Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Celebration of Padre Domenico da Cese at the Shrine of the Holy Face of Manoppello


Some considerations on the process of his beatification and canonization

 text and photos by Antonio Bini

On Sunday, September 19, Padre Domenico da Cese was remembered at the Basilica of the Holy Face, to mark the occasion of the 43rd anniversary of his death, which took place on September 17, 1978, in Turin, where he had gone for the exposition of the Holy Shroud. The solemn celebration was presided over by Fr. Matteo Siro, minister of the Abruzzo, Lazio and Umbria province of the Capuchin fruars. 

The improvement of the pandemic situation in Italy has allowed many devotees and spiritual children of Fr. Domenico to travel to Manoppello from various parts of the country including quite a few members of the Holy Face Association of Ruvo di Puglia and Andria, whose establishment was nurtured by Padre Domenico. Also present were his nieces and nephews. 


Before the celebration of the Holy Mass, Fr. Antonio Gentili, rector of the shrine, read the lengthy testimony of a married couple, Antonio and Rosario Oligno of Lucera (Foggia), published by Fr. Eugenio Di Giamberardino, the vice postulator for the cause of canonization of Padre Domenico, in  the newsletter of the "Friends of Padre Domenico", in which some extraordinary events attributed to Fr. Domenico (see the first page below), were sent to Br. Vincenzo D'Elpidio on August 8, 2009.

 A very large framed photo of Padre. Domenico da Cese was placed at the foot of the altar, in front of the pulpit.  Br. Vincenzo d'Elpidio donated the photo to the Shrine in February 2019, having received it from the daughter of Nicola Iacoboni, a devotee from Rome who had passed away the year before.

Fr. Matteo Siro, during the homily, recalled Padre Domenico’s special bond with the Holy Face which he never tired of venerating and having venerated. Fr. Matteo also expressed the hope that the path for the beatification and canonization of Padre Dominic might continue its course. A clear position, which expresses, once again, the will of the entire Capuchin province to support the cause of their venerable confrere.

Many devotees and spiritual children of Fr. Domenico, especially those from distant places, have asked me too about the process of beatification and the transfer of the mortal remains of the friar from the private chapel of the cemetery of Cese, a small town near Avezzano, to the Basilica of the Holy Face.  This transfer had been requested by the then provincial father of the Capuchins Fr. Nicola Galasso, after having obtained the consent of the friar's nieces and nephews.  This desire was not acted upon. despite an initial favorable judgment. 

I take this opportunity to recall the most significant phases of the process.

After the nihil obstat  (nothing stands in the way) issued on March 3, 2015 by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, the effort of collecting and documenting testimonies of the life of Padre. Domenico has continued, including by people who did not know him during his life. The work of collecting and archiving carried out by Sister Petra-Maria Steiner is impressive. Padre Domenico’s relationship with the Holy Face and with Padre Pio continues to be written about.  A recent article in the Catholic periodical French  Famille Cretienne

Le Voile de Manoppello, le secret de l'autre suaire du Christ (

relaunches the hypotheses put forward in recent years by the late Australian journalist Paul MacLeod, a scholar of Padre Pio, regarding the saint’s bilocation in front of the Holy Face, which preceded Padre Domenico’s own bilocation in San Giovanni Rotondo.

Almost seven years have passed and everything seems to have come to a stand still. To date, the diocesan tribunal for the cause of beatification and canonization of Fr. Domenico has not yet been established, an act that falls within the competence of the archbishop of the Diocese of Chieti-Vasto Mgr. Bruno Forte, who also in 2013 had begun the process, with a documented request directed to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints following on the proposal of the Capuchin Order and after having had the consent of the Episcopal Conference for Abruzzo and Molise (September 30, 2013). With a subsequent act of October 2, 2013, the archbishop publicly formalized his desire, declaring that he had come "to the determination to "promote the cause of beatification and canonization of the Servant of God Fr. Domenico da Cese", inviting the faithful to collect memories, documents and writings.

Unfortunately, the older devotees of the friar-apostle of the Holy Face are little by little leaving this earth, such as the aforementioned Nicola Iacoboni and the unforgettable Br. Vincenzo D'Elpidio, himself an extraordinary example of faith and charity, who for many years carried out his own personal and generous mission to groups and individuals united by their devotion to Padre Domenico. 

These are complex paths, not always understandable for lay people, with ample room for judicious discretion as well as for an unforeseeable  outcome.

Comforting then the thought of Pope Francis who affirmed that "The Church without witness is only smoke" (2018), considering how the whole life of Padre Domenico was always a living witness of faith. 

