Sunday, January 31, 2016

Prayers Requested for Paul Badde's Speedy Recovery from Surgery

photo by Paul Badde

Prayers are requested for our friend the author and journalist Paul Badde who is recovering from  heart by pass surgery. Paul has been so faithful and untiring in witnessing to the Holy Face of Manoppello and making the Face of Jesus known throughout the world through his articles, books and photographs multiplied by his person to person ministry to so many of us. Paul was instrumental in bringing about the recent Pilgrimage Procession of the Holy Face from Manoppello to St. Peter's and Santo Spirito in Rome.
Ellen Badde, Fr. Heinrich Pfeiffer, S.J. and Paul Badde at Santo Spirito Church on January 17, 2016 (photo by Antonio Bini)

Paul Badde with Pope Benedict XVI in Manoppello on Sept. 1, 2006 surrounded by Archbishop Bruno Forte,
Fr. Andreas Resch, Fr. Heinrich Pfeiffer and Sr. Blandina Paschalis Schlomer

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Archbishop Edmond Y. Farhat's Homily at Santo Spirito for the Concluding Mass of Holy Face Pilgrimage Procession

from left Fr. Carmine Cucinelli, O.F.M., Cap., Archbishop Edmond Y. Farhat, Mons. Americo Ciani (photo by Paul Badde)

Homily of His Excellency The Most Reverend

Edmond Y. Farhat

Apostolic Nuncio Emeritus to Austria

The Second Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle C
"Omnis Terra"

17 January 2016

Pilgrimage of the Holy Face from Manoppello to Rome

Church of Santo Spirito in Sassia

We have accompanied with hymns and songs, invocations and thanks, the icon of the Holy Face of Manoppello to venerate it and, through it, to praise the Lord Jesus Christ for his wonders. The Holy Mass was celebrated. The people of God prayed, the priests and ministers offered thanksgiving, prayers, and supplications.

from left Fr. Ted Lopez, Fr. Carmine Cucinelli, OFM, Cap., Archbishop Edmond Y. Farhat, Mons. Americo Ciani,
Fr. Heinrich Pfeiffer, S.J., Fr. Jess Marano and (behind) Mons. Jozef Bart, Rector of Santo Spirito (photo by Antonio Bini)

photo by Antonio Bini

In the Face of Christ, impressed on the veil of Veronica, preserved in the sudarium of Manoppello, we venerate the Lord God of mercy, Savior of the world.
Archbishop Farhat gives a blessing with the Holy Face (photo by Paul Badde)

Today, brothers and sisters, right now, we return to the temple of the Holy Spirit to venerate the Holy Face and all it means. We celebrate the Eucharist, we confess our sins, and we announce the Good News.

The Good News of today is the invitation to the wedding at Cana. Jesus was invited, invited by his Mother because the guests were friends of his mom. She invited her Son, and at a certain point, said, “They have no wine.” “My hour,” responded the Son, “has not yet arrived.” “Do that which he says,” said his mom. Jesus, obedient to his Mother, saved face for the groom and his family.

The feast was beautiful and the joy was great. They drank and sang. The feast was transformed into a unique occasion. It was the occasion of the first sign of his manifestation, of the manifestation of his divinity. It was the beginning of the signs carried out by Jesus, because of which they believed in him. Better still, it is the first sign that reveals his personality. He came that they might have life, and have it in abundance. At Cana, Jesus manifested his authority. “Fill the jars,” and they filled them. Cana was the very first sign of the divine authority of Jesus, this authority that developed during his mission until it became known in the passion and in a true image, living, in the hands of Veronica.

Cana was the first visible sign of the divinity of Jesus. It is a provocative sign now, the icon of Manoppello that is a definitive sign. Cana was the first, and the face of the sudarium is the definitive sign. It is a provocative sign and insignificant, discrete and quiet, but most eloquent, always old and always new. Discussed and venerated, look at it with your eyes, accompany it, follow it, and let it guide your gaze. It is a concrete sign, but it is not made by man; it is created, but no one knows its origin, its formation.

