Saturday, December 27, 2008

God Has Revealed His Face Alleluia

Pope Benedict's Homily at Christmas Midnite Mass and his Christmas Day Message speak wonderfully of God revealing his face in Jesus Christ. His words which struck me the most: The One who has no equal, who "is seated on high", looks down upon us. He stoops down. He sees us, and he sees me. God's looking down is much more than simply seeing from above. God's looking is active. The fact that he sees me, that he looks at me, transforms me and the world around me.May this realization spread like a blazing fire around the world! May the words of Pope Benedict be implanted in the mind, memory and will of all peoples, especially those most in need, to the greater glory of God.

Excerpts From Pope Benedict's Christmas Message 2008

Dear brothers and sisters, in the words of the Apostle Paul, I once more joyfully proclaim Christ's Birth. Today "the grace of God our Saviour" has truly "appeared to all"!

It appeared! This is what the Church celebrates today. The grace of God, rich in goodness and love, is no longer hidden. It "appeared", it was manifested in the flesh, it showed its face. Where? In Bethlehem. When? Under Caesar Augustus, during the first census, which the Evangelist Luke also mentions. And who is the One who reveals it? A newborn Child, the Son of the Virgin Mary. In him the grace of God our Saviour has appeared. And so that Child is called Jehoshua, Jesus, which means: "God

The grace of God has appeared to all. Jesus – the face of the "God who saves", did not show himself only for a certain few, but for everyone. Although it is true that in the simple and lowly dwelling of Bethlehem few persons encountered him, still he came for all: Jews and Gentiles, rich and poor, those near and those far away, believers and non-believers… for everyone.

Today too those who await him, who seek him in their lives, encounter the God who out of love became our brother – all those who turn their hearts to him, who yearn to see his face and to contribute to the coming of his Kingdom. Jesus himself would say this in his preaching: these are the poor in spirit; those who mourn, the meek, those who thirst for justice; the merciful, the pure of heart, the peacemakers, and those persecuted for righteousness' sake (cf. Mt 5:3-10). They are the ones who see in Jesus the face of God and then set out again, like the shepherds of Bethlehem, renewed in heart by the joy of his love.

Let us go, then, brothers and sisters! Let us make haste, like the shepherds on that Bethlehem night. God has come to meet us; he has shown us his face, full of grace and mercy! May his coming to us not be in vain! Let us seek Jesus, let us be drawn to his light which dispels sadness and fear from every human heart. Let us draw near to him with confidence, and bow down in humility to adore him. Merry Christmas to all!

From Pope Benedict's Christmas Midnight Mass Homily 2008

God is infinitely great, and far, far above us. This is our first experience of him. The distance seems infinite. The Creator of the universe, the one who guides all things, is very far from us: or so he seems at the beginning. But then comes
the surprising realization: The One who has no equal, who "is seated on high", looks down upon us. He stoops down. He sees us, and he sees me. God's looking down is much more than simply seeing from above. God's looking is active. The fact that he sees me, that he looks at me, transforms me and the world around me. The Psalm tells us this in the following verse: "He raises the poor from the dust." In looking down, he raises me up, he takes me gently by the hand and helps me to rise from depths towards the heights. "God stoops down". This is a prophetic word. That night in Bethlehem, it took on a completely new meaning. God's stooping down became real in a way previously inconceivable. He stoops down: he himself comes down as a child to the lowly stable, the symbol of all humanity's neediness and forsakenness. God truly comes down. He becomes a child and puts himself in the state of complete dependence typical of a newborn child. The Creator who holds all things in his hands, on whom we all depend, makes himself small and in need of human love. God is in the stable. In the Old Testament the Temple was considered almost as God's footstool; the sacred ark was the place in which he was mysteriously present in the midst of men and women. Above the temple, hidden, stood the cloud of God's glory. Now it stands above the stable. God is in the cloud of the poverty of a homeless child: an impenetrable cloud, and yet a cloud of glory!

Some day soon may all peoples come to find hope and guidance for the future by the vision which Jesus Christ has willed of His awesome Holy Face in the hidden to the world town of Manoppello.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Our Lady of Guadalupe the Image of the Mother of God

the photo above shows the Guadalupe altar at St. Ignatius Church in San Francisco. This altar was dedicated December 12, 1999 by the Pastor, Rev. Charles Gagan, S.J. in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe, asking her help and intercession in the New Millennium.

I thank Br. Samaha for allowing me to post this article in preparation for the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe on December 12. Br. Samaha is a member of the Society of Mary (Marianists), an educator, administrator and author who has done much to foster devotion to Mary throughout the United States and around the world. By learning about the Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe we will learn much about the Image of the Holy Face of Manoppello, and vice versa, for they are the Images not made by human hands ("acheropite") of the Mother of God and her Son Our Lord Jesus Christ.


Icon of the Church in the Americas

Brother John M. Samaha, S.M.

With her head tilted to the right, her hazel eyes are cast downward in an expression of gentleness and concern. The mantle covering her head and shoulders is turquoise, studded with gold stars and bordered in gold. Her hair is jet black and her complexion is olive. She stands alone, her hands clasped in prayer, an angel at her feet.

We have all seen her image. She is Our Lady of Guadalupe, a life-sized portrayal of the Virgin Mary as she appeared in 1531 on the cactus-cloth tilma, or cape, of St. Juan Diego, an Aztec peasant and devout convert. This happened merely a dozen years after Hernan Cortes had conquered the land that is now Mexico for the monarchy of Spain. Almost five centuries later the colors of that portrait have remained as vibrant as if painted this year. The coarse, woven, cactus cloth shows no signs of fading or deterioration, although that type of material seldom lasts 20 years.

Today the image is preserved behind an impenetrable glass screen in the basilica at Mexico City. Pilgrims can view it from a distance of 25 feet. Each year more than 10 million persons venerate the mysterious image of the Virgin of Guadalupe, making this shrine the most popular in the Catholic world after St. Peter’s Basilica at Vatican City. The Mexican faithful refer to her lovingly as La Morenita.

In 1979 when Pope John Paul II visited the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, he acknowledged the enduring appeal of this unique portrait, addressing the Virgin directly: “When the first missionaries who reached America . . . taught the rudiments of the Christian faith, they also taught love for you, the Mother of Jesus and of all people. And ever since the time that the Indian Juan Diego spoke of the sweet Lady of Tepeyac, you, Mother of Guadalupe, have entered decisively into the Christian life of the people of Mexico.”

Accounts abound of the miraculous events attributed to the Virgin of Guadalupe. In the early 17th century when floods almost destroyed Mexico City, her image escaped unharmed. In 1921 during the Mexican Revolution, a bomb was planted in flowers placed before the altar behind which the image hung. When the bomb exploded, no one was hurt, but the altar was badly damaged. Yet not even the glass covering the picture was broken.

This venerable icon has come to be regarded widely as the national symbol of Mexico. Her image is found everywhere, even in unlikely places.

