Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Pifferari of Abruzzo and their Christmas Traditions

They were called "pifferari": the bagpipers of Abruzzo and their centuries old traditions of Christmas

H. Payne, Shepherds from the Abruzzi (ca. 1850)

Anonymous Woodcut from the Second Half of the 19th Century published in the journal Roma, 1874 -- Pifferari play before an outdoor shrine of the Madonna

by Antonio Bini

On display as part of the current exhibition "The sound of bagpipes in the soul : d'Annunzio and the ancient sonority of the pastoral world" is the bagpipe which is part of the collection of objects in the small ethnographic museum connected to the Shrine of the Holy Face of Manoppello.

The exhibition, which will run from November 23 to January 26, 2014, is being held at the Museum of the Birthplace of Gabriele D' Annunzio in Pescara.

The bagpipe lent to the exhibition in Pescara was donated to the Shrine years ago by an anonymous elderly bagpiper, probably during his last Christmas traveling to the traditional novena. According to testimonies collected in the past, the pipers who came to the shrine during Christmas were given lodging for the night by the Capuchin friars.

Mario and Enrico Musichini, at the head of a company of pilgrims who are returning to their town of Castellafiume, in Abruzzo.

Until the nineteen sixties, a living nativity scene was held on January 6.

But the bagpipe was linked at one time not only to Christmas but also to the religious rites , and were present in the companies of pilgrims moving on foot towards the shrines.

The bagpipe is an ancient tradition in southern Italy and in particular in the Abruzzo region , where for centuries it has been linked to the pastoral world. The pipers, or better pifferari as they were called by the travelers of the Grand Tour, normally played the ancient instrument during the hours of watch over their flock, according to testimonies collected in Abruzzo also from American travelers , such as John Augustus C. Hare who met them near Sulmona (see Days near Rome , 1875) and Maud Howe who in 1898 records their presence in Roccaraso (see Roma Beata ).

But it was above all in Rome where the arrival of the pifferari for the Christmas novena took a particular religious relevance in the wake of an ancient tradition that was repeated until 1870, that is with the acquisition of the Papal States by the Kingdom of Italy. "The pipers never hurt anyone" protested the Romans.

To lament the loss of this tradition was also the American sculptor William Wetmore Story, in his book "Roba di Roma " in his later edition of 1870 (the first edition was published in 1862 in Boston and New York) .
There were reasons of public policy, related to the danger posed by banditry , to prevent the pipers' access to Rome. In Abruzzo this long tradition was to suffer the consequences of the collapse of the pastoral economy , which led many to emigrate from Abruzzo to the United States . Not surprisingly, the bagpipes which belonged to an immigrant from Abruzzo are on display in the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh.

Stendhal, Dickens , Goethe, Berlioz, Lear , Gregorovius and many other known and less well-known protagonists of the Grand Tour in Italy frequently turned their attention to the pipers of Abruzzo, who with their repertoire in the past centuries inspired many musicians and composers ( Handel, Berlioz, Gounod , Corelli , etc. . ), whose pastoral compositions were largely influenced by the sonority of these singular wandering musicians .

St. Alphonsus Maria Liguori himself, author of the famous Christmas carol "Tu scendi dalle stelle" (known in English with various translations : "You come down from the stars" or "From Starry Skies Thou comest " , "From Starry Skies Descending ," " You Came a Star from Heaven ") adapted the music using pre-existing melodies played by shepherds from Abruzzo, as supported by several musicologists , including the Redemptorist Fr. Paolo Saturno , Professor of History at the Conservatory of Music of Salerno. Nevertheless it is certain that the text is by St. Alphonsus and that it was born as a prayer and was included in his "Christmas Novena".

It was definitely during his mission in Deliceto (1744-1746) , on the Mountains of Dauni in Puglia,
that the saintly Neapolitan musician came in close contact with the shepherds on the lowlands of Puglia . The spiritual care of the shepherds was in fact the goal of reopening the ancient shrine of Our Lady of Consolation near Deliceto . The first biographer of St. Alphonsus , his disciple Father Antonio Tannoja , wrote that St. Alphonsus "wept when he came to learn of the conditions of life of the shepherds , whom he wanted to assist at least on a spiritual level."

The pipers disappeared in silence at the beginning of the sixties, not only due to the inexorable decline of pastoral life , but also because of the steamroller of modernity and cultural assimilation.

In Italy it was especially Gabriele d'Annunzio , who had within him the reverence for the memories of his native land , viscerally attracted to the ancestral scenarios in the region, returning frequently with his soul to the ancient pastoral civilization, which he extolled in several works.

