Sunday, February 28, 2021

Living Image of Jesus

   The first known photograph of the Holy Face of Manoppello


        The Holy Face of Manoppello reveals and contains an astonishing number of images of Jesus, no single photograph or even any very, very large group of photographs of the Holy Face of Manoppello will ever cause one to say "Now I have seen the full extent of how Jesus truly looks".  I can only say and affirm that the Holy Face of Manoppello is a living image on a marvelous veil displayed for all to see every day inside a compact basilica which communicates the whole Gospel, as I have said before, showing forth the Joyful, Sorrowful, Luminous and Glorious Mysteries of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. 

 I urge all those who follow this blog to take the time during this Lent to go to the part of the blog which contains "all photos on the blog" which is listed at the top of the "Important Websites" referred to at the left column of the blog.  All Photos on Blog   There are hundreds of photographs of the Holy Face of Manoppello which I have been blessed to see and post on the blog.  Most of the photographs were taken by the author and journalist Paul Badde to whom I am extremely grateful. 

Today at Mass for the Second Sunday of Lent, the Deacon who gave the homily connected the transfigured face of Jesus which Peter, James, and John saw on the mountain and the disfigured face of Jesus which John saw on Calvary.  He said that  the transfigured Jesus' face  was a preparation for the apostles to endure the vision of Jesus' disfigured face and that we too must gaze upon the transfigured face of Jesus to endure the crosses which we will see our loved ones and ourselves carry.  

To illustrate what I am trying to express, I would like to post here a sample of the variety of photographs of the Holy Face of Manoppello which I have had the honor to post since starting this blog over a dozen years ago.  


Monday, February 1, 2021

Votive Mass of the Holy Face


Over the years this blog has promoted the Votive Mass of the Holy Face.  In 2008 and 2011 posts from the blog (see links below) included the prayers in English and Latin of the Votive Mass of the Holy Face which is celebrated at the Shrine of the Holy Face of Manoppello.  These prayers can be printed out by readers.  Booklets containing printed copies of these Masses can be obtained by sending an email to

There is also a Mass of the Holy Face to be celebrated on Shrove Tuesday (the day before Ash Wednesday)To quote Fr. Mark Kirby, O.S.B. of Silverstream Priory in Ireland, 

   "Masses in honor of the Holy Face appeared as early as the fourteenth century. In 1958 Pope Pius XII approved the observance of a feast of the Holy Face of Jesus on Shrove Tuesday.   A Mass of the Holy Face of Jesus for Shrove Tuesday was approved by the Holy See in 1986."  The prayers in English for this Mass can be found at

Sunday, January 24, 2021

EWTN Report on Omnis Terra Sunday


The report on the beautiful celebration of Omnis Terra last Sunday January 17  begins at 1:30

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Homily of Archbishop Georg Gänswein at the Eucharistic Celebration of Omnis Terra Sunday at the Basilica of the Holy Face of Manoppello


Credit: Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.

                                                                                                  English Translation Copyright EWTN

Basilica of the Volto Santo

Manoppello, Sunday, January 17, 2021


Dear brothers in the priestly ministry,

dear representatives of the civil authorities,

dear sisters and brothers in the Lord.

“As [John] watched Jesus walk by, he said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God,’” we heard earlier in the Gospel. We can also say the same words here with John the Evangelist every day in view of the face of Christ in the Volto Santo.

Credit: Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.

 Omnis terra is the name of today’s Sunday in the liturgical calendar, after the Latin words of Psalm 65 at the beginning of this Holy Mass: Omnis terra adoret te, Deus, et psallat tibi! That means in English, “Let all the earth worship you and praise you, o God; may it sing in praise of your name.” We have gathered here today, too, for this ancient praise of God by all the earth, in the Pontifical Basilica of the Volto Santo.

 The occasion for this feast day is the memory of the same Sunday of the year 1208, when Pope Innocent III carried this true image of the Lord, which we see and venerate here above the main altar, as humbly as a mendicant monk from the old Basilica of St. Peter in Rome to the sick of the capital, as well as the sick pilgrims from all over Europe, to the nearby Hospital of the Holy Spirit. The most powerful and power-conscious pope of the Middle Ages brought the archetype of the merciful God barefoot to the sick and dying!

Before that, this precious veil icon had been kept hidden for a long time. With this step, the image came out into the open and became publicly known for the first time in the entire Catholic universal Church — on this Sunday in winter, which even then, in January 1208, began with the same words from the psalm as today: Omnis terra.