Forty years after La Morenita appeared to St. Juan Diego, she may have been responsible for a significant turning point in the history of Western civilization. Throughout Europe copies of the holy image had been circulated. One of the first copies was given to Admiral Giovanni Andrea Doria, grandnephew of the renowned Admiral Andrea Doria. The young admiral took the picture aboard his flagship when he assumed command of a flotilla of ships sailing from Genoa to the Gulf of Lepanto.
Some 300 Turkish Muslim ships stood in battle array blocking entrance to the Gulf. A Christian massed navy of almost the same number of ships attempted to meet the Turks head on, but were outmaneuvered by the Turkish force.

Doria’s squadron was cut off from the rest of the Christian fleet. At this crucial hour Doria went to his cabin and knelt in prayer before the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. He implored her to save his men and his ships. Miraculously by nightfall the tide of battle turned. One Turkish squadron was captured, and others were thrown into panic and disarray. Much of the Turkish fleet was destroyed. That day 15,000 Christians enslaved in the Turks’ galleys were freed. The Christian victory in the Battle of Lepanto was the last great naval battle fought under oars.

To this day Our Lady of Guadalupe continues to work wonders large and small, noticed and unnoticed.

Why hasn’t the holy image deteriorated after almost five centuries? Why do the colors remain bright? Why hasn’t the crude fabric shown signs of disintegration? The search for answers to these questions, regularly pursued by experts, persist from generation to generation. What they have learned is fascinating. However, the scientific investigations defy natural explanations.

Although the picture has been touched up from time to time, there is proof that the original image is made in a manner no artist has been able to imitate or to explain. Of particular interest is the fact that the eyes of the Virgin are done in a way never seen before in any painting.

Yet the greater, ongoing miracle is how the lives of millions are touched by Our Mother of Guadalupe.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Jesus Christ Revealed in Word and Sacrament

In one of the first talks given as Pope, John Paul II proclaimed "throw open wide the doors to Jesus Christ" to encourage us to live in Christ. Down through the centuries, many great accomplishments of European culture have come about because of this openness to Jesus Christ. This "still-life" is an example of early Renaissance culture from Germany which reveals something about the Holy Face of Manoppello, Jesus Christ, and his influence on the development of artistic expression flowing from faith in Him and in what He has revealed "in pictura et scriptura" and Holy Sacrament.

The work of art shown here is a detail from a Gregory Altar from the Lorenzkirche in Nuremberg, painted by Michael Wolgemut the teacher of Albrecht Durer. I warmly thank Mrs. Hildegard Schuhmann for allowing me to post here this photograph she has taken, and Paul Badde for bringing it to my attention.

As I look at these works of art I see the unity of Word and Sacrament proclaiming Christ yesterday, today and forever.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Mary Wants us to Carry her Image So that We Might be Conformed to Christ

Today is the 178th anniversary of the apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary to St. Catherine Laboure' in which Mary herself gave the design for the Miraculous Medal and asked that it be struck and distributed in Mary's own words "to the whole world and to every person". By wearing this medal, thus carrying her image, it is Mary's plan that we be totally conformed to Christ by her motherly hand.

The Miraculous Medal Story
and Its Meaning

The Medal of the Immaculate Conception — popularly known as the Miraculous Medal — was designed by the Blessed Virgin herself! No wonder, then that it wins such extraordinary graces for those who wear it and pray for Mary's intercession and help.
The First Apparition

The story begins on the night of July 18-19, 1830. A child (perhaps her guardian angel) awakened Sister (now Saint) Catherine LabourĂ©, a novice in the community of the Daughters of Charity in Paris, and summoned her to the chapel. There she met with the Virgin Mary and spoke with her for several hours. During the conversation Mary said to her, “My child, I am going to give you a mission.”

The Second Apparition

Mary gave her this mission in a vision during evening meditation on November 27, 1830. She saw Mary standing on what seemed to be half a globe and holding a golden globe in her hands as if offering it to heaven. On the globe was the word “France,” and our Lady explained that the globe represented the whole world, but especially France. The times were difficult in France then, especially for the poor who were unemployed and often refugees from the many wars of the time. France was first to experience many of those troubles which ultimately reached many other parts of the world and are even present today. Streaming from rings Mary's fingers as she held the globe were many rays of light. Mary explained that the rays symbolize the graces she obtains for those who ask for them. However, some of the gems on the rings were dark, and Mary explained that the rays and graces were available but did not come because no one had asked for them.

The Third Apparition and the Miraculous Medal

The vision then changed to show our Lady standing on a globe with her arms now outstretched and with the dazzling rays of light still streaming from her fingers. Framing the figure was an inscription: O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.

The Meaning of the Front Side
of the Miraculous Medal

Mary is standing upon a globe, crushing the head of a serpent beneath her foot. She stands upon the globe, as the Queen of Heaven and Earth. Her feet crush the serpent to proclaim Satan and all his followers are helpless before her (Gn 3:15). The year of 1830 on the Miraculous Medal is the year the Blessed Mother gave the design of the Miraculous Medal to Saint Catherine LabourĂ©. The reference to Mary conceived without sin supports the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of Mary—not to be confused with the virgin birth of Jesus, and referring to Mary's sinlessness, “full of grace” and “blessed among women” (Luke 1:28)—that was proclaimed 24 years later in 1854.

The vision turned and showed the design of the reverse side of the medal. Twelve stars encircled a large "M" from which arose a cross. Below are two hearts with flames arising from them. One heart is encircled in thorns and the other is pierced by a sword.

The Meaning of the Back
Side of the Miraculous Medal

The twelve stars can refer to the Apostles, who represent the entire Church as it surrounds Mary. They also recall the vision of Saint John, writer of the Book of Revelation (12:1), in which “a great sign appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of 12 stars.” The cross can symbolize Christ and our redemption, with the bar under the cross a sign of the earth. The “M” stands for Mary, and the interleaving of her initial and the cross shows Mary’s close involvement with Jesus and our world. In this we see Mary’s part in our salvation and her role as mother of the Church. The two hearts represent the love of Jesus and Mary for us. (See also Lk 2:35).

Then Mary spoke to Catherine: “Have a medal struck upon this model. Those who wear it will receive great graces, especially if they wear it around the neck.” Catherine explained the entire series of apparitions to her confessor, and she worked through him to carry out Mary’s instructions. She did not reveal that she received the Medal until soon before her death 47 years later.

With approval of the Church, the first Medals were made in 1832 and were distributed in Paris. Almost immediately the blessings that Mary had promised began to shower down on those who wore her Medal. The devotion spread like wildfire. Marvels of grace and health, peace and prosperity, following in its wake. Before long people were calling it the “Miraculous” Medal. And in 1836, a Canonical inquiry undertaken at Paris declared the apparitions to be genuine.

There is no superstition, nothing of magic, connected with the Miraculous Medal. The Miraculous Medal is not a “good-luck charm”. Rather, it is a great testimony to faith and the power of trusting prayer. Its greatest miracles are those of patience, forgiveness, repentance, and faith. God uses a Medal, not as a sacrament, but as an agent, an instrument, in bringing to pass certain marvelous results. “The weak things of this earth hath God chosen to confound the strong.”