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Sunday September 19 Celebration of Padre Domenico at the Basilica Shrine of the Holy Face of Manoppello

 To commemorate the 43rd anniversary of the death of the Servant of God Padre Domenico da Cese, Apostle of the Holy Face, on Sunday September 19 there will be a solemn Holy Mass at the Basilica Shrine of the Holy Face of Manoppello starting at 11am presided by Fr. Matteo Siro, O.F.M., Cap, provincial minister of the Capuchin friars

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

The Latest Transformations of the Devotion to the Holy Sudarium of Manoppello

 Editor's Note:  This year the Capuchin Friars are celebrating 400 years of ministry in Manoppello at the Shrine of the Holy Face.   There are a number of activities taking place at the Shrine and in the wider community in conjunction with the Feast of the Transfiguration which is a major feast in Manoppello every year.

  Earlier today a Conference was held at the Shrine to discuss the topic: "The History of the Capuchins in Manoppello"  Among the speakers were the Capuchin provincial Father Matteo Siro, fellow Capuchins Father Francesco Neri and Father Luigi Del Vecchio, as well as the author and journalist Paul Badde, who has generously provided me with a copy of his talk which you will find below:   

By Paul Badde

The true center of the universal Church is no longer Rome, as Pope Francis never tires of underscoring, but the outlands. And here we are, on the outskirts, in Manoppello!


A few weeks ago, Father Antonio Gentili asked me to say a few words about the latest transformations of the veneration of the Holy Sudarium of Christ in Manoppello. I will gladly satisfy this request, also because I have already written a small book on this subject in 2017, which contains some beautiful photos.


However, since I can only speak with difficulty and I have almost completely lost what little Italian I once learned, Father Antonio has allowed me to ask one of his confreres to read the text. Thank you very much for that.


I will limit myself to eight brief points, so that you can count them off before you become restless as you listen.


I: The reconstruction of the church of San Michele in 1923.


The most important turning point for the rediscovery of the Holy Sudarium and its veneration all over the world was the earthquake of Avezzano on January 5, 2015 in the middle of World wWar I.


Until then, the Holy Sudarium of Christ had been kept first in a storage room at the right of the High Altar of the church of San Michele Arcangelo, here on the hill of Tarigni, just outside of Manoppello and  contemplated  by the Capuchin  friars  privately,  then  from  1686,  hidden all year round,  it was  placed in a safe in the right side chapel.


The safe resembled a tabernacle and its door could only be opened with three keys held by the Guardian of the Capuchins, the parish priest of San Nicola and the mayor of Manoppello. So only all three together could open the door to the safe in order to withdraw the reliquary with the Holy Sudarium and show it to the citizens of Manoppello and all the pilgrims during two processions a year. Starting from the end of the seventeenth century, the Holy Veil was shown during a first Feast that took place on August 6, the day of the Transfiguration of Christ and - from 1712 - during a second Feast, the third Sunday of May and the following day, Monday. For the rest of the year, the original icon of Christ present here since 1638, simply remained hidden, if we are to rely on the information provided by a copper plate behind the altar.


This means that for at least 277 years here the sacred veil remained hidden like the dark painting of a purported "Holy Face" in Tagliacozzo or the "Sacred Corporal" in Orvieto.


Initially, the earthquake of 1915 did not change things. This catastrophe occurred in the middle of the First World War and the damage to the church of San Michele here in Manoppello could not be repaired immediately.


It was only in 1923 that Father Roberto da Manoppello, then guardian of the Friary of the Holy Face, had the entire church of San Michele rebuilt.


During this reconstruction, he had the Holy Sudarium transferred, forever, from the locked safe of the side chapel to a new glass and marble display case, above the main altar, where we still see it today.


Since then, pilgrims have been able to see the Holy Veil of Christ above the tabernacle from up close and freely, as had never been possible before in 1,890 years, neither in Rome, nor in Constantinople, nor in Edessa!


In addition, the way of seeing the holy image has once again been greatly changed by the electrification of the shrine and the possibility of illuminating the holy image from both front and back, which has almost revolutionized this exhibition.


In fact, the key to perceiving the Holy Face of the Lord in his Sudarium is the Light. In fact   Jesus”, as we read in the Gospel of John (Jn  8:12), said of himself: "I am the Light of the world.


This was an unprecedented novelty: this immediate closeness of pilgrims to the Most Holy Sudarium.


Never before and nowhere else, had the face of Christ from the empty tomb of Jerusalem come so close to the common people! This viewing, as today in Manoppello, had previously been reserved only for the high priests and emperors of Byzantium, but without this light.


This unprecedented privilege did not make it any easier for many to believe that the holy veil was the same cloth (or "soudarion") that was laid on the Face of the Lord in Christ's tomb in Jerusalem, as John expressly records in his Gospel.


Think about it! Since the time of Pope Urban VIII (1623 - 1644),  the copy of the Holy Sudarium in the Vatican has been shown to the faithful only once a year, on Passion Sunday,  for a few seconds,from the loggia of  the  Veronica pillar about 20 meters high! Here in Manoppello, on the other hand, pilgrims can see from up close the real Sudarium for 4,015 hours a year.