In recent years there has been a renewed interest in the recovery of the centuries-old tradition of pifferari by the Associazione Zampogne d'Abruzzo - - whose members include a number of young people with musical training at the conservatory level.

“Tu scendi dalle stelle” performed by the band of the Associazione Zampogne d’Abruzzo

Quanno nascette ninno (text by S. Alfonso of “Tu scendi dalle stelle” in dialect)

In my book , entitled "Li chiamavano pifferari : zampognari mito dell'Abruzzo " (ed. Menabo' , Ortona, 2013) , I reconstruct this extraordinary musical and cultural phenomenon.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Exhibit on Holy Face in New York City January 17 to 19, 2014

Following the very successful exhibit on the Holy Face which took place last August at the Meeting in Rimini there will be a similar exhibit entitled "The Face of Jesus: from that Gaze, the Human Person". This exhibit, organized by the same team which was responsible for the Rimini exhibit, will be held in New York City next month at the Manhattan Center as part of the annual cultural meeting "New York Encounter". See the website for information on the meeting and exhibit, including the introduction to the exhibit on the Holy Face by Cardinal Sean O'Malley of Boston who will be in attendance at the gathering. This event in the cultural capital of America promises to be of immense importance for the spread of the knowledge of the Holy Face. An english translation of the catalog of the exhibit at Rimini has been prepared in time for the event in New York City.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thank You Lord for Shining Your Face on Us

photos by Paul Badde

Collect for the Mass for Thanksgiving Day in the USA

Father all-powerful, your gifts of love are countless and your goodness infinite; as we come before you on Thanksgiving Day with gratitude for your kindness, open our hearts to have concern for every man, woman, and child, so that we may share your gifts in loving service. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen

Monday, November 18, 2013

In the Darkness of Our National Tragedy, An American Treasures a Final Human Touch of President Kennedy and Finds Light for the Journey in the Eucharistic Face of Jesus

This Friday November 22 marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, so wickedly cut down in Dallas at the young age of 46 taking with him the hearts and hopes of so many, especially among the young. To remember and try to understand this shocking event in the history of America, John Darrouzet has written an article-memoir at On that November day in 1963 Mr. Darrouzet's family, holding a banner asking the President to "stop and shake their hands", stood along the route of the motorcade of President Kennedy as it made it's way to downtown Dallas. When the president did to their delight order the motorcade to stop and waved to them to come over, they became the last Americans to have the opportunity to receive the human touch of the youthful president so beloved especially to Catholics in America. The article concludes with a stirring encouragement and testimony by Mr. Darrouzet to the love of the Eucharistic Face of Jesus so powerfully symbolized and made present by the Holy Face of Manoppello.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

My Witness to the Holy Face 2002 to 2008

Witness to the Holy Face
by Raymond Frost

This article originally appeared in 2008 in the official journal of the Shrine of the Holy Face. It relates my experience of the Holy Face of Manoppello up until that time. The story of my efforts since 2008 to promote the knowledge of the Holy Face is to be found in the totality of the blog itself.

During the summer of 2002, I read in the Italian journal Cristianita’ Francesco Barbesino's review of the book by Father Heinrich Pfeiffer, S.J. , Il Volto Santo di Manoppello. I was amazed because I had never heard of the story of this image according to Pfeiffer connected to Veronica and the resurrected Jesus. It was for me a story much more than interesting, it was something that I had to look into and get to the bottom of the matter.

I looked for further news on the internet and in the library of the University of San Francisco. I spoke with colleagues about this subject. There was little enough in English to find, and not even very much in Italian. There was the website of the Capuchin Fathers of Manoppello and some articles that spoke of Father Pfeiffer, nothing else. No colleague had ever heard of the Holy Face.

I decided to translate the review of Barbesino and spread it among friends and colleagues. I sent the translation, through the internet, to the editors of Cristianita' who included it on their website. It was a first step for me. Unfortunately there were not many people, including friends or colleagues who believed or wanted to appear to believe in the case of Father Pfeiffer.

I sent an e-mail to Father Germano di Pietro, the guardian of the shrine of the Holy Face of Manoppello, with a copy of the translation and quite soon there arrived at my house a copy of the book by Father Pfeiffer and Father Germano’s own pamphlet on the Holy Face. After reading both I translated some parts of each. The desire to visit Manoppello grew in me, but it was not possible for the moment.