When our Blessed Mother gave the design of the medal to Saint Catherine LabourĂ© she said, “Now it must be given to the whole world and to every person.” The Association of the Miraculous Medal in Perryville, Missouri carries out our Lady’s request in many ways, including offering you a free Miraculous Medal.

Association of the Miraculous Medal
1811 West Saint Joseph Street * Perryville, MO 63775

Pope Benedict XVI Teaches Us the Love of Christ

Christian love is so demanding because it springs from the total love of Christ for us: this love that demands from us, welcomes us, embraces us, sustains us, even torments us, because it obliges us to live no longer for ourselves, closed in on our egotism, but for "him who has died and risen for us" (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:15). The love of Christ makes us be in him this new creature (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:17), who enters to form part of his mystical body that is the Church.

Pope Benedict XVI
Weekly Audience from St. Peter's in Rome
November 26, 2008

In this year dedicated to St. Paul Pope Benedict XVI each Wednesday gives a teaching on the letters of St. Paul in the New Testament. His teaching yesterday was especially moving to me. Some day soon may all the world be filled with the knowledge of the love of Christ!

It is well worth receiving each day the Catholic news distributed by

Monday, November 24, 2008

Shine the Light of Thy Countenance Upon Us O Lord

Psalm 4:6
"There are many who say 'O that we might see some good!' Lift up the light of thy countenance upon us, Lord!"

Psalm 24:5-6
"He will receive blessing from the Lord, and vindication from the God of his salvation. Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob"

Psalm 27:7-9
"Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud, be gracious to me and answer me! Thou hast said, 'Seek ye my face.' My heart says to thee, 'Thy face, Lord, do I seek!' Hide not thy face from me."

Psalm 31:16
"Let thy face shine on thy servant; save me in thy steadfast love."

Psalm 44:3
"for not by their own sword did they win the land, nor did their own arm give them victory, but thy right hand and thy arm, and the light of thy countenance; for thou didst delight in them."

Psalm 67:1
"May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us."

Psalm 80:3
"Restore us O God; let thy face shine, that we may be saved!."

Numbers 6:24-26
"The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace."

Daniel 9:17
"Now therefore, O our God, hearken to the prayer of thy servant and to his supplications and for thy own sake, O Lord, cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary, which is desolate."

St. Camillus de Lellis
"May the face of Jesus Christ shine gloriously upon you"

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Pope Benedict XVI, the Rosary and the Holy Face

Photo of Pope Benedict in Manoppello Sept. 1, 2006

Last month Pope Benedict made a visit to the Shrine of Our Lady of New Pompeii founded by the great apostle of the rosary Blessed Bartolo Longo. Here is some of what he said to encourage those who work at the Shrine which can also be of help to all of us in this difficult time.

In order to be apostles of the rosary, it is necessary to experience first hand the beauty and depth of this prayer (the rosary) that is simple and accessible to all. It is, above all, necessary to contemplate the Face of Christ: His joyful, luminous, sorrowful and glorious Face. One who, like Mary and together with her, assiduously keeps and meditates the mysteries of Jesus, assimilates His sentiments more and more, and is conformed to him... The rosary is a school of contemplation and of silence...The rosary is entirely woven of Sacred Scripture.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Gaude, Dei Genitrix

Rejoice, Mother of God, Virgin Immaculate.
Rejoice, you who received joy from the Angel.
Rejoice, you who conceived the brightness of eternal Light.
Rejoice, Mother.
Rejoice, Holy Mother of God and Virgin.
All creation extols you.
Mother of Light, pray for us.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Prayer on Election Day

From the Liturgy of the Hours, Morning Prayer

Antiphon: Lord, let the light of your face shine upon us

Psalm 67
People of all nations will worship the Lord

O God, be gracious and bless us
and let your face shed its light upon us.
So will your ways be known upon earth
and all nations learn your saving help.

Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you.

Let the nations be glad and exult
for your rule the world with justice.
With fairness you rule the peoples,
you guide the nations on earth.

Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you.

The earth has yielded its fruit
for God, our God, has blessed us.
May God still give us his blessing
till the ends of the earth revere him.

Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in
the beginning, is now and ever shall be
forever and ever. Amen.


Be gracious and bless us, Lord, and let your face shed its light on us, so that we can make you known with reverence and bring forth a harvest of justice.

Antiphon: Lord, let the light of your face shine upon us.

Today, throughout the day, in many churches of the USA there is Eucharistic Adoration. At St. Anne of the Sunset Church at 850 Judah St. in San Francisco this Adoration is taking place in conjunction with a Parish Mission conducted by two members of the Fathers of Mercy, Fr. Christopher Crotty and Fr. Louis Guardiola. This Mission will continue each night at 7PM through Thursday November 6. Come Holy Spirit by the help of the Blessed Virgin Mary! Make Jesus known!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Lord, This is the People that Longs to See Your Face

"We would like to see Jesus" John 12:21

"Then turning to the disciples he said privately 'Blessed are the eyes which see what you see!" Luke 10:23

"I never cease to implore blessings for you from Jesus, and to beg the Lord to transform you totally in Him. How beautiful is His face, how sweet His eyes and what a good thing it is to stay close to Him." St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina

O my Jesus inspire all to seek your Face!

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Old Testament Urges us to Seek God's Face

How many passages of the Old Testament refer to God's face?
Quite a few.
Probably the best known and the most beautiful is the priestly blessing of Numbers 6:24-26. "The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; The Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace."

At least seven of the Psalms refer to God's face including Psalm 4:6; Psalm 24:5-6; Psalm 27:7-9; Psalm 31:16; Pslam 44:3; Psalm 67:1; and Psalm 80:3 which reads: "Restore us, O God; let thy face shine, that we may be saved!".

Daniel 9:17 reads "Now therefore, O our God, hearken to the prayer of thy servant and to his supplications and for they own sake, O Lord, cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary, which is desolate".

May the sanctuary of our hearts, homes and churches not be desolate, but may God shine his glorious face on each and all.

St. Francis, St. Clare, St. Anthony - Seeking the Origins of the Franciscan Tradition of Contemplating the Holy Face

Is it a coincidence that the conversion of St. Francis of Assisi developed in the first years of the 13th century when the image known then as the Veil of Veronica revealing so vividly the Holy Face of Christ was first displayed for public veneration in Rome?

Here are several writings on the Franciscan devotion to the Holy Face, one from a contemporary author and one from the great follower of St. Francis, St. Anthony.

"Francis and Clare put all their senses and human and spiritual faculties at the service of their contemplative life. They prayed with their eyes and their ears, their hearts and their minds. ...They had contemplated for so long the face of Christ, both disfigured and transfigured, that they saw His shining countenance concealed under every human face, even the most deformed by illness or sin. ...

