homily:  
“All the earth will worship you, O God, and will sing to you, sing to your name.”  Let us be in that number, let us be among those who acknowledge Jesus Christ, God’s Only Begotten Son, as the one Savior of the world, the way, the truth and the life, the one who teaches us the path to the fullness of life.  Let us worship him by obeying his mother and do whatever he tells us: taking what he teaches us seriously, living it in our own vocations, and sharing his love through self-giving acts of charity to the hurting, the broken, and those living in darkness and the shadow of death, shining the healing light of his face upon them.  May God grant us this grace.  Amen."

This year the Feast of Omnis Terra, presided by Archbishop Bruno Forte of the Diocese of Chieti-Vasto, with Holy Mass, procession and blessing with the Holy Face will be celebrated at the Shrine of the Holy Face of Manoppello on Sunday January 28. 

Friday, December 1, 2023

The Holy Face on the Netflix platform

Photo by Paul Badde

Millions of people – in over 190 countries around the world – were able to watch the documentary "Mysteries of the Faith"

by Antonio Bini

On November 1st, the series of four documentaries entitled "Mysteries of the Faith" was made available on Netflix, an entertainment platform on a global scale, with over 286 million subscribers, broadcast simultaneously in more than 190 countries around the world and presented as an unprecedented access to sacred places around the world.  with exploration of the most legendary treasures of Christianity, precious relics, steeped in myths and legends, often credited with miracles, which have inspired millions of people over the centuries. Popular religiosity has several sources of inspiration, among which the relics of Jesus Christ are of particular importance.

The screening of the series, which takes place in the perspective of the Jubilee of 2025, was anticipated by a considerable flow of international communications, together with a two-minute trailer conveyed on You Tube by Netflix itself, which recorded thousands of contacts and numerous comments.                              

For the American press, the newspapers USA TODAY and Wall Street Journal are worth mentioning, among others. On the latter newspaper, John Anderson, perhaps taken by the power of the images, wrote on October 31, 2023 that "One needn't be a true believer to be fascinated by the holy relics of the Catholic Church, objects credited with the ability to facilitate miracles and even provide access to the divine." AlsoThe Tribune of India newspaper, in an article by Nonika Singh, speaks of "an engaging journey into the world of faith, the series offers wealth of information on the priceless relics." Regarding the Holy Face of Manoppello, the thesis is supported that it is the Veronica.

Until now, not many Catholic media have covered the broadcast. The Australian weekly The Catholic Weekly of  November 1 stands out, claiming that the docuseries "shines a light on Christianity's most cherished relics."

The documentary, narrarated by actor David Harewood - begins with the alleged crown of thorns, kept in the cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris, saved from the devastating fire of April 15, 2019, and then sets out on the trail of the Holy Grail and later treats of the various relics of the cross on which Jesus died. The perspective of the production seems to be oriented towards giving a demonstration of the manifestations of faith proper to popular devotion that originates from the veneration of saints and in particular of the relics of Jesus Christ, considered "sources of light for pilgrims".                            

 A concept confirmed by the academic Nicola Denzey Lewis, professor at Claremont Graduate University, who affirms that "relics are like beacons for pilgrimages". 

A significant space of the entire series is reserved for the Holy Face of Manoppello, re-proposed in different parts, assuming a particular centrality, connected above all to prolonged close-ups of remarkable quality in terms of images.             

I had the opportunity to collaborate with the production team by answering questions, providing documentation and a series of articles on the Holy Face. I think that they kept it on a general level, also with the aim of creating a work that would stand out from others done previously.

The testimony of Fr. Antonio Gentili, rector of the Shrine of the Holy Face,  was something they concentrated upon.    Fr. Gentili affirmed that from his first encounter with the sacred image he felt very loved, expressing the conviction that it is truly the Face of Jesus imprinted in the first moments of the resurrection.    

This statement was followed by an effective graphic reconstruction of the entrance to the tomb where Jesus had been buried, found empty by the apostles, with the boulder moved and with the only remaining traces represented by the burial cloths and the sudarium, in correspondence with what is narrated in the Gospel of John. The hypothesis was clearly supported by Fr. Domenico da Cese who wrote about it for a holy card that he had printed in the 1970's.

The footage shows the Shrine, trying as closely as possible to frame the façade – which is awaiting extraordinary maintenance work – zooming in on the town, shown from above and in its historic center. In some passages, Sister Blandina also appears on the Via Santarelli.