In September of 2004 there appeared in the American magazine Inside the Vatican the first article of Paul Badde with some wonderful photographs of the Holy Face of Manoppello. These photographs aroused in me an even greater desire to know the history of the Holy Face and share the story with others. With the help of Father James Blaettler, S.J. assistant pastor of the Jesuit church of St. Ignatius where I am the sacristan, I made copies of the photographs of the Holy Face and I began to disseminate them among friends, colleagues and relatives. I bought quite a number of copies of the copy of the journal in which the article by Badde appeared, also to disseminate them.

Every now and then I looked on the internet for news about the Holy Face. I found an article in the Messenger of St. Anthony written by Renzo Allegri in which he spoke of the Holy Face with journalist and author Saverio Gaeta. I sent an e-mail to Gaeta, who answered me right away.

In this period the book by Paul Badde appeared, but unfortunately I do not know German. I wanted to immediately know if it was possible to print an English translation, but at that moment I could not make contact with the author. A few months later I received the book in Italian by Saverio Gaeta on the Holy Face. I read the book during the summer of 2006. My wish was that as soon as possible the books of Badde and Gaeta would be published in English.

In late summer of 2006, after the visit of the Holy Father Benedict XVI to the Shrine of the Holy Face, I spoke of the Holy Face more at length with the pastor of Saint Ignatius, Father Charles Gagan, SJ, showing him photographs of Holy Face and the visit of the Holy Father to Manoppello. He encouraged me to persevere in the pursuit of my study of the Holy Face and gave me permission to mount a copy of the Holy Face in the sacristy of the church and speak and disseminate images of the Holy Face among the parishioners.

In recent years more and more I wanted to visit the Shrine of the Holy Face. Finally in 2007 the chance came. I wrote to Father Carmine Cucinelli, the guardian, and Saverio Gaeta with the news of the visit. Both encouraged me. In November I arrived in Rome to meet Saverio in his office and spoke about the Holy Face. He invited me to dinner at his house with his wife and son, a beautiful moment.

With his help I arrived in Manoppello and met Father Carmine and Sister Blandina. I thank Father Carmine warmly because I spoke at length several times with him during my three-day visit to Manoppello and he patiently answered all my questions. At the end of my stay in Manoppello he gave me quite a number of leaflets and prayer cards of the Holy Face in English. I also thank Sister Blandina for her generosity with me because I could listen to her
experience of the Holy Face closely.

I was enchanted by my visit to the Shrine, beginning with the beauty of nature in the surrounding countryside. The interior of the church impressed me very much. It seems that everything about it is very well done. The Holy Face was much more impressive than I thought it would be before my visit to the shrine. Seeing the Face close to me was a very intense experience of prayer. I can only compare this experience to the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. I was touched very deeply by the changes and the fluidity of the image of Jesus – the colors, its transparency, and especially from the wounds on the face of Jesus that seemed to me almost phosphorescent at times.

Many many thanks to the citizens of Manoppello and to the Capuchin friars for the help which they gave me during the visit. The Shrine of the Holy Face is a great gift for the Church and for the world. I hope that many people can mount the steps of the shrine to see and speak with their Divine Redeemer and friend Jesus.

At the beginning of 2008, it came to my mind to start a blog on the internet regarding the Holy Face. I began with the posting of the Holy Father's prayer to seek the Face of Jesus. I informed Father Carmine and I received his blessing. After several weeks I received an e-mail from Paul Badde with photographs. In recent months we have continued to correspond and he has helped me a lot to know more about the Holy Face.

With the blog I would like to help those who speak English to know about the Holy Face, through articles, photographs and testimonials. I would also like to emphasize that the Holy Face is a great source of prayer, spirituality and Christian inspiration that would give everyone a new experience and knowledge of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. I believe that the knowledge of the Holy Face gives people an intimate knowledge of Jesus and that everyone has the right to this knowledge.

Until now I have received comments on the blog and e-mails from Catholics, Anglicans and Orthodox from Europe, America and New Zealand. They have many questions. Some scientists do not want to take seriously the arguments in favor of the Holy Face. First, they want to have "evidence". But many other simple people, as well as from the educated class, are truly fascinated by the story of the Holy Face.

Recently I received permission to prepare an exhibition of photographs of the Holy Face in a parish of the Archdiocese of San Francisco. I hope that this exhibition can make visits in other parishes of the archdiocese, and beyond, in the future.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Man of Sorrows Watches Over Us

Juliusz Maszloch from Poland has produced a very interesting Youtube video on the Holy Face using color enhancement software in order to help better visualize the precious blood of Jesus -- what He suffered for our sake. Juliusz also has an english language website on the Holy Face of Manoppello which is well worth visiting.

