Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican Secretary of State Celebrates Mass and Delivers Homily at the Shrine of the Holy Face

After the visit of Pope Benedict XVI on September 1, 2006 there now comes the visit of his Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone on Sunday April 27, 2008. Certainly this is an important event which can only lead to historic and significant actions on the part of the Holy See. Cardinal Bertone's visit is notable for many reasons, not the least because it comes just one week after Pope Benedict's apostolic visit to the United Nations and the United States of America. May the Holy Spirit enlighten minds and hearts to bring the Face of Christ to the sight of each and all the peoples of the world. What follows is my translation of the homily delivered by Cardinal Bertone at the Sanctuary of the Holy Face on Sunday April 27, 2008.

"The liturgy of this 6th Sunday of Easter gives us a foretaste of the feast of Pentecost, towards which we are heading with quickening steps. The readings which we have listened to are an invitation to live in joy because beside us and within us there lives the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth.

'Stupendous are the works of the Lord...Shout joyfully to God, all you on earth' (Ps 66, 1-3). The responsorial psalm causes us to exult because of the works of creation, but at the same time, with St. Augustine we exclaim: 'You are great, Lord, and very worthy of praise (...) You have made us for yourself and our heart will not rest until it rests in you.' Our eyes, through the visible world are brought towards that which is interior and invisible: into the dimension of the spirit in which is reflected the light of the Word which illuminates every person. It is in this light that the Spirit of God works.

The joy of this Sunday is concentrated on the reality of the new merciful presence of God among mankind, that follows upon the departure of Jesus resulting from his death and resurrection. 'I will pray to the Father and he will give you another Consoler so that I might remain with you forever', Jesus had assured his disciples who had been shaken by the sense of becoming orphans at the thought of the loss of their Teacher. No, the apostles will not be orphans. Nor will the generations of ever new followers of Christ be orphans. Jesus is with them constantly. He comes to them constantly in the power of the Holy Spirit. This is the most profound truth which the Church is living: the time of the cenacle, of the companionship with Christ which remains forever in the Church. Which remains in us.

It is the Holy Spirit which makes Christ present to all people of all times, so that he is able to be the Savior of all. After the departure of the historic face of Christ, it is through the Spirit that his presence is restored. The veil of marine byssus preserved in this Sanctuary as a most precious relic shows us the features of the Messiah, but on this veil it is the Spirit which makes the Son of Man visible, just as the Son has made the Father visible. (cfr Badde, Paul, La seconda sindone, p. 216)

As Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger has written 'It is not therefore a problem of the color of the eyes or of the hair, nor a problem of physical features. It is a problem of vision, of our vision: how do we know how to see the face of Jesus? If there is lacking in us the vision of faith, we are like the disciples of Emmaus who did not recognize in the features of that pilgrim the face of the risen Lord (...) If in a person there does not exist an interior openness, which sees more than what is measurable and able to be understood at first glance, which perceives the splendor of the divine within creation, then God remains excluded from the field of vision' (Introduction to the Spirit of the Liturgy)

Along this same line, let us listen again to what the same Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, has pronounced in the homily given during his visit to this Sanctuary: 'To enter into communion with Christ and to contemplate his face, to recognize the face of the Lord in that of one's brothers and sisters and in the activities of every day, it is necessary to have "innocent hands and pure hearts". Innocent hands, that is lives illuminated by the truth of love which conquers indifference, doubt, falsehood and selfishness'.

'Your face is my fatherland!' wrote St. Therese of Lisieux. The much desired fatherland of every person where peace and harmony reigns. Observing the image of the Holy Face of Christ, visible and invisible at the same time; a face which is "disarmed" as someone has said, we are able to find the proper reference point for the expression of our own faces; 'A disarmed face is able to disarm one's neighbor' said the jewish philosopher Emmanuel Levinas.

There are two other elements which emerge from today's liturgy. The first is reflected in the condition posed by Jesus in order to have the light necessary to see and to enjoy the presence of the Consoler: 'If you love me, keep my commandments. I will pray to the Father...and you will know him.' The second element, indicated by the letter of the holy apostle Peter, is this: 'Adore the Lord, Christ, in your hearts, always ready to respond to whoever asks you the reason for the hope that is in you'.

Right away we see how love is the full accomplishment of the vocation of the person according to the design of God. He who loves God, obtains from God not only love, but also the capacity to love. Humanity has need of this, because only love is believable. The unshakable faith in this love inspires in the disciples of Jesus of every age thoughts of peace, throws open horizons of pardon and of harmony.'Whoever knows that he is loved, loves' said Don Bosco to young people to point them towards being 'good citizens and honest Christians'.

