Monday, December 31, 2018

Blessings for the New Year

St. Francis with the Holy Face by Hans Clement, Nuremberg, 1590 courtesy of Paul Badde

by Paul Badde
Paperback — 112 pages

List price: $12.95 
Today's Sale Price: $10.99!

Review  of Paul Badde's most recent book on the Holy Face by K.V. Turley of Catholic Exchange

Recent interview with Paul Badde in the National Catholic Register conducted by Joseph Pronechen

an excerpt from the interview is shown below

You mention other recent attacks on the Holy Veil coming from various sources, most of whom have not even seen the veil. Your book reveals the absurdity of those who say its devotion is based on an “infantile and old-fashioned” faith. Why might they be doing this? (JP)

As somebody who really should know, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI told me literally in our last conversation that even “otherwise good theologians” tend to “believe in a grave of Christ that rather has not been empty”; in other words, that they couldn’t believe anymore in the resurrection from the dead as such, which he found “incomprehensible.” I instead find it quite comprehensible, since I know that relics and items of that kind aren’t important for theologians, as many of them tend to see it. Words, words, words are important. Many of them, however, just don’t realize that the Gutenberg Era is over — and that God really became man, not a book; all the Gospels came later, as written theology — and that this is the most unbelievable fact of our Creed, in a challenge to man’s mind unheard of before. But then: It’s easier indeed and more enlightened and “modern” to believe — as Nietzsche did — that God is dead rather than that he’s alive. (PB)

Was Benedict XVI’s visit to Manoppello a turning point in learning about the Sudarium, like a stamp of papal approval on this being the real veil of Christ?

Who on earth will read books and big volumes anyway in 100 years, in digital times, as we cannot imagine them today in the last days of the age of Gutenberg? However, because of the semantics, the syntax and the grammar of images, the image of his silent prayer in front of the Face of God in Manoppello on Sept. 1, 2006, will remain and speak forever louder and louder of his unique pontificate.

In your book you write, “Because the Creator of Heaven and Earth has shown His face not only to Jews and Christians, but to the whole world, the translucent image of Christ on that thin cloth will change the world and the course of history in a way that today no man can imagine.” How have you seen it change already?

Could you have imagined the changes the introduction of the first iPhone on June 29, 2007, has triggered in society? Nobody could have imagined these immense changes! The digital revolution is the challenge the world and the Church are facing, and it frightens many old-school scholars. That is exactly the historic context in which this True Icon of the Son of Man reappears in the history of man. He will resist every artificial intelligence as the next great threat to mankind and our freedom.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Holy Face at Center of Catholic Cultural Event "Week of Beauty" in Diocese of Grosseto (Tuscany)

Bishop Rodolfo Cetoloni at the front door of the Cathedral blessing the faithful with the replica of the Holy Face

Photos from the Facebook page of the Shrine of the Holy Face of Manoppello

Cardinal Tagle and Bishop Cetoloni at Week of Beauty

Text translated and adapted from articles by Giacomo D'Onofrio from the Diocese of Grosseto newspaper "Rinnovamento" 

and from articles whose links are found at

"Look for His face; Your face, Lord, I seek. Do not hide your face"

"The principal desire for this event - stated Msgr. Rodolfo Cetoloni, Bishop of Grosseto - is to take up the invitation that the Pope has repeatedly addressed to Christians: that of wearing new lenses with which to look at the other in front of us, to take a  more welcoming and less suspicious or fearful look, more open to the amazement of the novelty that the other always carries with him. Starting from the contemplation of the face par excellence: that of God. It is a theme that can involve everyone: from children to adults, from believers to those who are far from a personal journey of faith ".

Bishop Cetoloni addressing the faithful gathered in the Cathedral

 As in previous editions, the event of faith and culture was proposed by the diocese of Grosseto through its offices, with the collaboration of the Italian Bishops daily newspaper Avvenire and the monthly magazine of art and culture "The places of the infinite", of the Fondazioni Crocevia and university sectors of Grosseto; co-ordination is entrusted to the Municipality of Grosseto in collaboration with the Grosseto culture Foundation with Clarisse art and the archaeological and religious art museum of the Maremma.

To mark the Week there was a display in the cathedral (starting from 5.30 pm on Saturday October 20) of the reproduction of the Holy Face, a precious relic preserved for centuries in Manoppello which had already been brought to the church of Santo Spirito in Rome in January 2016.

 Guest of honor of this edition of the "Week of Beauty" was Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, archbishop of Manila and president of Caritas International. On Monday 22 October, he gave a learned discourse on the theme of the Week.

Wednesday, October 24  Sr. Gloria Riva, art historian and founder of the nuns of Eucharistic adoration spoke.

On Thursday 25th October, on the other hand,  an entire day was dedicated to contemplation and prayer before the Holy Face coinciding with contemplation and prayer at the Shrine of the Holy Face of Manoppello.

Live streaming of the Holy Face from the Shrine of Manoppello during prayer service in Cathedral of Grosseto

At 5pm on that day, in the cathedral, the journalist and writer Saverio Gaeta, editor of the weekly magazine Famiglia Cristiana and author of several books on the Holy Face of Manoppello spoke on"The Enigma of the Face of Jesus".

"Look for His face; Your face, Lord, I seek. Do not hide your face ».

In the days of the "Week of Beauty 2018" many times, those very many who participated in the various moments these words of Psalm 26 were proposed and repeated again and again. The theme of this third edition of the event of faith and culture organized by the Diocese together with the Fondazione Crocevia (Crossroads Foundation) along with the collaboration of many authoritative persons and associations, was in fact: «Your face I seek».