It is not an object of another time; it is the icon of the eternal face, the face of goodness and of friendship, of mercy and of peace. The face that speaks, that examines, that asks, that awaits a response. It seems to say: “Look at me, you who are tired. Come to me and I will give you rest.” They have not seen, they did not have to suffer humiliation, the men of our time, as the friends of Mary did not have to suffer humiliation at Cana. He had to reach out.

They do not have faith, the men of our time, but, as at the wedding at Cana: “Have mercy on them,” Mary says [to her Son], “and contemplate the face bequeathed to you” [to the men of our time]. And we contemplate the face of Jesus. It speaks to us and nods to us, it is good, it is merciful. Therefore, we have brought it from Manoppello to here, because his expression [word missing] a wider goodness and mercy in this year of grace in which God reveals himself with the name of mercy, as the Holy Father Francis teaches. Therefore, we display it in the church of the Holy Spirit so that the Spirit may speak to the heart, and suggest intentions of wisdom and hope. Therefore we place it in the church looked after by Saint Faustina because she has been able to perceive the dimensions of his face.

There are moments in which, in an even stronger way, we are called to keep our look fixed on mercy to become effectively inserted into the action of the Father, as Pope Francis says in his exhortation.

This, dear brothers and sisters, is a privileged moment. We fix our gaze on the Holy Face and we will be transformed by God’s mercy. The sign is not an end in itself; the sign is a pointer on the way of the return, the return to the Father. The sudarium [word missing] of Christ. Christ is Jesus that has transformed the water into wine to participate in the joy of his friends and relations. The transformation requires a change. Our transformation and our conversion from pointless spectators to collaborators in the work of Jesus and Mary, who kept all these things in her heart, and no one knows the son and Lord like her. She guides us on the journey to encounter her Son, through his face that we can physically contemplate.

Yesterday we took it and venerated it to give thanks for so many benefits; today we greet it and honor it, asking him to accompany us on our new journey, the journey to the wedding of the Lamb, full of grace and mercy.

We hold impressed in our minds and in our heart his image that speaks to us and examines us. It is the image of the Word become Incarnate so that we might have life. It accompanies us on our way so that we might always remember that God is mercy. His mercy accompanies us. We remember that the people of God, going up to Jerusalem, in the Old Testament, always repeated during their pilgrimages: “God is good, he has given us goodness; he has given us faith because his mercy is eternal, because his mercy is eternal.”

We from this Eternal City, city of saints, of Faustina; city of John Paul II, of Paul VI, of John XXIII, of popes and saints; we turn our thoughts to the Jerusalem of Jesus, to the Jerusalem of Mary; and we ask peace for Jerusalem, peace to all the people of Palestine and of Jerusalem, of the Middle East and of the Mediterranean. There is room for everyone; mercy has no limits. ** Eternal is the mercy of God, because he is good; he is great, may his face guide us, accompany us, and we will not be lost.
**The final appeal for peace was repeated by Archbishop Edmond Y. Farhat also in Hebrew and Arabic
thanks to Paul Badde and Fr. Carmine Cucinelli, O.F.M,, Cap. for the transcript, Paul Badde and Antonio Bini for the photos and Fr. Daren J. Zehnle for the translation of Archbishop Farhat's homily

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Some Holy Face Pilgrimage Photos by Paul Badde

Entering St. Peter's Basilica

Entering Holy Door at St. Peter's

At Pieta in St Peter's

On the Way to Santo Spirito from St. Peter's

Archbishop Georg Ganswein at Mass at Santo Spirito

At Santo Spirito

Monday, January 18, 2016

Joan Lewis of EWTN "Visiting an Icon in Rome"

photo by Joan Lewis

Joan Lewis, EWTN Rome bureau chief, writes on her blog:

"Today I went to see the replica of the Holy Face of Manoppello during its presence this weekend in the Rome church of Santo Spirito, Holy Spirit. This church, just blocks from St. Peter’s Basilica, is principally dedicated to Divine Mercy and is crowded just about every day of the week, often at the 3 pm time of the Hour of Divine Mercy."

