Monday, December 17, 2012

Veronica Route - A World Project for the Year of Faith

A grand map on the internet of the representations of the Veronica.  Plans also for an exhibit on "The Rediscovered Face"

by Antonio Bini

A unique initiative, significant for the Year of Faith being celebrated from October 2012 to November 2013, was launched some months ago by Raffaella Zardoni, an illustrator from Milan, who came to learn about the Holy Face of Manoppello in 2010 during the exhibition of the Holy Shroud in Turin.

Her personal experience of the Holy Face of Manoppello and the hypothesis of the identification of the extraordinary image with the Veronica has brought her to imagine the creation of an exhibit which will be the fruit of a very wide searching out of the representations of the Veronica made during the years 1200 to 1600.  The exhibit will be on display during next year's Meeting (August 18-24, 2013) the annual   gathering  held each year in Rimini.

At this time it is interesting to note that Zardoni has been progressively expanding her archive of images which come from throughout the world and are to be seen on her blog

The ambitious objective of realizing a kind of planetary map -- called in fact Veronica Route -- has been taking shape in a surprising way with the power offered for collaborative effort by the internet's social media network.  As I am writing there are a total of  around 600 images which have been gathered between Veronica Route and Veronica Book, with the initial nucleus taken from the book by the scholar Karl Pearson (Die Fronica, 1887)

The project aims to demonstrate the immense diffusion of these images which permits the rediscovery of how much the Roman Veronica was known and venerated in the past, a subject -- writes Zardoni -- which although it has been almost entirely ignored by the field of art history has had and continues to have significant spiritual, cultural and historical meaning in addition to its artistic importance.

closeup of a portion of a fresco by Tiberio da Assisi showing pilgrims with the Veronica badge on their caps in Assisi listening to St. Francis

fresco by Tiberio da Assisi in the church of Santa Maria degli Angeli in Assisi

It is appropriate for us to recall the reasons for the silence which lasted for centuries regarding this image, reasons laid out by Saverio Gaeta in his book L'Enigma del Volto di Gesu' (The Enigma of the Face of Jesus) published by Rizzoli in 2010.

The oblivion  into which  the Veronica had fallen for almost five centuries was brought to an end by the exhibit "Romei e Giubilei: il pellegrinaggio medievale a Roma 350-1350" (Pilgrims to Rome and Jubilees: the medieval pilgrimage to Rome 350 to 1350) held at the Palazzo Venezia in Rome just prior to the opening of the Jubilee of the year 2000.  Central to the exhibit were documents and objects coming primarily from foreign museums, which testified to the large numbers of pilgrims which came to Rome to venerate the Veronica, even prior to the proclamation of the first Jubilee in the year 1300.  By a singular coincidence the important exposition took place less than five months time following the international news reporting on the studies of Fr. Heinrich Pfeiffer regarding the possible identification of the Holy Face with the Veronica.

As mentioned above, the research for Veronica Route has attracted the interest and involvement of a number of people.  Among these, according to Zardoni, are an englishwoman who has documented a number of images of medieval pilgrimages, other persons from Finland who have sent photos of gold rings carrying the symbol of the Veronica  and functioned as signs which rich pilgrims brought back to their country  to demonstrate their penitential trip to Rome.  Also a number of students have used part of their own free time to search out reproductions of the Veronica, the legendary sudarium upon which was impressed the face of Jesus.

This research will make a contribution to documenting and supporting the discussion which has been underway for some time on the Christian roots of Europe. The gathering together of these images will permit above all the verification of the correspondence between them and the Holy Face of Manoppello itself.

For Raffaella Zardoni the Year of Faith represents an occasion to make known the Veil of Manoppello, defined as the "Rediscovered Face", in the historic context of the Holy Years and of the pilgrimages to Rome. "The Rediscovered Face" will also be the title of the exhibit being prepared for Rimini in August, 2013.

Collaborating in this project are a number of experts from various disciplines, among whom are Emanuele Colombo, history of Church art; Giovanna Parravicini, researcher from the Fondazione Russia Cristiana, Paolo Martinetti, OFM, Cap, from the Pontifical University Antonianum in Rome; Paul Badde, journalist and historian; Daniele Gomarasca, college dean, Silvana Tassetto, professor of art history, Cristina Terzaghi, history of contemporary art at Universita Roma Tre.

Also by means of this article we intend to encourage the opportunity to participate in this research without borders, which seems to be taking its cue from the prophetic words written by John Paul II for the third millenium in his apostolic letter "Novo Millennio Ineunte" by means of which at the end of the Grand Jubilee of the Year 2000, in recalling the historic foundation of the figure of Christ, the Pope invited the faithful to retake their ordinary path "with their eyes fixed more than ever on the face of the Lord". An invitation which was taken up above all by his successor, Benedict XVI, pilgrim to Manoppello on September 1, 2006.

To collaborate in the research

Anyone who has information about reproductions of the Veronica (Saint Veronica and Holy Face) is invited to send the relevant references to the e-mail address below, after checking to see if the image is already present on the website Thanks in advance to all who desire to collaborate in the research by visiting museums, art collections, churches, sacristies, wayside shrines, etc. sending a photo and noting the artist, where possible, as well as the location and the time period of the work to

Friday, May 18, 2012

Knowing and Celebrating the Face of the Lord

I am happy to share a very fine article written by the Australian journalist Paul MacLeod reviewing Paul Badde's recently published book "The True Icon". I do so in honor of the upcoming feast this Sunday of the Holy Face celebrated in Manoppello with a joyful, prayerful procession from the Shrine of the Holy Face to the church of San Nicola inside the walls of the historic fortified town. The Holy Face will then remain overnight in

San Nicola before being taken on Monday morning in procession through all the streets of the town and back to the Shrine.

