Wednesday, May 19, 2021

News of the Feast of the Holy Face of Manoppello

(editor's note: Many thanks to Antonio Bini for this report and photos of this year's celebration of the Feast of the Holy Face of Manoppello.  Antonio promises that he will send more photos after overcoming some technical issues) 

I am sending you some photos taken today on the occasion of the traditional May festival - which falls on the third Sunday. Also this year the celebration , very emotional for the local populations, took place with the constraints imposed by national legislation to contain Covid-19. In place of the procession from the shrine to the parish church of San Nicola, the Holy Face was simply transported there on a Civil Protection van, at the end of the morning Mass at the Basilica. Few people were able to enter the church. Many - even more than last year - waited outside in the plaza.

In the village many people waited for the passage of the Holy Face throwing red rose petals from the balconies, on which their finely embroidered bedcoverings were displayed, as per tradition. Few people were also allowed to enter the church of San Nicola. It should be noted that the celebration was preceded by the significant visit of Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State who wrote in the visitor's book of the shrine “Your face Lord do I seek, do not hide your Face from me! May this visit, so desired, revive in me the desire to contemplate that Face until the day when our eyes will fix themselves in the vision of glory ”signed card. Pietro Parolin, secretary of state - Manoppello, 11 May 2021".   I was not present, also because the visit was not announced in advance. The cardinal was particularly impressed. I remember that another cardinal secretary of state - Cardinal Angelo Sodano - visited the Holy Face in June 1999, after the press conference of Fr. Heinrich Pfeiffer of May 31 in Rome. A curiosity: Cardinal Parolin was in the Basilica of Santo Spirito in Sassia on January 16, 2016 on the occasion of the re-institution of the Omnis Terra rite. The pilgrimage procession arrived at the church while the cardinal was completing his speech at the end of a celebration.  
Here is the photo I took then.

Cardinal Parolin at the Basilica of Santo Spirito in Sassia on January 16, 2016


 Today, in conjunction with the feast of the Holy Face, there was an important enthronement of the Holy Face at the oratory of San Francesco Saverio, in via Caravita, in the center of Rome just off the Via del Corso. The celebration was presided over by Cardinal Antonio Luis Tagle.  

(Here is a video of the Mass of Enthronement of the Holy Face at the oratory of San Francesco Saverio)

and also a video of the concluding Mass of the Holy Face on Monday May 17 at the parish church of San Nicola presided by Archbishop Bruno Forte and concelebrated by the provincial of the Capuchin Friars, Fr. Matteo Siro.  



Tuesday, May 18, 2021

New Prayer to the Holy Face of Manoppello by Archbishop Bruno Forte


Prayer to the Holy Face

Lord Jesus, Face of eternal love, in this holy place, guardian of the veil on which you reveal yourself in the signs of affliction and let shine through the infinite mercy of Your divine heart, grant that we may live a new beginning on our journey of faith, charity and hope that You call us to travel together with You. May Your gaze cover us with the light that comes from the Father to illuminate our footsteps, to lead us to the pastures of heaven, and to pour into our hearts the Holy Spirit, perfume of Your grace and imprint of Your beauty. May Mary, who first looked upon Your Face and kissed it with the tenderness of a Mother, who saw it  close its eyes on the arms of the Cross, contemplated it  arisen and now contemplates it  in glory, help us to seek, with a longing ever new, Your Face of  King, crucified out of love, victorious over evil and death, so that we might meet you in the embrace of your Church, recognize you in Your sacraments and bear witness to You in the works and days of our life. Amen!

+ Bruno Forte

Archbishop of Chieti-Vasto

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Blessing Today with the Holy Face of Manoppello

 Thanks to Paul Badde for sending this video of the blessing with the Holy Face given earlier today at the Basilica of the Holy Face of Manoppello by the rector of the Shrine, Fr. Antonio Gentili, OFM, Cap.  Today is the beginning of the feast of the Holy Face.  The Holy Face is now at the Church of San Nicola where it will remain until tomorrow.  