Friday, October 4, 2013

A Conversation Between Our Lady and Francis in Assisi

I remember all the faces of my son -- joyful, sorrowful, glorious, luminous. Will you reveal them to everyone around the world, especially in every hill top town, so that peace might reign in their hearts. Yes, Mother. Photos (except for the Shroud of Turin) by Paul Badde

Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Consoling Beauty of That Face

Raffaella Zardoni, in an article

entitled The Consoling Beauty of that Face

written as an introduction to the exhibit at the Rimini Meeting 2013 held August 18 to 24
The Rediscovered Face: the Unmistakeable Features of Christ

said in regards to the Holy Face of Manoppello

"No photo conveys the consoling beauty of that countenance which has all the characteristics of the faces of Christ but can not be compared to any painting whatsoever. It carries the signs of the Passion: the dislocated nose, the swollen and bloody lips, the blow on the cheek. Encountering his gaze one experiences what it means that God has made himself man's mirror, assuming to Himself all our depravity; while man, by this encounter, regains his life: in 1200 the Church assigned an indulgence to the recitation of a prayer in front of the Veronica (the first indulgence connected to an image)."

Eucharistic Adoration at the Basilica of the Holy Face of Manoppello

all photos by Paul Badde

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

"All our fathers came to Rome to see the Holy Face"

Raffaella Zardoni, organizer of the exhibit "The rediscovered face: the unmistakeable features of Christ" was interviewed during the exhibit. The video of the interview (in Italian) can be seen at This video shows the beautiful scope of the exhibit. Raffaella's description of the place of the Veronica in the life of Europe is quite striking and full of energy. One quote in particular "all our fathers came
to Rome to see the Holy Face" was quite memorable. Links to other news regarding the exhibit can be found at

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Antonio Bini Reporting from Rimini Meeting 2013 on the Exhibit "The Rediscovered Face"

The image of Christ has come back into history

Considerations on the exhibit "The Rediscovered Face: The unmistakable features of Christ"

text and photos by Antonio Bini

"The image of Christ has come back into history.", author Paul Badde (The Holy Face, Ignatius Press 2010 and The True Icon, Ignatius Press 2012) emphatically said while meeting visitors to the exhibit "The Rediscovered Face: The unmistakable features of Christ". The exhibit, held as part of the 2013 Meeting of Rimini, retraces the vast iconographic research on the Veronica that formerly was believed to have been lost yet in recent years has been identified as being the Holy Face preserved at Manoppello. The exhibit of Rimini is an event that is rooted in the Year of Faith.

the journey toward Manoppello

The exhibit was visited by 3-4 thousand visitors a day, who waited in line at the entrance to enter on a journey along two thousand years, summarized and organized in various historical phases, with guides who accompanied to explain the fascinating history of the face of Christ through the centuries. The young guides from various parts of Italy deserve sincere appreciation, because with passion and clarity they shared with the numerous visitors the message of the exhibit and of the Holy Face itself, which all the guides had come to know by visiting Manoppello.

People entered in groups of around 30 to 40 at a time. At the end of the exhibit there was a section dedicated to the Holy Face of Manoppello, which Fr. Heinrich Pfeiffer in 1999 had affirmed to be the Veronica. From that time the Holy Face has been at the center of further studies and research, which led to the visit by Benedict XVI to Manoppello on September 1, 2006. One screen showed a sequence of images of the Holy Face including some of which were superimposed over the face of the Shroud of Turin. Then there appeared theme music from the Italian national television network RAI TG1's nightly news program of May 31, 1999. On the screen is seen one of the headlines for that evening's program: "After hundreds of years the Veronica has been found in Abruzzo", followed by a report by a Vatican expert Fabio Zavattaro which included an interview with Father Pfeiffer in the course of a news conference held at the Italian foreign press association. Each visit to the exhibit ended with young people applauding and deep in thought while leaving the area to the next group which immediately followed.

from left: Raffaella Zardoni, Father Carmine Cucinelli, OFM, Cap., Antonio Bini, Valeria Mangione, Paul Badde

The German writer began his talk by asking the audience what they think will be remembered in the future regarding the history of Benedict XVI. Someone says, "his resignation." Badde responded that the 2006 visit to Manoppello, along with his resignation following the example of Celestine V, will probably be the only historical moments of the pontificate of Benedict XVI destined to be remembered in the future. "With this visit to Manoppello a pope returned after almost five centuries to kneel in front of the Veronica", said Badde, who pointed out that after his visit to Manoppello the pope frequently inserted in his talks a reference to the "human face of Christ."

"When he came to Manoppello," said Badde, "he already knew all about that face. The then Cardinal Ratzinger, before he became pope, was my neighbor. I had kept him informed regarding all my research on the Holy Face and he was the first to whom I gave a copy of my book on the Holy Face as soon as it was published in Germany in 2004. It was inevitable for him to become a pilgrim in Manoppello."

