Friday, April 24, 2009

Exhibit of Holy Face of Manoppello in Santa Cruz, California

excerpted from an article by Cathy Kelly April 12, 2009 in the Santa Cruz Sentinel newspaper

"At the Shrine of St. Joseph on West Cliff Drive (in Santa Cruz, California) the Rev. John Warburon has compiled an exhibit containing replicas of three miraculous images of Christianity -- the Shroud of Turin, the Holy Face of Manoppello and the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The Catholic church intends to keep the items on exhibit permanently, by appointment."...

"For Warburton, a visit to Italy last year after reading a magazine article about the Holy Face of Manoppello sealed his determination to bring information about the image home to Santa Cruz. The priest has been interested in such images since hearing about the Shroud of Turin many years ago, he said.

Warburton visited the Italian village where the image is kept, he said. Sometimes referred to as "Veronica's Veil," it is believed by some to be the face of the risen Christ, his wounds healed and his eyes open. It is on an ancient fabric known as sea byssus.

It is less renowned than the Shroud of Turin, believed to be the burial cloth Jesus was wrapped in, or the image of Jesus' mother known as Our Lady of Guadalupe, on a cactus-fiber tilma, or cloak, after she appeared to a Mexican peasant.

Science has been unable to explain how the images appeared, Warburton said.

The Lady of Guadalupe appeared to Juan Diego in 1531 and scientists have said the cloak should have disintegrated centuries ago, he said.

The Shroud of Turin is the most studied article in history, he said, adding that of more than 2,000 scientists who studied it, an overwhelming majority ended up believing in Christ. It contains marks from the wounds Jesus is described to have gotten in the Bible, including some 120 scourge marks.

There is much evidence pointing to its authenticity, he said.

If one superimposes the Holy Face on the facial portion of the shroud, they match perfectly, Warburton said. Visitors to the exhibit can try that for themselves, using replicas of the images.

"For someone like me, the supernatural explanation is the only one that fits," he said. "But people can come and see for themselves. Make an appointment. Do the experiment.

"I hope they can be a help to people's devotion."

Articles and videos explaining the three items are available at the church as well, he said, and some groups have chosen to make it part of a one-day retreat the shrine offers.
For more information, call the Shrine of St. Joseph at 471-0442."

Thursday, April 23, 2009

A Prayer in an English Church on St. George's Day

Holy Spirit make my soul a living mirror which reflects the love of Jesus Christ.
Father write on my soul, more precious than the most richly byssus, the true and living image of Jesus Christ.
Mary, weaver of my soul, re-arrange those strands which have come undone, re-arrange them to your loving eye so that you may honor and glorify your Son. Amen.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Padre Domenico da Cese (1905-1978), Stigmatist Capuchin Who Gave the Holy Face Back to the World

Padre Domenico, friend and fellow Capuchin of St. Padre Pio, also bore the Stigmata, marks of the wounds of Christ. From 1965 to 1978 Padre Domenico was the Rector of the Shrine of the Holy Face of Manoppello. During those years he devotedly dedicated himself to the spreading of the knowledge of the Holy Face, which he considered not sufficiently known. In 1977 Padre Domenico had the foresight to bring to the Eucharistic Congress of Pescara a large photograph of the Holy Face so that it might be brought to the attention of all at that important gathering. A journalist from Switzerland in attendance at the Congress was so moved, that he wrote the first article in German about the Holy Face. It was this article that caught the attention of Sr. Blandina Schloemer and caused her to begin her great mission to share the knowledge of the Holy Face with the world. But it was to Padre Domenico that we all owe our deepest gratitude for this most precious gift of the world's first sight in 400 years of the Holy Face. In these days the cause for the beatification of Padre Domenico will be opened in the Archdiocese of Chieti-Vasto. (The photograph and information on Padre Domenico's life is taken from an article by Antonio Bini which appeared in the magazine of the Shrine of the Holy Face)

Friday, April 17, 2009

Fra Angelico and the Holy Face

Blessed Angelico: Face of Christ - fragment of a fresco - circa 1446-47.