"Francis, who had always taken great delight in 'whatever...was beautiful to look upon' in nature (cf. 1 Cel. 3) ...cultivated an enlightened, kindly way of looking at people, seeking what was good in them rather than what was bad, emphasizing their positive qualities rather than their defects. He viewed everything in the light of the Creator, who, at the dawn of creation 'saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good' (Gen. 1:31). He did not pass judgment on anyone or divide people into classes. ...

"No one, not even the greatest criminal, can completely destroy in himself the pure, luminous aspect of his soul which mirrors God and in which the Spirit is present though dormant.

"This insight allowed Francis and his brothers to make the whole world their 'cloister,' in which they saw God everywhere present. (cf. SC 63). They were able to 'see' and pray just as well in the world of work, suffering, and human struggle as they did in solitude.

"That is why Francis, right up to the end of his life, never drew a line of separation between the solitude of the wilderness and the company of the poor because both were his privileged places of contemplation in which he always found God. ..."

from Christ, Our Joy: Learning to Pray with St. Francis and St. Clare

(pages 23-24)

by Michel Hubaut, O.F.M.

Translated from French by Paul Barrett, O.F.M. Cap.

Published by Greyfriars Review, St. Bonaventure University,

Supplement to Volume 9, 1994/95

as quoted in

Now the words of St. Anthony:

"The Lord manifests Himself to those who pause while in peace and humility of heart. If you look into the murky and turbulent waters, you cannot see your own countenance. If you want the face of Christ to appear in your countenance, pause, collect your thoughts in silence, and shut the door of the soul to the noise of exterior things.

The greetings of the angels and the blessings of the Good are not for those who live in public squares, that is, outside of themselves, agitated and distracted. The sweet "Ave" was addressed to the Virgin Mary when she was absorbed in prayer, in the privacy of her house...God, in order to be able to speak to the soul and fill it with the knowledge of his love, leads it to the solitude, detaching it from preoccupations of earthly things. He speaks to the ears of those who are silent and makes them hear His secrets."

From the Sermons of St. Anthony
as quoted in the booklet
"Companion Prayers" by the Conventual Franciscans of 12300 Folly Quarter Road, Ellicott City, MD 21042-1419

By contemplating the Face of Christ in prayer we are able to see the Face of Christ in ourselves and in our neighbor. May the image of the Holy Face of Manoppello help us to come to prayer, and then to the love of God and the love of neighbor.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

St. Paul Proclaims "The Glory of God on the Face of Christ"

In an important passage of his second letter to the Corinthians Paul refers to the ministry of those called to preach the Gospel, he writes

"For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your slaves for the sake of Jesus. For God who said 'Let light shine out of darkness', has shown in our hearts to bring to light the knowledge of the glory of God on the face of Christ."
2Cor 4:5-6

Let us pray that the Holy Spirit will make Paul's words our own. Show in our own hearts your face, O Lord!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Contemplating the Sacred Wounds and Salvific Death of Christ

The first sorrowful mystery of the most holy rosary, the Agony in the Garden:

"He was in such agony and he prayed so fervently that his sweat became like drops of blood falling on the ground"
Luke chapter 22, verse 44

The second sorrowful mystery of the most holy rosary, the Scourging at the Pillar

"The men who held Jesus in custody were ridiculing and beating him" Luke chapter 22, verse 63

The third sorrowful mystery of the most holy rosary, the Crowning with Thorns

"The soldiers led him away inside the palace, that is, the praetorium, and assembled the whole cohort. They clothed him in purple and, weaving a crown of thorns, placed it on him."
Mark chapter 15, verses 16-17

The fourth sorrowful mystery of the most holy rosary, the Carrying of the Cross

"So they took Jesus, and carrying the cross himself he went out to what is called the Place of the Skull, in Hebrew, Golgotha."
John chapter 19, verses 16-17

The fifth sorrowful mystery of the most holy rosary, the Crucifixion and Death of Jesus

"When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him and the criminals there, one on his right, and the other on his left...The veil of the temple was torn down the middle. Jesus cried out in a loud voice, 'Father, into your hands I commend my spirit' and when he had said this he breathed his last."
John chapter 23, verse 33 and verses 45 and 46

The Holy Face of Manoppello, according to the different views at various times, reveals the Joyful, Sorrowful, Glorious and Luminous mysteries of the Life, Death and Resurrection of Jesus. By contemplating the mysteries of the most holy rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary may we come to the joys of Christ's resurrection.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Dante's Vista Nova for the Twenty First Century

Can we in the twenty first century see the "new vista" that Dante saw over 700 years ago?

Let's listen first to the words of St. Bernard of Clairvaux as heard by Dante

"Riguarda omai nella faccia che a Cristo piu' si somiglia, che' la sua chiarezza sola ti puo' disporre a veder Cristo"

"Look now on the face that most resembles Christ, for only her brightness can fit thee to see Christ"
Paradise Canto XXXII, 85-87

And then the words of Dante within himself

"O luce eterna che sola in te sidi, sola t'intendi, e da te intelletta e intendente te ami e arridi! Quella circulazion che si' concetta pareva in te come lume reflesso dalli occhi miei alquanto circunspetta, dentra da se', del suo colore stesso, mi parve pinta della nostra effige; per che'l mio viso in lei tutto era messo, Qual e' 'l geometra che tutto s'affige per misurar lo cerchio, e non ritrova, pensando, quel principio onde'elli indige, tal era io a quella vista nova: veder volea come si convenne l'imago al cerchio e come vi s'indova; ma non eran da cio' le proprie penne: se non che la mia menta fu percossa da un fulgore in che sua voglia venne. All'alta fantasia qui manco' possa; ma gia' volgeva il mio disio e 'l velle, si come rota ch'igulamente e' mossa, l'amor che move il sole e l'altre stelle."

"O Light Eternal, that alone abidest in Thyself, alone knowest Thyself, and, known to Thyself and knowing, lovest and smilest on Thyself!. That circling which, thus begotten, appeared in Thee as reflected light, when my eyes dwelt on it for a time, seemed to me, within it and in its own colour, painted with our likeness, for which my sight was wholly given to it.

Like the geometer who sets all his mind to the squaring of the circle and for all his thinking does not discover the principle he needs,, such was I at that new vista. I wished to see how the image was fitted to the circle and how it has its place there; but my own wings were not sufficient for that had not my mind been struck by a flash of light wherein my desire came to pass; Here power failed the high fantasy; but now my desire and will, like a wheel that spins with even motion, were revolved by the Love that moves the sun and the other stars."
Paradise Canto XXXIII, 125-145

Is this climax of the Divine Comedy Dante's commentary upon seeing the image of the Veronica now in Manoppello? Can we see what Dante saw?

Where is Manoppello?

Manoppello is just a few hours by autostrada from Rome, on the way to San Giovanni Rotondo where St. Padre Pio labored and where his mortal remains are now on solemn display. Pilgrimages to San Giovanni Rotondo could easily make a stop at Manoppello.

