Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Omnis Terra 2020 at the Basilica of the Holy Face of Manoppello

by Antonio Bini

On January 19, 2020, coinciding with the second Sunday after Epiphany, the ancient rite of Omnis Terra will be repeated in Manoppello. The celebration will be presided over by the Swiss Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, who has twice visited the Shrine of the Holy Face.  Of particular note was his presence in Manoppello on September 18, 2016 on the occasion of the final meeting of the 14th plenary session of the Joint Commission for theological dialogue between the Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches. Cardinal Koch presided over the Catholic delegation. The Argentine Cardinal Leonardo Sandri was also present for the occasion.

Archbishop Forte, Cardinal Koch and Cardinal Sandri at the Basilica of the Holy Face on Sept 18, 2016

The feast of Omnis Terra has a strong symbolic significance, recalling the ancient procession established by Pope Innocent III in 1208, during which the Veronica was solemnly carried from Saint Peter's Basilica to the nearby hospital and church of Santo Spirito in Sassia. 



The rite was re-instituted on January 16, 2016 with a pilgrimage from Manoppello to Rome.  A copy of the Holy Face, enclosed in an ancient silver reliquary, was venerated on January 16 and 17 by a multitude of people in the church of Santo Spirito in Sassia.  On January 16 there was the presence of Archbishop Georg Gänswein, prefect of the Papal Household and on January 17 the Lebanese Archbishop Edmond H. Farhat, Canon of Saint Peter's Basilica, who has since passed away.  
Archbishop Ganswein at Feast of Omnis Terra 2016

Father Carmine Cucinelli, OFM, Cap., Archbishop Farhat and Mons. Ciani at Feast of Omnis Terra 2016

In 2017 and 2018 the rite was repeated in Manoppello, with celebrations presided over by Msgr. Americo Ciani, Canon of St. Peter's. 
Msgr. Ciani at Feast of Omnis Terra 2018

The 2019 edition saw the presence of Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, the archbishop of San Francisco Salvatore J. Cordileone and the local ordinary, Archbishop of Chieti-Vasto, Bruno Forte. 

Archbishop Forte, Cardinal Muller and Archbishop Cordileone at Feast of Omnis Terra 2019

The solemn celebrations concluded with a procession inside the Basilica and outside with the blessing in the plaza.

Archbishop Forte and Archbishop Cordileone at the Feast of Omnis Terra 2019

The presence of  bishops and cardinals, and also that of canons of Saint Peter's Basilica, as well as the particular significance of some notable homilies, https://holyfaceofmanoppello.blogspot.com/2016/01/archbishop-georg-gansweins-homily-at.html 






has made the rite an implicit testimony as to how much the awareness has grown, within the hierarchy of the Church, of the Veronica being identified with the Holy Face which is safeguarded and venerated in Manoppello.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Enthronement of Holy Face at Queen of Peace Church in Kew Gardens, Queens, New York

Good news from Antonio Bini who writes:

I am sending you some photos of the enthronement of the Holy Face in the Queen of Peace Church - Kew Gardens - New York during the Mass celebrated on December 1 2019 by the pastor, Msgr. Michael J. Hardiman, along with other religious.  Corgie Bernardo, who was among the friends of Daisy Neves, worked very hard to make the enthronement possible.  She is the one who provided the photos. This enthronement was also accompanied by a letter of authenticity signed by Fr. Carmine Cucinelli.

Msgr. Michael J. Hardiman and Corgie Bernardo with the Holy Face

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Now Available here in the USA: Holy Cards of the Holy Face of Manoppello and Prayer Leaflets for the Servant of God Padre Domenico da Cese

To obtain holy cards of the Holy Face of Manoppello please contact me at randlfrost@gmail.com.  The photo of the Holy Face was provided by Father Carmine Cucinelli, OFM, Cap., the Rector of the Shrine of the Holy Face of Manoppello, who is celebrating his birthday today.  Tanti auguri Padre Carmine! Best wishes and prayers for Father Carmine on his birthday!