(the first two photos above are by the editor of the blog, the third photo above, and the one below are by Paul Badde)

Two witnesses – and a tiny lock of hair
By Paul MacLeod

A tiny lock of hair is a vital piece of evidence in an investigation of the circumstances of the Resurrection, validating one of the “signs” Pope Benedict XVI spoke of in his address to the world on Easter Sunday.
The Pope quoted the ancient Easter hymn, Victimae Paschali Laudes, which addresses to Mary Magdalen the question: “What did you see?” It has her reply: “the angelic witnesses, the sudarium and the gravecloths.”
These the Pope described as “signs”.

Research by the German historian and journalist Paul Badde in recent years has established the identity of the sudarium and the gravecloths, which still exist, and are indeed signs, just as a sacrament is a physical sign of a spiritual truth.
The German theologian, Klaus Berger, a friend of the Pope, has said of Badde: “Nobody has ever dared to go deeper into the Holy Sepulchre than Paul Badde.”

The term “sudarium” has long been taken to refer to the Shroud of Turin, but it is only one of the “gravecloths” (othonia in Greek, which means “wrappings”). Another is the bloodied cloth preserved at Oviedo, in Spain, and another a headband, kept in Cahors, in southern France.

Badde has now established that the “sudarium” is, in fact, what is known as the Veil of Manoppello, which has an image of Jesus’ face, alive and with His eyes wide open.
The Shroud and the Veil present us with two witnesses to the reality of the Resurrection, the two witnesses required by Jewish law. One shows us Christ dead and the other Christ alive.
The Shroud, of course, bears an image of the whole body of Jesus, bloodied and wounded, majestic in death – a large four-metre long linen sheet, but dim in its outlines and detail. The Veil, on the other hand, is a delicate, transparent piece of expensive material, measuring just 28cm by 17cm, in which the face of Jesus seems to float in light, even to store light

The Shroud came to world attention at the end of the 19th century, when the Italian photographer, Secondo Pia, famously produced a positive image, greatly clarifying the detail and leading to years of study, tests and speculation.

Now the Veil has come to world attention – almost as though these physical signs have been reserved for an unbelieving age.

Badde describes them as “the first pages of the Gospel”, written during the very night of the Resurrection, not by man’s hands though, and written in images rather than words – and what could be more appropriate for our digital age in which we increasingly communicate by images?

None of the written gospels attempt any description of what Jesus looked like. They did not need to, as the Church treasured these cloths from the tomb.
They were found there by Peter and John on the morning of the Resurrection, and, as John relates, one was rolled up by itself, away from the others. This was undoubtedly the Veil, which was a piece of most expensive material, known as byssos, woven from the fibres of sea mussels, and used as a face covering in death for dignitaries such as the High Priest.

In the darkness of the tomb, the image on the Shroud would not have been evident, but if Peter held the Veil up to the earliest light of the day from the entrance, his shock would have been much greater than that of Secondo Pia.

Peter obviously took the cloths back to the city with him, and as articles that had touched a corpse, they were ritually unclean in Jewish law, and would have brought down the wrath of the Jewish authorities on the new community. Hence, Badde suggests, the Apostles kept the doors locked to preserve these treasures. Had they been shown and displayed or discovered in those early days, neither these items would have survived, nor the community of the first followers of Christ around Mary and the Apostles.

As the Church spread, they found their way first to Edessa, then to Constantinople and, during the Crusades, to Europe, and were referred to by a variety of names. But both images are of the same person. Computer technology has now shown that the features of Christ on both are an exact match.

What is of great significance is that the Veil was first publicly displayed in Rome in 1208, and up to that time, icons and paintings of Christ bear a close resemblance to the features on the Veil – even to a tiny lock of hair on the forehead. Why would an artist put that there if he was not copying the Veil?

The Veil, known then as “the Veronica”, was later housed in a pillar of the rebuilt St Peter’s Basilica, but disappeared during the Sack of Rome in 1506, although the broken frame which had held it is still in the treasury of St Peter’s.

This cloth turned up in 1508 in the little town of Manoppello, in the Italian province of Abruzzo, and is now housed in a reliquary above the altar of the Capuchin monastery there, visible to all who visit. The shrine is known as the Volto Santo, or Holy Face.

Meanwhile the Shroud turned up in France and was first publicly displayed in Lirey in 1356. From then on it gained increasing attention, while the Veil faded into obscurity. That is, until 1977 when the Capuchin custodian of the Manoppello shrine, Fr Domenico da Cese, took a large photograph of it to a Eucharistic Congress in nearby Pescara, and the world began to take notice. He died in an accident the next year in Turin, which he had visited to see the Shroud for the first time - and there are now moves for his beatification.

In 1968, Fr Domenico opened the doors of the shrine one morning to find Padre Pio kneeling in prayer before the image – as the very last example of Padre Pio’s power of bilocation. At the time, Padre Pio was gravely ill in his cell in the Capuchin friary at San Giovanni Rotondo, more than 200 kilometres away, and was to die that night.

Pope Benedict XVI visited the Manoppello shrine in 2006 as one of the first acts of his pontificate, and has since increasingly referred to the face of Jesus as the human face of God, culminating in his Urbi et Orbi address this last Easter Sunday.

The new second Eucharistic Prayer of the Mass now asks God to welcome the departed “into the light of Your face”, rather than “presence”, as in the old version, and it has been suggested that the altar cloth and chalice veil at Mass have their origins in the Shroud and the Veil.
In Psalm 24 we read: “Such is the generation of those who seek Him, seek the face of the God of Jacob”. This is the deepest longing of the human heart – to see the face of Him in whose image we are made.

Paul Badde tells the story of his investigation into the link between the Shroud and the Veil in his book “The True Icon”, published by Ignatius Press.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Video of Holy Face of Manoppello

On the recent Good Friday the Italian television network RAI transmitted a segment on the Holy Face of Manoppello on their religious program "A Sua Immagine". The segment, which begins at the 27th minute of the program, beautifully captures the mysterious features of the Holy Face and is narrated by Antonio Bini, expert on the Holy Face of Manoppello, editor of the Volto Santo di Manoppello which is published by the Shrine of the Holy Face. The video also includes footage of Fr. Carmine Cucinelli, OFM, Cap., Rector of the Shrine, carrying the monstrance containing the Holy Face, as well as his thoughts on the importance of the Holy Face.