The Italian scholar Francesco Colafemmina posted the above photographs demonstrating the complete and insuperable connection between a fresco of Blessed Fra Angelico and the Holy Face of Manoppello on his blog on April 14, 2009.

According to Colafemmina:

"There is no doubt: the fresco of Blessed Angelico presently being exhibited in Rome at the Capitoline Museum is a copy of the Veronica, or rather of the Holy Face of Manoppello".

Colafemmina also puts forth a possible scenario: "Blessed Angelico was present in Rome in 1445, called by Pope Eugene IV to paint some frescoes for a chapel of St. Peter's Basilica which was later destroyed during the building of the new edifice. It's highly probable that the artist from Vicchio was able to see during that period the Face of the Veronica kept in the Vatican, this image that was secretly transferred to Manoppello during the construction of the new St. Peter's, as has been amply demonstrated by my friend Paul Badde."

See also Colafemmina's video comparing the fresco of Blessed Angelico, the Holy Face of Manoppello and the Shroud of Turin:

The exhibit of the works of Fra Angelico (1395-1455)at the Capitoline Museum in Rome concludes the celebration of the 550th anniversary of the death of the artist beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1984.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Sacred Image of the Divine Mercy

To prepare for the Feast of Divine Mercy, Sunday April 19 this year see:

Angelicos Testes, Sudarium et Vestes. Surrexit Christus Spes Mea

What Mary Magdalen saw: Testifying that Christ my hope has arisen: angels, shroud and sudarium.

and What Peter and John proclaim:
From Pope Benedict XVI's homily at the Easter Vigil 2009
There is a surprising parallel to the story of Moses’ song after Israel’s liberation from Egypt upon emerging from the Red Sea, namely in the Book of Revelation of Saint John. Before the beginning of the seven last plagues imposed upon the earth, the seer has a vision of something “like a sea of glass mingled with fire; and those who had conquered the beast and its image and the number of its name, standing beside the sea of glass with harps of God in their hands. And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb …” (Rev 15:2f.). This image describes the situation of the disciples of Jesus Christ in every age, the situation of the Church in the history of this world. Humanly speaking, it is self-contradictory. On the one hand, the community is located at the Exodus, in the midst of the Red Sea, in a sea which is paradoxically ice and fire at the same time. And must not the Church, so to speak, always walk on the sea, through the fire and the cold? Humanly speaking, she ought to sink. But while she is still walking in the midst of this Red Sea, she sings – she intones the song of praise of the just: the song of Moses and of the Lamb, in which the Old and New Covenants blend into harmony. While, strictly speaking, she ought to be sinking, the Church sings the song of thanksgiving of the saved. She is standing on history’s waters of death and yet she has already risen. Singing, she grasps at the Lord’s hand, which holds her above the waters. And she knows that she is thereby raised outside the force of gravity of death and evil – a force from which otherwise there would be no way of escape – raised and drawn into the new gravitational force of God, of truth and of love. At present she is still between the two gravitational fields. But once Christ is risen, the gravitational pull of love is stronger than that of hatred; the force of gravity of life is stronger than tha t of death. Perhaps this is actually the situation of the Church in every age? It always seems as if she ought to be sinking, and yet she is always already saved. Saint Paul illustrated this situation with the words: “We are as dying, and behold we live” (2 Cor 6:9). The Lord’s saving hand holds us up, and thus we can already sing the song of the saved, the new song of the risen ones: alleluia! Amen.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Let Us Look Upon the World With the Eyes of Jesus

"Let us pray that we will look upon the world with eyes of love, with the eyes of Jesus, recognizing our brothers and sisters who need our help, who are awaiting our word and our action"

Pope Benedict XVI from his Homily on Holy Thursday 2009

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Fix our Gaze on Jesus

From the Easter Message 2009 of the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Archbishop Fouad Twal