 There are two kinds of the holy cards:  one has on the back scripture passages, the name of the Shrine and website addresses regarding the Holy Face of Manoppello.  The second kind has on the back of the holy card Pope Benedict XVI's prayer to the Holy Face which he composed on the first anniversary of his September 1, 2006 pilgrimage to the Holy Face of Manoppello.   Let me know which kind you would like.

Also --- beautiful prayer leaflets for the beatification of Servant of God Padre Domenico da Cese are available from Tarmara Klapatch, translator of Sr. Petra-Maria Steiner's biography of Padre Domenico.  Contact Tamara at PadreDomenicoVoltoSanto@gmail.com to obtain the leaflets.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Celebration at Manoppello for the 41st Anniversary of the Death of the Servant of God Padre Domenico da Cese Apostle of the Holy Face

\Photo by Fr. Carmine Cucinelli

report on Padre Domenico and the celebration by RETE8 the principal television network of Abruzzo


By Antonio Bini

 A long applause, encouraged by Padre Nicola Galasso, father provincial of the Capuchins of Abruzzo, concluded the solemn Mass celebrated on Sunday September 22 in the Basilica of the Holy Face of Manoppello to remember Padre Domenico da Cese on the 41st anniversary of his death, which took place in Turin, where he had gone for the exposition of the Shroud.
Padre Nicola Galasso, father provincial of the Capuchins of Abruzzo presiding at the Mass 

Padre Nicola and Padre Carmine Cucinelli, rector of the Shrine of the Holy Face thanked the many devotees and spiritual children of Padre Domenico who came to Manoppello from various parts of Italy. For the first time, his rosary as well as his personal crucifix were exhibited which Padre Domenico had brought back in 1941 following his service as military chaplain in the Balkans. It is a crucifix, found a few months ago in the internal archive of the convent, about 24 cm high, enclosed in a simple wooden case with a glass door. It seems to have drops of blood which have clotted over time and which should be examined. There are two identical holy cards in the case that illustrate Christ's passion. On the back of one of the two there appears a reflection written by Father Dominic, dated 1941, which alludes to the gaze of Jesus.


The Mass was preceded by the meeting of the devotees in the hall of San Damiano, adjacent to the Basilica of the Holy Face, always full of interventions and personal memories, which is not easy to summarize. The meeting was introduced by Padre Carmine Cucinelli, who recalled the annual nature of the gathering, after the start of the beatification process that took place in the year 2015, following the clearance from the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints. Padre Cucinelli hoped that the beatification process could go forward, also thanks to the prayers of his devotees.

In my speech I tried to summarize the effects of the spread of the knowledge of Padre Domenico, interpreting some subjects of particular interest, including his relationships with the Holy Face and with St. Padre Pio.

It can certainly be argued that Padre Domenico, unlike others among his fellow friars, was strongly convinced of the authenticity of the Holy Face, of its divine character, courageously stating that it was the sudarium placed on the face of Jesus. There were other Capuchins who studied the Holy Face, reconstructing the historical events related to its presence in Manoppello, but avoiding expressing positions, while sensing the extraordinariness of the relic. Among them were Padre Philip da Tussio (1875), Br. Berardino da Monticchio (1910) and Padre Antonio da Serramonacesca (1966), who wrote learnedly on the subject.

Padre Domenico did not publish books or articles, but he expressed his thought openly in some letters addressed to his followers and confirmed it on some popular holy cards which he arranged to have printed in which he answered with great simplicity the question "What is the Holy Face?".

He had first come to know the Holy Face by going to Manoppello in 1964, recognizing the face of the man who saved him from the rubble of the church of Cese collapsed in the catastrophic earthquake that shook Marsica in 1915, causing thirty thousand deaths. The encounter changed his life.