In the second place we see how the disciples of Christ must always be ready to respond to whoever asks the reason for the hope which is in them. (cfr Pt 3:15). Benedict XVI in the encyclical Spe Salvi clarifies that Christians must be able to give a reply regarding the logos - the meaning and the reason - for their hope; and hope is the equivalent of faith (cfr 2). The faith must be transmitted and accepted also in its beauty and intellectual power, in its intimate "reasonableness", as a reply to all the authentic instances of human reason. 'Nevertheless --admonishes Peter --let this be done with sweetness and respect, with an upright conscience...'

How much human wisdom and how much spiritual richness is contained in these two directives! It is necessary that we place ourselves decisively and with enthusiasm along this way, and the help of the Holy Spirit will not be lacking. For this we implore the gift of wisdom and we do this through the intercession of Mary, the Most Holy Mother of Christ. We ask this of her who best reflects the human features of the Son of God made flesh, and who best contemplated His Holy Face on earth and now contemplates it in eternity."


Saturday, April 19, 2008

Mary and Her Son

From the book Ecco tua Madre (Behold your Mother) by Stefano De Fiores, Citta' Nuova Editrice, Rome, 2007 p. 119 (translation mine) commenting on the Encyclical of Pope John Paul II on the Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Mary Model of Contemplation of the Face of Christ
Unquestionably Mary's relationship to the face of Christ is intimate and unique. Without citing Dante, the pope agrees with him in recognizing in Mary "the face which is most like to that of Christ", Paradiso XXXII, 85) in as much as there exists a communion not only of physical characteristics because of the genetic patrimony communicated to Christ by her alone in as much as she is the virginal mother, but also an there is an affinity both of the spiritual order and also pertaining to the level of holiness given because of their common belonging to the poor ones of Yahweh.

The contemplation of Christ has in Mary its insuperable model. The face of the Son belongs to her by special title. It is in her womb that he was formed, taking from her also a human likeness that evokes a spiritual intimacy certainly even more great.
Pope John Paul II, The Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, 10

Friday, April 18, 2008


"But someone may say, "How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come back?" 1 Corinthians 15:35

"Jesus said to her, 'Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?' She thought it was the gardener and said to him, 'Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you laid him, and I will take him.' Jesus said to her, 'Mary!' She turned and said to him in Hebrew, 'Rabbouni' which means Teacher. Jesus said to her, 'Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and tell them, I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.' Mary of Magdala went and announced to the disciples, 'I have seen the Lord,' and what he told her."

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

"Come" says my heart "Seek God's face" - Psalm 27

photos courtesy of Paul Badde

Christ Our Hope

"May God be gracious to us and bless us; may God's face shine upon us"
Psalm 67

"After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John his brother, and led them to 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 17:1-2

Friday, April 11, 2008

Welcome Pope Benedict XVI to the United States April 15-20, 2008

What a tremendous grace to listen to this man of God, may his visit be totally blessed for each and every moment.

"Yes, Christ is the Face of God among us"
Message of Pope Benedict XVI to Catholics and People of the United States of America on the Occasion of the Upcoming Apostolic Visit.


Pope Benedict Speaks of the Face of Jesus

"We can certainly say that God gave himself a human face, the Face of Jesus, and certainly, from now on, if we truly want to know the Face of God, all we have to do is to contemplate the Face of Jesus! In his Face we truly see who God is and what he looks like!"
General Audience
St. Peter's Square
September 6, 2006

"this book personal search for the face of the Lord"

foreward to his book Jesus of Nazareth
September 30, 2006

Referring to Pope John Paul II
"The meaning of his life...brings us always to the Face of Christ, supreme revelation of the mercy of God. To contiually contemplate that Face: this is the heredity which he has left us, and that we take to ourselves and make our own."

Regina Caeli
Castel Gandalfo
March 30, 2008 Feast of the Divine Mercy

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Correction regarding Capuchin Friars Website

The official website of the Sanctuary of the Holy Face in Manoppello is

May the Light of Christ, Risen on the Third Day, Banish Every Doubt and Fear

Important Websites Regarding Holy Face of Manoppello

As I mentioned previously in my blog, Germans and Italians have dominated the study and promotion of the Holy Face of Manoppello, at least until recently. And certainly without the several websites which they so lovingly have produced, very little information would be available.
So I feel greatly obligated to give credit to them.

First of all to the official website of the Capuchin Friars Santuario del Volto Santo in Manoppello (Shrine or Sanctuary of the Holy Face) www. which has information in Italian, German, English and Spanish. It is essential reading for the development of a correct understanding of the Holy Face as well as for a chronological review of the activities of the last few years at the Shrine, including the visit of Pope Benedict XVI on September 1, 2006

Also the website, produced in Germany, which has some English material, but is noted above all for the beautiful and exquisite photography of the Holy Face of Manoppello, as well as the Church, Altar and countryside of Manoppello. Click on bildergalerie to arrive at this photography.