II: The Discovery of the Identity of the Holy Face with the Sudarium of the Lord.


This brings me to the second point in my report.


This identity of the Holy Face with the Hagion Soudarion was first discovered by the Capuchin Father Domenico da Cese (1905-1978) in 1965, when he was transferred by his Provincial to the Capuchin Friary of Manoppello and from that time he spent countless hours in prayerful contemplation before the Holy Face - day and night, as many witnesses know. During this contemplation, he came to the conclusion that this veil could only be the cloth first mentioned by John the Evangelist in his Passover Gospel. It was the second cloth in the tomb of which John spoke.  It could not be anything else!


Also coming to Father Domenico’s aid was Father Gaudenzio, the legendary guardian of the shrine at the time who, in the 1960’s, had the old church of the pilgrims dating from the seventeenth century completely rebuilt. He extended the church fifteen meters and had constructed in front of the simple building in honor of the Holy Face, the spectacular large façade in imitation of the Basilica of Santa Maria di Collemaggio in L’Aquila, which had been founded by Pietro di Morrone. It is the famous funerary cathedral of the future Pope Celestine V, built in 1294.


Before Father Domenico’s time, the people of Manoppello had believed and considered true that an angel had brought the enigmatic cloth of the Sacred Sudarium to the foot of the Maiella,  in Manoppello,  in 1506. This  fact  was somehow easier to believe  than to suppose  that the veil came from the tomb of Christ (although, according to Professor Pfeiffer,  the first report regarding the angel by Father Donato da Bomba in 1645 probably served above all to make the Holy Face immune from any papal requests from Rome for restitution).


And we owe to Father Domenico da Cese a second important intuition, which became essential for the knowledge of this second delicate shroud. Because it was said: if we can recognize the true image of Christ on this veil, of which there is only one other authentic image on earth, namely the Shroud of Turin, then - as according to a mathematical theorem - the face on the Shroud of Turin should also correspond to the face on the veil of the Holy Face.


On September 12, 1978, he then made the pilgrimage of 835 kilometers from Manoppello to Turin to see with his own eyes, as soon as possible in his life, the large and famous other shroud, which was exhibited there for the first time in 45 years. The next morning he headed to the Basilica of St. John, where at about 11am he stopped in shock before the "shadow of the lamb who was slain ", with the majestic face of the dead Son of God.


Of course, Father Domenico was not surprised that it was identical to the face of Manoppello, which was so familiar to him.


But on the very evening of that September 13 he was struck and mortally injured by a Fiat 500 in front of his hostel in Turin. The newspapers that reported his death already called him at the time "Father Soothsayer".


The identity of the Lord depicted on both shrouds, which had become so evident to Father Domenico during his life, was then finally witnessed to and sealed in Turin by his death.  


It was the Lord himself whom he had recognized on both shouds and it was the same Lord on these two first icons that could not have been created by human hands.


III: The miraculous first spread of this news.


And it is a part of the miracles of Father Domenico’s life that Renzo Allegri, a famous journalist, visited the shrine of Manoppello in the very days when Father Domenico lay dying in Turin and had Father Luciano Antonelli, successor of Father Gaudenzio as guardian of the Friary, tell him everything that Father Domenico had confided to him regarding the Holy Face.


Only twelve days after the funeral of Father Domenico, therefore, in the September 30, 1978, edition of the Milanese weekly GENTE there appeared throughout Italy for the first time a three-page article in which almost all the essential facts that we can say even today regarding the Holy Face was already written.

"This veil is the sudarium, first recorded by the Evangelist John in his account of Christ’s resurrection from the dead".


Article by Renzo Allegri in Gente Magazine of September 30, 1978 with photo of Fr. Luciano Antonelli and the Holy Face


On October 21, the same article had already appeared in the November issue of the Swiss magazine DAS ZEICHEN MARIENS, which Sister Blandina Paschalis Schlömer had the opportunity to read a few weeks later in her Trappistine Convent of Maria Frieden in Eifel, Germany,  and who shortly afterwards committed herself body and soul to spreading this good news in the Catholic Church.



IV: The discovery of the identity of the Holy Shroud with the Veil of Veronica in Rome.


First, however, Sister Blandina informed the main researchers of the Shroud of Turin of the Jesuit Order, including the art historian Professor Father Heinrich Pfeiffer, of the Gregorian University of Rome. He visited Manoppello eight years later.


There, during his first visit in the autumn of 1986, he immediately realized that the Holy Face had to be identical with the lost, so-called, Veil of Veronica. This was once the most precious treasure of the popes, for which Pope Julius II laid the foundation stone of the new St. Peter's Basilica in Rome on April 18, 1506, as the base for the so-called Veronica Column.