His friend and first biographer Bruno Sammaciccia,  explained in the preface of his book "Father Dominic of the Holy Face, Capuchin, Mystic, inspired and Miracle Worker" that: "he was a true champion of the Holy Face of Manoppello, dedicating himself body and soul to the dissemination of that devotion, to the point of making it the only true purpose of his life."

Recently, the bishop of the Diocese of Isernia, Mons. Camillo Cibotti, recalled that he had met Padre Domenico as a young seminarian visiting Manoppello and that what he had preached on that occasion was still vivid in his memory:  "You will see, in the years following my death the Holy Face will be known all over the world."

Bishop Camillo Cibotti and Padre Carmine Cucinelli

Padre Domenico had many characteristics in common with Padre Pio, such as the stigmata, which seems to be pointed to in various photos and testimonies, the ability to read the souls of the people who came to him and the phenomenon of bilocations. The case of Padre Pio certainly aroused interest, having been seen praying before the Holy Face at the dawn of the last day of his earthly existence, as well as the presence of Padre Domenico at his funeral in San Giovanni Rotondo, even though he had not left Manoppello.

The latter circumstance is documented by a film of the Luce Institute, in which Padre Domenico is seen for a few seconds next to the coffin of Padre Pio. Special images in which the friar appears  surrounded by Carabinieri (Italian state police). According to some accounts, Padre Domenico, with the death of Padre Pio, would have acquired even more the prerogatives of the saint of Pietrelcina.  But other characteristics were also in common with Padre Pio, such as the simplicity and familiarity with which he welcomed those who came to meet him, even at times when he might appear gruff, often expressing himself in dialect rather than the standard Italian language in order to be more direct. It should also be considered that the flow of devotees of Padre Pio who come to the Shrine of the Holy Face on pilgrimage is growing.

Padre Pio prayer group from Frascati during a recent pilgrimage to the Holy Face of Manoppello

But Padre Domenico was distinguished above all by his intense spiritual relationship with the Holy Face. When he was assigned to Manoppello, he was followed by many of his devotees who had come to him in the friaries in which he had previously been (Luco dei Marsi, Campli, Caramanico).  They lined up to talk to him, who always made himself available, from morning to night. They went to Manoppello because of his fame and not because of the Holy Face, then known mainly at the local level, with rare exceptions.

And here it is enough to simply remember the exhibition that he courageously wanted to carry out in the adriatic city of Pescara at the Eucharistic Congress held there in September 1977, which saw the presence of Pope Paul VI.  Padre Domenico could simply not accept the exclusion of the Holy face from any accompanying event, publication or exhibition.

Among the many testimonies it is worth recalling that of the archbishop of the Diocese of Lanciano-Ortona Emidio Cipollone,  also a native of Cese, who in a message of 15 December 2013 wrote that "The ability to predict the future, the bilocation, the stigmata and anything else attributable to Padre Domenico), may not also belong to us; but fidelity to vocation, perseverance in prayer, the simplicity of the way of life, the willingness to sacrifice, the continual presence before the Lord contemplating His Face, the importance and value he gave to the Sacrament of Penance and of the Eucharist, the reception of people and the closeness to the sick, even if seasoned by roughness of character, all this is also our concern and we must guard and care for these things in our lives." The archbishop met Padre Domenico as a boy, and his elderly mother, his devotee, spoke at the commemorative meeting held in Manoppello last year, together with the community of Cese.

During his life Padre Domenico did not want to talk about himself and the extraordinary facts of which he was the protagonist, also inviting those who witnessed him to remain silent, saying that it would be talked about only after his death.

At the meeting was present Brother Vincenzo D'Elpidio, who is part of the community of Capuchins of the Shrine of Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows of Pescara. The elderly friar, who was a friend of Padre Domenico and tireless advocate for the cause of his beatification, and who reminds many of the Servant of God, was greeted with affectionate applause.