Manoppello is about 30 minutes from the Italian Adriatic coastal city of Pescara. There are inexpensive daily flights from London's Stansted Airport to Pescara Airport. Trains from Rome arrive in Manoppello Scalo which is around 5 miles below Manoppello Storico (historic Manoppello) where the Shrine of the Holy Face sits about a kilometer away. During the day there are public buses between Pescara and Manoppello which pass through Manoppello Scalo and stop at the Shrine of the Holy Face.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Beautiful Comune of Manoppello, A City on a Mountain

A View of the Shrine of the Holy Face from the Town of Manoppello Storico

A View of the Shrine from up Above, with the Gran Sasso in the Distance

A Bird's Eye View of Manoppello Storico

Jesus said, "You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house. Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father."
(Mt 5:14-16)

Friday, September 19, 2008

Paul Badde's Questions Elicit a Brief Summary of Fr. Pfeiffer's Thesis that the Veronica and the Holy Face of Manoppello are One and the Same

An english translation of a selection from the book La Seconda Sindone (The Other Shroud)by Paul Badde,Newton Compton, Rome, 2007 p. 82. This book originally published in German Das Gottliche Gesicht, Pattloch Verlag GmbH and Co. KG, Munich

Paul Badde: (Vatican correspondent for Die Welt newspaper) "you were the first to say: The Veronica has been found in Manoppello!" while in Rome each year a Veronica continues to be displayed from the balcony of the massive pillar of the same name. We are dealing here with an astounding affirmation. Did someone else discover this? Did you read this from some other source?"

Fr. Heinrich Pfeiffer, S.J.(Professor of the Gregorian University, Rome): "No, what I had read was all the literature available regarding the images of Christ, from the beginning in antiquity. I knew all of it almost from memory. The discovery resulted from a process nurtured by various experiences. But the most significant circumstance was my first encounter with the veil, in the autumn of 1986. I had just finished my book on the images of Christ. It was then that I saw for the first time the image in question and immediately I said to myself: 'This must be the Veronica!'"

Paul Badde: "Why?"

Fr. Heinrich Pfeiffer, S.J.: "Because I already knew well that image from the things which I had read. And then because it is so transparent. There can not be two examples of an object of this kind. Of this I was immediately certain. One can not paint anything on it, not even with the greatest efforts. It's not possible, and that's that. Certainly it is possible to paint on both sides of a cloth simultaneously. The Byzantines were able to do it on silk. But you can not paint an image that practically disappears. There is no technique that makes this possible, it can't be done. And I knew that there had existed only one single object capable of exciting people in this way: In the West the Veronica and in the East the so-called "Icon of Camulia". And so it came immediately to my mind to consider them both as one and the same."

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Blessed Julian of Norwich, pray for England and all English Speaking Peoples

A selection from the book by Saverio Gaeta L'Altra Sindone, La Vera Storia del Volto di Gesu' (The Other Shroud, the True Story of the Face of Jesus) Mondadori, Milan, 2005.

On May 13, 1373 the blessed Julian of Norwich, a devout Englishwoman, obtained what she had been asking in prayer for a long time: “To be really present with the Magdalen and the other friends of Christ to be able to see with my own eyes the passion that our Lord suffered for me, and thus to be able to suffer with him, as was given to those who loved him and were alongside him... A bodily vision in which I would be able to have a greater knowledge of the physical suffering of our Savior and of the compassion of Our Lady and of all his faithful friends who were alive at that time and thus saw his suffering”.

Julian, who spent at least the last twenty years of her life as a cloistered nun, compiled a manuscript with the recounting of the sixteen revelations which she had received, subdividing the draft into eighty-six chapters. The tenth narrates the second revelation and it is of great interest for us because it deals with among other things, as states the summary added by a compiler, “of our redemption and of the fading of the veil of Veronica”. After having pointed to the “brutal and dark death that our blessed Lord, beautiful and splendorous, suffered for our sins”, the visionary recounts that there came to her mind “the Holy Handkerchief at Rome on which he imprinted his own blessed features at the time of his cruel passion, for when he was going willingly to death he suffered much change of colour. Many people are surprised that his likeness should be brown and black, downcast and wan, since he who imprinted on it his blessed face is the fairest of heaven, the flower of the earth, and the fruit of the maiden’s womb. How then could this likeness be so pale and so unbeautiful?”

Incisively Julian continues, “In truth I dare to say, and all must believe, that there was never a man as beautiful as he, up until the moment in which the beautiful color of his flesh was changed by his toil and suffering, by his passion and death. Of this one speaks in the eighth revelation, in the sixteenth chapter, where is described more fully of this image. And there it says that the face imprinted on the veil of Veronica that is found in Rome, changes in color and appearance, appearing at times alive and consoling, at other times more afflicted and as one who is dead, so that all are able to see”. The plasticity of the images that are proposed by Julian in the sixteenth chapter call to mind the various photographs of the Face of Manoppello, according to the light that falls upon the veil and the position from which it is observed. “I saw the sweet face as if dray and pale, with the ashen color of the dead, and then deadly pallid, while he was failing and then as violet and then yellowish, little by little as death entered more profoundly in his flesh. His passion manifested itself to me more distinctively on his blessed face, and in particular on his lips. There I saw the four colors which I have described”.

Here several sections of Blessed Julian's Revelations of Divine Love are quoted which describe her mystical visions of the Veil of Veronica. Blessed Julian lived from 1342 until approximately 1417 and is considered the most important mystic of English origin. Her voice and prayers will surely be a help in this common effort to know the Face of Christ. As Saverio Gaeta highlights, The plasticity of the images that are proposed by Julian in the sixteenth chapter call to mind the various photographs of the Face of Manoppello, according to the light that falls upon the veil and the position from which it is observed.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Dante's Vision

Illustration above is of Dante's Divine Comedy from Venice around 1390

"Lume e' la' su che visibile face
lo creatore a quella creatura
che solo in lui vedere ha la sua pace.
E' si distende in circula figura,
in tanto che la sua circunferenza
sarebbe al sol troppo larga cintura."
Paradiso XXX 100-106

"Light is there above which makes the creator visible to every creature that has his peace only in seeing him, and it spreads to so wide a circle that the circumference would be too great a girdle for the sun"

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Veil of Veronica As it Was

The Opusculum of Grimaldi of 1618 showing the face of Jesus on the Veil of Veronica with his eyes open

The copy of Grimaldi's Opusculum made by Francesco Speroni in 1635 showing the face of Jesus on the Veil of Veronica with his eyes closed.

“La Veronica com’era. l’importanza dell’Opusculum di Jacopo Grimaldi”
“The Veronica as it was. The importance of the Opusculum of Jacopo Grimaldi”
from Il Volto Santo di Manoppello, no. 1, Giugno 2002
by Antonio Bini translation by Raymond Frost

The Great Jubilee of 2000 recently completed was not “just” an important religious event but also a media event without precedent, accompanied also by notable publishing activity, historical research, artistic expositions, etc. An extraordinary confluence of initiatives involving historians and other scholars from many different countries, committed to a reconstruction of the origins, and not just religious, of the phenomenon of the pilgrimage, and therefore of the character assumed following the Proclamation by Pope Boniface VII of the first jubilee in the year 1300, after the Granting of the Indulgence of Pope Celestine in 1294.