Pope Benedict XVI speaking at the Shrine of the Holy Face of Manoppello

The meeting with the young people, was opened by Raffaella Zardoni, the main organizer of the exhibition, who explained how after having come to know the Holy Face she felt the need to search for images of Veronica, especially those from prior to the sixteenth century, by means of the project "Veronica-Route". She encouraged everyone to report on the web from anywhere in the world such frescoes, paintings and illustrations on this theme which are found in churches, museums and collections, in order to ascertain the progressive importance and extraordinary diffusion of the Veronica in the history of Christianity.

"Presently," she admits, "I find it difficult to update the site with over a thousand images that are waiting to be put on the website" But the quest is sure to continue.

Then it was the turn of Father Carmine Cucinelli, Rector of the Shrine of the Holy Face, who told with great simplicity of his personal relationship with this amazing image. In thanking the organizers, he recalled how the title of the exhibit is not all that different from that of the story told in comic book form "The Veronica Rediscovered", of which he is editor of the text. He expressed his wish that the exhibit held at the Meeting might be repeated in other cities in Italy and abroad. It appears that some such requests have already been made.

Badde in answering some questions about the importance of this image, stated that it "is not a myth, an abstraction, but a real face" which, in his opinion, constitutes "the greatest treasure for humanity and for Christians in particular." In this respect, he continued, "it is not easy to understand the attitude of hostility towards the Holy Face coming from a number of sindonologists (experts on the Shroud) and, unfortunately, also from some members of religious societies."

Finally there was a request for a further explanation regarding the thesis put forth by Fr. Pfeiffer at the international press conference held in Rome on May 31, 1999 --that the Veronica and the Holy Face are one and the same.

I (Antonio Bini) was invited to answer having been the organizer of that press conference where the hypthoses on the Holy Face were communicated to the world, along with research on the inexplicable nature of the veil based on the images analyzed by Professor Donato Vittore of the University of Bari.

I pointed out that that the conclusion of the German professor Fr. Pfeiffer was based on his years of research which were devoted to the search for the prototype which inspired the depiction of Christ through the centuries. That face he discovered in the Face of Manoppello, which at that time was known only locally. It is the "rediscovered face", in fact, that does not belong to any school of art.

People waiting to enter the exhibit being greeted by Paul Badde

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

From the Rimini Meeting Website on the Exhibit of the Rediscovered Face

My translation of the Rimini Meeting website page regarding the Exhibit "The Rediscovered Face, the Unmistakeable Features of Christ"


The original italian text is at

The theme of this year's Meeting is "The Human Person, A State of Emergency"

See the information below on a day trip from the Meeting to the Shrine of the Holy Face on Thursday August 22

The exhibit aims to document how the desire to see the face of God, which characterized the Old Testament, remained present in the Church.
Starting from the fifth century the exhibit will retrace the history of the oldest images of Christ, called acheropiti (not made by human hands), authoritative models of a face with unmistakable features, recognizable throughout history in the West as well as in the East.

In particular, it provides space for "Veronica", the veil on which - according to tradition - Christ himself left an imprint of his face, and that was the main relic of Rome, goal and prize of medieval pilgrimages: "In that time numerous people went to see the blessed image, which Jesus Christ left us for an example of his beautiful figure "(Dante, La Vita Nuova). The pilgrim to Rome, in fact, at the end of his long journey not only worshipped at the tombs of the apostles but met the face of Christ through contemplation of Veronica, that is, His "true image" (vera-Eikon).

Devotion to what Dante called "our Veronica" is testified by countless reproductions along the pilgrimage routes, reproductions that are presented, arranged historically and geographically in the exhibit, through an interactive map made with Google Earth.

From the sixteenth century the memory of this face begins to be lost, but regarding which modern man continues to have a deep nostalgia: "Men have lost a face, a face unrecoverable, and everyone wants to be the pilgrim to Rome who sees the veil Veronica and murmurs of faith: Jesus Christ, my God, the true God, so it was, therefore, your face? "(Borges, The Artificer).

In our time there has resurfaced in the light of the Veil of Manoppello, a face of Christ on a light veil, which for four centuries has been preserved in a corner of the shrine at the foot of the Maiella.
The image, light and translucent as a photographic slide, makes itself one body with the fabric and is formed by the variations of a single color which in different light conditions appears red or gray-green.
The exhibition, in collaboration with the Capuchins who are the guardians for the Face of Manoppello, presents the unedited Relatione Historica of Father Donato da Bomba, written in 1648, regarding the arrival of the Veil in Abruzzo.