This column had been built by Donato Bramante from the start as a huge safe for the holy veil and is one of the four columns that still support Michelangelo’s dome of St. Peter's. Obviously, the whole new edifice of St. Peter’s was destined to become a monstrance of the Holy Face at that time, just as the cathedral of Orvieto had become a monstrance of the Holy Corporal 300 years earlier.


This discovery of Father Pfeiffer,  that the famous Veil of Veronica had not disappeared, but that still existed,  though no  longer in Rome, but instead in a Capuchin church on a hill in Abruzzo, caused a sensation. And he opened a new chapter in the history of the Holy Face in 1999 when he made the news public at a press conference at the Press Office in Rome.



V: Pope Benedict XVI kneels before the Holy Sudarium.


It is therefore not surprising that Pope Benedict XVI took perhaps the most important step of his time in office when he visited the Holy Face on  September 1, 2006, on the first elective journey of his pontificate at the invitation of Archbishop Bruno Forte.


No one should be surprised. The new German Pope had been accompanied by images of the Holy Sudarium from the beginning of his priestly life. A large image of the veil adorned the façade of the Church of the Holy Blood in Munich, where he held his first post as chaplain after his ordination in 1951. 


And when he was later a professor in Bonn, he celebrated Mass every morning in the Chapel of St. John of Bonn Cathedral, where he always had to look at a Gothic fresco of the Holy Sudarium.


But for the veneration of the Holy Sudarium in Manoppello, his visit was the most important step of all. It was an irreversible "point of no return".


After 479 years, it was the first time that a successor of the Apostle Peter had knelt again before the Sudarium of Christ.


The same evening, the images of this event had already spread all over the world!



VI. Spread from parish church to universal church.


Even a certain Daisy Neves saw the images in Seattle, in the US state of Washington, south of Vancouver in Canada. She was a pious widow of Filipino origin who had inherited a considerable fortune from her husband.  She was also a passionate pilgrim. Then, in October 2006, when she read an article in the American magazine "Inside the Vatican" about the Pope's visit to Manoppello, she procured everything that had appeared in English in America up to that moment on the Holy Face, which she had never heard of before, and planned her first pilgrimage to Manoppello for Easter  2011.


Daisy and son Erwin with Fr. Carmine Cucinelli, Sr. Petra-Maria Steiner, Sr. Blandina Schlomer in Rome, October 2018

Here she was inflamed by love for the true face, as she later said, and was overwhelmed by the dream of not resting until the Holy Face found a home "in every parish church of the universal Catholic Church." To this end she later committed her fortune, her health and illness, and her life until her death,  which took place in March 2019.


So she invited Father Carmine Cucinelli to make a missionary journey to America for the year 2014, and again for a similar tour of the world in Canada, the U.S.A. and the Philippines for the year 2015, where she "enthroned" in various churches the tactile relic of a silk veil with an imprint of the Holy Face in scale. It was a triumph.



VII: In the footsteps of Pope Innocent III of 1208. A rediscovery.


"But why",  asked Father Carmine Cucinelli after the last trip to Rome on November 25, 2015, "should there be 'enthronements' of the Holy Face today only in America and Asia, but not in Italy and Rome, where the relic itself has had its seat for centuries?" In the Treasury of St. Peter's Basilica, where he was marveling  in front of the ancient frame of the Holy Face, from the holy year of 1350, he decided to go with Father Vincenzo, one of  his Capuchin confreres, to the nearby church of Santo Spirito in Sassia to inquire about the possibility of a presentation of the Holy Face in Rome.


There were just a few days left before the beginning of the "Year of Mercy", which Pope Francis had proclaimed for the Catholic Church on April 11, 2015 with the bull "Misericordiae Vultus" (The Face of Mercy) for the period from December 8 to November 30, 2016, on the model of the first Holy Year proclaimed by Pope Boniface VIII. (1294 - 1303) more than seven centuries earlier, in the year 1300.


So Father Carmine went with Father Vincenzo to Father Jozef Bart, the rector of the old church of the historic hospital, who immediately consented to a solemn mass with a copy of the Holy Sudarium in his church.


And one cannot understand, except as a plan of Divine Providence, the fact that Fr. Jozef was immediately willing to provide January 16, 2016 as the date for this temporary enthronement!


But that was Omnis Terra Sunday! It was the very day that Pope Innocent III had made known for the first time the Holy Sudarium in the Latin Church of the West in January 1208 with a procession with the same Sudarium from St. Peter’s to Santo Spirito in Sassia.


It was a great celebration in Rome, with archbishops Georg Gänswein, Prefect of the Pontifical Household and secretary of Pope Benedict  XVI, and Archbishop Edmondo Farhat of Lebanon. The  choir of the Basilica of the Holy Face,  directed  by the Maestro  Nicola  Costantini,  the Confraternity of the Holy Face  and many citizens of Manoppello, made a solemn pilgrimage  from Saint Peter’s to Santo Spirito in Sassia with a copy of the Holy Face,  placed in an ancient original processional frame, accompanied by songs  and  prayers.