... the One who attracts us most of all, who touches us, moves us and transforms what is inside of us, this is Jesus the Christ. It is He. During all this Holy Week, we must never allow ourselves to take our eyes off of Him… For it is towards Jesus that we have to turn our eyes and hearts “to know him and the power of his resurrection and the
sharing of his sufferings by being conformed to his death, if somehow [we] may attain the resurrection from the
dead.” (Ph 3:10-11)

Here we have Jesus, the Messiah, the one who we cheered so much just a few days ago on Palm Sunday, who staggers out of Pilate’s house bearing upon his shoulders the heavy cross. His path moves through those narrow, winding and steep streets of Jerusalem. We follow this scene, but from a distance; in this way no one notices our presence… We are too afraid of ending up like him, suffering and dying. The soldiers shout and strike the Lord in order to stir up within him the last dregs of energy that he has left. Look, Jesus falls. To see our Lord fall, the same one who we beheld in all his glory on Mount Tabor… Three times he falls, but struggles up again and just barely manages to continue on his “via crucis.”
He finally arrives at Golgotha, and there is crucified between two criminals. Mary his mother is near him, with two other women. John is there also. What a terrible sight. It is too much to bear… Our hearts are torn between compassion and revulsion – compassion for the Master who suffers this martyrdom though “he has done nothing wrong.”(Is 53:9) On the contrary: “He always went about doing good.”(Acts 10:38). How things have turned around, that this Lord here, who so many times showed his power in words, lets these men have their way with him and stands there mute “like a sheep before its shearers.” This Lord here who so many times revealed his power in gestures, hangs there impotent... We too sometimes are tempted to say with the chief priests: “Let him come down from the cross now! Save yourself, you who saved so many others! (Mt 27:42)

Seeing Jesus on the cross really puts our faith to the test. He performed so many signs during his public ministry… but this time, where is the sign? What can be the meaning of all this?
And here is Jesus shouting out in a loud voice: “My God, My God, why have you abandoned me?” (Mt 27:26)
Then he expires. He is dead. It is finished.
Why stay here to watch this, to look upon this pitiful failure? Let’s go home.

Today is Holy Saturday. It is all emptiness. The Lord is dead. Our fondest hopes have taken flight and departed. We are gathered here with the apostles and their disciples, and we brood over our sadness, our disappointment but also our shame and our guilt at not having “been up to the task.” The only comfort that we find in our midst comes from Mary his Mother. She suffers, you can see that, but at the same time she is at peace. She invites us to believe, to hope against all hope. Jesus can neither be deceived nor deceive us. The truth will come to light. When? How? And what has all this been for? This is the day of “why’s”, but still no answer comes. Still there is Mary whose mother’s heart beats with an unutterable premonition. Mary believes with her whole heart, with her whole soul and with all her strength. We do as she does.

Resurrection Sunday: We have trouble believing what Mary Magdalene and the women have come to tell us. They say that they have seen the Lord alive! They say that we are to wait for him in Galilee. Women’s talk, nothing more…
And yet..
And yet, if it’s true…
Here are Peter and John racing to the tomb. We follow them. Our hearts are pounding in our chests… What has happened? Has someone taken his corpse off somewhere? The Romans? The Sanhedrin? No, no we have an inkling that something else has happened. The fragments and half phrases of the Lord, which were lying dormant in us, rush back to our memory. "The Son of Man is to be handed over to men,
and they will kill him, and he will be raised on
the third day." (Mt 17:22) Are not those the same words that the angels spoke to the women? But whatever can it mean to “be raised” from the dead? In the tomb, the corps has disappeared! And this cannot have been a robbery since, just as the women and Mary Magdalene confirmed, everything is in its place: there is the shroud, empty on the inside, in the very same place where the corps had been lain… there is the cloth that surrounded the Lord’s head, collapsed in on itself…
Could the women, then, have been telling the truth? The Lord, who was dead, could he be alive?
With the eleven disciples, we hurry on to Galilee, to the mountain that Jesus mentioned. The Lord is waiting for us in Galilee. Galilee, our Church, our home, it is there that we performed our service; Galilee, that is the place where the Lord sent us to be joyous witnesses of His death and resurrection.
We come to the mountain. The Lord is there! Yes, it is really him! He is different and yet the same. Yes, it is really us! The same, and yet so different.
With Thomas we cry out: “My Lord and my God!” With Mary, we say with our whole heart: “Rabbi”
Yes, Christ is risen! He is truly risen!
The adventure now continues. Or rather, it now begins again, all new! For ourselves, for our country, for our Church. Salvation has been accomplished and must be proclaimed to all men.