On Thursday, August 22 a day trip to Manoppello is planned. To Book your visit to Manoppello see information below
Visit in person the relic preserved in the Shrine in the province of Pescara

On the day of Thursday, August 22 there will be a tour to Manoppello.
The initiative is part of the cultural itinerary of the exhibition "the Rediscovered Face. The unmistakable features of Christ. "
Departure by bus from Rimini Fiera at 08.00 returning at 18:30, about 60 seats available.
For info and reservations : tel. 0541-1832502, email segreteria2.mostre @
The cost of the trip will have a price of 15 euro.
During the week of the Meeting, at the booth BOOK EXHIBITS in the South Hall, you can buy a ticket for the trip.

The exhibit is under the Patronage of the Franciscan Institute of Spirituality at the Pontifical University Antonianum; Order of Friars Minor Capuchin Province of Pescara; the Association "Cult and Culture in Abruzzo The Way of the Apostle Thomas”
With the collaboration of Paul Badde, Arianna Petraccia, Heinrich W. Pfeiffer, SJ, Davide Rondoni, Marco Rossi, Silvana Tassetto, Paola Vismara.
• Exhibit organized by Paul Badde, Emanuele Colombo, Paolo Martinelli, Paola Moretti, Giovanna Parravicini, Cristina Terzaghi and Raffaella Zardoni

In Manoppello Clues for Peoples and Nations Transfiguration August 2013

photos by Paul Badde

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Report from a Pilgrim to the Holy Face of Manoppello from the Heartland of the USA

An Eyewitness Report on a True Image of Jesus' Face,
The Veil of Veronica, found in Manoppello, Italy

By Carol Surowiec, Naperville, Illinois
originally published in Medjugorje Magazine, Fall 2012 edition

photos below by Paul Badde

(editor's note: I am so happy to share this wonderful eyewitness account with you. Scans of the original article can be seen below at the end of the article, if you click on the scans they will open and you can enlarge them so they can be read.)

It all started simply enough, with a catalogue of Catholic books. I like to read and the title drew my attention. The book was titled “Face of God” (editor's note: by Paul Badde, published by Ignatius Press) and the excerpt on the book jacket appealed to my love of all things Catholic.

I pored through the book in a short time, and I was hooked.
I became convinced that the Holy Relic was indeed one of several burial cloths still extant, the most notable of which is the Shroud of Turin. This second cloth, the Veil of Manoppello, Italy, is unknown to most of the English-speaking world, and as I found out later, to the Italian-speaking world that I came in contact with on my journey to Manoppello.

I am not a stranger to Catholic shrines, pilgrimages nor the Shroud. I believed in the Shroud from the moment I heard of it. But now to behold the face of the Risen Christ as in a photograph? Could it be true? Should not the news be broadcast to every Christian in the world? To see the Living God and not just ponder what he looks like? Unthinkable grace! Unimaginable gift! And yes, I must report as an eyewitness, a seeker, a lover of God, of Jesus, of all things true and holy: that the veil is real, it is the image of the living God!

Shortly after being captivated by this image of Jesus Holy Face and reading about the mysteries of how the Veil came to reside in Manoppello, Italy, I began planning a trip to Rome with my two daughters.

Our daughters grew up hearing stories of both Rome and Medjugorje. As a single woman in the 80’s, I made five pilgrimages to Medjugorje including three side trips to Rome. My dream was to travel with all my family members back to these holy places. I promised my older daughter a trip to Europe for high school graduation. Seven years after graduation, we finally made it in March 2012.

What started out as a trip to Rome, ended with the highlight (for me!) being a side-trip to an obscure, mountain village called Manoppello. After we arrived in Rome and made arrangements for a car to take us to Manoppello, even our driver asked us why we were traveling to this small mountain town. He had not heard of the existence of the relic or its significance.

We left Rome early in the day, 7:30 am and arrived around 10 am, missing the morning Mass. I was surprised to discover that the church of the Holy Veil was a basilica. A church is deemed a basilica based on either unusual beauty or historical significance. Here in Manoppello, the Church is called Volto Santo, or Holy Face. Pope Benedict traveled to the shrine of the Volto Santo in 2006 and soon after, elevated the shrine to a basilica.

While the exterior of the church is certainly beautiful, the interior is simple compared to the many extravagant churches and basilicas of Rome and antiquity. The official website for the Manoppello Basilica Volto Santo reports that the current church was completed in 1871 and the high altar area dates to 1923. We did not realize until we returned home that we could have registered our visit and had a guided tour of the shrine. Instead we made a quiet pilgrimage with only a few other persons present.

