Sunday, January 24, 2021
Sunday, January 17, 2021
Homily of Archbishop Georg Gänswein at the Eucharistic Celebration of Omnis Terra Sunday at the Basilica of the Holy Face of Manoppello
|Credit: Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.|
English Translation Copyright EWTN
Basilica of the Volto Santo
Manoppello, Sunday, January 17, 2021
Dear brothers in the priestly ministry,
dear representatives of the civil authorities,
dear sisters and brothers in the Lord.
“As [John] watched Jesus walk by, he said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God,’” we heard earlier in the Gospel. We can also say the same words here with John the Evangelist every day in view of the face of Christ in the Volto Santo.
|Credit: Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.|
Omnis terra is the name of today’s Sunday in the liturgical calendar, after the Latin words of Psalm 65 at the beginning of this Holy Mass: Omnis terra adoret te, Deus, et psallat tibi! That means in English, “Let all the earth worship you and praise you, o God; may it sing in praise of your name.” We have gathered here today, too, for this ancient praise of God by all the earth, in the Pontifical Basilica of the Volto Santo.
The occasion for this feast day is the memory of the same Sunday of the year 1208, when Pope Innocent III carried this true image of the Lord, which we see and venerate here above the main altar, as humbly as a mendicant monk from the old Basilica of St. Peter in Rome to the sick of the capital, as well as the sick pilgrims from all over Europe, to the nearby Hospital of the Holy Spirit. The most powerful and power-conscious pope of the Middle Ages brought the archetype of the merciful God barefoot to the sick and dying!
Before that, this precious veil icon had been kept hidden for a long time. With this step, the image came out into the open and became publicly known for the first time in the entire Catholic universal Church — on this Sunday in winter, which even then, in January 1208, began with the same words from the psalm as today: Omnis terra.
But that Pope Innocent III at that time carried the holy face, together with his canons, not to the scholars and nobles of the city, but to the sick and the poor of Rome, we must especially remember today, January 17, 2021, when the expression Omnis terra — “all the earth” — has taken on a startling reality as perhaps never before! For all the world is suddenly threatened by an invisible virus, all continents, all skin colors, nations and religions — truly all the people of this earth, young and old! All the world suddenly fears disease and death together, from Tierra del Fuego to Vladivostok. When was the expression Omnis terra ever more timely and burning!
Therefore, it was for me a sacred duty as well as a great joy to come today, despite all the coronavirus obstacles, from Rome to Manoppello, where at present no pilgrims can come because of the pandemic. I had to come to bring the Volto Santo, at least through the medium of the moving images of television, to as many sick and lonely people as possible!
|Credit: Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.|
That is why I now also remember with gratitude the day five years ago today when Fr. Carmine Cucinelli invited me and the memorable Archbishop Edmund Farhat from Lebanon to celebrate the divine mysteries with a copy of the Volto Santo in the Church of Santo Spirito in Sassia in Rome on January 17, 2016. For Father Carmine, as rector of the Basilica in Manoppello at that time, had come up with the idea of introducing a third annual feast for the veneration of the Volto Santo during the “Jubilee of Mercy” that Pope Francis had proclaimed for the year 2016. And the Sunday Omnis terra, in memory of the pioneering initiative of Innocent III in the distant year 1208, was simply the most suitable for this.
But I also remember, as if it were yesterday, how I was able to accompany Pope Benedict XVI on his “private pilgrimage” here on September 1, 2006, when he had decided, despite much resistance, to visit and venerate the Volto Santo in Manoppello as the first Pope in over 400 years, shortly before visiting his Bavarian homeland. And now it seems to me almost like divine providence that at that time he had chosen the same passage from the Gospel of John that we have just heard, in order to put into the following words his thoughts on this historic encounter before the Capuchin friars and faithful gathered here with the holy veil:
During my pause for prayer just now, I was thinking of the first two Apostles who, urged by John the Baptist, followed Jesus to the banks of the Jordan River […]. The Evangelist recounts that Jesus turned around and asked them: “What do you seek?” And they answered him, “Rabbi […] where are you staying?” And he said to them, “Come and see.” That very same day, the two who were following him had an unforgettable experience which prompted them to say: “We have found the Messiah.” The One whom a few hours earlier they had thought of as a simple “rabbi” had acquired a very precise identity: the identity of Christ who had been awaited for centuries. But, in fact, what a long journey still lay ahead of those disciples! They could not even imagine how profound the mystery of Jesus of Nazareth could be or how unfathomable, inscrutable, his “Face” would prove, so that even after living with Jesus for three years, Philip, who was one of them, was to hear him say at the Last Supper: “Have I been with you so long, and yet you do not know me, Philip?” And then the words that sum up the novelty of Jesus’ revelation: “He who has seen me has seen the Father.”