The new millennium has emphasized more than just a little the search for a more profound and articulated analysis – from the point of view of the pilgrims – to see the phenomenon not only on the strictly religious plane, but integrated as it was in history, art, and culture, and not only European.

These studies have brought us in particular to a rediscovery of the Veronica, which has definitively come out from the shadows of the past four centuries, in as much as for a long time it had been the principal motivation for the pilgrims to undertake their trip to Rome, even before the introduction of the Jubilee.

The Prefect himself of the Vatican’s Apostolic Library has admitted that the jubilee event has offered “for the admiration and interest of visitors and pilgrims an important amount of its immense cultural patrimony, normally reserved solely for research”, (recognizing also that “for the first time” there were on display “important and ancient manuscripts”!). A precious contribution in this regard has come for example from the exhibit “Pilgrims to Rome and Jubilees: The medieval pilgrimage to St. Peter’s 350-1350”, held at Rome in the Palazzo Venezia from October 29, 1999 to February 26, 2000, which dedicated an entire section to the cult of the Veronica.

At this exhibit there were on display for the first time together numerous badges of the Veronica, some of them in very fine detail, coming from a variety of European countries. These badges were worn by pilgrims to Rome upon their return home, as a visible sign of the cult of the Holy Face.

As a result of the papal prohibition of making copies or representations of the Veronica (beginning with that of Pope Paul V in 1616) and afterwards of the order to destroy those already existing, there remains hardly a trace of these artifacts in our country.

But perhaps the most important surprise is to consider the publication for the first time of the cover page of the “Opusculum de sacrosanto Veronicae Sudario” (Opusculum of the Most Holy Sudarium of Veronica) prepared by the canon Jacopo Grimaldi, archivist and guardian of the relics of St. Peter’s, which page contains the representation of the Veronica. The document shows the date MDCXVIII (1618), even if the digits for the last three years seem added, in as much as they are written in larger print and above all because they are shown extending beyond the graphic delimitation reserved for the text, a circumstance which contrasts with the general scrupulous precision. It is not to be excluded that the correction itself could have been added after the death of Grimaldi.

The document is of extraordinary importance because it shows the Veronica actually as it was in its reliquary, constituting the fundamental reference for the work of so many artists (at least until 1600), although in its inevitable subjectivity of the pictorial expression, and for the same image carried in the various editions of the medieval “Mirabilia” (guides for the pilgrims coming to Rome).

The Opusculum, which was prepared by the last archivist to have direct guardianship of the relic before its disappearance, permits us to go beyond once and for all the most fantastic and uncontrolled hypothesis developed in the last four hundred years regarding the image of the relic.

The historian Genoveffa Palombo, author of the weighty volume, “Giubileo Giubilei” (Jubilee of Jubilees), ed. Rai-Eri, 1999, which carries for the first time the abovementioned cover page, affirms that we are dealing with a “very precise” document (cfr. note 99, page 282, op.cit), in the sense that the image drawn refers back to the Veronica.

This is a valuation which permits another scholar to sustain that the image present in the Opusculum of Grimaldi “refers wholly and in every way to the Holy Face of Manoppello” (cfr. Paola Sorge, “Manoppello and the enigma of the Holy Face”, in La Repubblica, suppl. of September 14, 2000, p. 43)

In this regard the authority of Grimaldi must be underscored. Grimaldi also must be considered the most respected and credible conoscitore of the basilica of St. Peter’s during the work of reconstruction, as he was the privileged witness to the long phase of the transformation of the basilica, which also foresaw the tearing down of the chapel where the Veronica was preserved. What’s more, he wrote the weighty manuscript entitled “Description of the ancient Basilica of St. Peter in the Vatican”.

The document appeared in a passing way also in a widely seen documentary on the Holy Face of Manoppello, done by the German television network ARD, aired in the spring of 2000.

Until now there have not been any other “escapes” of the document, preserved in the archives of St. Peter’s.

On the occasion of the great exhibit dedicated to the theme “The Face of Christ”, held to coincide with the conclusion of the Jubilee event the Opusculum in question was not displayed, but only a later copy, also coming from the archives of St. Peter’s, published also in an accompanying catalog done by the publishing house Electa (IV.63).

After a rapid and summary preliminary consultation, it could appear to be a copy – although expressly later (1635) – reporting practically the same graphic layout and the same text of the same cover page of the Opusculum of Grimaldi dated 1618 (or 1615).

But upon closer inspection the image of the Veronica is seen as completely different to the one of which is supposedly the direct copy, rather taking inspiration from the painting done around 1616 by the canon Pietro Strozza (the so-called “copy” of the Veronica).

The clearest difference is certainly constituted by the eyes, which are closed on the copy while they are open on the cover page of the original opusculum of Grimaldi.

This copy of the Opusculum, as it is called, was made in 1635 by Francesco Speroni, who signed himself on the margin as sacristan of St. Peter’s.

Why should the copy refer back to Grimaldi to sustain a reproduction clearly different from the original which what’s more, is found preserved in the Vatican archives?

In all probability we are dealing with a bald attempt set in motion to hide the disappearance of the relic no longer found in St. Peter’s, with the canon Jacopo Grimaldi himself, cited in the copy, having died many years prior in 1623.

A series of events which leads us to reflect more than just a little, especially in order to underscore that the little known appearances of these two different documents – until now secret and unknown even to the most authoritative scholars – do not threaten any more to spread new confusion for researchers and pilgrims. Rather their appearances constitute a decisive contribution in the search for the truth, which is certainly favored by the possibility of comparing the authentic representation of the Veronica with that which in the period immediately following was clumsily modified.

Monday, September 8, 2008

O Mary, after this Exile, Show unto ALL the Blessed Fruit of thy Womb - JESUS!

"And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the likeness of God. For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. For it is the God who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness', who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ"

From the Apostle Paul's Second Letter to the Corinthians chapter 4 verses 3 to 6

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Mother of Glorious Light

"And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father's only Son, full of grace and truth."

Mary, made Immaculate in the womb of good St. Ann, help us to see your Son with the eyes of faith as you were able to see Him.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Photography and the Holy Face of Manoppello

It will be true for the Holy Face of Manoppello, as it was for the Shroud of Turin, that photography will make it possible for the real nature and importance of the relic to be known and accepted by the vast majority of people throughout the world. However, unlike the Shroud of Turin, the unique nature of the fabric of the Veil of Manoppello means that there will be a vast number of strikingly different views of the Holy Face.

As one who goes to the Church of St. Michael in Manoppello and has his mind boggled by the changes in the Holy Face on the Cloth of marine byssus, it will be possible for the patient observer who has access to a good number of photographs of the Holy Face to have a similar experience. This could be combined with appropriate readings from Holy Scripture and from the writings of the Saints, and much good would result. As we approach the time of the next exposition of the Shroud of Turin, it seems appropriate that there be an effort to help those who will be observing and venerating the Shroud to be able to do the same for the Holy Face of Manoppello.