But that Pope Innocent III at that time carried the holy face, together with his canons, not to the scholars and nobles of the city, but to the sick and the poor of Rome, we must especially remember today, January 17, 2021, when the expression Omnis terra — “all the earth” — has taken on a startling reality as perhaps never before! For all the world is suddenly threatened by an invisible virus, all continents, all skin colors, nations and religions — truly all the people of this earth, young and old! All the world suddenly fears disease and death together, from Tierra del Fuego to Vladivostok. When was the expression Omnis terra ever more timely and burning!

 Therefore, it was for me a sacred duty as well as a great joy to come today, despite all the coronavirus obstacles, from Rome to Manoppello, where at present no pilgrims can come because of the pandemic. I had to come to bring the Volto Santo, at least through the medium of the moving images of television, to as many sick and lonely people as possible!

Credit: Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.

 That is why I now also remember with gratitude the day five years ago today when Fr. Carmine Cucinelli invited me and the memorable Archbishop Edmund Farhat from Lebanon to celebrate the divine mysteries with a copy of the Volto Santo in the Church of Santo Spirito in Sassia in Rome on January 17, 2016. For Father Carmine, as rector of the Basilica in Manoppello at that time, had come up with the idea of introducing a third annual feast for the veneration of the Volto Santo during the “Jubilee of Mercy” that Pope Francis had proclaimed for the year 2016. And the Sunday Omnis terra, in memory of the pioneering initiative of Innocent III in the distant year 1208, was simply the most suitable for this.

 But I also remember, as if it were yesterday, how I was able to accompany Pope Benedict XVI on his “private pilgrimage” here on September 1, 2006, when he had decided, despite much resistance, to visit and venerate the Volto Santo in Manoppello as the first Pope in over 400 years, shortly before visiting his Bavarian homeland. And now it seems to me almost like divine providence that at that time he had chosen the same passage from the Gospel of John that we have just heard, in order to put into the following words his thoughts on this historic encounter before the Capuchin friars and faithful gathered here with the holy veil:

During my pause for prayer just now, I was thinking of the first two Apostles who, urged by John the Baptist, followed Jesus to the banks of the Jordan River […]. The Evangelist recounts that Jesus turned around and asked them: “What do you seek?” And they answered him, “Rabbi […] where are you staying?” And he said to them, “Come and see.” That very same day, the two who were following him had an unforgettable experience which prompted them to say: “We have found the Messiah.” The One whom a few hours earlier they had thought of as a simple “rabbi” had acquired a very precise identity: the identity of Christ who had been awaited for centuries. But, in fact, what a long journey still lay ahead of those disciples! They could not even imagine how profound the mystery of Jesus of Nazareth could be or how unfathomable, inscrutable, his “Face” would prove, so that even after living with Jesus for three years, Philip, who was one of them, was to hear him say at the Last Supper: “Have I been with you so long, and yet you do not know me, Philip?” And then the words that sum up the novelty of Jesus’ revelation: “He who has seen me has seen the Father.”

 Thus far Benedict XVI on September 1, 2006.

 If we take his word, and this word of the Lord, quite seriously, we see the Father also here, where the Son reveals his essence to us forever, and where we see: He lives – as Savior and Redeemer.

 Pope Benedict had not come barefoot like Pope Innocent, but by helicopter from Castel Gandolfo to Manoppello at the invitation of Archbishop Bruno Forte, and I still remember very vividly every moment of that meeting, as well as May 15, 2009, when Benedict XVI visited the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, from which the veil of the Volto Santo — as well as the Shroud of Turin — originates as incomparable news of the resurrection of Christ from the dead. It cannot be otherwise. After the spectacular visit of Pope Paul VI on January 4, 1964, the empty tomb of Christ in Jerusalem has also been visited by Pope John Paul II in March 2000 and Pope Francis in May 2014. Benedict XVI’s pilgrimage to Manoppello on September 1, 2006, on the other hand, can only be compared to the procession through which Pope Innocent III made known the “True Icon,” popularly known as “Veronica,” in Western Christendom more than 800 years ago. Pope Benedict, however, on September 1, 2006, brought the personal and “human face of God” back to the Church and to all the world. He came all alone and not in the entourage of his advisors or the canons of Saint Peter. And he came shyly and reservedly, as is his way, and only for contemplation and prayer. A celebration of the Eucharist or a public blessing with the Volto Santo was not thought of at that time. But then thousands of pilgrims followed him here, who in his footsteps carried the sentence from the Gospel of John around the whole world: “Come and see!”

 Church history will record this forever. And for this, the civil authorities of the city of Manoppello already gave him the keys of your City at the Vatican on November 3, 2010, in the presence of Archbishop Bruno Forte. For this I thank you again with all my heart, as well as all the friars of the Capuchin Order and all the citizens of Manoppello, and today I thank you again especially and personally for the precious privilege of celebrating the Holy Eucharist here with you for all the sick and suffering of all the earth, under the merciful gaze of Christ: “Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sins of the world!”