"I got to the church exactly at 4 pm (not that I had planned such a precise arrival) and I discovered that a Mass for Polish pilgrims had just begun. I was a lector at Mass last evening with the Santa Susanna community so this second Sunday Mass was a special joy, especially given the presence of the Holy Face (about which I wrote in my Friday, January 15 column).
Polish pilgrims come often to Santo Spirito because, as you know it was a Polish nun, St. Faustina Kowalska, who spread the devotion to Divine Mercy and a Polish Pope, John Paul II, who instituted Divine Mercy Sunday, the Sunday after Easter."
There are more photos of Santo Spirito in Joan's posting.

Edward Pentin of National Catholic Register on Holy Face Procession

Replica of the Holy Face close to its former home in St. Peter's basilica, in the former St. Mary's Chapel, where Michelangelo's Pietà stands today.
(Photo by Edward Pentin/NCRegister.Com)

Edward Pentin writing in his blog at National Catholic 

"Pilgrims from the Italian town of Manoppello, home of the Shrine of the Holy Face, retraced an ancient procession for the first time in 808 years in Rome on Saturday, carrying a replica of the sacred image which scholars believe to be the Veil of Veronica (vera icona "true icon")."

Read more:

photo by Edward Pentin/

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Rev. Daren J. Zehnle Reporting on Veronica Pilgrimage Procession

Fr. Carmine Cucinelli, O.F.M., Cap. holding replica of Holy Face in St. Peter's yesterday (photo by Fr. Daren J. Zehnle.)

 American priest Fr. Daren J.Zehnle, K.H.S.  wonderful reporting with great photos of the Pilgrimage Procession from St. Peter's to Santo Spirito

Fr. Daren Zehnle (photo by Edward Pentin)

Archbishop Georg Gänswein's Homily at Santo Spirito

photo by Daniel Ibanez/CNA
Dear sisters and brothers!

Sunday today is called "Omnis Terra" in the words of Psalm 65 that we heard at the beginning of the Mass: "Omnis terra adoret te, Deus, et psallat tibi!" ("Let all the earth adore you, O God and sing psalms to you"). This Sunday was also called this eight hundred years ago ; and even then, as now, in all Catholic churches the Gospel of the wedding at Cana was proclaimed. Since then empires have fallen, swept away like autumn leaves; the Church has seen the succession of ninety popes; violent revolutions and wars have shaken Europe; fatal divisions have torn Christianity. So it seems almost a miracle the tranquility with which, in this Sunday's liturgy, we sing today as then: Praise the Lord, all you nations!

With this praise, however, today we also remember the fact that here 808 years ago, for the first time, Pope Innocent III  carried in procession the Holy Sudarium of Christ from St. Peter's to Santo Spirito. It was the holy veil that shows "the human face of God", which Pope Benedict XVI will never get tired of speaking about; and "the living face of the Father's mercy" to which Pope Francis has dedicated this Jubilee Year. And also back then, in January of 1208, the divine face of God here in this church, was connected to the concrete mercy of men; this church which much later, in 1994, St. John Paul II dedicated to the "Divine Mercy", in honor of Saint Faustina Kowalska, whose relics we venerate here. The Polish Pope was also a visionary and once more we experience that here today.

In fact, 808 years ago, in that very first procession, Pope Innocent III decreed that the holy image was not brought to the nobles of Rome, but to the sick pilgrims and the poor of the city, whose most important abode back then  was this hospital of  Santo Spirito. He also ordered that the papal chaplain, drawing from Peter's Pence, should distribute three coins to each of the three hundred sick and the thousand poor who were invited to attend the ceremony and who came from all over the city: one for bread, one for wine and the third for  meat. He also connected substantial indulgences to visiting the "true image" and for participating in its procession.

In fact it was an anticipation of the Holy Year, which only later, in 1300, was introduced to Rome by Boniface VIII. This all began right here!