Brother Vincenzo d'Elpidio and Antonio Bini
Br. Vincenzo in the front row at Mass in honor of Servant of God Padre Domenico da Cese

In my speech I wanted to briefly tell about his role in the beatification process. Ten years after Padre Domenico's death, the memory of the Capuchin had remained strong among his devotees while the Capuchins themselves seemed to have forgotten it.  In November 1988 Padre Domenico came in a dream to Brother Vincenzo. In his sleep he heard the voice of Padre Domenico saying forcefully: “Here Brother Vincenzo is needed.  Here Brother Vincenzo is needed."  Padre Domenico, with his hood over his head and surrounded by a dozen friars, was immersed in the mud and could not get up. No one helped him, When Brother Vincenzo, with a strong build, approached his brother, the other friars had disappeared. While Padre Domenico was helped to get up with difficulty, he turned to Brother Vincenzo invoking him: "The Masses, the Masses”. Brother Vincenzo awoke, trying to understand what Padre Domenico meant. In the following days he also spoke of his dream to his father provincial and asked a priest to celebrate a Mass.  Then he thought of going to the convent of Manoppello. He asked the then superior Padre Ignatius Scurti if there was any correspondence directed to Padre Domenico, discovering that there were two boxes full of letters addressed to the Servant of God and received after his death. At that time the news of Padre Domenico's death had not reached beyond Turin and Abruzzo, while the internet and the role it would take on global information were still far away. Once he had obtained permission to open the letters, Brother Vincenzo discovered that they contained appeals and requests for help, but also thanks for the graces received, often accompanied, as was a custom then, by banknotes inserted inside, to be understood as offerings for the celebration of Masses. Padre Vincent gave the money to the father guardian and had other Masses celebrated, meeting the requests of Padre Domenico's devotees.  Bringing with him the letters, Brother Vincenzo began collecting testimonies, contacting the writers of the letters and facilitating meetings aimed at remembering the figure of Padre Domenico.  This documentation formed the basis for the start of the beatification process. After so many years he continues to support the cause with passion.

Br. Vincenzo with devotees of Padre Domenico

Also spoken about at the meeting was the American edition of the illustrated biography of Padre Domenico, edited by Sister Petra-Maria Steiner who was present at the gathering. The publication was released recently in the United States under the title Servant of God Padre Domenico da Cese, O.F.M., Capuchin, An Illustrated Biographyarousing interest and curiosity, with reviews spread by various sites of information from many countries. Sister Petra Maria, who for the last three years has engaged in a laborious work of systemizing and archiving testimonies, documents, photos and articles, has created a kind of photo album that promotes the knowledge of the figure of Padre Domenico, bringing the reader to Padre Domenico’s own vision of the Holy Face.  

As always, present were numerous devotees of Padre Domenico from Puglia, in particular from Ruvo di Puglia and Andria, whose memory of Padre Domenico is linked to his spiritual daughter Sister Amalia Di Rella. It was recalled that it was in Ruvo di Puglia 40 years ago – a few months after the death of Padre Domenico – that the first enthronement of the Holy Face took place, in the Church of Purgatory, with a solemn celebration presided over by the then bishop of the diocese of Molfetta  Mons. Aldo Garzia.  
Enthronement of Holy Face in Church of Purgatory in Ruvo di Puglia with Bishop Aldo Garzia

On this occasion, a plaque was unveiled in memory of Padre Domenico da Cese, by the Holy Face Association of the city of Puglia, in the same church. 