Archbishop Georg Gänswein

Prefect of the Papal Household

January 17, 2021

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Omnis Terra to be Celebrated on Sunday January 17 at the Basilica of the Holy Face of Manoppello


This Sunday January 17 at 11am  there will take place at the Basilica of the Holy Face of Manoppello the annual celebration of the feast of Omnis Terra, intimately linked to the image of the Holy Face and celebrated beginning in the 13th century at Rome and reintroduced to Rome ten years after the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the Shrine of the Holy Face of Manoppello.

Archbishop Georg Ganswein, who accompanied Pope Benedict XVI  to Manoppello on September 1, 2006.and then celebrated Omnis Terra in the Roman church of Santo Spirito in Sassia on January 16, 2016, delivering a historic homily, will be the presider for the Eucharistic celebration and solemn blessing with the image of the Holy Face in Manoppello this year.

The celebration will be livestreamed on the Facebook page of the Shrine

Monday, January 4, 2021

The Passing of Brother Vincenzo D'Elpidio, the Friar Seeker, Sower of Hope

Brother Vincenzo in front of Statue of Saint Padre Pio

by Antonio Bini

In the friary of Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows at  Pescara, following a short illness, the industrious earthly life of Brother Vincenzo D'ElpidIo has come to an end. A popular and much-beloved figure, Brother Vincenzo was a gentle giant, in size, as well as in his extraordinary generosity and above all in his ability to listen, comfort and encourage the many suffering people who came to him each day from all over Italy and also from abroad, as demonstrated by the article published by the German Catholic agency CNA - Catholic News Agency, by Dirk Weisbrod , which tells of his encounter with the friar who is considered among the last heirs of Padre Pio. The Life and Death of Vincenzo D'Elpidio

I met Brother Vincenzo almost twenty years ago, at the beginning of my research focused on studying the figure of Padre Domenico da Cese and his relationship with the Holy Face and with Padre Pio. It goes without saying that, for Brother Vincenzo, the authenticity of the Holy Face, as for his friend Padre Domenico, was beyond dispute.

Servant of God Padre Domenico da Cese, Apostle of the Holy Face

I then wrote a first article in 2005 in which I drew attention to Brother Vincenzo’s testimony regarding Padre Domenico. Over the years our meetings became frequent. He was happy with my commitment, if I didn't come to visit or if he didn’t hear from  me, he would call me on the telephone. I felt his affection, he gave suggestions, he explained singular episodes of the life of Padre Domenico, of his own relationship with Padre Pio that then appeared in an article published in a national weekly. On that occasion he had even asked me to assist him in his meeting with the journalist.  I updated him on the spread of devotion to the Holy Face and the interest in Padre Domenico, to whom he had been a brotherly friend and later an extraordinary advocate for his cause for beatification to which he was strongly committed, having begun this work ten years after Padre Domenico’s death, which took place on September 17, 1978 in Turin, where he had gone to witness the exhibition of the Holy Shroud. Padre Domenico appeared in a dream to Brother Vincenzo imploring him to honor the request of so many devotees who had sent him money – as was used in the past  – for the celebration of  Masses. Brother Vincenzo went to the Shrine of the Holy Face where he verified the existence of two large boxes containing numerous letters still unopened addressed to the deceased Capuchin. He opened them, left the money with the religious superior, had some Masses celebrated, and asked permission to consult the letters which told of extraordinary facts or simple requests for help from Padre Domenico. 

Br. Vincenzo leading devotees of Padre Domenico in prayer at the Shrine of the Holy Face

Starting with this documentation he began, together with Bruno Sammaciccia, scholar of the Holy Face and friend of Padre Domenico, the search for contacts and  further testimonies that then became fundamental for the start of the beatification process,  while not lacking difficulties to overcome due to the hostility of some skeptical confreres who could be counted at most on the fingers of one hand compared to those of the entire Province of the Capuchins of Abruzzo. The work continued in the following years with the collaboration of Padre Domenico's niece, Caterina Petracca, together with her husband Franco Di Lorenzo, who died a few years ago, until the Capuchin Order made the decision to propose to the Archbishop of Chieti, Mons. Bruno Forte, the formal start of the beatification process, with the first phase ending in March 2015 with the granting of the go-ahead (“nulla osta”) from the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.  Since that time Padre Domenico has the title of  Servant of God.