Photographers such as Paul Badde, who is responsible for the vast majority of the photos on this blog, as well as Giovanni Cati who provided the photos for the 1977 Eucharistic Congress which came to influence Sr. Blandina Paschalis Schlomer, and Antonio Teseo whose work is available on his blogs as well as Youtube, are following in the footsteps of Secondo Pia whose photos of the Shroud of Turin changed the course of history. There are certainly many other photographers of the Holy Face to whom we should be grateful and I apologize for not mentioning them, with the intention to rectify this oversight as soon as possible.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

A Sign of the Transfiguration of the Lord

"Jesus took Peter, James and his brother, John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light." Matthew 17:1-9

In 1690 the Capuchin Friars of the Shrine of the Holy Face of Manoppello established that August 6 would be the feast of the Holy Face to coincide with the solemn liturgy of the Transfiguration of the Lord. Some time later the Archbishop of Chieti and the superior of the Capuchins agreed that the external celebration of the feast of the Holy Face would be transferred to the second Sunday of May, which later was changed to the third Sunday of May, as it is in our time. However the feast of the Transfiguration remains to this day intimately connected to the history and devotion of the Shrine of the Holy Face

Friday, July 25, 2008

What St. Paul Saw, after the Other Apostles, is Revealed to All in Our Time

St. Paul, the great apostle to the Gentiles, is also the apostle of the resurrection.

Despite every form of persecution directed against him, he continued to preach the resurrection to Jew and Gentile alike. "With respect to the resurrection of the dead I am on trial before you this day" (Acts 24:21)

In addition to having had the the risen Christ appear to him on the road to Damascus, I think it almost certain that St. Paul also had the experience of seeing the cloth of marine byssus which this day is present in Manoppello, and likely from the hands of the Blessed Virgin Mary herself.

I also think that seeing the multiple, amazing and dazzling images of Christ on this cloth had a profound influence on St. Paul's magnificent teaching on the Church as the Body of Christ and made the resurrection of Christ, as well as our future resurrection, an ever present reality to his mind and spirit.

From the letter of St. Paul to the Romans, chapter 6, verses 3 to 11

Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the sinful body might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. For he who has died is freed from sin. But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him. For we know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. The death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Thanks to my friend Paul Badde, the most generous German journalist and author, for allowing me to post these photographs. May his patron St. Paul continue to intercede so that the Holy Spirit might give him a full measure of wisdom and strength to continue his service to the faith.

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Face of World Youth Day

As the youth of the world gather in Sydney, Australia together with Pope Benedict XVI and many Cardinals, Bishops, Priests and Religious it seems that the world is becoming more united, more open to Jesus Christ. May this august gathering, and its associated assemblies, flourish and transform the hearts of many nations, to "throw open wide the doors to Jesus Christ" in the immortal words of Pope John Paul II. What follows is the special Prayer to Recognize the Face of Jesus which was composed by Pope Benedict XVI on September 1, 2007 the first anniversary of the Pope's own visit to the Holy Face of Manoppello.

Lord Jesus as the first apostles whom you asked, "What do you seek?", accepted your invitation to "Come and see", recognizing you as the Son of God, the promised Messiah for the world's redemption, we too, your disciples in this difficult time, want to follow you and be your friends, drawn by the brilliance of your Face, much desired yet hidden. Show us we pray you your Face ever new, that mirror, mystery laden, of God's infinite mercy. Grant that we may contemplate it with the eyes of our minds and hearts, the Son's face, radiance of the Father's glory and the imprint of his Nature, the human face of God that has burst into history to reveal the horizons of eternity. The silent Face of Jesus suffering and risen, when loved and accepted changes the heart and life. "Your Face, Lord, do I seek, do not hide your face from me". How many times through the centuries and millenia has not resounded the ardent invocation of the Psalmist among the faithful! Lord, with faith we too repeat the same invocation: "Man of suffering, as one from whom others hide their faces", Do not hide your Face from us! We want to draw from your eyes, that look upon us with tenderness and compassion, the force of love and peace which shows us the way of life and the courage to follow you without fear or compromise so as to be witnesses of your Gospel with concrete signs of acceptance, love and foregiveness. O Holy Face of Christ, Light that enlightens the darkness of doubt and sadness, Life that has defeated forever the force of evil and death, o inscrutable gaze that never ceases to watch over men and people, Face concealed in the Eucharistic signs and in the faces of those that live with us, make us God's pilgrims in the world, longing for the Infinite and ready for the final encounter when we shall see you Lord "face to face" and be able to contemplate you forever in heavenly Glory. Mary, Mother of the Holy Face, help us have "innocent hands and a pure heart", hands illumined with the truth of love and enraptured by divine beauty, that transformed by the encounter with Christ, we may give ourselves to the poor and the suffering whose faces reflect the hidden presence of your Son Jesus who lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen!

Thanks to Fr. Carmine Cucinelli, O.F.M., Cap., Rector of the Shrine of the Holy Face of Manoppello for providing me with this prayer, and to Paul Badde for allowing the use of his photograph of the Holy Face.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Pope John Paul II and the Veil of Veronica at St. Peter's

Saverio Gaeta, journalist and author of L'Altra Sindone, in his talk entitled "Did the Veronica disappear in 1527" given at the 2006 Chieti Conference on the Holy Face had this interesting statement:
"and here I can reveal that John Paul II also, prior to the Great Jubilee of 2000, had wished to see the picture preserved in the Vatican. He asked that it be brought to his own apartment, he looked at it attentively, and after having become personally aware of the lack of any image, had it brought back to the pillar of the Veronica, without taking any further initiative".

Wednesday, July 2, 2008


The Church, the Body of Christ, Light to the Nations on pilgrimage in the Shrine of the Holy Face of Manoppello

Christ the Head of the Church

Credo in unum Deum Patrem Omnipotentem, factorem caeli et terrae visibilium omnium et invisibilium.
I believe in one God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is seen and unseen (visible and invisible)
Nicene Creed

From Paul's Letter to the Ephesians Chapter One Verses 15-22
"For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power in us who believe, according to the working of his great might which he accomplished in Christ when he raised him from the dead and made him sit at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, not only in this age but also in that which is to come; and he has put all things under his feet and made him the head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fulness of him who fills all in all."

