In October of this year David and Diane Fincher of Tennessee made a pilgrimage to the Shrine of the Holy Face in Manoppello. I am so happy to be able to share with you the story of their journey, in installments, with their hope that others will also be inspired to make the pilgrimage to the Holy Face.
David and Diane's
Pilgrimage to Italy - October 23-31 2010
This was our 3rd attempt to embark to Europe. We were stopped once by an earthquake in nearby Aquila and the 2nd time by a distant volcanic eruption that sent clouds of ash into our flight path. The 3rd time there was a terrorism related travel warning, but that only assisted us in obtaining better "space-available" up-grade seats. Sleeping was priority in our minds since we would arrive at 7:45 AM Rome time (which would have been 3:45 AM east coast time). We were advised to skip dinner and take 2 Tylenol PMs as soon as the flight started and to sleep as long as possible. We slept quite nicely and this kept us going (until 4 PM when we took a short nap). We didn't have much "jet lag" this way. Diane had wanted to travel to the Abruzzi for several years after hearing about Mary's home in Loreto, in which she is believed to have grown up, and in which the angel announced Christ's arrival. Christ was believed to have lived there for some time himself. It had been transported from Nazareth, and now resided in Loreto, Italy near Ancona.
But even more, she wanted to see the image of Christ preserved in a small Capuchin church in Manoppello, near Chieti. For certainly more than 400 years, and possibly 500, this image of Christ on Byssus (fine linen derived from the extremely rare silk of sea mollusks) had rested in this church. There is good reason to believe that this is the ancient "sudarium" or "Veronica" , an image of Christ that had at one time been considered the greatest treasure of the ancient church, along with the Shroud of Turin. St. Peter's in Rome (Vatican) was literally designed around a main pillar that, with great security, would house this sacred image. It is believed to be an authentic picture of Christ. It matches the image of the Shroud of Turin perfectly when the 2 images are overlaid.
www.youtube.com/watch?v=R1UZ5BzSddA shows the match well.
Well, we saw all that, and so much more.
Our international experience started in Newark, NJ the day before our international flight. We were driven to church by a Haitian man named Marcel, to an area of Newark,NJ that surely must be named "little Portugal". The neighborhood had signs in Portuguese. The beautiful church, Our Lady of Fatima, was absolutely packed--- standing room only, with maybe 40+ standing in the rear.
The service was in English, but we could tell that for many this was, at best, a second language.
The young priest was a warm and wonderful teacher. The church had a beautiful light fixture that was a crown for our Lord, who ruled the universe, even while nailed to the cross.
After a good nights sleep, we headed for the airport… and that evening to Rome's Leonardo Da Vinci Airport! We arrived at 7:45 A.M.Rome time and picked up a little Fiat Punto (Diesel, 5-speed) and headed out into Rome's Monday morning rush hour traffic.
All I can say is WHOA! Our walk with God was strengthened by praying constantly as we drove. It was magnitudes crazier than anything I'd ever driven in. Well, they probably are all relatives of Mario Andretti, one way or another. I had been warned and was mentally prepared and we were equipped with a wonderful GPS that told us where to turn and even pronounced the names of streets and towns for us. It also told us speed limits and our current speed, though I think the drivers around us interpret the speed signs in MPH and not KPH. They were flying!
We headed out following A25 toward Pescara, the larger city near medium sized Chieti and tiny Manoppello.
Note: Don't confuse Mannoppello with nearby LettoManoppello and Manoppello Scalo. (To be continued)