Br. Vincenzo with author Paul Badde filming EWTN documentary
on the life of Padre Domenico da Cese  --

Brother Vincenzo foresaw his death. Last February he asked me to help him write his farewell message to the vast community of people who knew him, and who had been following him for many years. He was having difficulty with his right shoulder which he had fractured a few months earlier. I wrote down his thoughts. Then at home I transcribed the text to the computer. He told me to print two copies and  then he signed them both, keeping one – which in the following days he entrusted to the superior of the Friary – and asked me to keep the other which I should disseminate in case – for whatever reason – the Father Guardian did not, being his deep desire to reach the many people whom he had known over time. In September, contrary to previous years, not feeling very well, he wanted to entrust me with his message of greeting to the devotees of Padre Domenico gathered on  September 20 in Manoppello, on the occasion of the 42nd anniversary of the death of the Servant of God. On that occasion, Father Carmine Cucinelli, then rector of the Shrine of the Holy Face, asked me to read the message at the beginning of Mass, aware of the importance that Brother Vincenzo had for so many devotees of Padre Domenico da Cese who were waiting for Brother Vincenzo’s presence.

But getting back to his farewell message. Brother Vincenzo managed to summarize in a few simple sentences the essence of his long religious life, inspired by the poor man of Assisi, with the memory of Padre Pio, who at the beginning of the 1960’s strongly advised him to stay in Pescara, among the people, instead of choosing the cloistered life. Padre Pio was not wrong. As a friar seeking alms, among the people, in the villages and the countryside he had the opportunity to get in touch with many people becoming very well known as the "friar seeker" ("frate cercatore") a figure linked above all to the world of the small farmer. He went about first, on foot, then in a horse drawn buggy and finally in a Piaggio Ape (small three wheeled vehicle) with the words “pace e bene” (peace and good) written on the front.   (see

Significant his reference to Padre Domenico da Cese, in stating that he followed over the years " the teaching of various confreres and in particular that of the Servant of God Padre Domenico da Cese, of the Shrine of the Holy Face. For me he was an extraordinary example of dedication to the Church and of tireless attention to others, whom he welcomed from morning to night, listened to, comforted and invited to prayer and to live in the faith of the Lord." He writes above all that he felt " close to him in the years after his death "so much so that "some people, who were Padre Domenico’s spiritual children, felt they glimpsed in me something of His figure, even from the physical point of view". Then with his usual humility he acknowledges that he is "only a poor friar, not worthy of being compared to the Servant of God."

Br. Vincenzo at Annual Celebration of Padre Domenico at the Shrine of the Holy Face

Yet that "closeness" which Brother Vincenzo describes, was truly perceived in everyday reality by many who felt him to be in continuity with the Servant of God. This was the case for the associations of the Holy Face of Ruvo di Puglia and of Andria – formed by Sister Amalia Di Rella, spiritual daughter of Padre Domenico da Cese. Apart from physical similarities, there was no lack of common charisms. As his age advanced Brother Vincenzo's activity as "seeker" had become much less frequent so that he  could devote himself more to listening to needy or despairing people who turned to him, even if simply for advice or a word of hope. In 1979 the then Archbishop of Pescara Mons. Antonio Iannucci granted him the power of special minister of the Eucharist and authorized him to give a blessing. On Saturdays and Sundays he received many people in the Shrine who lined up to talk to him. In many cases he hugged them, clutching them at length praying, even imposing his hands on their head.  At times I saw him embrace entire  nuclear families. Many felt something mysterious.  One had the impression of receiving positive energy,  but also affectionate attention, with liberation from anxieties and worries. This all took place publicly. There were numerous people who regained peace and serenity, while others regained their faith.

In recent years, spending most of his time in his room, he received many phone calls from people from all over Italy and even from abroad asking for his blessing. In the friary he had his own telephone line, which callers would  rarely find without a busy signal. Since the beginning of November, the growing number of telephone calls from many people worried about not receiving answers –since Brother Vincenzo was being cared for in the friary infirmary – had led the friars to deactivate the telephone line.

At the end of his Funeral Mass, Brother Vincenzo’s message of farewell was read, to great emotion, by the superior of the Shrine Father Franco Nanni. Many people occupied the large space outside the friary following the anti-Covid restrictions. Assisting in keeping order during the service were members of the Prayer Groups of Padre Pio, who at the Shrine have as their guide Father Guglielmo Alimonti, who was close to Padre Pio.

A long heartfelt applause accompanied the conclusion of the reading, with many people in tears. It is certainly no coincidence that the newspaper Il Messaggero, in reporting news of the death of Brother Vincenzo, had written of "sorrow to the Hills” ("dolore ai Colli"), alluding to the populous district in which the Shrine is present. 

During Mass, the presider Father Matteo Siro, who since last July has been leading the province of the Capuchins of Abruzzo, Lazio, and Umbria, highlighted the  uncommon human and religious qualities of the friar who "made Jesus and his gospel approachable", with many people  "having found in him a welcoming heart who knew how to lift up the most heartbroken souls, the most disintegrated families, the poor and also many pregnant women who in their hearts had decided to have an abortion". But with "simple evangelical and persuasive words Brother Vincenzo convinced them to welcome the life that was in them", as confirmed by several testimonies. It is not to be excluded that some of these saved lives were present, blending in among the crowd, which also included many young people.