An invocation, which becomes an exploration capable of crossing millennia, generations of women and men of every language, of different cultures, of different states of life. It is the invocation of man, who feels in the depths an innate and sometimes unconscious longing for God, the profound desire to see and contemplate that Face, with each face bearing a glimmer of resemblance.

Christians can say that they have seen it, that Face! We saw it in Christ the Lord, the most beautiful of the sons of man, through whom we see the Face of the Father.  Starting Saturday October 20 and continuing until Sunday November 4 also in Grosseto it was possible to contemplate the face of the Lord, thanks to the reproduction of the Holy Face that was brought to us from Manoppello, the small center of Abruzzo where the original of the most important relic of Christendom is preserved.

And it is here that begins the gripping story of the Veil of Manoppello. A face that still speaks to us today, but that above all looks at us and from which, in the «Week of Beauty», it was possible to let ourselves be looked upon.  " My wish for you is that, contemplating the Holy Face, you can imprint it in your  heart in order to show it to others by your good example".Thus, with goodness, the Capuchin Father Carmine Cucinelli, rector of the shrine of Manoppello,  addressed the many faithful who on Saturday October 20 filled the cathedral to participate in the Mass in which was welcomed, the reproduction of the Holy Face encased within a beautiful silver reliquary, whose original is preserved in the shrine of the small Abruzzo town.

It was  Father Carmine himself who delivered the copy of this precious relic into the hands of Bishop Rodolfo Cetoloni in the square in front of the Duomo, in a climate of  emotional participation. The Bishop turned  the Face towards the city, before processing inside the cathedral, where the copy of the relic was placed on a special  pedestal to be venerated by the faithful.

 It was without doubt a gift to have a copy of the Holy Face in the days of the «Week
of Beauty », dedicated this year to the theme of the face we must seek -- that of God and that of others. A search that can only start from the contemplation of that sacred veil, in which two thousand years ago, at the moment of the resurrection, there was impressed forever the image of Christ. "The veil revered in Manoppello is the one true image of Jesus ", Father Cucinelli forcefully stated and added: "Looking at this Holy Face with faith, we can get an idea from it how Jesus looked". The face impressed on the veil of Veronica is the face of a man with eyes open, the look alive, the mouth slightly open.

 "It's a face that wants to tell us something", noted the Bishop in the homily of the
Mass. A wounded face, a face that carries in itself the signs of the passion, but at the same time
communicates life, brightness.

Because of this «We must look at it with love -  the rector of Manoppello urged -  to reflect that Jesus, for the sake of our love, had his face disfigured ". Father Carmine, in a few minutes, also recounted the vicissitudes that have affected this relic, which arrived in Manoppello in the 1600's, though it is not known by whom and when it was entrusted to the Capuchin friars, who since 1636 have in their preaching promoted the diffusion of devotion to Holy Face.

In 1999 there came a historical turning point: the Jesuit Father Heinrich Pfeiffer, German theologian and  art critic, announced to the world the news that the so-called Roman Veronica, that is, the true image of Christ, had been found in Manoppello. It is, in other words, the sudarium which, at the time of burial, was placed on the face of the Lord.

As described by Father Cucinelli, it is a small fabric of marine byssus , naturally water-repellent, which, can only be dyed after having been soaked with a dye for many hours. However  it cannot be painted upon . «And yet - underlined the Capuchin - on that veil  color is there! How do you explain this?  Scientists have come to the conclusion that, at the time of resurrection, Jesus emanated from his body a radial caloric energy, which was then transformed into light ». This energy has imprinted the image of the body of Jesus on the front and back of the cloth of the Shroud kept in Turin, while on the sudarium it has produced a photograph: the Holy Face «which when overlapping  the face of the Shroud shows a perfect correspondence with it ».

In short, a great gift for humanity, a relic in front of which you stop in contemplation in order to ask for that which Father Carmine had wished for the faithful of Grosseto: that the image of Jesus can be imprinted in everyone's heart, to be carried to others. This gift made to Church of Grosseto in the days of  the "Week of Beauty 2018" was, therefore, a great opportunity which also causes a great responsibility.

Report on Cardinal Tagle"s keynote address by Giacomo D'Onofrio

With his contagious smile, and a simplicity combined with the natural ability to enter immediately into relationships, and an evangelical joy that shines from every one of his gestures Cardinal Antonio Luis Tagle  discoursed on the face of God in Grosseto.  On the afternoon of Monday Oct. 22 very many people, including from neighboring dioceses, poured into the Cathedral to hear the the archbishop of Manila and president of Caritas international.  They did not  want to miss his  Keynote Address on the subject of the 2018 edition of the event organized by the Diocese with Fondazione Crocevia (Crossroads Foundation) and numerous collaborators: «I seek your face».

A profound intervention, deep, marked at times by the gentle humor of the cardinal and - in a few instances also by his emotion, and that will need to be heard and meditated upon still so that it might really become for the Church of Grosseto a fruitful idea.and wonderful invocation: «Your face I seek, do not hide your face! », that "expresses - said the cardinal - the sure certainty that God will come to help us in adversity ". 

Tagle began with Psalm 27 and from the psalm took the cue for a continuous reference between the Scripture and the existence of everyone, with precise examples regarding our own time. «The experience of the psalmist, who is facing his difficult life, constantly looking for the face of God because in him there is beauty, is very current - he has discovered - Just as we can fight evil with good, we can also fight ugliness of life with beauty, which is the face of God! »

And if today« the world goes looking for beauty in faces »and« there are many beauty products to make the face a more beautiful and radiant face ", the question that Tagle addressed to everyone was disruptive in its simplicity: «What is your true face? The one with which you are born or the one which you have chosen, modeled on the faces of some celebrities?