Below is the link to the video

Video Rai.TV - A Sua Immagine - Le ultime ore di Gesù

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Signs of Hope, Signs of Resurrection


On Easter Sunday Pope Benedict, speaking from the dramatic loggia of St. Peter's Basilica, gave a beautiful meditation on the Risen Lord basing much of his talk on the Easter Sequence: Victimae Paschali Laudes which speaks of "sudarium et vestes". This phrase to my mind is a clear reference to the sudarium now in Manoppello and the shroud now in Turin, as well as to the other grave cloths of Jesus now present in various other parts of Europe. This video shows the complete Easter morning ceremony with Pope Benedict speaking from the loggia. You can click on the english audio for the translation of his Italian address. These signs of hope, which are signs of resurrection are still with us


Friday, April 6, 2012

The Living Image

The most investigated cloth in history | Video | Fox News

Click on the link above to see a portion of Paul Badde's interview today, Good Friday, on Fox News regarding the Holy Shroud and especially the Veil of Manoppello.   Very fascinating, hopefully more of the interview will be available.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Shroud, the Veil, Jerusalem at the Start

In Paul Badde's essential book: The True Icon: from the Shroud of Turin to the Veil of Manoppello, each chapter has a unique importance in responding to various questions regarding the burial cloths of Jesus. For me the most important is entitled "The 'Missing Link' of Easter Night". Three years ago much of this chapter was published in Il Volto Santo the official publication of the Shrine of the Holy Face of Manoppello in an article with the title "St. Peter as Secondo Pia". I translated this article and published it on my blog in seven installments. At this time close to Holy Week I would like to refer to this article with the hope that it might be an enticement to read Paul Badde's whole book. I especially encourage experts on the Shroud, who have dedicated their lives to this holy relic, to read what Paul Badde has to say about the Veil and Shroud in Jerusalem at the start, and then to read his entire book. No one to my knowledge has given a better description of the tomb of Jesus and the burial cloths which were found by Peter and John.

Here is the conclusion of Paul Badde's article which can be found on this blog in entirety in seven installments, the first dated January 28, 2010 and the last March 15, 2010.

"Perhaps it truly was John, the first who 'saw and believed', who previously had left to Peter the privilege of entering before him. John alone had been present at the burial to know that the 'sudarium had been placed on the face of Jesus'. Only an eyewitness of the burial would have been able to know such a detail. Perhaps he had observed how the Magdalen had placed the delicate veil of sea silk (marine byssus) on the Face of Jesus as a last tribute. Peter wasn't there. He wouldn't have known any of this. In any event, John would have immediately shown the veil to Peter in the opposite case. Because 'they hadn't in fact yet understood the Scriptures, that he would rise from the dead', continues John, using the plural. In any case, it had been a questions of mere seconds. But as for the rest of the account? Couldn't it be that all this could have happened differently? No, according to good sense, for whoever takes seriously the cloths and the texts of the Gospel and who has become familiar with the space of the sepulcher; and who still has enough fingers to add one plus one plus one plus one plus one equals five. Putting together all the components -- the eyewitness testimony of John, the space, the hour, the light and the cloths -- taking all these things together, adding as the first or the sixth component the Jewish reserve regarding the ritual impurity of tombs! --then the facts could not reasonably have gone any differently.

The conclusion is that Peter in the sepulcher must have lived an experience similar to that of Secondo Pia at Turin in 1898 when he withdrew the first photographic plates of the Shroud under the red light of the darkroom. Except that Peter's was an experience much more dramatic.

It is indispensable that there should have been a visible sign in the Sepulcher of the incedible event of the night of Easter, and this sign could not be the missing body of Jesus. That which Peter - or John - picked up from its 'special' position in the tomb, and held against the light, was the first testimony of that great event which was happening there. The little sudarium completes and explains the large sudarium. Together they are inserted in the Gospel as a puzzle is completed down to its every last piece.

fresco in Pinerolo, Italy site of the first public display of the Holy Shroud in Italy

As has been noted, on the Shroud, that is the large sudarium, one couldn't see anything at first in the narrow and dark chamber, where it was impossible for it to be unfolded. This brings us to the next step. Because not only can we but we must see how Peter and John hurriedly gathered up all these linens to bring them into the light. They had to bring them to a safe place. From that dark tomb nothing must be lost. Nothing should remain. Who knows what things the other cloths might be hiding? But all these are considerations which came forth later. Immediately they understood this: in that chamber death had lost its power. The deceased was no longer dead; those cloths were no longer impure.

The breaching of the presence of Christ into history began with a complete metamorphosis. If the Christ, already beginning with the dawn, had not shown his Face on the Sudarium, they would have left everything there. They were devout Jews. Burial cloths are not to be removed from empty tombs. According to the tradition of the Misnah, judaism is full of rigorous norms that declare the extreme impurity of all that is linked to the dead and their tombs, even after some time has passed. The Shroud, which just a little while later would have shown to the Church of Jerusalem the Passion of Christ in the Scriptures of an image, would not have been saved without the little sudarium on which the risen Christ had already shown his face. Mary Magdalen had left everything and had run to tell the Apostles. So would Peter and John also have done. They would have let everything stay there if the little fabric of light had not struck them. Then they would have simply gone outside in a hurry. But as I've said, the little Veil was there. The photo-image of the Sudarium forms the 'missing link' of the Paschal Vigil, in which is inserted the compelling logic which explains the unfolding of all the actions and the re-actions of those few moments.