Archbishop Georg Gänswein


VIII: The blessing with the true face of Christ. A third feast for the Most Holy Sudarium: OMNIS TERRA.


And it was the birth of the introduction of a new and third feast for the Holy Sudarium in Manoppello by Fathers Carmine Cucinelli and Paolo Palombrini, where now every second Sunday after the feast of the Epiphany of Christ in January, in memory of the first announcement of the true face of Christ by Pope Innocent VIII, there is a small procession with the Holy Face in the plaza in front of the Basilica with a solemn blessing.


And since then this  celebration  is always done with  the  participation of invited guests of  honor, who at the end of the procession bless the city of Manoppello and the whole world with  the most holy and precious relic of Christianity.


Here too, we must imagine what enormous progress there is compared to September 2006, when Pope Benedict was still standing like a simple pilgrim in front of the open display case and praying, and when no one dared to ask him to bless the world with the Most Holy Sudarium.


Here in Manoppello, however, this new blessing with the precious relic in the universal Church, has become a tradition, since Mons. Amerigo Ciani, one of the canons of St. Peter's in Rome, carried out the blessing for the first time in January 2017. Then  in the following  years Cardinal Antonio Tagle of Manila, Cardinal Ludwig Müller together with archbishops Bruno Forte of Chieti and Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, after them Cardinal Kurt Koch and this year again Archbishop Gänswein, who exclaimed here last January under the Holy Face with the evangelist John: "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world."



St. Francis Venerating the Holy Face

This is the situation today, where the following tasks await the brothers in Manoppello.


This above all: never again think too little about this precious relic of Christianity.


There was the resurrection of Christ from the dead and yes, there are truly two material witnesses of that resurrection. There are the "angelicos testes, sudarium et vestes", as the tenth-century hymn "Victimae Paschali Laudes" says.


These are two angelic or seraphic testimonies, (i.e. the "Testes"),   namely the Holy Shroud which is venerated in Turin,  and the Most Holy Sudarium which  was entrusted to the Seraphic Order here on the hill of Tarigni.


It is a miracle and the most moving testimony of the greatest miracle of all—the incarnation of God in Jesus Christ.


And there is no reasonable alternative to the good of believing that this veil recorded the first breath of the risen Lord at his resurrection from the dead - and the first glance of the Mother of God at the assumption of her deceased body into heaven, as Dr. Weisbrod of Germany recently discovered in an ancient text of Georgia.


Of course, all this is incredible, but no more incredible than the presence of God in the transformed host. - So no one should be surprised at all the resistance that this delicate veil continues to encounter.


At the feast of the Omnis Terra in 1208, the Holy Face was made known to Western Christianity in Rome by Pope Innocent VIII, although not yet with the knowledge we have today, thanks to the preliminary work of Father Roberto da Manoppello, Domenico da Cese, Father Gaudenzio, Father Germano Di Pietro, Father Carmine Cucinelli and Father Paolo Palombrini.


So now, for the 3rd millennium, the Good News of this pictorial document wants to continue to be made known every year more to the WHOLE WORLD by the Seraphic Brothers of Manoppello. It's an incredible privilege. But now - as with Pope Benedict on September 1, 2006 - the new image media help to bring this true image of light all over the world, showing that face in which Dante Alighieri (1265 - 1321) already recognized at the culmination and at the conclusion of his "Divine Comedy" that "face of love" that moves "the sun and all the other stars".























Wednesday, May 19, 2021

News of the Feast of the Holy Face of Manoppello

(editor's note: Many thanks to Antonio Bini for this report and photos of this year's celebration of the Feast of the Holy Face of Manoppello.  Antonio promises that he will send more photos after overcoming some technical issues) 

I am sending you some photos taken today on the occasion of the traditional May festival - which falls on the third Sunday. Also this year the celebration , very emotional for the local populations, took place with the constraints imposed by national legislation to contain Covid-19. In place of the procession from the shrine to the parish church of San Nicola, the Holy Face was simply transported there on a Civil Protection van, at the end of the morning Mass at the Basilica. Few people were able to enter the church. Many - even more than last year - waited outside in the plaza.

In the village many people waited for the passage of the Holy Face throwing red rose petals from the balconies, on which their finely embroidered bedcoverings were displayed, as per tradition. Few people were also allowed to enter the church of San Nicola. It should be noted that the celebration was preceded by the significant visit of Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State who wrote in the visitor's book of the shrine “Your face Lord do I seek, do not hide your Face from me! May this visit, so desired, revive in me the desire to contemplate that Face until the day when our eyes will fix themselves in the vision of glory ”signed card. Pietro Parolin, secretary of state - Manoppello, 11 May 2021".   I was not present, also because the visit was not announced in advance. The cardinal was particularly impressed. I remember that another cardinal secretary of state - Cardinal Angelo Sodano - visited the Holy Face in June 1999, after the press conference of Fr. Heinrich Pfeiffer of May 31 in Rome. A curiosity: Cardinal Parolin was in the Basilica of Santo Spirito in Sassia on January 16, 2016 on the occasion of the re-institution of the Omnis Terra rite. The pilgrimage procession arrived at the church while the cardinal was completing his speech at the end of a celebration.  
Here is the photo I took then.