In many countries today - he continued - many  mutilated faces tell stories of wars, of harsh conflicts, of slavery, and of abuse" citing the document of  2006 of the Pontifical Council for  Culture «Via Pulchritudinis» (the way of beauty) to state that "The Church can respond to the difficult challenges of humanity by proposing the way of beauty ». It is certainly not a way of «Aesthetics» or not only an aesthetic as described by Cardinal Tagle, for whom the first form of beauty today is compassion.

«The culmination of beauty - he said - is the love of God manifested in Jesus ". Above all in Jesus crucified: «Contemplating that face - he pointed out, indicating the icon of the Face of Manoppello exposed in the cathedral - leads us to not desire any other beauty, because in him there is the perfect beauty, the beauty of true love that accepts sufferings so that others can live ".

And today, in front of "So many faces whose story is never told" is the "Compassionate face of God" that comes to meet us. Tagle invoked empathy "If we can fight the bad with good,we can also fight the ugliness of life with beauty, that is the face of God!"

We must then learn to look anew upon God, "the only one who can awaken our compassion ".
In him, in fact, "compassion, which is a maternal instinct, is  His very face! » Because of this "the mission of the Church and of the people of good will is to be the womb and the face of compassion for many children who feel they do not belong to anybody ». And to great applause Tagle, who upon entering the cathedral wanted to contemplate for some minutes the Holy Face, concluded with a wish: «We hope that the world might see the face of God, the beauty of God, through our compassion ".

Report by Giacomo D'Onofrio on Day of Prayer and Contemplation before the Holy Face on October 25

That relic clearly shows us the face of Christ in the moments following his resurrection from the dead.  We would like to describe for you what it means to pray in front of this relic.  In particular, regarding Thursday, October 25, when the whole day, in the cathedral, was marked by prayer thanks to the presence of two Missionary Sisters of Divine Revelation, who helped people to contemplate that Face, to gaze upon it and to let ourselves be gazed upon.

The highlight of the day was the hour of community prayer in video-conference with the shrine of Manoppello. It was thus possible for the many who filled the cathedral to pray with the many who gathered in the shrine cared for by the Capuchin friars of Abruzzo for a time that was deep, strong, and intense.

Video-Conference of prayer linking Shrine of Manoppello and Cathedral of Grosseto  

At the end of the prayer conducted by the Bishop, the song of the «Victimae Paschali», the ancient Easter sequence, before the Holy Veil, was very emotional. To sing that "Christ has truly risen from the dead", contemplating the face of the Risen One, has meant becoming fully aware of the great intensity of love with which Christ loved us. "In that human face - the Bishop underscored in his homily - we can recognize the whole journey of the humanity of God. He became a child, a teenager, a young man, became a worker, became a teacher: all the human journey appears to us in that face now risen! Then every human reality is signed by God with the cross and we can see the mercy of him, who so loved the world that he gave us his son ".

To understand this, it was equally helpful to listen to the compelling narration by the journalist and author  Saverio Gaeta, who reconstructed the stages that brought the relic of the Holy Face to Manoppello. Almost like a story from a novel, so many were the twists and turns. What is most important, however, is what was said by Gaeta at the beginning of the talk: "The Holy Face is the most important relic in the world" and its preciousness is entirely spiritual, because
"This is the true image of the risen Jesus, the culmination of all Revelation". Its story begins in the tomb, in Jerusalem, where Christ has risen as he had promised.

"That Veil - Gaeta explained- is the sudarium (face-cloth) of which John speaks in the Gospel. At the moment of the resurrection, by means of a prodigy that goes beyond us, that sudarium had impressed upon it the face of Jesus ». If the Shroud of Turin is the photograph of a corpse, "the Veil of Manoppello is color photography, which documents for us the Risen One who bears the marks of the passion upon himself". For the Jews, those cloths, which had enveloped a dead corpse of one who had suffered a bloody death, were unclean. "For this reason, for centuries - he explained - those cloths were hidden, in order to ensure that they would not be destroyed".

Monday, November 5, 2018

Mrs. Daisy Neves, Illustrious Promoter of the Holy Face at Manoppello

Daisy smiling near the bulletin board at the entrance to the Basilica, close to the photos of Cardinal Tagle and to the article of Antonio Bini  "Il Volto della Verità"(the Face of Truth) also present on this blog

I am very grateful to Antonio Bini for sending  this news and accompanying photos of the visit of Mrs. Neves to Manoppello 

I wish to inform you that Daisy Neves, together with her son Erwin, stayed a week in Manoppello the second week of October, before going to Rome to participate in the Enthronement of the Holy Face in the church of Saints Elisabeth and Zechariah, planned by the pastor of the parish, Father Bonifacio (Ted) Lopez.

Daisy Neves with Fr. Carmine Cucinelli, Antonio Bini and her son Erwin
Daisy holding copy of Antonio Bini's collection of articles on the Holy Face which were published in English on this blog which can be accessed at The Holy Face from Manoppello to the World by Antonio Bini

Daisy spent an intense week of prayer close to the venerable Holy Face, happy to finally be able to stay in the adjacent Casa del Pellegrino (Pilgrim House), reopened last summer. Mrs. Neves, promoter of the international missions of the Holy Face in 2014 and 2015, as well as of many other initiatives in the United States, Canada, the Philippines, Lebanon and Italy, was greeted with cordiality and gratitude by Fr. Carmine Cucinelli, rector of the Sanctuary, by the other Caputchin friars, and Sister Petra-Maria Steiner, who also performed the duties of interpreter.

Daisy Neves with Fr. Carmine Cucinelli, Sr. Petra-Maria Steiner and her son Erwin

During her stay in Manoppello she witnessed the arrival of many pilgrims from various parts of the world. For her it was exciting to meet a group of pilgrims (including many of Filipino origin) from various cities in California, with whom she exchanged impressions on the Holy Face. We have also talked about  the precious role performed by your blog. I'm sending you some photos I took during our meeting.