From that time to the present modern age processions and expositions of the Holy veil have never ended. Soon there were countless pilgrims to Rome who wanted to contemplate the face of God. Later, it was in one of these processions that Dante learned to know the face of God. It is the face before which he ends the "cosmic excursion" of his Divine Comedy, as Pope Benedict XVI said ten years ago, when he presented his encyclical Deus Caritas Est. It is the face of the love that "moves the sun and the other stars", as Dante wrote in the best known passage in Italian literature.

It is the love of God who rejoices in us as "the bridegroom to the bride," as we have just heard in the words from the prophet Isaiah; and the strength of the Holy Spirit of whose various gifts St. Paul has once again made us aware in this church of Santo Spirito. And yet, nowhere else does this Spirit speaks more clearly and with more evidence as in the silent face of Christ, before whom we are gathered here today.

Because "this is the vocation and the joy of every baptized person: to bring and give Jesus to others", as Pope Francis said on January 3. And this is exactly what today is given to us - to become witnesses, in the moment when the good Capuchin friars of Manoppello here "bring and give Jesus", in whose face God himself shows his face.

In conclusion I would add just one thing on the Gospel of the wedding at Cana, about which so many instructive things have been said: who, in fact, could still wonder that Jesus worked his first public miracle exactly in favor of marriage and the family which are in such danger today that Pope Francis has dedicated synods to each of these! Indeed, in this time of Christmas in which we are still, we can understand perfectly that first miracle as a necessary extension of the mystery of the incarnation of God. For it is only within a family that we become human! With a mother and a father and - if we are lucky - with brothers and sisters. For this reason Christian artists have always portrayed the face of Jesus referring to his mother's, and vice versa. Because if God is the father of Jesus, his face should  and can only look like hers. And it is this most ancient face that today in an almost miraculous way has returned to  Santo Spirito in Sassia, that face which seems to be almost identical to the face of the Divine Mercy which has been venerated here for more than two decades.

It is a copy of that ancient original that Pope Innocent III showed the pilgrims and which for four hundred years has been kept in Abruzzo, on the Adriatic, in an outlying area of Italy, which today for the first time has been brought back to where its public worship began. From here, countless copies brought all over the world the true face of God that Christians knew. Precisely in this lies the deeper meaning of this moment. Before coming to Rome, the Holy Veil was kept in Constantinople, earlier in Edessa and even before in Jerusalem. It is not possible, in fact, that this face could be the property, could be the treasure of anyone, not even of the Pope. It is the signature of Christians. Only we know that God has a face - how and who he is. For this reason, the face of Christ is the first, the most noble and most precious treasure of all Christendom, even more: of all the earth. Omnis Terra! Before this face we ought to open ourselves again and again. Always as pilgrims; always to the outlying areas; and always having before our eyes one goal: that moment when we will be before him face to face.

translated from the original Italian 

Saturday, January 16, 2016

The Veronica at St. Peter's Today toward Santo Spirito

photo by Edward Pentin

photo by CNA/Alexey Gotovskiy

photo by CNA/Alexey Gotovskiy

pilgrims approaching Santo Spirito (courtesy of Paul Badde)

Inisde Santo Spirito Church (photo by Paul Badde)

Salve Sancta Facies

a reposting from February 1, 2012 in honor of this special day

All Photos by Paul Badde

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 15, 2016

The Return of the Veronica to Rome

Paul Badde is interviewed by Catholic News Agency about the upcoming Pilgrimage Procession of the Holy Face.  The interview is in German many browsers will translate it to english or other language.

Catholic News Agency Interview with Paul Badde January 14, 2016

Here are some excerpts of the interview as translated by my browser:
CNA: But is it not a contradiction if the image now comes in a copy to Rome and not as the original?

BADDE: No, on the contrary, it seems that this process is somehow particularly useful. Because in its time in Rome the then so-called veil of Veronica was in a sense the mother of all canonical images of Christ. In addition at St. Petersburg in Russia at that time there was a guild, which was only concerned with the production of image copies of this canonical image which then also served as image- documents of the incredible story of a true image of Christ in the world.Especially in Europe all these icons have always retold the wonders that God has shown in Jesus' face. That Christians really know precisely what God looks like. Only we know the "human face of God", of which Pope Benedict XVI repeatedly spoke. That is why today it comes from the incomparable original in Manoppello.   Although only a copy returns to Rome, but - it was manufactured according to the best technical possibilities of our time - as was done in the 13th century.