Cardinal Parolin at the Basilica of Santo Spirito in Sassia on January 16, 2016


 Today, in conjunction with the feast of the Holy Face, there was an important enthronement of the Holy Face at the oratory of San Francesco Saverio, in via Caravita, in the center of Rome just off the Via del Corso. The celebration was presided over by Cardinal Antonio Luis Tagle.  

(Here is a video of the Mass of Enthronement of the Holy Face at the oratory of San Francesco Saverio)

and also a video of the concluding Mass of the Holy Face on Monday May 17 at the parish church of San Nicola presided by Archbishop Bruno Forte and concelebrated by the provincial of the Capuchin Friars, Fr. Matteo Siro.  



Tuesday, May 18, 2021

New Prayer to the Holy Face of Manoppello by Archbishop Bruno Forte


Prayer to the Holy Face

Lord Jesus, Face of eternal love, in this holy place, guardian of the veil on which you reveal yourself in the signs of affliction and let shine through the infinite mercy of Your divine heart, grant that we may live a new beginning on our journey of faith, charity and hope that You call us to travel together with You. May Your gaze cover us with the light that comes from the Father to illuminate our footsteps, to lead us to the pastures of heaven, and to pour into our hearts the Holy Spirit, perfume of Your grace and imprint of Your beauty. May Mary, who first looked upon Your Face and kissed it with the tenderness of a Mother, who saw it  close its eyes on the arms of the Cross, contemplated it  arisen and now contemplates it  in glory, help us to seek, with a longing ever new, Your Face of  King, crucified out of love, victorious over evil and death, so that we might meet you in the embrace of your Church, recognize you in Your sacraments and bear witness to You in the works and days of our life. Amen!

+ Bruno Forte

Archbishop of Chieti-Vasto

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Blessing Today with the Holy Face of Manoppello

 Thanks to Paul Badde for sending this video of the blessing with the Holy Face given earlier today at the Basilica of the Holy Face of Manoppello by the rector of the Shrine, Fr. Antonio Gentili, OFM, Cap.  Today is the beginning of the feast of the Holy Face.  The Holy Face is now at the Church of San Nicola where it will remain until tomorrow.  

Saturday, May 15, 2021

To Remember the Message of Cardinal Tagle for Promoters of the Holy Face of Manoppello Recorded during the Feast of the Holy Face in 2017

May 2017 Message of encouragement to all who promote the devotion to the Holy Face of Manoppello given by Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, former Archbishop of Manila and now Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples after the Cardinal presided at the celebration of the Mass and Procession for the Feast of the Holy Face in Manoppello. May we continue to take this to heart following the great example of Mrs. Daisy Neves, (1938-2019)

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Feast of the Holy Face at Manoppello Sunday and Monday May 16 and 17


Religious celebrations in honor of the Holy Face May 16 and 17

Sunday May 16 

                  9am Holy Mass at the Basilica of the Holy Face

    11am   Holy Face arrives at the parish church of Manoppello followed by Holy Mass

                 5:30pm  Holy Mass

Monday May 17

                   6am  Holy Mass

                  11am   Holy Mass presided by the Father Provincial of the Capuchins 

Facebook page of the Basilica of the Holy Face:

Friday, April 9, 2021

The Icon of Easter

The Flemish painter Juan de Flandes painted around 1498 "The Resurrection of Christ and Three Women at the Tomb", Palacio Real de Madrid

Forensic evidence

from the resurrection

of the Son of God

by Paul Badde   

originally published in the German magazine Vatikan (April, 2021 edition)

and online

for a helpful commentary on this article see the post by Patricia Enk at

The icon of the resurrection -- the napkin (or sudarium) from the tomb of Christ -- is essentially transparent. as we were able to marvel at again three years ago on the booklet that Pope Francis prepared in 2018 for the participants in the liturgy of his Easter Mass at St. Peter's Basilica which displayed a panel from 1498 by Juan de Flandes, depicting the moment when “ Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James, and Salome “came to the tomb”, as Mark says. “They saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a white robe; they were very amazed. But he said to them: Don't be amazed! You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen; he is not here. Behold, the place where they laid him. ” 

Cover page of Booklet from Easter Vigil Mass with Pope Francis at St. Peter's Basilica 2018

The Flemish painter in Spain incorrectly depicted the empty tomb as an open sarcophagus, which demonstrates that he had never been to Jerusalem. On the other hand, he obviously knew Rome and was familiar with its treasures, as shown here. Because over the edge of this sarcophagus hangs very realistically a transparent veil to which the angel points --the sudarium -- the key relic of the Lord that was known to thousands of pilgrims to Rome during the artist’s lifetime and ever since Pope Innocent VIII had first carried this veil barefoot on a Sunday in January 1208 from Peter's Basilica to the nearby hospital church of Santo Spirito. This veil, too, was transparent and enigmatic like the resurrection itself, at the heart of our faith.