Once again, Easter has taken place in our Churches, in our houses, in our towns and villages, in our parish communities, monasteries and convents, in our souls and our hearts, on the beautiful faces of all of our dear pilgrims and tourists. Halleluiah rings out once again far and wide!
This is our feast! And participating in our joy, Jesus says to each one: “I am with you always, until the end of the age."

Jesus, Son of David, Have Mercy on Me a Sinner

Most High, glorious God, enlighten the darkness of my heart and give me, Lord, a correct faith, a certain hope, a perfect charity, sense and knowledge, so that I may carry out Your holy and true command.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Your Face Lord Do I Seek

Photo above taken during the Exposition of the relic from the upper balcony of the St. Veronica Pillar in St. Peter's Basilica, Rome, March 29, 2009. (to enlarge this photo or any on this blog, click on the photo itself)

"your Face Lord do I seek, do not hide your Face from me" (Ps. 27:8)

"Show us we pray you Your Face ever new, that mirror, mystery laden of God's infinite mercy"
from Pope Benedict XVI's prayer to see the Holy Face of Jesus

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Accepting the Cross May our Lives be a Reflection of the Face of Christ

On Sunday morning, 29 March, the Fifth Sunday of Lent, the Holy Father presided at Holy Mass in the Parish Church of "Santo Volto di Gesù" in Rome's suburb of Magliana. The modern church was inaugurated three years ago. Among the parishioners the Holy Father also met the children preparing for their First Communion as well as the Members of the Parish Council. The following is a translation of the Pope's Homily, which was given in Italian.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In today's Gospel passage St John refers to an episode that occurred during the last phase of Christ's public ministry, just before the Jewish Passover, which was to be the Passover of his death and Resurrection. While Jesus was in Jerusalem, the Evangelist recounts, some Greeks, proselytes of Judaism who were curious and attracted by what he was doing, approached Philip, one of the Twelve who had a Greek name and came from Galilee.

"Sir", they said to him, " we wish to see Jesus". Philip in turn went to Andrew, one of the first Apostles very close to the Lord and who also had a Greek name, and they both went and "told Jesus" (cf. Jn 12: 20-21).

In the request of these anonymous Greeks we can interpret the thirst to see and to know Christ which is in every person's heart; and Jesus' answer orients us to the mystery of Easter, the glorious manifestation of his saving mission.

"The hour has come", he declared, "for the Son of man to be glorified (Jn 12: 23). Yes! The hour of the glorification of the Son of man is at hand, but it will entail the sorrowful passage through his Passion and death on the Cross.

Indeed the divine plan of salvation which is for everyone, Jews and Gentiles alike will only be brought about in this manner.

Actually, everyone is invited to be a member of the one people of the new and definitive Covenant. In this light, we also understand the solemn proclamation with which the Gospel passage ends: "and I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself" (Jn 12: 32), and likewise the Evangelizist's comment: "He said this to show by what death he was to die" (Jn 12: 33). The Cross: the height loftiness of love is the loftiness of Jesus and he attracts all to these heights.

Very appropriately, the liturgy brings us to meditate on this text of John's Gospel today, on this Fifth Sunday of Lent, while the days of the Lord's Passion draw near in which we will immerse ourselves spiritually as from next Sunday which is called, precisely, Palm Sunday and the Sunday of the Lord's Passion.

It is as if the Church were encouraging us to share Jesus' state of mind, desiring to prepare us to relive the mystery of his Crucifixion, death and Resurrection not as foreign spectators but on the contrary as protagonists, involved together with him in his mystery of the Cross and the Resurrection. Indeed, where Christ is his disciples called to follow him, to be in in solidarity with him at the moment of the combat must also be in order to share in his victory.