The action of the good friar also continued in the case of poor families, providing them material aid when possible. In fact, his "questua" (seeking) represented a basic means of social distribution for the local community, collecting offerings of money, oil, wine, wheat, and food -  which were needed to support the Friary and the minor seminary (when it was active)  -  Brother Vincenzo had the opportunity to generously redistribute what was collected in favor of those in need. In various circumstances he also made many boys feel his concern and advice. For this intense activity in 2008 he received public recognition with the award  "Socially useful men", as part of an event organized at the Massimo theater in Pescara.

Brother Vincenzo Sabatino D'Elpidio was born in Guardia Vomano, in the province of Teramo, on February 16, 1932. In 1952, after listening to a preacher who had come to his town- Father Pio Palandrani da Mosciano Sant'Angelo - he made the decision to follow his example, entering the Capuchin friary of Sulmona. Unfortunately, his desire to study and become a priest could not be fulfilled for reasons of age, having limited his studies to the attendance of elementary school only.  They advised him to remain as a religious brother, telling him that he could "become a saint rather than a priest". But this perspective was not easy for Brother Vincenzo to accept at first, though he devoted himself to the personal deepening of his ascetic knowledge and that of doctrinal scriptures, with the constant desire to do better and work for his own salvation and that of the souls to whom he would minister. His limited culture was largely compensated for by his extraordinary faith, so much so that Father Carmine Ranieri, who in recent years was provincial of the Capuchins of Abruzzo, learning the news of his passing, described him as "a man of rock solid faith and great energy which flowed from his physical might."

After nine months they sent him to the Friary of Penne, where he began the novitiate, making his simple profession on February 13, 1954. In early 1960 he was assigned to the Friary of Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows where he remained until his death. It was back then a rural area above the hill, with few houses around the friary, which over the years the friar saw grow disproportionately until it became a city within the city.  For years he carried out the tasks of seeker of alms ("questuante"), cook, farmer, wine maker, sacristan, all which kept him busy from morning to night, even neglecting his health and never losing his simplicity and his proverbial good mood.

Br. Vincenzo with Paul and Ellen Badde

Also the German writer and journalist Paul Badde, author of "Face of God" (history of the Holy Face of Manoppello), at the news of Brother Vincenzo and  seeing the images with the immense crowd present at the funeral despite the health restrictions, wrote to me " He was a saint indeed. No one will take his place." 

Br. Vincenzo and Antonio Bini

My last meeting with Brother Vincenzo took place on October 23rd.  At that time he asked me to personally take care of the reprinting of the book containing his testimonies regarding Padre Domenico da Cese, which he himself had provided in previous years,  distributing them  free of charge. Even this last circumstance allows me to conclude by stating that these two  friars  - exemplary expressions of the most authentic Franciscan charism  - today seem to resume a common path, also in the popular imagination of very many people.



Sr. Petra-Maria Steiner presenting Br. Vincenzo with copies of her book  Servant of God, Padre Domenico Da Cese, O.F.M. Capuchin, An Illustrated Biography   





Wednesday, October 14, 2020

After Sixteen Years of Devoted Service at the Shrine of the Holy Face - Capuchin Father Provincial Assigns Padre Carmine Cucinelli to the Shrine of Our Lady of Splendor at Giulianova

article and photos (except as noted) by Antonio Bini  


Fr. Carmine Cucinelli departs from the Shrine of the Holy Face of Manoppello where he had arrived in September 2004 after 15 years spent in the parish of San Francesco di Paola of Sulmona, A long stay of which there was barely a mention in his first editorial published in the magazine of the Holy Face No. 2-2004 in which in thanking his predecessor Fr. Germano Di Pietro, he expressed the desire to continue with joy the path already marked out, referring to that period "full of ferment" surrounding the Shrine. Though not failing to express his feeling a little sad for having to leave Sulmona he declared himself nevertheless to be glad to start the new experience which led him to "be at the service of the True Face of Jesus". He had clear ideas and so it was to be..

It is enough to quickly leaf through the editions of the magazine from the years Padre Carmine has served at the Shrine to understand how his expression "to be at the service of the True Face of Jesus" was not a generic promise or a cliché. For a few years before his arrival,  the magazine contained just  a few pages, in which often the Holy Face was not even mentioned.

Then the third millennium "forced" the long-established magazine founded in 1906 by Padre Francesco da Collarmele to be turned into an instrument for the communication of extraordinary events that have placed exclusively at the center of the magazine the devotion to  the Holy Face and the growing  awareness of the Holy Face in Italy and throughout the world.