We hoped that we might be able to talk to Sr. Blandina whose research on the veil catapulted it into recent notoriety. But because of our inability to speak Italian or German, we were content with viewing the Holy Veil of Jesus Face and praying as private pilgrims.

Sr. Blandina writes on the official Basilica website, that she was always fascinated by the human face. She was the first to discover, by superimposing an image of the Holy Veil over a photocopy of the Shroud of Turin, that the dimensions are a perfect 1:1 match. She has also done extensive scientific research on the Veil and noted other significant features of the face of Jesus, such as the asymmetry of his eyes.

On first view of the veil, the image was difficult to see with the sun streaming through the large stained glass windows behind. We were able to walk behind the main altar, climb a short flight of stairs, approach and stand inches away from the beautiful relic. We knelt in prayer and snapped a few photos. With a little discussion, we realized that the photos might not turn out due to the bright light behind. But moving around the image brought a more crisp view of Jesus face, so we took a couple of photos while kneeling and they were the best of the images we captured.

Afterward, we went down into the church facing the altar where there are chairs set up in front of the pews. While quietly reflecting, a Capuchin friar returned to the area with another pilgrim and we watched while he turned off the interior light in the enclosure holding the veil. The face on the veil disappeared and only a white linen was visible from where we were sitting. He turned the light back on and the image reappeared with the reflection of the light.

The veil has been referred to as “Acheiropoieta” or not made by human hands. The cloth in fact is made from a rare silk called byssus or sea silk. It is the most expensive cloth known to the ancient world. The cloth is transparent like a nylon stocking.
Jesus’ image is seen on both sides of the cloth. Standing in front of the relic, with the sunlight streaming through stained-glass windows, it was difficult to see the image or photograph it. But kneeling, we were able to capture the beauty and magnificence of the King! (Had I known I would be graced to write an article, I surely would have taken more photos)

It is thought that the cloth was one of several burial cloths used in a traditional Jewish burial, the face cloth or sweat cloth (also called a sudarium). And conjectured to be the image captured at the moment of Resurrection! The cloth is also referred to as the Veronica, which comes from Vera Icon meaning true Icon.

The internet has an explosion of information on wikkipedia, youtube and other websites both pro and con concerning this amazing relic and shrine. (
I also recommend a video by Ignatius press, The Holy Face. I have continued to read about this holy relic since my trip in March 2012.

I have been asked why the Western world has not heard of this most-holy relic, when the Shroud has been visited and seen by millions. One only has to turn on the television, listen to the “worldly news” the killing, the culture of death here in the United States to know that now is the acceptable time, now is when we most need to know and see the Face of God.

Prayer of Pope Benedict XVI on Sept. 1, 2007

Lord Jesus as the first apostles whom you asked "What do you seek?", accepted your invitation to "Come and see", recognizing you as the Son of God, the promised Messiah for the world's redemption, we too, your disciples in this difficult time, want to follow you and be your friends, drawn by the brilliance of your Face much desired yet hidden. Show us we pray you your Face ever new, that mirror, mystery laden, of God's infinite mercy. Grant that we may contemplate it with the eyes of our mind and hearts, the Son's Face, radiance of the Father's glory and the imprint of his Nature (Hb 1:3), the human Face of God that has burst into history to reveal the horizons of eternity. The silent Face of Jesus suffering and risen, when loved and accepted changes the heart and life. "Your Face, Lord, do I seek, do not hide your Face from me" (Ps 27:8ff). How many times through the centuries and millenia has not resounded the ardent invocation of the Psalmist among the faithful! Lord, with faith we too repeat the same invocation: "Man of suffering, as one from whom others hide their faces" (Is. 53:3) Do not hide your Face from us! We want to draw from your eyes, that look upon us with tenderness and compassion, the force of love and peace which shows us the way of life and the courage to follow you without fear or compromise so as to be witnesses of your Gospel with concrete signs of acceptance, love and forgiveness. O Holy Face of Christ, Light that enlightens the darkness of doubt and sadness, Life that has defeated forever the force of evil and death, o inscrutable gaze that never ceases to watch over men and people, Face concealed in the Eucharistic signs and in the faces of those that live with us, make us God's pilgrims in this world, longing for the Infinite and ready for the final encounter when we shall see you Lord "face to face" (1 Cor 13:12) and be able to contemplate you forever in heavenly Glory. Mary, Mother of the Holy Face, help us have "innocent hands and a pure heart", hands illumined with the truth of love and hearts enraptured by divine beauty, that transformed by the encounter with Christ, we may give ourselves to the poor and the suffering whose faces reflect the hidden presence of your Son Jesus who lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Holy Face of Manoppello at the Meeting in Rimini

The Story of the Holy Face of Manoppello at the Center of an Exhibit at the Rimini Meeting - August 18-24 2013 -

"The Rediscovered Face: The Unmistakable Features of Christ "

by Antonio Bini

The goal of the exhibit is to make known the history of the ancient acheropite (i.e. not made by human hands) images of Christ: the Camulia, the Mandylion and the Veronica in Rome and relate them to the Holy Face of Manoppello, that mysterious portrait of Christ which arrived in the town in Abruzzo in the sixteenth century and remained almost completely unknown until just a few years ago.