Now they have taken the two sudaria with them together with the other cloths. This could have happened only in secret, in the early hours of the morning. And they didn't take them to the authorities but to Mary and the Apostles. 'Then the disciples returned home' writes John. Perhaps this refers to the cenacle on Mt. Sion where four days earlier they had celebrated the Passover with Jesus. Perhaps it was to a grotto-refuge in the garden of Gethsemane where they had found pilgrim lodging for the feast. But 'house' ,it clearly appears, in those days represented not only a habitation but the communion of the Apostles with Mary. It was to them, above all others, that they had brought the cloths that Easter morning. These cloths became, in the heart of the early church, the most precious treasure. Were they not perhaps the first pages of the joyful announcement of the Passion and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Of course! Because of this it would be necessary to hide them right away and to keep secret not only their origin but even their very existence. Since these first documents of the Gospel of the early church were written on burial cloths, the most impure material of which the Jews were able to conceive. Their preservation would require a very intimate and secret place. Under no circumstances could the news get out. If the knowledge of these cloths amidst the Apostles had gotten out to Jerusalem -- and thus linked to the serious violations of the rules of purity -- the first Christians and also their first 'house' would not have survived the scandal. But John has not completely hidden the mystery. Eight verses following the recounting of the burial cloths he writes in his Gospel that already the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples had locked the doors for fear of the Jews, Jesus entered with a greeting of peace in their midst,breathed on them and said: 'Receive the Holy Spirit' and showed them the wounds which -- in that hour-- had already been 'written' impressed, on the document of the Shroud. The 'fear of the Jews' would have easily induced the disciples to flee to Bethlehem, or to Gaza, or to Jordan, to Jericho or to the hills of Galilee, because they themselves were all jews. In all those distant places they would have all been safe. But their 'fear of the jews', which induced them, surprisingly, to lock the doors on that first Sunday evening, did not have any other reason than that of hiding and protecting the marvelous treasure which they were caring for. This was the so-called 'mystery' of early Christianity, by which, all of a sudden, that which up until then had been considered ritually impure would now be considered the purest relic. So that in this mystery was enclosed the images of light of these cloths, so closed that centuries would be required before the message that they contained would be able to go out from that secret place, and the splendid message of an image 'not made by human hands' would begin to spread everywhere in the Christian house, little by little, like a perfume of incense."

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Letter of Archbishop Bruno Forte to the European and African Bishops on Pilgrimage to the Holy Face of Manoppello

The concluding act of the Symposium of European and African Bishops held in Rome in February of this year was a pilgrimage to the Holy Face of Manoppello. Archbishop Bruno Forte of the Archdiocese of Chieti-Vasto, in whose diocese Manoppello is found, accompanied the Bishops to the Shrine and wrote the letter posted above, which he entrusted to each bishop. The following lines are my english translation of his important letter. Thanks to Antonio Bini for providing me with the copy of the Archbishop's letter and to Paul Badde for the photos of the blessed day

Archbishop Bruno Forte together with African and European Bishops After the Celebration of the Holy Eucharist at the Basilica Shrine of the Holy Face of Manoppello

African and European Bishops during the Holy Eucharist at the Basilica Shrine of the Holy Face of Manoppello

Archbishop Bruno Forte

To the European and African Bishops Pilgrims to the Basilica Shrine of the Holy Face of Manoppello

Dear Brothers and Friends,

I welcome you with joy to the Archdiocese entrusted to my Episcopal service and in particular to the Basilica of the Holy Face which had the honor and the gift of the visit of the Holy Father Benedict XVI on September 1, 2006.

The studies of recent years -- conducted by researchers such as Fr. Heinrich Pfeiffer, S.J., Sr. Blandina Paschalis Schlomer, Andreas Resch, Paul Badde, Saverio Gaeta -- offer various arguments to respond affirmatively and with sufficient moral certainty to two questions which are raised by the Holy Face of Manoppello: Is the Veil cared for in this place the Veronica which was venerated in the Vatican Basilica in Rome, which then went missing (from the 16th century)and was substituted by a painted copy which today is completely faded? Is this the precious relic -- the sudarium-- placed on the face of the dead Christ in the tomb which was attested to in the Gospel of John (20:6-7), and then was present in Cappadocia, in Camulia, prior to being sent to safety in Rome at the beginning of the eighth century to elude the iconoclasts?

If these two affirmative replies given by the scholars should be found to be definitively established, the Holy Face of Manoppello would have to be considered the most holy relic of Christianity, such as it was venerated in the Middle Ages (cf. for example what Dante says in Canto XXXI of Il Paradiso, or Petrarch in Sonnet XVI of Il Canzoniere). Two elements appear ever more secure: the fact that the features and shape of the Holy Face kept in the Shrine in Abruzzo are those of the canon which inspired the Eastern (and other) iconography from the very first centuries; and the perfect match which results when the image is placed over the Face of the Shroud kept in Turin.

With his visit the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI naturally has not taken in any way a position on the historical question, which is up to scholars to deepen and definitively clarify. The intense prayer of the Pope before the image, as well as his words, express what he himself has written on the memorial parchment he left at the Shrine: "May the Lord help you to know ever more His face and thus to see the Father! In communion of prayer in the common research of His Face -- Pope Benedict XVI". It is what I too wish to repeat to you, keeping in my prayer all of you, your churches and those who are entrusted to your care. Thanks for being here!

+Bruno Forte
Archbishop of Chieti-Vasto

February 12, 2012

Monday, February 27, 2012

Padre Pio, Padre Domenico da Cese and the Holy Face of Manoppello

By Paul MacLeod (Belmont, Victoria, Australia)

this article originally appeared in the December issue of the magazine "The Voice of Padre Pio" and also has appeared in the newspaper of the Archdiocese of Perth in Australia. Thanks to Mr. MacLeod for allowing me to publish his important contribution to the knowledge of the Holy Face of Manoppello in which he summarizes the most important elements of the Holy Face and highlights Padre Pio's devotion to the Holy Face, and the special last visit Padre Pio made to the Holy Face and to his friend and fellow Capuchin --the Servant of God Fr. Domenico da Cese - the apostle of the Holy Face.