Daisy, together with Fr. Carmine, speaking with pilgrims from California

Pilgrims from California on steps of Pilgrim House

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Paul Badde's Latest Book On the Holy Face of Manoppello Now Available

Holy Veil of Manoppello book cover

Holy Veil of Manoppello

The Human Face of God

The horrific 1915 earthquake that leveled tiny Manoppello, Italy, brought forth from the local church’s rubble one of Christendom’s long-lost, but most precious relics: the small cloth that lay on Jesus’s face in the tomb.
Saint John speaks of it in his Gospel: “When Peter went into the tomb, he saw linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself.” Tradition says that Our Lady herself laid this cloth on His face before He was wrapped in His shroud for burial.
This small veil — now known as the Holy Face of Manoppello — absorbed the very first new breath of the Risen Christ . . . and at that same instant had imprinted on itself, miraculously, a vivid image of the now-resurrected Jesus.
Modern scholars have confirmed that this image corresponds perfectly in all its measurements to the face of the dead Christ on the more famous Shroud of Turin.

Product Details

  • Pages: 112
  • Format(s): Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-1-622826-483
  • Product Code: 6483
  • Availability: In Stock

Friday, September 21, 2018

Devotion to Father Domenico of the Holy Face

The Servant of God commemorated at Manoppello on Sunday September 16 -- forty years after his death, also with the introduction of a book on his life.

By Antonio Bini

 "The passage of time, instead of weakening his memory, shows an ever greater following, even by people who did not know him in life". A quote from the amazed vice-postulator of the cause of beatification, Fr. Eugenio Di Gianberardino and the Rector of the Sanctuary, Fr. Carmine Cucinelli at the end of the event organized in the Sanctuary of the Holy Face of Manoppello, to remember Father Domenico da Cese (1905-1978), forty years after his death as a result of a road accident in Turin, where he had traveled for the exposition of the Shroud.

The celebration of the Mass was preceded by a meeting attended by many people who came to Manoppello from every part of Italy and also from abroad to testify to their devotion to Fr. Domenico da Cese, also by providing written statements. There were even pilgrimages specially organized from Ruvo di Puglia, Andria and Civitavecchia.  So many came that in the San Damiano hall, adjacent to the basilica, that the closest devotees linked to the figure of Capuchin from the Italian land of Marsica could hardly enter.

Introducing the meeting, Fr. Carmine Cucinelli illustrated the complex process begun in recent months to give a burial in the Basilica of the Holy Face to the mortal remains of Fr. Domenico da Cese, for whom a special project was begun, recalling that the issue arose in the days immediately following the death of his confrere. In fact, from a letter recently found in the archives of the friary, it emerges that the spiritual assistant of the Association of the Holy Face of Ruvo di Puglia, Don Vincenzo Amenduni, on October 30, 1978,  expressed warmly, in the name of a community of faithful larger than the same association, the desire that the body of the beloved Father Domenico da Cese find its resting place in the Sanctuary of the Holy Face of Manoppello. In this regard it seems interesting to grasp the reasons that the priest, on behalf of the associates and other faithful, supported the request, recalling that "Father Domenico carried out his religious and priestly activity in the Shrine, remaining permanently bound to the zeal with which he spread the devotion to the Holy Face making himself a wise moral and spiritual guide of those who saw in him a generous father who spared no effort for the formation of many faithful coming to Manoppello from every part of Italy and Europe ".

These seem to be expressions that represent the extraordinary relationship between Fr.Domenico and the Holy Face, of which he was a tenacious and passionate disseminator, in the certainty of its authenticity, which appears inseparable from him- yesterday as today - even to those who only recently came to know or study the figure of the friar and the story of the Holy Face, re-emerged from oblivion and recovering its significance in the history of Christianity only in recent years.

The same Fr. Carmine himself gave an affectionate thanks to the nephew and nieces of the Capuchin for having consented to the transfer of the remains of Fr. Dominic from the private chapel of the cemetery in Cese, with a joint letter in which they said they were certain that his will was to remain close to his beloved Holy Face. After the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints in 2015 recognized the Capuchin as Servant of God, there was placed in the hall for ex-voto a giant portrait of Fr. Domenico with a copy of the Holy Face in his hand, alongside a visitors book open to those who arrive at the Sanctuary, continuing to follow his teaching.

Fr. Eugenio then opened the floor for the exposition of numerous testimonies of devotees, regarding miracles, or of personal experiences of extraordinary events, also by people who have come to the knowledge of Fr. Dominic only in recent years, as for example, a lady from Taranto, who told the dramatic case of a relative. Several personal and family histories are different and even unique, even of children who tell the story of their parents, like the joy at the arrival of the letters from Fr. Domenico,his constant invitation to prayer and the veneration of the Holy Face. The overcoming of the effects of serious traffic accidents, as told by a lady who came from France and other very serious pathologies, faced with prayer and with the perceived closeness of the Servant of God. Others have once again presented the mysterious relationship between Fr. Domenico and Padre Pio from Pietrelcina, with stories that surpass any ability to understand according to the ordinary mechanisms of human reasoning. The intervention of Fr. Eugenio has often offered calm reflections on the religious level with respect to individual testimonies.

Among the various religious gathered, the emotional presence of Fr. Luciano Antonelli and Fr. Pietro De Guglielmo, confreres of the unforgettable Fr. Domenico in the convent of Manoppello in that distant 1978. The former (now in L'Aquila) was the superior, while the latter (now in Penne) was commissioned to go to Turin to assist the dying Fr. Domenico.