Particularly extensive is the iconographic research on the Roman Veronica as seen in the copies made by artists for pilgrims who came to Rome prior to 1500. The exhibit's comparison of these copies to the Face of Manoppello supports the hypothesis of Father Heinrich Pfeiffer, professor of art history at the Gregorian University in Rome, who in 1999 claimed that the Veil of Manoppello is to be identified as the lost Roman relic.

It is therefore this rediscovered Face which would allow us, already on this earth, to encounter the Face of God in the living Christ.

By means of this exhibit, which is part of the Year of Faith, the Meeting will also want to respond to that which previously Pope Benedict XVI and now Pope Francis have called us "to look upon Christ and to let ourselves be looked upon by Him".

The rector of the Shrine of the Holy Face, Father Carmine Cucinelli, recalling that Benedict XVI came as a pilgrim to Manoppello on September 1, 2006, expressed gratitude to the organizers of the event and to the participating scholars, and in particular to Raffaella Zardoni, among the main sponsors of the exhibit, who through her "Veronica Route " project, has encouraged the search for historical images of Veronica to be found in churches, museums and collections from the various countries around the world.

Quoting Fr. Carmine: "It is wonderful to witness the widening circle of scholars in Italy and abroad who are passionate about the Holy Face. In addition to the expansion of research on the influence of the Veronica on the religious iconography of the past, it is quite satisfying to see the profound research done on the Relatione Historica of Father Donato da Bomba, the first document attesting to the gift of the Holy Face to the Capuchins, which confirm the authenticity and veracity of the document as well as of the important local persons cited. "

The exhibit is accompanied by a catalog - with a cover that reproduces the Face of Manoppello - which has a rich collection of images belonging to the history of depictions of Jesus.

The exhibit and catalog are the result of the work of a group of researchers and scholars from various disciplines in collaboration with the Shrine of Manoppello: Paul Badde, Emanuele Colombo, Michele Colombo, Brother Paolo Martinelli, Paola Moretti, Giovanna Parra, Arianna Petraccia, Davide Rondoni, Marco Rossi, Silvana Tassetto, Cristina Terzaghi, Paola Vismara, Raffaella Zardoni.

In Rimini on the afternoon of August 21, Fr. Cucinelli,the rector of the Shrine, together with Paul Badde, Raffaella Zardoni and Antonio Bini will meet with young visitors to the exhibit.

Father Carmine points out that interest in the Holy Face is growing in the world, by means of books, television programs and pilgrimages.

During the same period as the exhibit in Rimini, and precisely from August 6 until September 30, 2013,there will be held at the Marian shrine of Lourdes the third edition of the exhibit "L'image du Christ à travers the visage de la Vierge." (The image of Christ through the face of the Virgin. This exhibit, organized in collaboration with the Shrine of Lourdes, came about at the urging of the former bishop of the diocese Tarbes-Lourdes - Philippe Perrier - who came as a pilgrim to Manoppello in spring 2010. It was the French bishop to "see" in the wounded Face of Manoppello the suffering of the Madonna of Lourdes.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Christ is the Mirror in Which We Find Ourselves Fully Realized

Cardinal Robert Sarah, President of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, in prayer before the Holy Face of Manoppello June 30, 2013
photos by Paul Badde

Today is a great and marvelous day, Blessed be the Lord Forever! With the announcement of the canonizations of Blessed John XXIII and Blessed John Paul II, and the release of the Encyclical Letter Lumen Fidei (Light of Faith) of Pope Francis (completing the work begun by Pope Benedict) a new era is beginning in the life of the Church. "those who believe come to see themselves in the light of the faith which they profess: Christ is the mirror in which they find their own image fully realized. And just as Christ gathers to himself all those who believe and makes them his body, so the Christian comes to see himself as a member of this body, in an essential relationship with all other believers." (chapter 22 Lumen Fidei)

Cardinal Sarah preaching during the celebration of the Eucharist at the Shrine of the Holy Face of Manoppello