Plaque in the Church of Purgatory, Ruvo di Puglia reads "the devotees of the Holy Face of Manoppello in memory of Padre Domenico da Cese, March 31, 1979"

Also from the devoted Puglians there remains – as then – the desire for the mortal remains of the Servant of God to return to Manoppello, from which he never wanted to part. At the beginning of last year the provincial father Nicola Galasso, with the consent of Padre Domenico’s grandnieces and nephews, started the process for the move from the chapel of the cemetery of Cese to the Basilica of the Holy Face. But it is said it could take a long time.  However, the spirit of Padre Domenico continues to be felt in Manoppello.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

41st Anniversary of the Death of the Servant of God Padre Domenico da Cese

Basilica of the Holy Face – Manoppello, Italy

Padre Domenico
da Cese



 Servant of God
Apostle of the Holy Face

41° Anniversary of his death
Sunday September 22, 2019

3:30pmUpdate on the spread in the world of devotion to the Servant of God  

Spontaneous testimonies from those               devoted to Padre Domenico
               5:30pm – Holy Mass presided by Fr.                       Nicola Galasso, 
           Provincial Minister of the Capuchin Friars

Friday, August 23, 2019

Veronica's Heart

Veronica’s Heart
(or The True Canvas of God)

article and photos by Paul Badde

(translation of the article which appeared in the August, 2019 edition of the Italian monthly Tempi)

"The name rose at the moment when your heart became an image: an image of truth/ Your name rose from your eyes lost in gazing", wrote Karol Wojtyla in 1978 in a poem that he called "The Name", addressed to the Veronica we know from the Sixth Station along the Way of the Cross.

The poet was a visionary. Shortly after writing this he will travel from Krakow to Rome, be elected pope and on October 22 present himself to the blocs of the world, then still rigidly divided, with the words "Do not be afraid!  Open, indeed, throw open wide the doors to Christ! To his saving power open the borders of states, economic systems such as political ones, vast fields of culture, civilization, development! Do not be afraid! Christ knows "what is inside man". Only he knows! [...] Let Christ speak to man. He alone has words of life, yes, of eternal life.”  Let Christ speak to man!

A saint sat on the throne of Peter: John Paul the Great. It was a quantum leap of history. His election at the time shocked me to the point that in October 1978 John Paul II made me a journalist and a reporter who wanted and had to write all this. Until then I had been a history teacher. "This man will change the world," I wrote in my first article, which at that time no newspaper wanted to publish. However, the Polish Pope stood by my side. Soon, with an invisible hand, he would open up the access to many newsrooms in Germany, even though I had never learned the trade of a journalist. Because of him, in the fall of 1979 I went with my wife from Berlin to Poland, where for the first time in our lives we met a living image in the image of Our Lady of Czestochowa. Because of him, in March 1979 we wanted to call our fourth child John Paul, but after her birth we decided for Mary Magdalene. 

He really became "my pope". As a correspondent for the Berlin newspaper Die Welt, I therefore had the opportunity to be there in person, on April 21, 2000, when the old poet on the papal throne in his reflections on Good Friday returned once again to his old poetry of 1978 (which was first published in 1979, after his election).

“Veronica does not appear in the Gospels” he said on that occasion.  “Her name is not mentioned, even though the names of other women who accompanied Jesus do appear.
It is possible, therefore, that the name refers more to what the woman did. In fact, according to tradition, on the road to Calvary a woman pushed her way through the soldiers escorting Jesus, and with a veil wiped the sweat and blood from the Lord’s face. That face remained imprinted on the veil, a faithful reflection, a “true icon” …If so, the name …carries with it the deepest truth about her.”

The holy genius knew that in real history the poetic figure of Veronica, like no other, had kept alive the awareness that Christians have the treasure of an authentic image of God, not made by human hands. A stroke of the genius of God for the benefit of our memory.

But "what is truth?" Jesus is silent when Pontius Pilate asks him, he merely looks at the Roman procurator. In Jesus truth had become man. It stood there in front of him. The problem of truth in the history of humanity has never received a more moving answer than in that interrogation. Pilate finds no fault in the accused. He has him whipped, tortured with a crown of thorns and presents him to those who invoke his death with the words: "Behold the man".

God, who created man in His image, shows Himself here in Jesus as the first and last of all his images, as "the image of the invisible God", as Paul later wrote. Ecce homo! Face the truth! Then Pilate delivers the Son of man to his persecutors: "Take him and crucify him!"