Particular affection has been shown by many people towards Br. Vincenzo d'Elpidio, present at the event, who was a friend of Fr. Dominic and who for years has been committed to supporting the cause of beatification of the confrere, which he knew well, the extraordinary charisma, simplicity, total availability to the humble and suffering and his untiring dedication to the cause of the Holy Face, which had also brought him to Turin on his last trip, with the tragic epilogue that he would have foreseen. We heard the old friar confiding to some people who greeted him familiarly of his desire to attend the burial of Fr. Domenico in Manoppello before leaving this earth.

Also in attendance at the event was the journalist Aleksandra Zapotoczny, who collaborated in the process of canonization of John Paul II and who recently published the book "Live within us", also published in Italy by Mondadori and containing an interesting review of testimonies that led to the beatification of the Polish Pope.

On the occasion of the event, the book "Padre Domenico da Cese, Cappuccino, Una Biografia Illustrata" (Father Domenico da Cese, Capuchin: an Illustrated Biography), presented by Sr. Petra-Maria Steiner, published in Italian by Vita Communis, Waiblingen (Germany), also with a separate edition in German.

This is an interesting biography of the Apostle of the Holy Face, told through a rich series of photographs and documents, largely unpublished, that the author has been able in recent years to collect and arrange in the friary of Manoppello, and coming also from time spent in other friaries, including Avezzano, Penne, L'Aquila (where he was also chaplain in the local hospital), Vasto, Sulmona, Luco dei Marsi, Campli, Caramanico Terme, before his assignment to the friary of Manoppello, which took place in 1966.  For the first time some events are related of the period in which Fr. Domenico was a military war chaplain in Trieste and then in the territories of the former Yugoslavia as well as a series of interesting articles published in the Austrian Catholic magazine "Grüß Gott" whose editor, Ms. Ida Loidl, organized pilgrimages to San Giovanni Rotondo and Manoppello when Fr. Domenico was alive.

The publication, introduced by the writer Paul Badde, is destined to open further research perspectives on the life of the friar. Circumstances that make us reflect on what the Fr. Domenico claimed when he said he did not want anyone to talk about him, something that could only be done after his death.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Transitus Mariae -- Was the veil of Manoppello also in Mary's tomb?

(editors note:  thanks to Paul Badde for sending me this important article with photos and to Dirk Weisbrod for allowing me to translate and publish it in these days leading to the glorious feast of Mary's Assumption into Heaven)

by Dirk Weisbrod

The chronicle of the Dormition of the Mother of God and her Assumption into Heaven constituted in early Christian literature a genre called Transitus literature coming from the Latin word for "passage" (to eternal life near the Lord), of which more than twenty are known today, various testimonies of apocryphal texts, whose authors are lost in the fog of traditions, editors and different copies. So the texts were attributed to an apostle or evangelist or to a father of the church to give more credibility to the facts narrated.

 The chronicles of the Transitus of a pseudo John and a pseudo James have been handed down to us along with different narrative variants, according to which the Mother of God was in one raptured into heaven without experiencing death, and in the other, after she died was assumed into heaven by the Son after burial. According to the studies of scholars there are still more versions of this latter story, but the apostles are always present, even if in different formations. Depending on the variant that the text prefers, they are direct witnesses of the Transitus or discover only later the empty tomb of Mary.  We must also add that none of the texts handed down is dated before 431, when the Council of Ephesus announced the dogma of the Divine Motherhood of Mary.

So could the transitus texts be an “a posteriori” rationalization of this dogma and therefore be without foundation?  This does not seem right, if we think for example of the oldest Marian prayer known on a papyrus of Egypt of the year 250, which we presented in the last May issue of the Vatikan Magazin. In fact, the dogma of the Divine Motherhood in 431 did not fall from heaven; rather it was the confirmation and the worthy conclusion of a Marian devotion that had existed for some time, which also included the tradition of the Transitus Mariae.

Where however the critical knowledge of texts confuses us instead of clarifying, we can resort to images. In Christian painting there was a widespread motif for many centuries, in which the apostles once again found themselves together at the deathbed of Mary and then were shown astonished in front of her empty tomb. But no painter was present in this concrete situation, so that many interpreters have relegated the fact to the status of legend. But there is also the apostolic tradition - deeds of the apostles which were known to the primitive community and were handed down by word of mouth. 

The deeds kept their true foundation and were formed into varying stories, into icons that were then also written and preserved in the ancient manuscripts. We can evaluate them ourselves with our inner eye and verify their plausibility. An ancient Georgian Transitus from the monastery of St. Catherine of Sinai contains just such iconic texts. . After long being ignored, it was translated but, up to the present day, only into Latin.

Monastery of St. Catherine at the foot of Mt. Sinai

This is sad because this text deserves to be widely known, since it shows Mary's death and assumption into heaven in a completely new light. The Holy Face that we venerate at Manoppello, that image of the Lord not made by human hands, plays a very special role for the Transitus genre.
This image on a veil would only reappear in its true light in the last century, thanks to the passionate work of researchers such as Father Domenico da Cese, Paul Badde and Blandina Schlömer, until today when, after being overshadowed for centuries, it can now be considered a relic of the Easter tomb, exactly as the Shroud of Turin. 

Although to date it cannot keep up with the vastness of the studies on the Shroud of Turin - being also since 1714 kept between two sheets of glass in a walnut frame sealed with fish glue - yet in Manoppello already the appearance reveals what science has shown in Turin: both images show Jesus of Nazareth, the one dead, the other living. But today nobody can explain how these images were formed. According to human understanding, however, Mary must have touched and kissed it and must have kept it with her until death, as the most manageable and smallest veil with the Face of her living Son. And it is precisely this that is suggested for the first time also by an apocryphal document, this very ancient Georgian manuscript.