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Antonio Bini Discovers 1902 Comparison of Holy Face of Manoppello to the Shroud of Turin

The Italian journalist Antonio Bini writes to give witness to an article in the May 11, 1902 edition of "La Tribuna Illustrata" an Italian weekly. What follows is my translation of sections of his report appearing on the official website of the Shrine of the Holy Face entitled "105 anni fa scrivevano del Volto Santo e della Sindone. Ritrovata un' interessante testimonianza del 1902 su 'La Tribuna Illustrata" (105 years ago they were writing about the Holy Face and the Shroud. Rediscovered an interesting testimony from 1902 in "La Tribuna Illustrata")

In these last 10-15 years a number of scholars have insisted on the relationship between the Shroud and Holy Face, with comparisons and overviews, while other researchers seem to deny any relationship, and still others admiting only partial elements of continuity between the two relics. Precisely in relation to such tendencies, I think it interesting to bring up an article appearing in "La Tribuna Illustrata" of May 11, 1902, entitled: "The Holy Shroud of Turin and the Face of Jesus of Manoppello", that I recently had the possibility, or rather, the fortune, of acquiring, in the process of my research of documentation regarding the Holy Face. The article, with a unifying title - appears in two distinct parts, the first dedicated to the Shroud, the second, following, to the Holy Face, which is presented as the "Face of Jesus". The large circulation periodical sought to show an immediate link with this image of Christ, at that time totally unknown. In those years the interest for the Shroud had exploded after the diffusion of the photographs taken by the lawyer Secondo Pia - in occasion of the exposition of 1898- which represented a fundamental moment for new research on the relic. We must remember that Turin at that time, although no longer the capital of the Kingdom for a little more than 30 years, was however a large city, with a strong influence from the House of Savoy, which remained always linked to the Shroud, having previously given it to the Church. The discovery of Pia gave new impulse to the studies and research and allowed at the same time for a better interpretation of the signs present on the cloth...The photographic images of the Shroud, relates "La Tribuna Illustrata" were exposed at Paris, with a notable number of people attending, up to ten thousand a day. The weekly concluded by announcing the upcoming initiative of the daily "Le Figaro" which in the following days would place on sale a photograph of the Shroud. The article followed dedicating itself to the Holy Face - reprinting the text of a letter which appeared in the "Corriere di Napoli", a daily newspaper founded and directed by the journalist and writer from Abruzzo, Edoardo Scarfoglio (1860-1917), happy to give space to a testimony linked to his native region. The writer, Clemente Rije by name, probably from Naples, refers to his trip to Manoppello with his own evaluations of the nature of the Veil, showing a particular historical-religious culture and above all a capacity of "reading" the relic for themes which would be developed only many years after... Let's take a look at the following precise text of the article, relating to the part regarding the Holy Face.

'The Corriere di Napoli published a few days ago a letter from Signor Clemente Rije, who says that in a little town in the province of Chieti, there is preserved the Face of Jesus. According to an ancient legend what is preserved at Manoppello would in fact be the cloth used by Mary Magdalen, and would have been brought there by a mysterious pilgrim coming from Palestine. The small cloth is made of silk of the finest weave, as large as the frame of silver in which it is kept in the church of the Friars Minor Conventual (sic), where each year the devout go on pilgrimage. The characteristics of the cloth would be surprising because there does not appear any traces of coloration, while the face of Jesus is bright and clear, the hair is long and falling to the shoulders, the features are pale, the eyes spent, just as Publius Lentulus describes in his letter to Caesar. The letter of Rije concludes by saying that this cloth should be a stimulus for serious studies, especially since today the discussions regarding the Shroud of Turin have rekindled such a legitimate interest. Could this therefore be the True Icon from which comes the name of that Veronica which tradition holds to be the pious jewish woman who wiped the face of Jesus on the way to Calvary?"

Monday, June 30, 2008

John's Witness

"A little while and you will no longer see me, and again a little while later and you will see me"

John 16:16

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Year in Honor of St. Paul Begins

To commemorate the beginning of the year of St. Paul, here are several photos of the Holy Face of Manoppello taken by Paul Badde. It seems almost certain that St. Paul saw the cloth which is now in Manoppello.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Interview with Chiara Vigo Expert Weaver of Marine Byssus

Above is a copy of a page from the english translation of Paul Badde's historic first article from the Inside the Vatican magazine which was first published in the Die Welt newspaper in Germany. It shows a photograph of Chiara Vigo and also a photograph of her holding a small clump of marine byssus. Click on the article to magnify it so it can be read. To see the entire article of Badde, go to and click on the word zeitschriften, then scroll down and click on the photo of the magazine Inside the Vatican.

What follows is a translation of an interview with Chiara Vigo regarding the fabric of the Holy Face of Manoppello which was originally broadcast on the Italian RAI television network. The original Italian can be found on the official website of the Shrine of the Holy Face of Manoppello.

Television interviewer: From your perspective as an expert, we ask you, is it possible that the relic is made of marine byssus?

Chiara Vigo: On the basis of the result of my studies, I would say yes. The cloth presents the characteristics typical of marine byssus.

Television interviewer: Can you give us some examples?

Chiara Vigo: Principally the transparency. Marine byssus is the only fiber that allows light to pass through: it is a bronze color in the dark and a golden color if illuminated. This peculiarity is compatible with the features of the Holy Face, that disappear when light shines against it.

Television interviewer: Surely the fact that the Face disappears when light shines against it is one of the most disquieting aspects of the relic. If we were dealing with a painting the image shouldn't be visible from both sides. This aspect has been looked into by a professor from Bari, right?

Chiara Vigo: Yes, that would be Professor Donato Vittore, who has found that on the cloth there are no traces of color. Thus we can exclude the theory that the Face had been drawn by a human hand. In that sense we can say that if one would paint on marine byssus, which is a smooth and impermeable fiber, the color would tend to run and form crusts, which he has not found to be on the cloth. Marine byssus could be dyed only by a carbon bath, but this can be excluded considering the era to which it dates and that we find ourselves in Mesopotamia.

Television interviewer: What are the alternative hypotheses?

Chiara Vigo: The Face could have been obtained with a sort of decolorization. It has been discovered that lemon has a lightening effect on fabric of marine byssus. This theory becomes even more interesting if one thinks that in ancient times an emulsion of oil and lemon was used to anoint the dead.

Television interviewer: Let's turn to the theory that we find ourselves in front of the veil offered by Veronica for the burial of Jesus.

Chiara Vigo: There is some possibility. Also because the relic presents some irregularities along the border that allow us to suppose that it was transferred from one frame to another, and we know that in the Vatican there is preserved a frame similar to the one of the Holy Face. If comparing them should show that they are compatible, than there would no longer be any room for doubt.

Television interviewer: Can we say that the question is more than ever open?

Chiara Vigo: Yes, there is need for greater seriousness in the studies. It is necessary to analyze all the possible fabrics, making use of the collaboration of the Universities of Urbino and Camerino. In fact, only after an accurate examination of the fibers will the contribution of persons like me, experts in the field, be useful.

Television interviewer: Do I detect a subtle vein of criticism in your words, or am I wrong?

Chiara Vigo: Let's say yes, as a Catholic I understand the mystical leap of faith, but the only way to verify a sound theory is to undertake a scientific study which may provide objective and concrete proofs.

Television interviewer: In point of fact what do you propose?

Chiara Vigo: That the church and local officials work together to form a committee that would concentrate solely on resolving the question of the Holy Face. I think that often we can get lost in the mixing of many matters, causing the fact to be forgotten that we are dealing with the patrimony of everyone, and first of all, that of the people of Abruzzo.