Saturday, May 15, 2021

To Remember the Message of Cardinal Tagle for Promoters of the Holy Face of Manoppello Recorded during the Feast of the Holy Face in 2017

May 2017 Message of encouragement to all who promote the devotion to the Holy Face of Manoppello given by Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, former Archbishop of Manila and now Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples after the Cardinal presided at the celebration of the Mass and Procession for the Feast of the Holy Face in Manoppello. May we continue to take this to heart following the great example of Mrs. Daisy Neves, (1938-2019)

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Feast of the Holy Face at Manoppello Sunday and Monday May 16 and 17


Religious celebrations in honor of the Holy Face May 16 and 17

Sunday May 16 

                  9am Holy Mass at the Basilica of the Holy Face

    11am   Holy Face arrives at the parish church of Manoppello followed by Holy Mass

                 5:30pm  Holy Mass

Monday May 17

                   6am  Holy Mass

                  11am   Holy Mass presided by the Father Provincial of the Capuchins 

Facebook page of the Basilica of the Holy Face:

Friday, April 9, 2021

The Icon of Easter

The Flemish painter Juan de Flandes painted around 1498 "The Resurrection of Christ and Three Women at the Tomb", Palacio Real de Madrid

Forensic evidence

from the resurrection

of the Son of God

by Paul Badde   

originally published in the German magazine Vatikan (April, 2021 edition)

and online

for a helpful commentary on this article see the post by Patricia Enk at

The icon of the resurrection -- the napkin (or sudarium) from the tomb of Christ -- is essentially transparent. as we were able to marvel at again three years ago on the booklet that Pope Francis prepared in 2018 for the participants in the liturgy of his Easter Mass at St. Peter's Basilica which displayed a panel from 1498 by Juan de Flandes, depicting the moment when “ Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James, and Salome “came to the tomb”, as Mark says. “They saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a white robe; they were very amazed. But he said to them: Don't be amazed! You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen; he is not here. Behold, the place where they laid him. ” 

Cover page of Booklet from Easter Vigil Mass with Pope Francis at St. Peter's Basilica 2018

The Flemish painter in Spain incorrectly depicted the empty tomb as an open sarcophagus, which demonstrates that he had never been to Jerusalem. On the other hand, he obviously knew Rome and was familiar with its treasures, as shown here. Because over the edge of this sarcophagus hangs very realistically a transparent veil to which the angel points --the sudarium -- the key relic of the Lord that was known to thousands of pilgrims to Rome during the artist’s lifetime and ever since Pope Innocent VIII had first carried this veil barefoot on a Sunday in January 1208 from Peter's Basilica to the nearby hospital church of Santo Spirito. This veil, too, was transparent and enigmatic like the resurrection itself, at the heart of our faith.


Because the essence of Christianity is neither the cathedral of Cologne nor St. Peter's Basilica, but only the resurrection of Christ from the kingdom of the dead to Life in the land of the living, however impossible it may seem. But without the belief in precisely this impossibility, our whole faith would be filth, says Paul. Then we could leave the church immediately with the multitudes of all the others who have left without even having to ask as Peter did: “Lord, where should we go?” Because first of all Christ would no longer be our Lord and secondly we would already know where we wanted to escape to with the money from the church assessment we no longer pay, no matter that it is impossible to find a place or a society of people without abuse and without lies, fraud, crime, and violence.



If, on the other hand, Christ has truly risen from the dead, then anything is possible. Then the church will wake up again from the death zone of abuse and flourish again, in Cologne, throughout  Germany and everywhere. Nevertheless, many theologians over the past centuries have tried to minimize the offensive nature of the challenge to believe in the resurrection of Christ by using scriptural tricks and to make it more compatible with the spirit of the age (“zeitgeist”).  These kind of “glass bead games” however were never possible for icon writers or visual artists as long as they were serious about the core of their beliefs.