But how did this manuscript arrive in Egypt? And why did it remain hidden for so long? This is undoubtedly due to the migration of Orthodox monks, which led to the formation of monasteries on Mount Athos, not only Greeks, but also Bulgarians, Romanians, Russians, Serbs and even Georgians. The same happened in the Middle East. Already in the fifth century some Georgian monks settled in Palestine to pray in the holy places. In particular, the Mar Saba monastery south of Bethlehem became a center of Georgian monasticism. From there the first Georgians reached the monastery of Saint Catherine at the beginning of the 6th century. In the ninth century, when Islam increasingly oppressed Christians in the Holy Land, many Georgians fled from Palestine to Sinai, where they  constituted a large colony, favored by elites of Georgian authorities.

Monastery of Mar Saba south of Bethlehem

 On the road to Egypt the monks followed the traces of the Holy Family and brought with them the manuscripts that had been drawn up in the monastery of Mar Saba, but also oral chronicles that they had certainly gathered during their travels in the streets of Jerusalem and Bethlehem. In the monasteries they also came in contact with ancient Greek, Arab and Coptic manuscripts, which also contained many documents from the early Church. So, it happened that soon in the rocky desert of Egypt, directly under the holy mountain, gushed a very particular source: the monks wrote pages and pages of parchment in an unknown language, the ancient Georgian, which in modern times was completely forgotten. 

Only in the nineteenth century did scientific study of manuscripts in ancient Georgian begin, which gradually were viewed and cataloged in the Georgian libraries, on Mount Athos, in the monastery of Mar Saba and in the monastery of Saint Catherine. We must not forget how tiring journeys were for the monks and how the monasteries jealously guarded their treasures. Truly reliable catalogs of the manuscripts were only available in the mid-20th century. For the monastery of Santa Catherine in the nineteenth century deserving of merit is the Georgian Alexander of Zangareli who taught in St. Petersburg and in the twentieth century mainly the Soviet Russian Nicolai Marr and members of the United States expedition to the Sinai monastery in the years 1949-1950.

Codex Sin. Georg. 68

During this expedition, the Codex  Sin. Georg.68 of the twelfth century was completely recorded on microfilm, and described and cataloged by Belgian professor Gérard Garitte, an ancient orientalist. This codex contains, among other things, a sermon that is attributed to Saint Basil of Caesarea.
It had long been known that Basil had preached about Mary's death. The Georgian monk and priest Grigol Peradse, who was martyred by the Nazis and is revered as a saint in the Orthodox Church since 1955, cites this sermon as early as 1929. However, he did not yet know about the version of the monastery of St. Catherine.

The first and so far only translation of the Georgian text was presented in 1974 by the Flemish Jesuit Michel van Esbroeck (1934 - 2003) in Latin; in it he drew on the microfilm of the American expedition to the Sinai. It was Van Esbroeck who dated the text at the beginning of the 6th century and recognized that Basil could not be the author, since his name appears point blank at the beginning and at the end of the text. The preaching of the pseudo-Basil turned out to be rather a variant of an apocryphal Transitus that Van Esbroeck divided into 94 small chapters to facilitate reading.

The account includes eight days and begins on a Sunday. Mary dies on Friday, is buried and the following Sunday the apostles find the empty tomb. The parallels with the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are so evident, that it is probably an addition of the author. Instead what is extraordinary among all the Transitus literature are those points in which the story takes up the ancient knowledge of an "image of the Savior" impressed on a cloth that the Mother of God would always carry with her after the Ascension of her Son.

Van Esbroeck explicitly quotes in the brief introduction to his translation the exposed position of this image on fabric (die exponierte Stellung dieses Tuchbildes) and identifies it, as well as some renowned experts on the Shroud (Sindonologists) after him, with the Shoud of Turin. The Flemish Jesuit in 1974 did not yet know of the sacred Vatican sudarium, kept from around 1527 in the town of Manoppello in the Abruzzi. Only by the end of the nineteen-seventies, thanks to the tireless efforts of the Capuchin Father Domenico da Cese, did it gradually gain attention outside the immediate region. However, even if Van Esbroeck lacked this possibility of comparison, we must ask ourselves if the identification with the Shroud is well founded. A careful observation of chapter 12 raises strong doubts. We listen carefully:

"From the Ascension this Immaculate Virgin always carried with her an image impressed on cloth, which had been given to her by a divine hand, so that she could see and contemplate forever the beautiful image of her Son. And when she prayed, she turned the image toward the east and prayed before it with her hands upraised. At the very moment of her death (literally: "of her farewell") she recited all her prayers in the same way before the image of life. She lit three candles, burned incense , and left her body between the tears of supplication and vigils in the night. "

First of all, is there a more beautiful image than that of Mary who goes out praying before the image of her Son facing east, towards the Lord who is coming, then in the perspective of her assumption into heaven? No other previously known story about Mary's death gives us a similar image for the journey, which we could imagine as an icon in a Georgian monastery. But do we really have to think that Mary was spreading in front of her, say on a clothes rack, the four-meter long cloth of the Turin shroud on which, moreover, she could only recognize the portrait of her Son in an indistinct way? Unlikely, very unlikely.

Is it not much more likely that this undetermined cloth was the second image on fabric from the sepulcher of Christ, much easier to handle, -- the finely woven veil of the sudarium of Christ, known today as the Holy Face of Manoppello?

from Marienkirche, Kalbensteinberg

In truth the text of the ancient Georgian original helps us little about it; at least not at first sight. Van Esbroeck translated the point correctly with sudarium, referring to the French concept of Sainte-Suaire, meaning however the shroud of Turin. In the original ancient Georgian it is clearly a linen cloth. But even with this we have not yet found any statement about the state of the image on cloth and its identity with the Turin Shroud. It may be that the unknown author of the Transitus knew that the sudarium was made of very light cloth but did not know the material. So it is obvious that he thought of linen cloth in the end, very common in antiquity, instead of the finely woven material of the Holy Face.