In September, 1968, Padre Pio’s life was nearing its end. He was 81, and for two months he had not been well. But September 20 was the 50th anniversary of his receiving the stigmata, and his prayer groups had gathered at his friary at San Giovanni Rotondo to celebrate that event.
He said Mass that day, but was unable to the following day. However, he gathered the last of his strength on Sunday, September 22, to say Mass in a church packed with pilgrims. At the end, he nearly collapsed and had to be helped from the altar.
A little earlier that morning, a fellow Capuchin and friend of Padre Pio, Fr Domenico da Cese, went to open the church at Manoppello, more than 200 kilometres away to the north, in the province of Abruzzi.
Inside the church he found Padre Pio on his knees, his head in his hands, before the image known as the Holy Face.
Padre Pio said to him: “I do not trust myself any more. Pray for me. Goodbye until we meet again in Paradise.”
Within 24 hours, Padre Pio died in his cell in the friary at San Giovanni Rotondo.
Padre Pio was known for his not-infrequent bilocation – being in two places at once – even attending the canonisation of St Therese of Lisieux in St Peter’s basilica in 1925.
Pope Benedict XVI was to visit the image at Manoppello nearly 40 years later, but by a more mundane method of transport, by helicopter.
But why did Padre Pio and the Pope choose to visit the Holy Face?
Since 1660, the church at Manoppello has contained an ancient piece of a rare cloth known as byssos, or sea-silk, a gossamer-thin and transparent fabric woven from fibre from mussels, once used in Egypt to cover the faces of dead Pharaohs.
This cloth bears the image of the face of a bearded man with open eyes, a slightly opened mouth and a bruised left cheek. It was believed locally to be what was once known as the Veil of Veronica.
In St Peter’s Basilica in Rome, one of the four massive columns supporting the dome has long been known as the “Veronica pillar”. It features a statue of Veronica with a cloth bearing an image of the face of Christ and a bas-relief of an angel also displaying the image.
Within the pillar is a treasury in which is kept what is claimed to be the cloth with which a woman named Veronica wiped the face of Jesus on His way to Calvary.
This cloth, contained in a reliquary and shown to the people in St Peter’s on Passion Sunday each year, is black with brown areas and no visible image. It was placed in the pillar in 1625 by Pope Urban VIII.
Where did it come from?
Well, the existence of a portrait of Christ “not made by human hands” had been known since the sixth century, and from 705 it had been kept in its own chapel in the old St Peter’s, built by Constantine.
It became known as the “vera eikon”, or “true image”, and the name “Veronica” appears to have been applied in the Middle Ages to a woman whom Blessed Anna Catherine Emmerich names as Seraphia in her account of her visions of the Passion.
How did it get to Rome?
This question is discussed at length in a recent book by a German journalist, Paul Badde. He suggests that the cloth was, in fact, “the napkin which had been on His head, not lying with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself” (Jn 20:7).
Badde recalls a tradition that a cloth with the face of Jesus was taken by the Apostle Jude after the Ascension to King Abgar of Edessa, a prominent city at the time, some 600 kilometres from Jerusalem and now known as Urfa, in Turkey. The king was immediately cured of an illness that had kept him bedridden. Another very old tradition says that the Greeks who came to Philip asking “to see Jesus” (Jn 12:21) had been sent by Abgar.
The cloth apparently remained in Edessa, and was hidden in the city wall when the city was under attack. It was rediscovered in 525 and taken to Constantinople, then to Genoa and finally to Rome.
So what is the cloth at Manoppello?
As already stated, the “image” now kept in the pillar in St Peter’s was placed there in 1625, after rebuilding work.
But it was – it seems – not the image that had been venerated there for centuries. It had disappeared, probably in 1506, stolen from the frame in which it was held by two sheets of glass. The frame, broken glass and all, is still to be seen in the treasury at St Peter’s. (There are fragments of glass in the cloth at Manoppello.)
Interestingly, Pope Urban VIII promptly issued a decree ordering the destruction of any copies of the “Veronica”, unwilling to admit that one of the most precious relics in Christendom had vanished.
Meanwhile, an anonymous pilgrim arrived in Manoppello in 1508 with the cloth wrapped in a package and gave it to a Dr Leonelli who was sitting on a bench in front of the church. He went into the church and unwrapped it, but on going out he could not find the person who had brought it. The cloth remained in the Leonelli family and then passed to another doctor who gave it to the Capuchins, who have held it ever since.
Badde points out in his book that the dimensions of the cloth at Manoppello mean it would not fit in the frame now used in St Peter’s to hold what certainly appears to be a forgery.
Perhaps because of the fact that St Peter’s still has what is purported to be the “Veil of Veronica”, little attention had been drawn to the image at Manoppello.
But Fr Domenico da Cese believed it should be better known, and in 1977 he took a large photograph of it to a Eucharistic congress in Pescara, the nearest large centre. Then things started moving.
A journalist from Switzerland wrote an article about it, which came to the attention of a Trappistine nun in Germany, Sister Blandina Schömer. Fascinated by the image, she obtained permission to move to Italy and devote herself to research on it, which she has continued up until the present.
Meanwhile, Fr Domenico had gone to Turin in 1978 for an exposition of the Shroud there, and was killed when he was struck by a car after leaving the cathedral. He was reputed to have the stigmata and cures have been attributed to his intercession, so that moves are now being made to begin the Cause of his beatification.
The principal findings of the research by Sister Blandina and others are that:
* the cloth is so thin and delicate it would be impossible to paint on it;
* the image is visible from both sides;
* when superimposed on the image of the face on the Shroud of Turin, the image of Manoppello matches exactly.
The conclusion is that the Holy Face of Manoppello is very likely the cloth “rolled up by itself”, found by Peter and John in the tomb on the first Easter morning.
The visit to Manoppello by Pope Benedict XVI in 2006 was the first journey of his pontificate inside Italy upon which he himself had decided. His homilies have increasingly contained references to the Face of Jesus.
And Padre Pio, canonised in 2002? Did he make one last visit to look upon the Face of the Man whose wounds he had borne for 50 years before entering into the eternal vision of his glorified Lord?