Theologians and artists share a common problem, however: there were no witnesses to the act of Christ's resurrection from the dead. None of the evangelists were there. All four only report what it looked like in Jesus' tomb after the resurrection. Matthew tells of an "angel" in a snow-white robe who says to three women in the burial chamber: "He is not here". It is similar with Mark. Luke speaks of "two men in shining robes". And with John we learn how Peter and the “disciple whom Jesus loved” looked into the tomb of Christ early in the morning. - There is only one thing that none of the four evangelists say: that the tomb was empty. Obviously, it wasn't. Jesus was no longer there. But there were cloths at the scene of which the poet Wipo (+ 1048) spoke in his Easter sequence "Victimae paschali laudes", Mary had seen two "angelic witnesses", namely the "napkin and linen cloths" (Latin: sudarium et vestes). These witnesses and forensic traces of evidence have, thank God, been preserved uncorrupted  and materially, with the DNA of the Son of God.



First there is the sacred Sudarium from Rome, which is now in Manoppello, and then there is the Holy Shroud, the world-famous linen in Turin. We encounter both fabrics  for the first time in the testimony of John, who described Easter morning in this way: “Then Simon Peter, who had followed him, arrived and went into the tomb (which was a cave hewn in the rock). He saw the linen cloths lying there and the napkin (Greek: soudarion) that had been lying on Jesus' head; but it was not with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who had come to the tomb first, also went in; he saw and believed.” - That is the key passage in this gospel, which, however, only becomes plausible when read in conjunction with the specific cloths that John mentions here.


The "Holy Shroud" or the Shroud of Turin is only rarely shown and yet has been researched as has no other textile in the world, by a genuine and separate science, Sindonology, which in the last century has focused on this linen cloth with the dimensions of 14 feet 3 inches by 3 feet 7 inches (436cm by 110 cm) and which captures the panorama and the torture of the flagellation, the crowning of thorns and the crucifixion of Christ in an inexplicable way, as in a detailed script, as well as the subsequent piercing of his heart and the extinction of his last spark of life by means of a lance. This cloth contains blood and water.


The sudarium, on the other hand, is a very delicate veil that was kept in Rome for centuries and then for a long time in Manoppello, where it was locked away until 1923, in similar fashion to the shroud in Turin. Nevertheless, for almost a century, unlike the situation of the Shroud in Turin, every pilgrim to Manoppello has been able to observe and study the sudarium at close quarters every day from morning to evening above the main altar as never before. At certain times and in certain light it shows the face of Christ with open eyes and healed wounds.  Yet when unshadowed, the veil reveals, above all, complete transparency as its inner characteristic - as if Easter were the festival of transparency towards heaven and God's eternity in another world. 


     photo taken in November 2017 of the Holy Face of Manoppello which displays its transparency


A good hundred years before Juan de Flandes, the Catalan painter Joan Mates (1370 - 1431) masterfully expressed this characteristic of the napkin of Christ in his panel of the "Lamentation of Christ", where we see Nicodemus, who after Jesus’ deposition from the cross is putting a transparent fabric over His face.

 Joseph of Arimathea and John put the napkin on the dead Jesus

Panel painting by Joan Mates from Barcelona from 1429.
Photo: Wikimedia (CC0)

The model for this depiction here can only have been the Roman “Sudarium” of the Popes from St. Peter's Basilica, the “true icon”, which has also been called “Veronica” there since the Middle Ages. Countless images in the history of art attest to this Easter transparency.  One of the key witnesses to this mystery, moreover, is Dr. Martin Luther, who saw the veil on his trip to Rome in 1511 and who still sneered in 1545 that the “Lord's face in his little sweat cloth”, which was regularly shown and displayed at Saint Peter’s, was nothing but „ein klaret lin“ in other words: Doctor Luther had only seen a “transparent linen” here.


The large shroud, which is by no means transparent, appeared for the first time in Lirey in Champagne in 1355 and was only brought through the efforts of St. Charles Borromeo from Chambéry in Savoy to Turin in 1578, 233 years later, which began the process of western Christendom gradually getting to know it.  Previously, the Shroud had been the most precious part of the treasures of the emperor of Byzantium remaining more or less a rumor for the pilgrims of Europe until 1578.