But the trial of Pilate continues today, together with his question: "What is truth?" And just as he was silent then, Jesus is silent even today. In the meantime, however, new witnesses have been added to the trial. And these are the very ancient and "angelic witnesses", as it says in the Easter Sequence that for a thousand years has been sung at Easter by Christians of the West: "Sudarium et vestes". The "sudariumˮ and the “clothsˮ that were found in the tomb of Christ after his resurrection.

Among the "cloths" there is first of all the great linen shroud that in 1578 was brought from France to Turin, where for a long time it was also called "sudariumˮ.  The true sudarium however is the so-called veil of Veronica, which is considered to have disappeared from the Vatican after the Sack of Rome in May 1527. It is the "Vera Eikon”, as this original is called, with a Latin-Greek hybrid term, an anticipation in a certain sense of a final unity between Eastern-Orthodox and Western Christianity.

It is the true image of the face of God, about which on August 6, 2004 I wrote to "my Pope" the following letter: «Holy Father, some research on the history of Our Lady of Guadalupe led me to an image of her son that does not resemble any portrait on Earth./ It is in the care of the Capuchins of Manoppello in the Abruzzi, where it has been venerated for 400 years by the population as the "Holy Face". Throughout the centuries many sources have spoken of the same image as "Veronica". / The measurements of this "Holy Face" correspond exactly in its proportions to those of the face of the "Holy Shroud" of Turin. Both cloths show the same person and go beyond the limits of human artistic abilities, without the slightest trace of color. Compared to the Turin linen shroud, however, the veil of Manoppello appears woven from byssus, the precious sea silk of antiquity. in backlighting it is transparent, in shadow it is slate-colored. Instead in the light the veil is golden and honey-colored, as Saint Gertrude of Helfta described the face of the Lord already in the 13th century. It is a living image. It is the Lord. / On March 24th I was able to be a witness in the Sala Clementina when you presented your vision of a "Europe of people on whom the face of God shines". And for the 2005 World Youth Day in Cologne you chose as its guiding principle "We want to see Jesus! /. / Please Holy Father, show the young people and adults the “Veronica of Manoppello!” In the Veronica they will see Jesus. / Yours, PB.

The holy poet-Pope graciously thanked me with a blessing, but he was no longer able to personally come to the true self portrait. He no longer had the strength. He could not even go to World Youth Day in Cologne in 2005, he had to leave that meeting to his successor.

However, on September 23, 2004, I was able to write a first long dispatch regarding Veronica’s return in my capacity as correspondent for the Berlin-based newspaper Die Welt, which both the Pope and his cardinal Joseph Ratzinger read carefully. When on April 2, 2005 John Paul II returned to the Father's house, therefore, the news of the true image of God among men circulated again in the world.

But this was possible only thanks to an article that Renzo Allegri, the great biographer of Padre Pio, published on three pages in the Italian magazine Gente (“People”) already on September 30, 1978, or rather in the same weeks in which Karol Wojtyla wrote in Krakow his hymn to Veronica that today can be read as a key to his entire pontificate.

pages one and two of Renzo Allegri's article on the Holy Face of Manoppello

page three of Renzo Allegri's article on the Holy Face of Manoppello

In the first, decisive major report, by Renzo Allegri, on the True Icon we, however, read at the beginning:
"The image of the face of Jesus which has been venerated for almost 500 years in Manoppello, in Abruzzo, is a mysterious image imprinted on a veil of extraordinary fineness that tradition indicates as the "Sudarium of Christ ". It would be the little cloth made from the finest linen that Jesus' mother would have laid over her son's face before he was wrapped in the funeral cloths for burial. But it is not the face of the dead Christ of the Shroud with eyes closed, but a face quite different, that of a person alive, with eyes open and scars healed: it seems to be the image of the newly risen Christ. [...] From the human point of view, it is inexplicable ».