CNA: You are one of the world's leading experts on the sudarium. Many have written books on the archetype. Manoppello attracts more and more pilgrims.  The Internet is teeming with articles and statements. No one can say anymore that the veil picture is still unknown.What difference does  this little procession make?
BADDE: Now the knowledge of the image comes to the public no longer from books by various authors or from lectures and essays and polemics and debates of professors and nuns. But now it comes down to it in a liturgical way back into the heart of the universal Church, in a large church. And that's probably the most beautiful way that can be imagined for it. And that is completely new - that it is carried in this most peaceful manner without any dispute up to St. Peter's Basilica itself, where it had been kept in custody as a treasure.
photo by James Reynolds

CNA: Do you know how this program will look like in detail?
BADDE: Yes, on Saturday, January 16, 2016 the Holy Face is introduced by the group of pilgrims from Manoppello around 3pm with other  normal pilgrims  through the Holy Door in St. Peter's Basilica - and almost exactly at the place where It was stored in the old Constantinian basilica. That was in the former St. Mary's Chapel, where Michelangelo's Pietà stands today, at the front right of the basilica. From there the procession then goes back out onto St. Peter's Square and next to the Manger, where the whole group will form with the full choir of Manoppello, to carry it from there through the streets of the Holy Spirit to the Church of Santo Spirito.

CNA: Why is the church called Santo Spirito?
BADDE: Because in the Middle Ages all the hospitals were named after the Holy Spirit, then all the works of mercy were allocated as a matter of course.
CNA: And what happens then?

BADDE: Then solemnly carried into the reliquary in the church, which has been previously decorated already with red and white flowers such as for a wedding, the blood-red light of the Passion and the resurrection, which appear in the delicate image. But also because on this Sunday as in 1208 the Gospel of the Wedding at Cana will be read again. How it will then go on, is still somewhat uncertain. Because the beautiful church is usually very crowded, since John Paul II  in 1986 already made the church a center of DIVINA Misericordia, the "Divine Mercy", with special devotion of Sister Faustina Kowalska, with her relics and the famous picture of Christ which has been painted by her from her vision - recently along with relics of Saint John Paul and a statue of Our Lady of Fatima. Therefore, it is not difficult to recognize it as a sign of divine providence, that the true image of Christ will be taken here in the year of Mercy, where it picks up those threads again, which was spun here so long ago.
taken from

CNA: Is there any competition between the images?
BADDE: If there were Monsignor Jozef Bart Polish rector of Santo Spirito, would not have immediately welcomed the offer of the Capuchin Father Carmine Cucinelli, the rector of the Basilica in Manoppello. Particularly Polish pilgrims love both images. And years ago the Trappist Blandina Paschalis Schlömer and researchers from Poland and Germany have found in a so-called superimposition that the face on the cloth of Manoppello is almost identical with the original from the image of the Merciful Jesus, hanging in Vilnius today There is only one true face of God. It is the face of Jesus.
CNA: And then?
BADDE: Then the veil picture is welcomed in the evening, the vigil of the Sunday Omnis Terra, by a Solemn Pontifical Mass in Santo Spirito at 6:30pm celebrated by Archbishop Georg Gänswein along with many priests.  The Archbishop already accompanied Pope Benedict XVI to Manoppello in September, 2006. After  this high Mass, it is to remain at the main altar for 24 hours for worship. On Sunday evening of 17 January, there will then be celebrated at the same hour once again  a second solemn Pontifical Mass by Archbishop Edmond Farhat, who was born in Lebanon and has served the Church in many countries as Apostolic Nuncio, most recently in Vienna. 