"Mourning Over the Dead Body of Christ" by Joan Mates 

Fortunately, the author himself gives us further information on the identity of the fabric, for example when he defines the image on fabric that Mary carried with her as an "image of life". At this point, among other things, in the original there is the Georgian word for "being, existence, persistence", therefore expressively a definition for someone who is NOT dead. This is even more true because later the Savior speaks to Mary from the image and from his portrait comes a supernatural light when the Mother of God and the apostles pray before it. The shroud instead presents the representation of a dead man with his eyes closed. How could it be a "picture of life"? Therefore, nothing prevents us from considering the veil held today in Manoppello as the image venerated by Mary.

Moreover, the author  of the Transitus himself starts from the assumption of the existence of two sheets, when, in chapter 71 after the death of Mary, he narrates the following: "Then the apostles began to take care of the body that had conceived the Lord, placed it in the sacred. linen, they wrapped it and sealed it with oils ". With holy linen we immediately think of the shroud of Turin, which at first the apostles will have kept together with the sudarium, if we take seriously the discovery of the two sheets by Peter and John, as we learn from the Gospel of John (Jn 20, 1-10).

 It is not to be supposed that they used a second time this cloth with the blood stains of the Passion of Christ. But instead it seems obvious that the apostles would buy for the burial of the Virgin a sheet of fine linen like that of Joseph of Arimathea, to honor one last time that body that had once carried the Lord "under her heart" for nine months and had given birth to him.

From the text it emerges very clearly that this cloth is not the same as that with the image of the Savior. Because the unknown author differentiates with certainty the two sizes of cloth, so that, if the same Shroud of Turin was not used in Mary's burial, the difference between a large linen cloth and the close at hand sudarium is more than clear. The apostles in the burial of Mary gave it another role, as is unequivocally demonstrated by the iconic text on burial in chapter 79:
When they arrived at Gethsemane they built according to custom the grave for the body that had received God and placed the image of the Savior on the grave. They watched in prayer and full praise that night. Then on the day of Saturday, at the third hour,  the offering having been completed,  they still watched in prayer with great devotion until midnight.

Even if the text iat this point is certainly not a reportage, it certainly recovers the traditions of Jerusalem as they were still alive at the beginning of the sixth century in the Middle East. It is very important to retain this. We do not know if they were the first Georgian monks in the Holy Land who summarized these traditions and handed them down over the centuries, so that even the author of the manuscript could still report them in the 12th century, or if a disappeared Greek, Coptic or Arabic manuscript wrote this knowledge for the first time, which was then copied by the Georgians. But the Georgian Transitus towards the end offers us once again a sensational clue that this knowledge is founded on facts: it points to the Garden of Gethsemane as the place of Mary's tomb, exactly where it is still venerated today! This is one of the first citations of this tomb.

Already this authorizes us here to listen carefully once again: the apostles placed the cloth "super sepulcrum" (Georgian: Saplavsa zeda) - "on the grave" of Mary. But what does this mean "above" in this context? If the place at the foot of the Mount of Olives in the Garden of Gethsemane still today was really the place of Mary's burial - a tradition that dates back to antiquity shows - then the apostles deposed Mary, just as 17 years prior had happened with Christ, in a so-called trough tomb. Such a trough tomb, however, is not built up with walls, as the author of the sixth century erroneously states, but carved into the rock. Consequently, one has to imagine the burial chamber as a narrow passage

carved into the rock near which a stone bench, like a niche, was again carved into the rock, on which was later placed the body bound with wrappings. The chamber itself after the burial was closed at the entrance with a stone.

This tomb, which can still be seen today in the Garden of Gethsemane, we can imagine as an intact example and almost as a model for the empty tomb of Christ, since the Constantinian Basilica of Anastasis with the Holy Sepulcher was destroyed by Sultan al-Hakim on September 28, 1009. Instead Mary's tomb had escaped al-Hakim's destructive folly.

It was not therefore a closed sarcophagus with a lid nor even a buried tomb, covered with earth.

"Resurrection" by Michael Wolgemut, Nuremberg, 1485

Above what or on what, then, would the veil have been placed here? "Super sepulcrum" therefore here can only mean: on the open stone bench of the niche in the rock and therefore directly above and not under the body and that is - how could it be otherwise - on the face of Mary. The sensibility and beauty of this iconic text will never be emphasized enough.

Finally there is still the parallel to the story of Christ. When the apostles in chapter 87 once again open the tomb, Mary has already been taken to heaven: "And as they looked in they did not find the body of the Mother of God, but they found the empty cloths and the sudarium laid in a separate place rolled up. "At this point the original Georgian (sudari) and the translator van Esbroeck (sudarium) use the word corresponding to the Sudarium.

Obviously here the analogy with the discovery of the wrappings of Christ by Peter and John in the Gospel of John, which also here relies on the event of the Resurrection of the Lord as the Roman liturgy of the feast of the Assumption reflects manifestly and clearly the liturgy of the Easter night.

However, one can and must also be asked if it was not really so. That is, if the apostles and first of all John, with whom Mary according to tradition had lived long in Ephesus before her "sleep", if he therefore in his farewell has not placed on her face that precious sudarium that she in his presence had venerated so deeply in prayer. 

That sudarium had previously been placed by an unknown hand on the Dead Face of the Lord, on that first Good Friday in His sepulcher at the foot of Golgotha.