Though it is not easy to make a complete summary of the work carried out by p. Carmine in these years, one can not help but consider how during his leadership of the Shrine extraordinary "things" took place that will remain forever in the history of the Holy Face. I am referring not only to Pope Benedict XVI's memorable visit to Manoppello on September 1, 2006. Fr. Carmine welcomed the German pope, the first pilgrim pope to travel to Manoppello. A visit of historical importance according to many, such as Mons. Amerigo Ciani, a Canon of St. Peter's Basilica  , who during his homily delivered on January 15, 2017 in Manoppello, stated in clear words that "after 479 years a pope knelt before what had been the most precious treasure of the Popes". A concept expressed, albeit with different words, also by Mons. Georg Gänswein..

Prior to 2005, no book on the Holy Face, among the few which had been published, had come from beyond the narrow local boundaries of Manoppello.  The Veronica, a controversial, complex and fascinating issue, was at the center of the first International Conference "The Holy Face and the iconography of the image of Christ" (at Chieti on February 10-11, 2006) promoted by the Shrine, in agreement with the Archbishop of the Diocese Chieti-Vasto and the University of Chieti. The Conference, in the now imminent prospect of the 500th year of the arrival in Manoppello of the Holy Face, saw Fr. Carmine engaged firsthand as organizer, in collaboration with Fr. Heinrich Pfeiffer, together with the influential role played by Cardinal Fiorenzo Angelini, President of the International Institute of Research on the Face of Christ.

Just the year before two books had been published on the Holy Face, the first by Saverio Gaeta, included as a special supplement to the Easter edition of the Italian weekly Famiglia Cristiana, the other – by Paul Badde – published in Germany, with a Polish edition immediately following.

The arrival of the Pope, the elevation of the Shrine to the status of a Basilica, which took place just three weeks after his visit, and the prayer of Benedict XVI dedicated to the Holy Face, written by him on the first anniversary of his visit, were moments that belong to the history of the sacred image, which  has had a unique diffusion throughout the Christian world.

Some moments to remember.

On the scientific level, the Holy Face, together with the Shroud of Turin and the Tilma of Guadalupe, was at the center of the International Workshop of Scientific Approach to the Acheiropoietos Images, promoted by the Italian "Center for Experimental Research" (ENEA) of Frascati – from May 4 to 6, 2010, which was attended by researchers and scientists from numerous countries. Although it was a scientific discussion, for the first time an international group of experts recognized the reliability of the hypothesis that the Holy Face is to be considered  an acheropite image (not made by human hands). Fr. Carmine attended the event, invited by the scientific director of the Conference.

What in previous years  had been for Padre Carmine an "Italian mission" (Taranto, Lucca, Padua, S. Maria di Leuca, Rome, and other cities) was transformed into an international mission. In 2011 the Bishop of the Diocese of Tarbes-Lourdes, Philippe Perrier, during his visit to Manoppello, was so impressed by the Holy Face that he expressed  the desire to set up an exhibition in Lourdes which he later organized with the help and commitment  of  Fr.  Carmine and the historical-artistic collaboration of Fr. Pfeiffer and Sr. Blandina Paschalis Schlomer. The exhibition "Le IMAGE DU CHRIST A TRAVERS LE VISAGE DE LA VIERGE" (The image of Christ through the face of the Virgin)  was inaugurated in Lourdes on September 1, 2011. The exhibition would remain open for a month and represented an event that would have been difficult to imagine just a  few years before.

On November 17, 2011, Carmine was invited to deliver a talk as part of the second "Semana Guadalupana" (Week of the Guadalupana)  at the People's University of Puebla (Mexico), in which the theme of the acheropite images, Shroud of Turin, Holy Face and the Tilma of Guadalupe, at the center of the Frascati meeting promoted by ENEA, was again studied.

 On February 17, 2012, the Shrine welcomed the visit of the participants of the European and African Bishops Conferences.  Fr. Carmine lead over fifty bishops gathered together on the snowy road as they made the Way of the Cross up the hill that leads to the Shrine.

August 2013 – As part of the Meeting of Rimini, the exhibition "The Rediscovered Face: The unmistakable features of Christ" was presented, curated by Raffaella Zardoni, with the collaboration of the Shrine of the Holy Face. The exhibition, visited by thousands of people, is replicated in New York  City from  January 17 to 19, 2014 and then in other cities.