In the "Codex Pray" in Budapest, the burial cloths of Christ from the zero hour of Christianity appear for the first time almost realistically together in the picture around the year 1180.
Photo: Wikimedia (CC0)

An image- document in the Széchényi library of the National Museum of Budapest dates back to 1192 (at the latest), and for decades has become something of a new founding document for all shroud researchers and their highly complex science. It is a small colored drawing on parchment in a codex measuring 9.5 inches by 5.9 inches, which also highlights the resurrection of Christ from the dead - and the burial of the crucified Lord. Above we therefore see Jesus dead, lying with a peaceful face, on a sheet that has been rolled out on a stone. His eyes and mouth are closed, with a sparse beard and long hair parted in the middle which hide his ears and frame his face. At the head of Jesus stands Joseph of Arimathea, the councilor of the Sanhedrin, at the feet of the Lord stands John. Both grasp the cloth with which the body was removed from the cross, while Nicodemus empties a bottle with precious spices over the body, as we read in the Gospel of John (19:39). The stone slab underneath is reminiscent of the so-called "anointing stone" from the Jerusalem Church of the Holy Sepulcher, which has long been venerated as the most important relic of the Pantocrator Church of Constantinople. Three striking details are unique in this representation. First, the body of Jesus is naked. Second, he keeps his hands crossed over the pubic area, his right hand over the left. Third, both hands only show four fingers and no thumb. So Jesus is depicted here as a real victim of an ancient, real, and concrete crucifixion, in which the nails were driven through the roots of his wrists (and not the palms of the hands). During this torture, the thumbs cramped inward into the palms of the hands due to the injury to the median nerve. And for this representation there is only a single “picture” in the vast array of pictures throughout History, which must have served as an exemplar and model. This is the Shroud of Christ in Turin which shows these significant details, but long before this linen even had appeared in Europe!


And this drawing from the library of Budapest was also made at least 133 years before the date assigned to the Shroud, resulting from a sensational radiocarbon investigation in 1988, according to which the shroud was supposed to have been woven between 1260 and 1390. This drawing from Budapest, which documents its evidence as if with a photo proof, dates from 1192 at the latest. For in 1150, on the occasion of an arranged wedding in Constantinople, the ambassador of Hungary was received by Manuel II Komnenos, and the Emperor of Byzantium showed him and his delegation the hidden treasures of his Blachern Chapel. In the process, the Shroud of Christ must have impressed itself in detail on one of the participants of the Hungarian delegation. Below the entombment we see - as centuries later with Juan de Flandes - three women come to the grave at the right, where an angel on the left with an outstretched right forefinger indicates the resurrection of Christ on this first Easter morning. Between the angel and the women we see a large, folded sheet of fabric, which is covered on the inside with Greek crosses and on the outside with zigzag lines, which are interpreted in research as an attempt to draw the herringbone pattern of the shroud. Four small holes depict four very old fire damage holes that can still be found in the "Holy Shroud" today.   But above this shroud, under the angel's finger, we see another folded little cloth, as if blowing, or as “rolled up, next to it, in a special place”, which had been lying on the face of the dead Jesus, as we came to know by the gospel of John.



This veil over the large linen has a liveliness, as if wind were blowing into it. And under its right edge we can still see parts of the pattern of the shroud through the fabric. Making the veil completely transparent has obviously overwhelmed the capacity of the author of this almost childlike drawing. Nevertheless, in contrast to the large shroud, the sudarium appears as animated as the stole of the angel next to it. And in any case, we encounter the two cloths together in an almost realistic way for the first time in the picture, from the zero hour of Christianity. And both without “pictures”, without a body image and without a face, at least to our eyes.


The most significant detail of this depiction is, however, often overlooked in many debates about the burial cloths of Christ. In this representation in the Codex Pray from Budapest, the extremely important link for the history of the authenticity  of the shroud of Turin the angel doesn’t point to the big, long linen but to the transparent sudarium which like no other “image” allows us to gaze into the paschal mystery of the paschal hour.