CNA: since this historic event dates back to whose initiative, as you call it? From the Pope?
BADDE: No. Significantly, but not from any other office in the Church, not even by the organizers of the year of mercy or the new evangelization, but from Daisy Neves, a Filipino lady from Bellevue, Washington, from the periphery and the far west of the U. SA .. Two years ago, she generously invited Fr. Carmine Cuccinelli with a similar replica of the Volto Santo to the Philippines. In September also to Canada, Los Angeles and into the slums of Manila. She is nothing more than a passionate lover of the Divine Face, who wants nothing more than that this miraculous image of God is again assigned a place of honor in every church on earth.
CNA: Why is the picture so important?
BADDE: Because it simply exists, totally inexplicably. And because it just now - in the midst of a huge Revolution of images - re-enters history to speak in the midst of all the noise in a very new and very comforting and immensely quiet way about the incarnation of God in Jesus Christ.
CNA: What does it tells us yet?
BADDE: that God has not become a book, but a human being. In this man we look at truth in the face. And in this face we learn everything there is to know about mercy. Or, in the words of Pope Benedict XVI of 6 September 2006: "If we really want to see the face of God, we must do nothing other than to contemplate the face of Jesus in his face we really see who God is and what God is like!"    

Saturday, January 9, 2016

From Manoppello to Rome: January 16 to 17, 2016 Pilgrimage- Commemoration of the Procession of the Holy Face Instituted by Innocent III

Starting from Manoppello, home of the Shrine of the Holy Face, a large group of

religious pilgrims and volunteers accompanied by the choir of the local church, will set out on Saturday January 16, 2016 on a pilgrimage to Rome, in the year of the Extraordinary Jubilee.  These pilgrims will be retracing a path following the ancient procession of the Veronica which was instituted by Pope Innocent III in 1208, carrying in procession a copy of the Holy Face which many scholars identify with the Veronica (vera icona "true icon"). 
View from entrance of Church of Santo Spirito in Sassia showing St. Peter's Basilica in the distance (Photo by Antonio Bini)
Church of Santo Spirito in Sassia (Photo by Antonio Bini)

Beginning at the end of the colonnade of St. Peter’s Square at 4pm the pilgrims will move towards the Church of Santo Spirito in Sassia.  Exposition and Veneration.  At 6:30pm Holy Mass will be celebrated there by Archbishop Georg Gänswein with music led by the choir of the Basilica of the Holy Face..

Image of Holy Face to be carried in Procession from St. Peter's Square to Church of Santo Spirito (Photo by Paul Badde)

The image, enclosed in the reliquary which from 1902 to 1956 was used to hold the Holy Face in Manoppello,  will remain on display in the Santo Spirito church also on Sunday Jan. 17, until 8pm.  At 6:30pm a solemn closing Mass will be celebrated on the 17th with music led by the parish choir of the Church of Saint Ignatius of Antioch in Rome.

The idea for the pilgrimage came about during the National Conference of the Rectors of Italian Shrines which took place in Rome from November 22 to 27, 2015 and which had as its theme "Jubilee of a history: a welcome, nearby, prophetic memory”

In fact it was the grandeur of  history which was the basis for the plans to organize the pilgrimage, discussed by Msgr. Josef Bart, rector of the Shrine of the Santo Spirito in Sassia, and Fr. Carmine Cucinelli, Rector of the Shrine the Holy Face of Manoppello, in the presence of the author Paul Badde.

thanks to Antonio Bini for providing this news and to Paul Badde and Antonio Bini for providing the photos

The origins of the cult of Veronica: the procession to Santo Spirito di Sassia

by Antonio Bini

(photo shows Innocent III holding the Veronica in his right hand and the rule of Santo Spirito in his left - particular from the Liber regulae S. Spiritus)

"Over the centuries Rome was enriched with notable relics. One in particular
acquired an exceptional prestige: the sudarium of Christ known and revered by the name of
So wrote just prior to the Jubilee of 2000 the influential French medievalist Jacques Le Goff.  The image, which came to Rome in unknown circumstances, is mentioned for the first time under Pope John VII (705-707).