September 2 – September 17, 2014 -  Fr. Carmine was the protagonist of the first Mission to the United States and the Philippines accepting the project proposed by a devout American woman of Filipino origin, Mrs. Daisy Neves, very devoted to the Holy Face. The program for the mission was developed in a number of cities: San Francisco, Las Vegas, East Palo Alto, Manila, etc. with the events organized in collaboration with dioceses and parishes. In the Philippines, a replica of the Holy Face was solemnly enthroned on September 16 in the town of Nampicuan. The church will be elevated to a Shrine under the name Holy Face of Jesus in Asia, becoming over the years a destination for pilgrims from all over the Philippines.

Celebration for the Holy Face in Nampicuan

Raymond Frost, Blog Editor and Sacristan of St. Ignatius Church in San Francisco
receiving chasuble of the Holy Face presented by Fr. Carmine to the Church

In September 2015, the mission was repeated in the U.S. and the Philippines, also touching down in Vancouver in Canada. Among the destinations were the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles, The University of Manila, Taguig City and again Nampicuan.

Fr. Carmine with the Bishop in Taguig City
and Fr. Bonifacio Lopez at left and Fr. Danilo Flores at right (photo by Paul Badde)

Fr. Carmine speaking at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Angels in Los Angeles (photo by Paul Badde)

On January 16, 2016, during the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy -  proclaimed by Pope Francis in the Bull of Indiction entitled Vultus Misericordiae (Face of Mercy)there took place the re-enactment of the annual procession established  by Pope Innocent III in 1208, which took the Veronica from St. Peter's Basilica to the nearby hospital of Santo Spirito in Sassia  on the  second Sunday after the Epiphany (Omnis Terra)   –   Padre Carmine had met with the rector of the Shrine of Divine Mercy in the Church of Santo Spirito in Sassia Mons. J. Bart, during the meeting of the rectors of Italian shrines, held in Rome in November 2015 to plan this historic event.  Unforgettable is the pilgrimage from Manoppello, with the participation of the choir and other faithful travelling to Rome. The procession from St. Peter's, with the replica of the Holy Face in the Shrine's silver reliquary made in  1902, would finally arrive, after much effort, at the altar of the historic church of Holy Spirit in Sassia. During the two-day exposition of the replica of the Holy Face, two Masses were celebrated by Archbishop Georg Gänswein, prefect of the Papal Household, and by the Lebanese Archbishop Edmond H. Farhat, Canon of St. Peter. The rite of Omnis Terra was replicated in Manoppello in 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020, with the presence of Mons. Amerigo Ciani, Cardinal Gerhard Muller, Cardinal Kurt Koch and the Archbishop of San Francisco Salvatore J. Cordileone.

Fr. Carmine with the Replica of the Holy Face at St. Peter's Basilica

On 18 September 2016, the Divine Liturgy was celebrated in the Shrine of the Holy Face, presided by the metropolitan  Job Getcha of Telmessos,  of the  Patriarchate of Constantinople, concelebrated together with 14 representatives of the Orthodox churches who attended the 14th plenary session of the International Mixed Commission for theological dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church. The celebration took place in the presence of Cardinal Kurt Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the Unity of Christians,,   Argentine Cardinal  Leonardo Sandri  and the Archbishop of the Diocese of Chieti-Vasto  Bruno  Forte. .

On May 17, 2017, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, Cardinal of Manila and President of Caritas International, accepted the invitation of Fr. Carmine to participate in the annual May celebration of the feast of the Holy Face.

In his homily Tagle recalled  the spread of devotion to the Holy Face in the Philippines. He is the  first cardinal in the history of the Shrine to accompany in procession the Holy Face from  the basilica to the church of San Nicola.. Also in 2017 Padre Carmine undertook his second mission to Poland, in the Diocese of Katowice.

 On 20 October 2018, Bishop Rodolfo Cetoloni  and the religious of the diocese of Grosseto, together with many faithful gathered in front of the entrance of the cathedral of Grosseto welcome Fr. Carmine bringing with him a copy of the Holy Face, displayed in the reliquary made in 1902. The display of the Holy Face  was part of  the annual "Settimana della Bellezza"  (Week of Beauty), organized with the journal "I Luoghi dell'Infinito"  (The Dwellings of the Infinite). 

 Finally, one cannot fail to mention, Fr. Carmine's strong commitment to making better known the extraordinary figure of Domenico da Cese, Apostle of the Holy Face, recognized as Servant of God in March 2015,  favoring the acquisition of documents and testimonies, and valuing the work started in previous years  by  Br. Vincenzo D'Elpidio. With the precious commitment of Sister Petra-Maria Steiner  today a significant archive of the life of Fr. Domenico da Cese has been realized, which is also available in digital format..