So we want to imagine it this way: the image of the Savior is placed on Mary's face and leads her to eternal life, as if the first breath of Jesus fixed in the sudarium had infused eternal life into Mary in a supernatural mouth-to-mouth breath.  Although the author no longer knew the details of the tomb, it is certainly possible that he drew the right conclusions from tradition: if Mary has venerated the sudarium of Christ, then it was also the natural funeral of the apostles for the Mother of God - in some ways as a guide in eternity and as confirmation of the Divine Motherhood.

But this is nothing more than what healthy human reason suggests: that this veil that the Virgin has kept in such high and great consideration and that was spontaneously placed by the apostles on her face before her sleep, that therefore the veil itself that Wipo of Burgundy (995 -1048) later exalted in the Easter sequence "Victimae paschali laudes" together with the shroud of Turin as angelic witness (angelicos testos) of the Resurrection of Christ, that this veil finally became also the first witness of the Assumption of Our Lady in Heaven - almost as a celestial material parenthesis of the Resurrection of Christ with the last dogma of faith of the Catholic Church proclaimed November 1, 1950 by Pius XII of the Assumption of the body of Mary in heaven.

All of this is really too good to be true and corresponds almost perfectly to the incredibly childlike (childish) beauty of the gospel of the Incarnation of God in the virginal womb of the Mother of God.

But what happened to the cloth? The Transitus still tells us that the apostles wanted to leave it forever in the empty tomb of Mary (chapter 92). But it must not have been there long. Because if we place the death of Mary with good reasons around the Council of Apostles of 50 A.D. in Jerusalem, where she certainly accompanied the apostle John of Ephesus, following a persecution of the primitive community even more bitter from the council and from the high priests. An image of the Lord's fabric in Mary's tomb would most likely have been confiscated and destroyed.

We must therefore assume that we ought to give credence to the tradition according to which the apostle Jude Thaddeus of the "family of the Lord" as a relative and heir of Mary, after his death brought the veil to safety in Edessa, where for the first time since of the primitive community of Jerusalem was shown together with the shroud of Christ, before being brought to Constantinople as the pallium of the Byzantine kingdom, as an image of the Face of the Lord not made by human hands.

But only today we know that it was imprinted on sea-silk, a material that cannot be painted.

The text of the Georgian Transitus gives us a treasure trove of immense images. There are probably further discoveries to be made in its 94 chapters and in other Georgian manuscripts, which however should first be translated exactly from Georgian into German: Translators -- come forward!

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Videos from 2018 Transfiguration Feast of Holy Face in Manoppello

Amazing live videos from the Mass of Transfiguration at the Basilica of the Holy Face and from the night time outdoor procession of the Holy Face.  Thanks to all those who made this possible, especially the cameraman.

Facebook page of the Basilica of the Holy Face of Manoppello

Monday, August 6, 2018

Feast of Transfiguration of the Lord in Manoppello

Paul Badde sent some beautiful photos from the today's Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord the oldest feast of the Holy Face in Manoppello.  Thanks Paul!

bright lights to joyfully celebrate the Lord's presence among his people

"The Lord looks down from heaven, he sees all the sons of men".  Psalm 33

"Your Face O Lord I seek" Psalm 27

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Holy Face in Lebanon

editors note:  this post is a compilation of messages received in early July from Mrs. Daisy Neves, great friend to all who love and promote the Holy Face.  Thanks Daisy!

Dearest Friends.. I found this in Fr Nadim viber message; maybe not too clear ... he gives Holy Face pictures and brochures as he distributed food boxes to Syrian and Iraqi refugees.  Maronite priest beside him but I don’t have his name.

Fr Nadim Abou Zeid  presented Holy Face picture to the Syriac Orthodox Bishop George Saliba  together with  1500 brochures and booklets which he put together for printing in Lebanon.  Also he donated the framed Holy Face to a Maronite Catholic Church..St Elias Catholic church in Beirut..but no pictures yet.

Fr Nadim is truly a Holy Face Missionary not only in Lebanon but to the Orthodox and other Rites (Catholic Maronite Syriac, Catholic Copts, Catholic Chaldeans. Catholic Greeks, and more..i have to go to last year few notes) ..he mentioned " 10 churches" ..Fr Nadim works alone and with help of relatives with cars..he managed to do these 2 missions together..donate food boxes and hand out the Holy Face pictures, etc.  And this is his annual vacation!  At least 10 days are spent for the Holy Face (just coordinating with the printer, boxes them, deliver them to welcoming priests..etc)_..truly a big task for Fr Nadim..only because he believes and loves the Holy Face..that is why he is doing this.  But it helps that he is able to combine these two boxes which he has been doing for years and evangelize the existence of the Holy Face..(which originated from next the Holy Face came full circle..not quite because we have no contact yet  Jerusalem yet.  

This picture shows Fr Nadim and companion priest..preaching to the refugees and some local Lebanese..he is holding the Holy Face and look closely the audience have already gotten their copies of the HF picture and brochures  (Fr Nadim said he compiled the prayer of Pope Benedict, Novena to the Holy Face,  he copied the short history of the Holy Face which the ladies and I have put together , songs, etc. in Arabic).  My niece forwarded  message from Fr Nadim...

  Fr Nadim distributes food boxes to the Syrian and Iraqi refugees and at the same them a picture of the Holy Face, brochures and prayer Arabic.  I had him hand-carry a nicely framed Holy Face (same as I gave to Fr Goode of St Francis church in East Palo Alto in Nov 2017)  and was enthroned at St Elias Maronite Catholic Church in Beirut, Lebanon.  This is his second Holy Face Mission in Lebanon (2017-2018).