Thus far Benedict XVI on September 1, 2006.
If we take his word, and this word of the Lord, quite seriously, we see the Father also here, where the Son reveals his essence to us forever, and where we see: He lives – as Savior and Redeemer.
Pope Benedict had not come barefoot like Pope Innocent, but by helicopter from Castel Gandolfo to Manoppello at the invitation of Archbishop Bruno Forte, and I still remember very vividly every moment of that meeting, as well as May 15, 2009, when Benedict XVI visited the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, from which the veil of the Volto Santo — as well as the Shroud of Turin — originates as incomparable news of the resurrection of Christ from the dead. It cannot be otherwise. After the spectacular visit of Pope Paul VI on January 4, 1964, the empty tomb of Christ in Jerusalem has also been visited by Pope John Paul II in March 2000 and Pope Francis in May 2014. Benedict XVI’s pilgrimage to Manoppello on September 1, 2006, on the other hand, can only be compared to the procession through which Pope Innocent III made known the “True Icon,” popularly known as “Veronica,” in Western Christendom more than 800 years ago. Pope Benedict, however, on September 1, 2006, brought the personal and “human face of God” back to the Church and to all the world. He came all alone and not in the entourage of his advisors or the canons of Saint Peter. And he came shyly and reservedly, as is his way, and only for contemplation and prayer. A celebration of the Eucharist or a public blessing with the Volto Santo was not thought of at that time. But then thousands of pilgrims followed him here, who in his footsteps carried the sentence from the Gospel of John around the whole world: “Come and see!”
Church history will record this forever. And for this, the civil authorities of the city of Manoppello already gave him the keys of your City at the Vatican on November 3, 2010, in the presence of Archbishop Bruno Forte. For this I thank you again with all my heart, as well as all the friars of the Capuchin Order and all the citizens of Manoppello, and today I thank you again especially and personally for the precious privilege of celebrating the Holy Eucharist here with you for all the sick and suffering of all the earth, under the merciful gaze of Christ: “Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sins of the world!”
Archbishop Georg Gänswein
Prefect of the Papal Household
January 17, 2021
Wednesday, January 13, 2021
This Sunday January 17 at 11am there will take place at the Basilica of the Holy Face of Manoppello the annual celebration of the feast of Omnis Terra, intimately linked to the image of the Holy Face and celebrated beginning in the 13th century at Rome and reintroduced to Rome ten years after the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the Shrine of the Holy Face of Manoppello. https://holyfaceofmanoppello.blogspot.com/2016/01/some-aholy-face-pilgrimage-photos-by.html
Archbishop Georg Ganswein, who accompanied Pope Benedict XVI to Manoppello on September 1, 2006.and then celebrated Omnis Terra in the Roman church of Santo Spirito in Sassia on January 16, 2016, delivering a historic homily, will be the presider for the Eucharistic celebration and solemn blessing with the image of the Holy Face in Manoppello this year. https://holyfaceofmanoppello.blogspot.com/2016/01/archbishop-georg-gansweins-homily-at.html
The celebration will be livestreamed on the Facebook page of the Shrine https://www.facebook.com/basilicavoltosanto
Monday, January 4, 2021
|Brother Vincenzo in front of Statue of Saint Padre Pio|
by Antonio Bini
In the friary of Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows at Pescara, following a short illness, the industrious earthly life of Brother Vincenzo D'ElpidIo has come to an end. A popular and much-beloved figure, Brother Vincenzo was a gentle giant, in size, as well as in his extraordinary generosity and above all in his ability to listen, comfort and encourage the many suffering people who came to him each day from all over Italy and also from abroad, as demonstrated by the article published by the German Catholic agency CNA - Catholic News Agency, by Dirk Weisbrod , which tells of his encounter with the friar who is considered among the last heirs of Padre Pio. The Life and Death of Vincenzo D'Elpidio
I met Brother Vincenzo almost twenty years ago, at the beginning of my research focused on studying the figure of Padre Domenico da Cese and his relationship with the Holy Face and with Padre Pio. It goes without saying that, for Brother Vincenzo, the authenticity of the Holy Face, as for his friend Padre Domenico, was beyond dispute.