- Paul MacLeod

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Symposium Of European and African Bishops Concludes at Manoppello

The Symposium Of European and African Bishops Concludes at Manoppello

by Antonio Bini; photos by Antonio Bini and Paul Badde

Bishops on the Via Crucis leading to the Shrine of the Holy Face

Pescara - With a pilgrimage to the Shrine of the Holy Face the second Symposium of the Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) and the Council of Episcopal Conferences of Europe (CCEE)has drawn to a close.
"Evangelization today: communion and pastoral cooperation between Africa and Europe" was the theme of the Symposium which began on February 13, 2012 in Rome at the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum in Rome, with discourses by Cardinals Polycarp Pengo and Angelo Bagnasco, Chairman of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) and Vice-President of the Council of European Episcopal Conferences (CCEE)respectively.

The days of study and discussion were intended to understand and reflect on the pressing problems of the Church on the two continents, in a climate of friendship that will be useful for better cooperation on issues of peace, immigration, religious freedom and combating prostitution. For the Hungarian Cardinal Peter Erdo, "European and African bishops want to face together the challenge of the new evangelization, living in a more intense way our brotherhood in mission. A collaboration that is based on mutual exchanges. While in the past many missionaries left Europe to go to Africa, now we are seeing an opposite movement, with priests, nuns and lay religious coming to Europe from Africa. We discovered many common concerns and we are committed to working together in the field of pastoral care, health, education, and social problems. Moreover, our continent needs an injection of ecclesial vitality and this vitality can come from the young Churches of Africa."

Along the same line, the Senegalese Cardinal Theodore-Adrien Sarr, who stated "The African immigrants will help Europe to discover for the future new youthfulness and freshness in the faith. Future exchanges between the bishops will address issues such as education, the fight against poverty, health, training of leadership teams, the dialogue between religions, the arms trade, human trafficking, external debt and the exploitation by the mining companies."

This path of commitment to communion and solidarity of people coming from so many different worlds comes from belonging to the same Church, united in Christ.

This is the deeper meaning to be found in the final pilgrimage to Manoppello.

It is the Pope himself who, the day before, while meeting with the bishops attending the Symposium who did not hide the complexity of the challenges facing the Church today, starting with that of religious indifference. Recalling the moral authority and credibility that must support them in their pastoral efforts, Benedict XVI said that the gaze of faith fixed on Jesus opens the mind and heart to the First Truth which is God. Benedict XVI sought to further strengthen this thought emphasizing that "a bishop must be in love with Christ."

The Shrine of the Holy Face was framed with an unusual amount of pure white snow which however did not prevent the Bishops from climbing Tarigni hill, walking along the Via Crucis. At each station the reflections were led by a different bishop. Arriving in the Basilica, Archbishop Bruno Forte of Chieti-Vasto, prior to the solemn celebration of Mass, welcomed his brother bishops from Europe and Africa and spoke regarding the extraordinary image of the Holy Face in Italian, English and French. Referring to studies of P. Heinrich Pfeiffer, Sr. Blandina Paschalis Schlomer, Andrew Resch, Paul Badde and Saverio Gaeta he said that one can "respond positively and with sufficient moral certainty to two questions put by the Holy Face: Is this the Veil of Veronica once venerated in St. Peter's? And 'Is this the precious relic of the sudarium laid in the tomb on the face of the dead Christ, as attested by the Gospel of John (20, 6-7)?" These reflections were also been drawn up in a letter From Archbishop Forte personally delivered to the bishops present.

These assessments are important, which also take into account, perhaps, that the Vatican last summer in a press release for the first time admitted (after 484 years), the disappearance of Veronica during the sack of Rome in 1527. The meeting was an opportunity to meditate and pray before the Holy Face, described in detail by the German writer and journalist Paul Badde. Many bishops did not hide their emotion. A feeling that has united distant worlds, from that of the bishop of Iceland to that of South Africa. At the end of the celebration Archbishop Charles Gabriel Palmer-Buckle of Ghana, expressing gratitude for the welcome they had received, asked Bruno Forte on behalf of all, that each time he returned to the Basilica of the Holy Face he might remember in his prayers the European and African bishops.

When I asked the same Archbishop Palmer-Buckle, who was part of the core group organizing the Symposium, what was the meaning which he and the other bishops would attribute to the pilgrimage to the Holy Face, he reflected deeply before replying that the impetus which comes from having known the Holy Face is to "proclaim the true Christ, a living Christ." The Archbishop Bruno Forte, to whom I had asked what impressions he had received from the participants, confirmed to me that "all were deeply affected by the pilgrimage to Manoppello".

Also present at the gathering was Petra-Maria Steiner, who in recent years has dedicated herself to studies on the Holy Face, and who is engaged in a constant effort of promotion of the Holy Face in the German speaking countries. Lastly there should be noted the greeting of the President of the Polish Bishops' Conference Jozef Michalik to Immaculata and Caterina, young nuns who arrived from Poland a few months ago and are now serving in Manoppello.


EUROPE: Jozef Michalik, chairman of the Episcopal Conference of Poland; Ludwig Swartz, archbishop of Linz, Austria; François Garnier, Archbishop of Cambrai, France, Gerard de Foix, Archbishop of Lille, France; Senkiv Taras, Greek-Catholic church Bishop of Ukraine, Lucjan Avgustini, Albania, Duarte De Cunha, Portugal, Zef Gashi, Montenegro, Petru Gherghe, Romania, Pierre Bürcher, Iceland; Vjekoslav Huzjak, Croatia; Everard De Jong, Netherlands;

AFRICA: Buti Joseph Tlhagale, Archbishop of Johannesburg, South Africa, Jean Gabriel Djarra, Mali; Touabli Youlo Alexis, Ivory Coast, Jude Thaddeus Ruwa'ichi, Tanzania, Jean-Noël Diouf, Senegal, Denis Komivi Amuzu-Dzakpah, Togo; Gabriel Justice Anokye, Ghana; Maragde Mbonyintege, Rwanda, Frank Nubuasah, Botswana, Emmanuel Obbo, Uganda; Louis Portella Mbuyu, Congo, Benjamin Ramaroson, Madagascar, Joachim Tarounga, Chad, Charles Kasonde, Zambia, Gabriel Charles Palmer-Buckle, Ghana.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Pilgrims to the Holy Face of Manoppello -- Bishops Representing European and African Bishops Conferences