Because the essence of Christianity is neither the cathedral of Cologne nor St. Peter's Basilica, but only the resurrection of Christ from the kingdom of the dead to Life in the land of the living, however impossible it may seem. But without the belief in precisely this impossibility, our whole faith would be filth, says Paul. Then we could leave the church immediately with the multitudes of all the others who have left without even having to ask as Peter did: “Lord, where should we go?” Because first of all Christ would no longer be our Lord and secondly we would already know where we wanted to escape to with the money from the church assessment we no longer pay, no matter that it is impossible to find a place or a society of people without abuse and without lies, fraud, crime, and violence.



If, on the other hand, Christ has truly risen from the dead, then anything is possible. Then the church will wake up again from the death zone of abuse and flourish again, in Cologne, throughout  Germany and everywhere. Nevertheless, many theologians over the past centuries have tried to minimize the offensive nature of the challenge to believe in the resurrection of Christ by using scriptural tricks and to make it more compatible with the spirit of the age (“zeitgeist”).  These kind of “glass bead games” however were never possible for icon writers or visual artists as long as they were serious about the core of their beliefs.



Theologians and artists share a common problem, however: there were no witnesses to the act of Christ's resurrection from the dead. None of the evangelists were there. All four only report what it looked like in Jesus' tomb after the resurrection. Matthew tells of an "angel" in a snow-white robe who says to three women in the burial chamber: "He is not here". It is similar with Mark. Luke speaks of "two men in shining robes". And with John we learn how Peter and the “disciple whom Jesus loved” looked into the tomb of Christ early in the morning. - There is only one thing that none of the four evangelists say: that the tomb was empty. Obviously, it wasn't. Jesus was no longer there. But there were cloths at the scene of which the poet Wipo (+ 1048) spoke in his Easter sequence "Victimae paschali laudes", Mary had seen two "angelic witnesses", namely the "napkin and linen cloths" (Latin: sudarium et vestes). These witnesses and forensic traces of evidence have, thank God, been preserved uncorrupted  and materially, with the DNA of the Son of God.



First there is the sacred Sudarium from Rome, which is now in Manoppello, and then there is the Holy Shroud, the world-famous linen in Turin. We encounter both fabrics  for the first time in the testimony of John, who described Easter morning in this way: “Then Simon Peter, who had followed him, arrived and went into the tomb (which was a cave hewn in the rock). He saw the linen cloths lying there and the napkin (Greek: soudarion) that had been lying on Jesus' head; but it was not with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who had come to the tomb first, also went in; he saw and believed.” - That is the key passage in this gospel, which, however, only becomes plausible when read in conjunction with the specific cloths that John mentions here.


The "Holy Shroud" or the Shroud of Turin is only rarely shown and yet has been researched as has no other textile in the world, by a genuine and separate science, Sindonology, which in the last century has focused on this linen cloth with the dimensions of 14 feet 3 inches by 3 feet 7 inches (436cm by 110 cm) and which captures the panorama and the torture of the flagellation, the crowning of thorns and the crucifixion of Christ in an inexplicable way, as in a detailed script, as well as the subsequent piercing of his heart and the extinction of his last spark of life by means of a lance. This cloth contains blood and water.


The sudarium, on the other hand, is a very delicate veil that was kept in Rome for centuries and then for a long time in Manoppello, where it was locked away until 1923, in similar fashion to the shroud in Turin. Nevertheless, for almost a century, unlike the situation of the Shroud in Turin, every pilgrim to Manoppello has been able to observe and study the sudarium at close quarters every day from morning to evening above the main altar as never before. At certain times and in certain light it shows the face of Christ with open eyes and healed wounds.  Yet when unshadowed, the veil reveals, above all, complete transparency as its inner characteristic - as if Easter were the festival of transparency towards heaven and God's eternity in another world. 


     photo taken in November 2017 of the Holy Face of Manoppello which displays its transparency


A good hundred years before Juan de Flandes, the Catalan painter Joan Mates (1370 - 1431) masterfully expressed this characteristic of the napkin of Christ in his panel of the "Lamentation of Christ", where we see Nicodemus, who after Jesus’ deposition from the cross is putting a transparent fabric over His face.