A significant turning point in the cult of Veronica came in 1208 when Pope Innocent III  established a special procession - on the Sunday following the Octave of Epiphany – which started at St. Peter’s and arrived at the nearby Church of the Holy Spirit (Santo Spirito in Sassia) and its adjoining hospital.

The image of the Holy Face was accompanied by a solemn procession "With hymns and canticles, psalms and lit candles, "wrote an anonymous contemporary biographer (Gesta Innocentii III).

Crowds of pilgrims took part in the procession which was an extraordinary opportunity for faith for recuperating patients and perhaps an opportunity to solicit funds for the support of the
hospital operation which, according to the wishes of Innocent III, was then rebuilt and
expanded, on the crumbling foundations of the "Schola Saxonum ", the original structure which was founded in the year 727 by Ina, Queen of the Saxons, as a hotel, hospice, hospital, seminary and cemetery. Sassia (or Saxia) still today recalls those distant origins.

It was precisely in the course of this important work of reconstruction that the Church was
built - wedged into the middle of the hospital structure - assuming the name of the ancient hospital considered the oldest in Europe.

These circumstances constituted one of the historical precedents that led Pope Boniface
VIII to proclaim the first Jubilee in 1300. For centuries the hospital, in addition to aiding the sick, took steps to assist the poor and for the care of abandoned children, becoming a true bastion of charity.

At the end of the sixteenth century Saint Camillus de Lellis undertook there for nearly three decades his tireless work of assistance to the sick.  Even before that Saint Philip Neri distinguished himself there as well.  Innocent III gave the first rule of the hospital organization which he placed under the direct supervision of the papacy.

The precious manuscript "Liber Regulae Sancti Spiritus in Saxia ", published around
1350 is preserved in the State Archives in Rome.  Accompanying the text containing the rules of the hospital is a rich iconography that provides an interesting pictorial description of what was then the religious life and practical assistance to the sick and needy.

At the bottom of the first page of the Liber is one of the oldest illustrations of the Veronica, which shows Pope Innocent III with the Veronica in his right hand and the Rule granted to the brothers in the hospital in his left.

First Page of the Liber  Regulae  Sancti Spiritus in Saxia

The historical and documentary value of the manuscript, which for centuries was ignored
or neglected, resurfaced on the eve of the Great Jubilee of 2000, which, with the strong encouragement of John Paul II, gave an extraordinary thrust to recovering two thousand years of history, starting again from the centrality of the historical figure of Christ.  The Liber was in fact displayed in the important exhibition "Rome & Jubilees: the medieval pilgrimage to Saint Peter’s ", held at the Palazzo Venezia, Rome, from October 29, 1999 to February 26, 2000. The document was shown again during the exhibition "The Face of Christ" - the final exhibition of the Jubilee - staged at the Palazzo delle Esposizioni in Rome, from December 9, 2000 to April 16 2001. In both exhibitions, which saw the direct involvement of the Vatican Library, the issues related to the historical reconstruction of Veronica or the Holy Face was revived after centuries of silence, with a series of extraordinary documents and exhibits, in many cases shown to the public for the first time, as it is claimed in the respective catalogs, which for the importance of new contents and authority of the scholars involved, represent publications of extraordinary historical value.

 The historian Gerhard Wolf, who collaborated on both exhibitions, in the catalog for the first show described Innocent III as being "the founder of the cult of Veronica ", emphasizing, also just how “precious" the miniature contained in the Regulae is in order to understand "the cult and the external appearance of the Veronica." A few months later the German historian continued the same theme in the catalog of the final exhibition of the Jubilee, raising the question as to whether or not the famed image might be present in Abruzzo. A question that probably arose in the mind of many visitors to the exhibition, who, like me, meditated in front of the precious empty reliquary, from the "Treasury of St. Peter’s", which -donated by three Venetian nobles in Jubilee of 1350 - once held between the two panes the Veronica, a sign of the visibility of the image from both sides. In any case, the rediscovery of the ancient miniature allows us to exclude definitively that the Veronica can be identified with the Shroud, as some scholars claimed a few years ago.