The choice to follow the paths of faith has led the director to privilege several testimonies of devotees, as well as opening a window on the nature of the fabric in which the face of Jesus (the true-icon "vera-icona") is imprinted, landing upon the thesis of the so-called "sea silk", expressed by Chiara Vigo, a master in the art of the weaving of byssus, from the island of Sant'Antioco,  in Sardinia.

The testimony of Rocco Rulli is of particular importance, embracing three generations, united by a solid devotion to the Holy Face, starting with his father, a miner in Marcinelle (Belgium), who escaped the mining disaster of 8 August 1956 due to a fortuitous change of his work shift, to Rocco himself, saved by pure chance from the devastating earthquake in Friuli on May 6, 1976 which took place while he was doing his military service in Gemona, the epicenter of the earthquake, and then that of his daughter Francesca, who in 2003 had been given up for dead following a severe cerebral hemorrhage. The story is accompanied by images of the tragedy of Marcinelle and of the earthquake in Friuli.                                       

As a sign of devotion and gratitude, Rocco Rulli, ever since 1976, has been one of those who carry the Holy Face  and as such has been filmed by the cameras during the procession. Another testimony is that given by Rossella Olivieri, a woman from Manoppello, who states that she survived, to the disbelief of the doctors, a cardiac arrest that lasted five minutes.

The narrative reproduces the images of Benedict XVI's pilgrimage to Manoppello on September 1, 2006, showing the visible emotion of the German pope in front of the relic. In this regard, Robert Cargill, professor of biblical studies at the University of Iowa, weighs in, affirming how the visit of Pope Benedict XVI has undoubtedly contributed to giving credibility to the Holy Face, and implicitly to the studies developed so far. In another contribution, Jason Horovitz, Rome correspondent for the New York Times, called the Veronica a symbol of devotion.

In this regard, it seems appropriate to recall what the recently deceased Australian Vatican correspondent, Desmond O'Grady, wrote in his book of essays"25 Jubilees. Stories and secrets of Rome in the holy years from 1300 to 2000", ed. Piemme, 1999, in which, pointing to the identification of the veil of Veronica with the Holy Face of Manoppello affirmed by Fr. Heinrich Pfeiffer, he states: "it is not known how and when the relic reached Rome, but it seems that it produced an impact comparable to that which Christ himself would have achieved."

An isolated position doubting the authenticity of the Holy Face is expressed by Roberto Falcinelli, who is mistakenly presented as "among the few art historians who have been allowed to study the Holy Face", since he is a Roman photographer who claims to belong to the Giulio Ricci Diocesan Center for the Study of the Shroud in Rome. 

The direct relationship between the Shroud and the sudarium of the Holy Face is, on the other hand, asserted by Guy Hayward, one of the founders of the British Pilgrimage Trust.                                                                      

A subsequent follow-up does not fail to recall, for that matter, the doubts about the authenticity of the Shroud itself, especially with reference to the well-known study carried out in 1984 with the radiometric technique of carbon 14, which led scientists to date the cloth to sometime between 1260 and 1390, without this changing the attitude of the Church.

Returning to the power of relics, we find the profound testimony of Rabbi Gabriel Hagay, director of the Rabbinical Institute in Paris - who speaks while the images of the Holy Face are scrolling - stating that "where there has been a miracle, there is a relic. It connects you to the power of the relic and suddenly something goes into action that uplifts you. You're here, but your mind, your spirit is up there. You are connected to God." Here it is appropriate to recall how Hagay was very impressed by the Holy Face, arriving as a pilgrim in Manoppello on the occasion of the feast of the Holy Face in May 2014, together with Roberta Collu-Moran, professor of anthropology of religions at the Catholic Institute of Paris (cf. Bulletin of the Holy Face, no. 1/2014, p. 34 ff. and

The prolonged shots of the Holy Face are certainly to be appreciated, even in the foreground and in different contexts, inside and outside the basilica, in different light conditions, which make the veil, even without any comment, an inexplicable "object", unrepeatable and impossible to replicate. Of particular effect are the sequences of the Holy Face with the reflections of the fireworks.              