What our association with his mission consists of is explained by the Lord himself. In speaking of his forthcoming glorious death, he uses a simple and at the same time evocative image: "unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit" (Jn 12: 24).

He compares himself to a "grain of wheat which has split open, to bring much fruit to others", according to an effective statement of St Athanasius; it is only through death, through the Cross that Christ bears much fruit for all the centuries. Indeed, it was not enough for the Son of God to become incarnate. To bring the divine plan of universal salvation to completion he had to be killed and buried: only in this way was human reality to be accepted, and, through his death and Resurrection, the triumph of Life, the triumph of Love to be made manifest; it was to be proven that love is stronger than death.

Yet the man Jesus who was a true man with the same sentiments as ours felt the burden of the trial and bitter sorrow at the tragic end that awaited him. Precisely since he was God-Man he felt terror even more acutely as he faced the abyss of human sin and all that is unclean in humanity which he had to carry with him and consume in the fire of his love. He had to carry all this with him and transform it in his love.

"Now is my soul troubled", he confessed. "And what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour?" (Jn 12: 27).

The temptation to ask: "Save me, do not permit the Cross, give me life!" surfaces.

In the distress of his invocation we may grasp in anticipation the anguished prayer of Gethsemane, when, experiencing the drama of loneliness and fear, he implored the Father to take from him the cup of the Passion. At the same time, however, his filial adherence to the divine plan did not fail, because it is precisely this that enables him to know that his hour has come and with trust he prays: "Father, glorify your name" (Jn 12: 28).

By this he means "I accept the Cross" in which the name of God is glorified, that is, the greatness of his love. Here too Jesus anticipates the words of the Mount of Olives, the process that must be fundamentally brought about in all our prayers: to transform, to allow grace to transform our selfish will and open it to comply with the divine will.

The same sentiments surface in the passage of the Letter to the Hebrews proclaimed in the Second Reading. Prostrated by extreme anguish because of the death that was hanging over him, Jesus offers up prayers and supplications to God "with loud cries and tears" (Heb 5: 7).

He invokes help from the One who can set him free but always remaining abandoned in the Father's hands. And precisely because of his filial trust in God, the author notes, he was heard, in the sense that he was raised, he received new and definitive life.

The Letter to the Hebrews makes us understand that these insistent prayers, of Jesus with tears and cries, were the true act of the High Priest with which he offered himself and humanity to the Father, there by transforming the world.

Dear brothers and sisters, this is the demanding way of the Cross that Jesus points out to all his disciples. On several occasions he said, "If anyone wants to serve me, let him follow me". There is no alternative for the Christian who wishes to fulfil his vocation.

It is the "law" of the Cross, described with the image of the grain of wheat that dies in order that new life may germinate; it is the "logic" of the Cross, recalled also in today's Gospel: "He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life".

"To hate" one's life is a strong and paradoxical Semitic expression that clearly emphasizes the radical totality which must distinguish those who follow Christ and, out of love for him, put themselves at the service of their brethren. They lose their life and thus find it. There is no other way to experience the joy and the true fruitfulness of Love: the way of giving oneself, of self-giving, of losing oneself in order to find oneself.

Dear friends, Jesus' invitation rings out with particular eloquence at today's celebration in this Parish of yours. Indeed, it is dedicated to the Holy Face of Jesus: that Face which "some Greeks", of which the Gospel speaks, wished to see; that Face which in the coming days of the Passion we shall contemplate disfigured by human sins, indifference and ingratitude; that Face, radiant with light and dazzling with glory that will shine out at dawn on Easter Day.

Let us keep our hearts and minds fixed on the Face of Christ, dear faithful whom I greet with affection, starting with Fr Luigi Coluzzi, your Parish Priest, to whom I am also grateful for expressing your sentiments.