 Joseph of Arimathea and John put the napkin on the dead Jesus

Panel painting by Joan Mates from Barcelona from 1429.
Photo: Wikimedia (CC0)

The model for this depiction here can only have been the Roman “Sudarium” of the Popes from St. Peter's Basilica, the “true icon”, which has also been called “Veronica” there since the Middle Ages. Countless images in the history of art attest to this Easter transparency.  One of the key witnesses to this mystery, moreover, is Dr. Martin Luther, who saw the veil on his trip to Rome in 1511 and who still sneered in 1545 that the “Lord's face in his little sweat cloth”, which was regularly shown and displayed at Saint Peter’s, was nothing but „ein klaret lin“ in other words: Doctor Luther had only seen a “transparent linen” here.


The large shroud, which is by no means transparent, appeared for the first time in Lirey in Champagne in 1355 and was only brought through the efforts of St. Charles Borromeo from Chambéry in Savoy to Turin in 1578, 233 years later, which began the process of western Christendom gradually getting to know it.  Previously, the Shroud had been the most precious part of the treasures of the emperor of Byzantium remaining more or less a rumor for the pilgrims of Europe until 1578.


In the "Codex Pray" in Budapest, the burial cloths of Christ from the zero hour of Christianity appear for the first time almost realistically together in the picture around the year 1180.
Photo: Wikimedia (CC0)

An image- document in the Széchényi library of the National Museum of Budapest dates back to 1192 (at the latest), and for decades has become something of a new founding document for all shroud researchers and their highly complex science. It is a small colored drawing on parchment in a codex measuring 9.5 inches by 5.9 inches, which also highlights the resurrection of Christ from the dead - and the burial of the crucified Lord. Above we therefore see Jesus dead, lying with a peaceful face, on a sheet that has been rolled out on a stone. His eyes and mouth are closed, with a sparse beard and long hair parted in the middle which hide his ears and frame his face. At the head of Jesus stands Joseph of Arimathea, the councilor of the Sanhedrin, at the feet of the Lord stands John. Both grasp the cloth with which the body was removed from the cross, while Nicodemus empties a bottle with precious spices over the body, as we read in the Gospel of John (19:39). The stone slab underneath is reminiscent of the so-called "anointing stone" from the Jerusalem Church of the Holy Sepulcher, which has long been venerated as the most important relic of the Pantocrator Church of Constantinople. Three striking details are unique in this representation. First, the body of Jesus is naked. Second, he keeps his hands crossed over the pubic area, his right hand over the left. Third, both hands only show four fingers and no thumb. So Jesus is depicted here as a real victim of an ancient, real, and concrete crucifixion, in which the nails were driven through the roots of his wrists (and not the palms of the hands). During this torture, the thumbs cramped inward into the palms of the hands due to the injury to the median nerve. And for this representation there is only a single “picture” in the vast array of pictures throughout History, which must have served as an exemplar and model. This is the Shroud of Christ in Turin which shows these significant details, but long before this linen even had appeared in Europe!


And this drawing from the library of Budapest was also made at least 133 years before the date assigned to the Shroud, resulting from a sensational radiocarbon investigation in 1988, according to which the shroud was supposed to have been woven between 1260 and 1390. This drawing from Budapest, which documents its evidence as if with a photo proof, dates from 1192 at the latest. For in 1150, on the occasion of an arranged wedding in Constantinople, the ambassador of Hungary was received by Manuel II Komnenos, and the Emperor of Byzantium showed him and his delegation the hidden treasures of his Blachern Chapel. In the process, the Shroud of Christ must have impressed itself in detail on one of the participants of the Hungarian delegation. Below the entombment we see - as centuries later with Juan de Flandes - three women come to the grave at the right, where an angel on the left with an outstretched right forefinger indicates the resurrection of Christ on this first Easter morning. Between the angel and the women we see a large, folded sheet of fabric, which is covered on the inside with Greek crosses and on the outside with zigzag lines, which are interpreted in research as an attempt to draw the herringbone pattern of the shroud. Four small holes depict four very old fire damage holes that can still be found in the "Holy Shroud" today.   But above this shroud, under the angel's finger, we see another folded little cloth, as if blowing, or as “rolled up, next to it, in a special place”, which had been lying on the face of the dead Jesus, as we came to know by the gospel of John.



This veil over the large linen has a liveliness, as if wind were blowing into it. And under its right edge we can still see parts of the pattern of the shroud through the fabric. Making the veil completely transparent has obviously overwhelmed the capacity of the author of this almost childlike drawing. Nevertheless, in contrast to the large shroud, the sudarium appears as animated as the stole of the angel next to it. And in any case, we encounter the two cloths together in an almost realistic way for the first time in the picture, from the zero hour of Christianity. And both without “pictures”, without a body image and without a face, at least to our eyes.


The most significant detail of this depiction is, however, often overlooked in many debates about the burial cloths of Christ. In this representation in the Codex Pray from Budapest, the extremely important link for the history of the authenticity  of the shroud of Turin the angel doesn’t point to the big, long linen but to the transparent sudarium which like no other “image” allows us to gaze into the paschal mystery of the paschal hour.