Mysteries of the Faith privileges the aspects related to faith and miracles - leaving to the audience possible answers - regarding the historical and scientific method, sometimes barely hinted at, putting in the background the complexity of some events of the past that do not allow everyone to easily understand - for example - the still prudent attitude towards the Holy Face on the part of the Church,  which has never admitted the disappearance of the Veronica (True Icon) from St. Peter's.


Saturday, November 25, 2023

Pilgrimage to the Holy Face of Manoppello

Photo by Alexandra Prandell

 I thank God for the privilege of being a pilgrim once again with my wife to the Holy Face of Manoppello.  Several weeks ago we spent 4 nights in Manoppello, staying at the Casa del Pellegrino next door to the Shrine where we were very well taken care of by the staff.  We attended Mass in the Basilica and spent time in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament and the Holy Face, climbing with joy and wonder the blessed stairs which lead to the Holy Face, arriving to the vision of the Face of Jesus as so many pilgrims throughout the centuries, although from so much closer than during the days when the holy image was displayed only on certain days at the old St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.  

I am grateful to the people of Manoppello who have preserved this sacred relic for centuries and have made available the opportunity to see Jesus face to face up close and I wish to pay tribute to Geremia Iezzi and Finella Pechia whose names are on the plaque on the wall at the base of the stairs crediting them with the donation of the stairs   

Photo by David Fincher of Sr. Blandina kneeling before the Holy Face.  

We met Antonio Bini, the author of many of the articles found on this blog, and talked with him about the growth of the devotion to the Holy Face in the USA, and the perspective for an increase of pilgrims to the Holy Face now that the pandemic is over and as the Holy Year of 2025 approaches.  After the All Saints Day Mass Antonio helped us to meet Fr. Antonio Gentili, the Capuchin friar and rector of the Shrine who encouraged us and blessed the images of the Holy Face which we had obtained at the Shrine's religious articles shop. 

Photo by Antonio Bini

Photo by Antonio Bini of Anna from Brazil, the shop's manager, together with Liany and Ray Frost. 

 Anna is holding a copy of the Special Edition of the Shrine's magazine Il Volto Santo di Manoppello containing a number of Antonio Bini's articles on the Holy Face which Ray translated.  A digital copy of this booklet can be found at Special English Language Edition Volto Santo di Manoppello

We also met Sr. Blandina at her hermitage near the Shrine and spoke with her about her work of spreading the truth of the Holy Face, sharing with us copies of her book .  She graciously showed us a part of her hermitage, a special place  for pilgrims she has developed for contemplating the Holy Face  which is available for pilgrims.  Information is available about her work at the website of the Association of Our Lady of the Holy Face 

I encourage all to seriously consider making a pilgrimage to the Holy Face of Manoppello. 

Photo by Alexandra Mandrell

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

The Veronica (Volto Santo) on Netflix

Ed. Note:  Thanks to Antonio Bini for his report and accompnying photos

On November 1, 2023, the documentary MYSTERIES OF FAITH will air on Netflix exploring the secrets of the most legendary treasures of Christianity - according to the production - which have inspired millions of people over the centuries. Relics steeped in myths and legends, credited with miracles, have shaped the history of humanity. Among these is the veil of Veronica, i.e., the Holy Face of Manoppello. An opportunity to explore the relationships between faith, history and mystery that promises to fascinate and enlighten audiences around the world.

The trailer for MYSTERIES OF FAITH, released in recent days on Netflix's You Tube channel, Mysteries of the Faith |anticipates the broadcast of the documentary and opens with the images and testimony of a woman Rossella Olivieri, a devotee of the Holy Face, who tells how her heart stopped for five minutes and then inexplicably started working again, to the disbelief of doctors.

The release of the documentary has been widely publicized, often with references to the Veronica. A circumstance that brings to mind the research conducted in recent years by Fr. Heinrich Pfeiffer, the first scholar to support the identification of the Manoppello veil with the Veronica.

Netflix is a leading global entertainment platform with more than 238 million subscribers in more than 190 countries. The work is placed in the perspective of the imminent Jubilee of 2025

The filming in Manoppello was carried out during the summer of 2022, by an Anglo-American crew who also operated with three cameramen simultaneously. Unfortunately, the filming was affected by the scaffolding that has occupied the façade of the basilica for over six years, as can be seen from the photo. Following the post-unification laws (1866), which expropriated the properties of various religious orders, including the Capuchins, the church belongs to the Italian State which has not yet carried out the necessary extraordinary maintenance works.