A historic day at Manoppello -- dozens of Bishops from the African and European continents together honor the Holy Face and seek help for their duties as successors to the apostles in the 21st century. Thanks to Paul Badde for this photo.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Video on Youtube of the Feast of the Holy Face in May 2011

Antonio Teseo has alerted me regarding a wonderful video which he and Giuseppe Marcantonio have produced and is now available on Youtube of the Feast of the Holy Face in May 2011. The video is "dedicated to the Italians in other countries outside Italy, especially in Canada, the United States, Argentina, Belgium, France, Luxemburg,and Switzerland who with their assistance contribute to making the festival of May unique in the world." This video is very special and has many scenes of the procession to and from the Shrine, which enable the viewer to hear the music, see the streets of Manoppello, as well as the arrival of the Holy Face at the church of San Nicola and the return of the Holy Face to its case above the altar in the Shrine by Fr. Carmine, rector of the Shrine. Many scenes are very moving for me as my wife and I were there in Manoppello for these events and participated in the processions. Thanks Antonio. To see the video, click on the following link Festa del Volto Santo di Manoppello dedicata agli italiani all'estero - YouTube

Monday, February 13, 2012

European and African Bishops to travel to Manoppello to Entrust New Evangelization to the Holy Face

On Friday February 17 the European and African Bishops participating in a symposium in Rome on the New Evangelization will travel on pilgrimage to the Shrine of the Holy Face of Manoppello. Archbishop Bruno Forte of the archdiocese of Chieti-Vasto will accompany the Bishops. These bishops, around 50 in number, representatives of the Bishops Conferences of Europe and the Bishops Conferences of Africa and Madagascar will represent all the bishops of Europe and Africa in entrusting the New Evangelization to the Holy Face. Read this article on the Bishops' Symposium which includes news of the pilgrimage Fides Service - AFRICA - On February 13 the Second Symposium of the European and African Bishops opens in Rome

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Seeing and Understanding the Shroud of Turin and the Holy Face of Manoppello

Paul Badde's book "The True Icon -- From the Shroud of Turin to the Veil of Manoppello" is now available from Ignatius Press. This book is an artistic achievement being both scholarly and accessible to the public at large. Wonderfully illustrated with dozens of photos taken by the author himself, the book will open up the sacred images "not made by human hands" to a wider audience throughout the english speaking world. Experts on the Holy Shroud as well as theologians will benefit from this masterpiece of journalism which "throws open the doors (and windows) to Christ" who reveals himself even in our day in a marvelous way by means of images. To order see The True Icon - Paul Badde : Ignatius
For more information about the book see
Press Release

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Salve Sancta Facies - Hail Holy Face

a hymn by Pope Innocent III from the year 1216

Salve sancta facies nostri redemptoris,
in qua nitet species divini splendoris
Impressa panniculo nivea candoris,
dataque Veronice signum ob amoris

Hail holy face of our redeemer on which shines the appearance of divine splendor
Impressed upon a little cloth of snowy radiance and given to Veronica as a standard of love.

Salve, decus seculi, speculum sanctorum
Quod videre cupiunt Spiritus coelorum.
Nos ab omni macula purga vitiorum,
Atque nos consortio lunge beatorum

Hail beauty of the ages, mirror of the saints, which the Spirits of the heavens desire to see.
Cleanse us from every stain of sin and guide us to the fellowship of the blessed.

Salve nostra gloria in hac vita dura,
Labili ac fragili, cito transitura.
Nos perduc ad Patriam, o felix figura,
Ad videndam faciem que est Christi pura.

Hail our glory amidst this hard life, so fragile and unstable, quickly passing away.
Point us, o happy figure, to the heavenly homeland to see the face that is Christ indeed.

Salve o sudarium, nobile iocale
Et nostrum solatium et memoriale
Eius qui corpusculum assumpsit mortale
Nostrum verum gaudium et bonum finale!

Hail, o sudarium, noble encased jewel, both our solace and the memorial of him who assumed a little mortal body – our true joy and ultimate good!

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Veronica is not in St. Peter's

by Antonio Bini

After almost five centuries the Vatican admits its disappearance in 1527. A circumstance which makes credible the hypothesis that it is identical to the Holy Face

On May 31, 1999 at a crowded press conference held in Rome at the foreign press association Fr. Heinrich Pfeiffer revealed the results of his study affirming that the Veronica and the Holy Face of Manoppello should be seen as one and the same. This news was reported by Italian and foreign television networks among their top stories for the day. Usually the coverage was linked to the classic stereotype of the mountainous Abruzzo region, so that Manoppello was described as a "forgotten village at the foot of the Maiella range".

Some of the journalists asked the Vatican for an opinion in this matter. The response was "total silence", said the correspondent for the Spanish television network Antenna 3's news program of May 31, 1999, as he broadcast with the facade of the Basilica of St. Peter's behind him.

The Catholic press and church leaders showed indifference and kept their distance, effectively isolating Father Pfeiffer, director of the Course on Cultural Patrimony for the Gregorian University, who is considered to be among the world's most authoritative scholars of Christian art. Some Italian scholars of the Shroud of Turin (sindonologists) didn't hesitate to show their annoyance at the news, and in some cases gave their opinion that at best the Holy Face could only be a copy of the Veronica.

Padre Germano di Pietro, OFM Cap., Antonio Bini and Father Heinrich Pfeiffer, S.J. on May 31, 1999 the day of the press conference

On the same occasion the results of Professor Donato Vittore's research were also presented. Professor Vittore, who teaches at the University of Bari, demonstrated by means of a high intensity scanner that there was no pigment on the cloth.

The problem was not so much the Holy Face itself, which had been at the center of a beloved and popular yet strictly local devotion centered in the mountains of Abruzzo, but rather the bringing up for discussion that the legendary Veronica was no longer to be found in Rome at St. Peter's Basilica.