In the meantime, more than 40 years have passed since the release of this article, and it almost seems that Padre Pio had guided the hand of the journalist, who at the time had already dedicated three books to him. This article also marked a quantum leap in Veronica's return process - yet for many readers it could not be considered credible. The news that Christianity possessed an authentic image of the face of God had become too unbelievable for the modern world - news that moreover was not spread by theology seminars, but in a popular magazine to be leafed through in hair salons.

page in Gente backing Renzo Allegri's article on the Holy Face of Manoppello

cover of the edition of Gente containing Renzo Allegri's article on the Holy Face of Maoppello

The cause of this article on the "Little Shroud in Abruzzo" ¬ - as Allegri entitled his report on the Holy Face of Manoppello - at that time was the exposition of the "Holy Shroud" in Turin, the first since 1933, seen as a major event, attracting the attention of the whole world. But while Allegri was still writing his report, the pilgrim who had circulated the voice of this second shroud in the world died in Turin. It was the Capuchin Father Domenico de Cese, who wanted to see for the first time with his own eyes the "Holy Shroud", after having rediscovered in the veil of Manoppello, years earlier, the holy sudarium mentioned by John the Evangelist in his Gospel of Christ's resurrection. It was the veil that for a long time had been referred to as the "sudarium of Veronica."

Father Domenico da Cese, O.F.M, Cap.

For Karol Wojtyla Veronica's heart had become the canvas of God.

from "Christ Carrying the Cross" by Hieronymus Bosch

And once again in our midst is this "lost face" of which Jorge Luis Borges wrote in Buenos Aires in 1960: "If we knew what he really looked like, then we would have the key to the parables, and we would know if the carpenter's son was also the son of God". The poet was blind. Yet he too was a seer, like John Paul II - and he was right. He had never seen the veil of Veronica, like Karol Wojtyla. Yet it is as Borges used to say. It is a miraculous fabric, unique and unparalleled, like truth itself. 

There is no other "image" that matches it. No one knows how it was formed. In this veil, however, we truly possess a key to understanding Jesus' parables and we can testify that the Son of Man was truly the Son of God. In this veil, as nowhere else, can we recognize that the Creator of heaven and earth became man and person, and not book. Here Jesus Christ shows us that the incarnation of God was not an interlude. He did not strip off our nature as if it were a mask.. He is still a man, in eternity and glory. "The glory of God is the living man", wrote Irenaeus of Lyons around the year 180 in his work Against Heresies, and again: "The life of man is the vision of God".

And here we now look at God himself in a personal encounter with a living man, and we can recognize him as the person who stands before us. We can, but we do not have to. For the true image is silent, as Jesus kept silent before Pilate.  It does not oblige us to do anything.

However, everyone here, like the pilgrim of Dante's Divine Comedy who saw before himself in Rome the same veil, can again whisper: "My Lord Jesus Christ, true God, so was this how your face looked?" [«Segnor mio Iesù Cristo, Dio verace, or fu sì fatta la sembianza vostra?»]

Because the True Icon, the Veronica, has really returned and lets itself be contemplated day after day from morning to night. Close as never before, not far away as before in Rome, from the loggia of the old basilica of Saint Peter’s, but in a small out of the way pilgrim church in Abruzzo. Here we see the face of Christ as near to us as it was to Veronica herself, who made her way through the crowd along Jesus' Way of the Cross to offer him her heart, so that he would imprint his face upon her, no longer full of blood and wounded, but healed, in the splendor of his resurrection. Disarmed and disarming. Veronica converts us.

Now her image binds me like a thread of byssus also with my mother and my father, and with Domenico da Cese and Renzo Allegri - and with "my Pope” in Heaven and with his old longing and desire, with which he makes Veronica whisper the words: “I want to be so close that no void can reveal itself apart from You, so close that your absence cannot return to me.”
Here, in the midst of all the pilgrims, we see: the true icon transforms us all into visionaries.

Paul Badde
Manoppello, 15 July 2019