Returning to Pope Innocent III, it must be remembered that he manifested his deep true devotion to the image also by writing a special prayer:

Deus qui nobis  signatis lumine vultus tui memoriale tuum ad instantiam
Veronicae sudario impressam imaginem relinquere voluisti per passionem et crucem tuam tribue nobis quaesumus, ut ita nunc in terris per speculum et in aenigmate ipsam adorare et venerari valeamus, ut facie ad faciem venientem iudicem te securi videamus.

"O God, who has marked us with the light of Thy Face as your memorial, and at the request of
Veronica, left us Thy Image imprinted on the sudarium; grant we pray, that by your passion
and death, to adore, venerate and honor you, in mystery and as through a mirror on earth, so that we might be able to certainly see you, face to face, when you come as our judge”

In the wake of Innocent, about a century later, Pope John XXII composed the famous hymn "Salve sancta facies” that pilgrims sang during the expositions of the Veronica
and during the Jubilee of 1350.  During the sack of Rome (1527) the destructive fury did not spare the Church of Santo Spirito nor even the sick who were recuperating in the adjacent hospital who were all put to death. In those dramatic days experienced by the Eternal City the Veronica also disappeared. In an interview in 2001, the Austrian Redemptorist Andreas Resch, an expert on paranormal phenomena, supported the hypothesis that the extraordinary image would have been brought for safekeeping to Abruzzo and specifically to Manoppello.

Also after Innocent III later popes always followed closely the conditions at Santo Spirito   Among those who distinguished themselves were especially Eugene IV (1431-1447), who didn’t hesitate to take on the direct leadership of the hospital, and Sixtus IV (1471-1484) as well. Both popes undertook significant works of reconstruction and expansion. In his rather brief pontificate, Celestine V (1294) also distinguished himself.  He exempted the friars of the Santo Spirto from having to pay the customary church levy and greatly increased indulgences. It’s quite probable that he was implicitly thinking of Santo Spirito when he founded the order of the Brothers of the Holy Spirit (later Celestini),in the hermitage of the same name on the Maiella. The centuries-old ties of the glorious hospital with the popes was interrupted in 1870, with the fall of the temporal power of the papacy. The hospital and the church became part of the then Kingdom of Italy.

The pilgrimage on January 16 and 17, 2016 also intends to remember Innocent III eight hundred years after his death. Considered great for his reconstruction, expansion and support of the hospital of Santo Spirito, the pope is also noted for his approval of the Franciscan and the Dominican orders and for his vast work concentrating on the spiritual renewal of the church of his time.

fresco of Innocent III in the Sacro Specchio at Subiaco

  The church of Santo Spirito during the papacy of John Paul II became the Shrine and spiritual center of the Divine Mercy, tied to Sister Faustina Kowalska, canonised in 2000. In the Shrine are present some relics of St. Faustina and St. John Paul II also.

Altar Dedicated to St. John Paul II in Santo Spirito Church

 A recent bond between Santo Spirito in Sassia and the Shrine of the Holy Face is to be found in the person of Cardinal Fiorenzo Angelini, who for nearly a quarter century, until his death on November 22, 2014, was cardinal deacon of Santo Spirito. The Cardinal, who in 1997 founded the International Institute for Research on the Face of Christ, was among the first to authoritatively support the thesis of Professor Heinrich Pfeiffer regarding the identification of the mysterious image of Manoppello.

                                   photo taken at the Shrine of the Holy Face of Manoppello on June 8, 2002                                                                         (from the left) Cardinal Fiorenza Angelini, Fr. Germano di Pietro, O.F.M., Cap, then Rector of the Shrine of the Holy Face and Sr. Maria Maurizia Giovanna Biancucci, Superior General of the Benedictine Sisters of the Reparation of the Holy Face

Particularly linked to the Shrine of Abruzzo, where he often went on pilgrimage, the Cardinal entrusted to the Holy Face "the present and the future of the beloved Congregation of
Benedictine Sisters of Reparation of the Holy Face ", for whom he became their spiritual mentor following the death of  their founder Venerable Ildebrando Gregori.