Throughout the centuries the Veronica has been Christianity's most important relic. Coming from the East, it was venerated at St. Peter's from the eighth century, until it became the fundamental reason for pilgrimages to Rome, even prior to the first jubilee year proclaimed by Pope Boniface VIII in 1300.

Among the pilgrims coming to Rome to venerate it were Dante and Boccaccio.

After the 1500's a great silence fell over this prodigious image. But as the great Jubilee for the Holy Year of 2000 approached two important exhibitions were organized at Rome with the collaboration of the Vatican's Apostolic Library. Both exhibitions, the first on the history of the Pilgrimage to Rome in the Middle Ages (at the Palazzo Venezia) and the second on "The Face of Christ" (at the Palazzo delle Esposizioni) recalled to mind the historic role of the Veronica by means of documents, medals, etc. from a number of foreign museums. From the two exhibitions there emerged the clear distinction between the reproductions and engravings of the Veronica prior to the 1500's, which showed the image with eyes open, and the reproductions following which showed the image with eyes closed. In any case since the 1500's there continued to be a persistent silence regarding whether or not the relic was present at St.Peter's.

The arrival of the Jubilee Year of 2000 was marked also by an extraordinary production of books and articles which involved historians, experts on the Middle Ages, theologians, art historians, etc. At the end of 1999 one of the many books of a historical perspective published a photo of the cover of the "Opusculum del Grimaldi" preserved in the Vatican archives and which up until then had been unknown.

This document, dated 1618 (but which seems from every indication to have been changed from the original date)presents the image of the Veronica with open eyes and represents an important contribution compared to the overall confusion on the matter.

The importance of this image was at the center of my article entitled " La Veronica com'era" (The Veronica as it was) which I wrote for the pages of the Bollettino del Volto Santo (Bulletin of the Holy Face -- official publication of the Shrine of the Holy Face of Manoppello). There followed a further reflection on this by Padre Germano Di Pietro, then superior of the Shrine, which had the title "E' ancora in San Pietro la Veronica" (Is the Veronica still in St. Peter's?)

After the publication of these articles two Canons of St. Peter's came to Manoppello to advise Padre Germano to stop bringing up this issue.

When Pope Benedict XVI decided to go on pilgrimage to Manoppello his visit was announced and then denied for months. Contrary to the long advance notice which precedes the Pope's public appointments it was confirmed by the Vatican press office only around ten days before September 1, 2006. We know that the visit was strongly opposed by the Canons of St. Peter's, precisely for the significance that would be given to the event, with its implicit recognition of the thesis which had been advanced by Father Pfeiffer after years of research that the Holy Face is to be identified with the Veronica.

The visit was then described as a simple "private pilgrimage", a label which brought a smile to Pope Ratzinger himself at Manoppello.

In the meantime other scholars, especially from foreign countries, began to draw closer to the Holy Face. Paul Badde's book published in Germany in 2006 caused the weekly Der Spiegel to describe it as "a cultural thriller, full of suspense and intrigue, similar to Dan Brown"

Among the Italians the importance of Saverio Gaeta's study "L'enigma del Volto di Gesu'" (The Enigma of the Face of Jesus) published by Rizzoli in 2010 must be emphasized. Gaeta in his book, among other things, puts forth an interesting hypothesis concerning several important people linked to Abruzzo who were involved in the Sack of Rome in 1527.

His hypothesis is compatible with the arrival in Manoppello of the Holy Face, which according to the first document attesting to the presence of the relic in Abruzzo - the Relatione Historica (Historical Report) of Padre Donato da Bomba, came to the Abruzzi town "around the year 1506". The imprecise phrasing used by the Capuchin suggests using due caution, considering that the report wasn't published until 1640.

Bruno Forte, Archbishop of the diocese of Chieti-Vasto, in whose territory Manoppello falls, on many occasions has shown that he trusts the reliability of the studies which have so far been conducted concerning the Holy Face.

Pilgrims who arrive in Manoppello from the world over are not so much interested in this research, wanting above all to pray and to meditate before this mysterious image with its profound and human gaze which no work of art is able to render.

In April of 2011 an exhibit on the Holy Face opened in Lucca and another exhibit was held in September of the same year at Lourdes which was seen by over 150,000 people. The exhibit of Lourdes was strongly desired by Philippe Perrier, Bishop of the diocese of Lourdes-Tarbes who is very much devoted to the Holy Face.

But the year just completed is particularly significant because after almost five centuries the silence regarding the disappearance of the Veronica from St. Peter's came to an end. On December 6, 2011, with Christmas close at hand, L'Osservatore Romano welcomed an article by Paul Badde who on a number of occasions, in articles and in his book which so far has been translated into seven languages, had criticized the Vatican for their reticence. Badde was able to write for the first time in the press organ of the Holy See that the Veronica is for centuries in Manoppello, in as much as it disappeared during the so called Sack of Rome.

This follows a press release from Rome dated July 14, 2011 concerning the announcement of the exhibit entitled "L'uomo, il volto, il Mistero" (Man, Face, Mystery).

The last segment of the exhibition, inaugurated in August in San Marino, was dedicated to the "Holy Face". The surprise comes from the part of the press release where it affirms that the ancient relic of the Veronica "disappeared following the Sack of Rome of 1527".

In this brief phrase, there are two points to be gathered which are quite extraordinary.

This press release, ascribable to Professor Paolucci head of the Vatican Museums, is the first document which refers, even if only incidentally to the necessary information connected to the announcement of the exhibit, that the Veronica is no longer present in St. Peter's. It confirms an important series of hypothesis and doubts advanced by historians and other scholars, especially in recent years. But the press release offers a further element by indicating with precision that the disappearance of the Veil coincided with the Sack of Rome of 1527.

Professor Paolucci, with his authoritative stature as a former Minister for Cultural Patrimony in the Italian government, has finally been able to shed light on the doubts and uncertainty which have dragged on for far too long.

Regarding the Holy Face there will continue to be much discussion, but certainly it will no longer be able to exclude, a priori, the hypothesis that it is in fact the Veronica.