Fr. Carmine speaking at Sept. 2020 Celebration for the Servant of God Domenico da Cese with New Capuchin Provincial Fr. Mateo Siro Presiding at Altar

Notable accomplishments during his time as Rector and father Guardian, were the renovation and refurbishment of the Casa del Pellegrino (Pilgrim's Hotel) after years of being closed and the construction of  the  new sacristy as well.  As the epidemic has spread, he has built up, even with limited means,  the livestreaming services of the main  religious celebrations as well as the Facebook page of the Basilica to allow so many faithful around the world can feel close to the Shrine.   And  Fr. Carmine has received many messages expressing good wishes and gratitude to him from people all over the world, including from those of the Orthodox Church.

 We understand how humanly speaking it may not be easy for Padre Carmine to leave Manoppello and especially to distance himself from the Holy Face,  to whom he always felt particularly close in so many sensitive moments of his mission..

The daily extraordinary commitment required by his increasing responsibility in the leadership of the Shrine, also had the merit of welcoming the collaboration offered by so many people who have shared and been active parts  of his wonderful mission.

He welcomed and met the Pope, dozens and dozens of cardinals, hundreds of bishops, thousands of religious, millions of pilgrims, men of government, ambassadors, scientists, journalists, writers, television crews, always willing to welcome everyone and ready to respond to the interests of the diverse questioners.

Fr. Carmine with Mercedes Tuason the Philippine Ambassador to the Holy See 

It should not seem an exaggeration to refer to him to what Herman Hesse  wrote  about Francis of Assisi:  "His language was not that of a fanatic or a braggart. He spoke to the peasants as a peasant and to the citizens as a citizen and to the knights as a knight, he spoke to each one of what everyone cared about and everywhere spoke like a brother to his brothers, as one who suffered to the suffering, and to the sick one who had been healed."

St. Francis has been for Fr. Carmine Cucinelli  the role model  since his adolescence, when just 12 years old, he chose  the religious life entering the seminary. He was ordained a priest on March 18, 1972.  On the feast of St. Francis, October 4, he made public his assignment to another convent  which he learned some days earlier. In fact, the news was released earlier on September 20 in an article by  Dirk Weisbrod  published on the website of the German Catholic Agency CNA Deutsch, testifying to the international importance of the figure of Fr. Carmine

The rule of obedience, which he accepted by becoming a Capuchin priest,,  provides for a limited stay in a friary. It's not up to me to say how right  or timely it is..

We live in temporariness. On the other hand, one who truly believes sees in the journey a metaphor for life. St. Paul said "no habemus hic manentem civitatem" (For here we have no lasting city).

There are many in Italy and especially abroad to identify him  with the Holy Face itself, inevitable reference of his missionary commitment carried out generously over the years,  to carry  on, almost in solitude,  networks of relationships in the world, starting in the morning very early, open the door of the Basilica at 6am, with emails that came before 6am, etc. I saw and heard him patiently explain the mystery of the Holy Face to so many groups, even several times a day, always as if it were the first time, involving pilgrims and helping them to live the encounter with the Face of Christ. I could observe how much dedication and care there was in his preparation of homilies,  written  manually, without ever being repetitive and rhetorical, or allowing himself to be unprepared.

In his farewell mass Fr. Carmine acknowledged with an emotional "arrivederci" the many present who arrived for the occasion in Manoppello, despite the limitations imposed to contain the epidemic. Among them were Sr. Blandina, Paul Badde, Raffaella Zardoni, who arrived from Milan, the members of the  Committee for the Celebration of the Feast of the Holy Face and many others.

                                           Elisabetta Pinciroli, Raffaella Zardoni and Fr. Carmine

Fr. Carmine expressed his heartfelt thanks in  particular "to those who in recent years have been close to me materially and spiritually, who have supported me, sustained me, and encouraged, motivated and given suggestions and ideas to realize. I thank my religious brothers, the citizens of Manoppello, friends and collaborators, near and far, who through the press, the internet and other audiovisual media have helped to make the Holy Face known in the world:  Fr. Heinrich Pfeiffer, Sister Blandina, Sister Petra-Maria Steiner, Paul Badde, Antonio Bini, Saverio Gaeta, the various editors, journalists, broadcasters, Italian and Polish writers, scientists, researchers, and those who follow through the internet the life of the shrine, those who have collaborated in spreading devotion to the Holy Face in the world: Mrs. Daisy  Neves  (already in heaven), friends of the Holy Face in Canada, the Filipino friends, Mrs. Tamara Klapatch and Raymond Frost in the United States and so many others."

He thanked the faithful who wanted to give him an icon written by Sr.. Blandina Paschalis Schlömer, which reproduces St. Joseph as Guardian of the Redeemer, to remember the delicate role he played for 16 years "as guardian of the most important relic of Jesus in the world".. Flowers were offered by the Polish nuns  of the Holy House of the Living Chalice.