Thank you for your cordial welcome: I am truly glad to be among you on the occasion of the third anniversary of the dedication of your church and I greet you all with affection. I extend a special greeting to the Cardinal Vicar, as well as to Cardinal Fiorenzo Angelini, who has contributed to the realization of this new parish centre, to the Auxiliary Bishop of the Sector, to Bishop Marcello Costalunga and to the other Prelates present, to the priests who collaborate in the parish, to the praiseworthy women religious of the Congregation of the Poor Daughters of the Visitation who take care of the residents in their Rest Home for the elderly right opposite this beautiful church.

I greet the catechists, the Council and the parish workers and those who collaborate in the life of the Parish; I greet the children, the young people and their families. I extend my throughts with pleasure to the inhabitants of Magliana, especially the elderly, the sick, people who are lonely and in difficulty. I am praying for each and everyone at this Holy Mass.

Dear brothers and sisters, let yourselves be elightened by the splendour of the Face of Christ, and your young community which can now benefit from a new parish complex, with modern and functional structures will walk united, united by the commitment to proclaim and witness to the Gospel in this neighbourhood.

I know what great care you devote to liturgical formation, making the most of every resource of your communtiy: the readers, the choir and all those who are dedicated to enlivening the celebrations. It is important to put always personal and liturgical prayer first in our life. I am aware of the great commitment you devote to catechesis to ensure that it lives up to the expectations of the children, both those preparing to receive the sacraments of First Communon and Confirmation and those who attend the After-School Prayer and Recreation Centre.

You are also anxious to provide a suitable catechesis for parents, whom you invite to take a course of Christian formation together with their children. In this way you seek to help families to live the sacramental events together, educating and being educated in the faith "in the family", which must be the first and natural "school" of Christian life for all its members.

I congratulate you on your open and welcoming parish. It is motivated and enlivened by a sincere love for God and for all the brethren, in imitation of St Maximilian Mary Kolbe to whom it was originally dedicated. In Auschwitz, with heroic courage, he sacrificed himself to save the life of another. In our time, marked by a general social and economic crisis, the effort you are making, above all through the parish Caritas and the Sant'Egidio group, in order, as far as possible, to meet the expectations of the poorest and neediest people is most praiseworthy.

I would like to say a special word of encouragement to you, dear young people: let yourselves be attracted by the fascination of Christ! Fixing his Face with the eyes of the faith, ask him: "Jesus what do you want me to do with you and for you?".

Thus, keep listening. Be guided by his Spirit, second the plan he has for you. Prepare yourselves seriously and build families that are united and faithful to the Gospel and to be his witnesses in society; then, if he calls you, be ready to dedicate your whole life to his service in the Church as priests or as men and women religious.

I assure you of my prayers; in particular I am expecting you next Thursday in St Peter's Basilica to prepare ourselves for the World Youth Day, which as you know, is being celebrated this year at the diocesan level, next Sunday.

We shall remember together my beloved and venerable Predecessor John Paul ii on the fourth anniversary of his death. In many circumstances he encouraged young people to encounter Christ and to follow him with enthusiasm and generosity.

Dear brothers and sisters of this parish community, may the infinite love of Christ that shines in his Face be radiant in your every attitude, and become your "daily life".

As St Augustine urged in an Easter homily, "Christ has suffered; let us die to sin. Christ is risen; let us live for God. Christ has passsed from this world to the Father; let us not be attached to this earth with our hearts but follow him in the things of above. Our Lord was hung on the wood of the Cross; let us crucify concupiscence of the flesh. he lay in the tomb; buried with him, let us forget past things; he is seated in Heaven; let us concentrate our longing on our desires to supreme things" (S. Agostino, Discourse 229/D, 1).

Heartened by this knowledge, let us continue the Eucharistic celebration, invoking the motherly intercession of Mary, so that our life may become a reflection of Christ's. Let us pray that all those whom we meet may always perceive in our gestures and in our words the pacifying and comforting goodness of his Face. Amen!

(thank you to Fr. Thomas Rosica, C.S.B. of the Salt and Light TV at for sharing this with me)