Another German website with some English material is Here you will find a wonderful gallery of works of art depicting the Holy Face as well as a definitely inspiring comparison of the Face on the Holy Shroud of Turin to that of the Holy Face of Manoppello.
Click on bilder to see this gallery. On the home page of this website is a link to an incredible, almost unbelievable video on Youtube, produced in Poland it seems, showing the Resurrection of Jesus as the linchpin and catalyst for the production of the images on the two cloths of Turin and Manoppello.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Historic First Visit by Journalist inside the Pillar of St. Veronica at St. Peter's Basilica

For years journalists and historians had been requesting permission from Vatican officials to be able to see close-up the Veil of Veronica image which is kept in the Pillar of St. Veronica and displayed once a year from the balcony of the same pillar high above the floor of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. This request had always been met with either polite refusal or stony silence. Among those who had been frustrated was the British author, Ian Wilson, who describes his long and fruitless attempt to be given permission to see the Veronica in his book published in 1991, Holy Faces, Secret Places.

However in 2005, in an amazing turn of events which has strangely attracted little attention on the part of english speaking peoples, the German journalist Paul Badde was the first to be allowed to see the image with the permission of Cardinal Marchisano, President of the Fabbrica of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican. Mr. Badde describes this unique and historic visit in his book, first published later that same year in German entitled Das Muschelseidentuch and then in a later 2006 edition retitled Das Gottliche Gesicht, which appeared in an Italian translation in 2007 with the title La Seconda Sindone (The Second Shroud). It is not an exaggeration to say that Mr. Badde's visit to see the image in the Vatican, and his reporting of what he saw on this visit, made possible, and even inevitable, the even more historic visit by Pope Benedict XVI on September 1, 2006 to the Shrine of the Holy Face of Manoppello to gaze upon that most wonderful image of the face of Jesus.

Mr. Badde's chapter entitled "Nelle Segrete del Vaticano" gives a classic description of the physical and emotional journey which he made through the Vatican bureaucracy and the actual massive pillar to see the Vatican copy of the Veronica. Here in my own english translation (unfortunately of the Italian translation of the original German with all the limitations that a secondary translation is prey to) is Mr. Badde's description of what he saw on the Vatican's Veil of Veronica in early 2005. The quote is from p. 190 of La Seconda Sindone

"I went down on my knees to be able to observe it better. I got up, moved to the left, to the right. Next to all the other precious objects present in the room, I almost had to force myself to look at it, because absolutely nothing at all could be seen on it. Nothing that could attract one's attention or curiosity or aesthetic sense. The contrast with the rest of the marvelous treasury could not have been more stark. The icon is covered in glass. Underneath the glass is seen an object in decomposition: a stained fabric, dark dirty grey without any human characteristics, any design or color. The only feature that it has is conferred on it by the masque with three points of layered gold: two points for the hair and one for the beard. Its cover is like the one on the Mandylion of Edessa, which Ellen and I saw some time ago in the Sacristy of the Sistine chapel, or as which we saw in Genoa...and it is clearly an imitation of the other two venerable images. The object can be called a face only and exclusively because of that covering...and for no other reason. One can't recognize there traces of an image or painting, nothing of nothing. Of a face or even only of the hint of a face it is not possible to speak. It is in no way reconcilable with all the ancient representations of the Veronica, and not even with what was always said of it, even through the mouths of its most acerbic opponents and worst critics. It's not a 'klaret linn', a white handkerchief, as Luther scornfully called it."

Seeing the Burial Cloths of Jesus - Clues for Belief in the Resurrection

"They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and arrived at the tomb first; he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, and the cloth that had covered his head, not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place. Then the other disciple also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believed." (John 20:4-8)

quoting from the Saverio Gaeta's book: L'altra Sindone, Mondadori, 2005, p. 19 (translation mine)

"Three simple words in the eighth verse 'he saw and believed' but enough to give rise in these 2000 years to innumerable biblical studies and exegetical interpretations... It is not enough to affirm as in various quarters it is proposed, that the absence of the body of Jesus had motivated the knowledge of the resurrection: on the contrary, at this point it would have been more obvious for John to share the opinion of Mary Magdalen regarding a theft.

In his Gospel John makes use of fully six verbs to indicate the act of vision: blepein, horan, opsomai, theasthai, theorein, and idein. And it is this last word that he adopts in chapter 20, verse 8, "he saw (eiden) and believed", a verb that, also in the other usages, "seems to suppose not a mere visual perception, becoming rather almost synonomous with 'believing". (*) In the brief affirmation there is almost a doubling of the concept, as one might say, as if John had wanted to reinforce to the maximum the significance of the three words."

* Ravasi, G., "Un Volta da contemplare", in Il Volto dei Volti: Cristo, edited by the Instituto Internazionale di Ricerca sul Volto di Cristo, Vol. VI, Editrice Velar, Gorle (BG) Italia, 2002, p. 43.