|Servant of God Padre Domenico da Cese, Apostle of the Holy Face|
I then wrote a first article in 2005 in which I drew attention to Brother Vincenzo’s testimony regarding Padre Domenico. Over the years our meetings became frequent. He was happy with my commitment, if I didn't come to visit or if he didn’t hear from me, he would call me on the telephone. I felt his affection, he gave suggestions, he explained singular episodes of the life of Padre Domenico, of his own relationship with Padre Pio that then appeared in an article published in a national weekly. On that occasion he had even asked me to assist him in his meeting with the journalist. I updated him on the spread of devotion to the Holy Face and the interest in Padre Domenico, to whom he had been a brotherly friend and later an extraordinary advocate for his cause for beatification to which he was strongly committed, having begun this work ten years after Padre Domenico’s death, which took place on September 17, 1978 in Turin, where he had gone to witness the exhibition of the Holy Shroud. Padre Domenico appeared in a dream to Brother Vincenzo imploring him to honor the request of so many devotees who had sent him money – as was used in the past – for the celebration of Masses. Brother Vincenzo went to the Shrine of the Holy Face where he verified the existence of two large boxes containing numerous letters still unopened addressed to the deceased Capuchin. He opened them, left the money with the religious superior, had some Masses celebrated, and asked permission to consult the letters which told of extraordinary facts or simple requests for help from Padre Domenico.
|Br. Vincenzo leading devotees of Padre Domenico in prayer at the Shrine of the Holy Face|
Starting with this documentation he began, together with Bruno Sammaciccia, scholar of the Holy Face and friend of Padre Domenico, the search for contacts and further testimonies that then became fundamental for the start of the beatification process, while not lacking difficulties to overcome due to the hostility of some skeptical confreres who could be counted at most on the fingers of one hand compared to those of the entire Province of the Capuchins of Abruzzo. The work continued in the following years with the collaboration of Padre Domenico's niece, Caterina Petracca, together with her husband Franco Di Lorenzo, who died a few years ago, until the Capuchin Order made the decision to propose to the Archbishop of Chieti, Mons. Bruno Forte, the formal start of the beatification process, with the first phase ending in March 2015 with the granting of the go-ahead (“nulla osta”) from the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. Since that time Padre Domenico has the title of Servant of God.
|Br. Vincenzo with author Paul Badde filming EWTN documentary |
on the life of Padre Domenico da Cese -- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5sslrgj6e7s
Brother Vincenzo foresaw his death. Last February he asked me to help him write his farewell message to the vast community of people who knew him, and who had been following him for many years. He was having difficulty with his right shoulder which he had fractured a few months earlier. I wrote down his thoughts. Then at home I transcribed the text to the computer. He told me to print two copies and then he signed them both, keeping one – which in the following days he entrusted to the superior of the Friary – and asked me to keep the other which I should disseminate in case – for whatever reason – the Father Guardian did not, being his deep desire to reach the many people whom he had known over time. In September, contrary to previous years, not feeling very well, he wanted to entrust me with his message of greeting to the devotees of Padre Domenico gathered on September 20 in Manoppello, on the occasion of the 42nd anniversary of the death of the Servant of God. On that occasion, Father Carmine Cucinelli, then rector of the Shrine of the Holy Face, asked me to read the message at the beginning of Mass, aware of the importance that Brother Vincenzo had for so many devotees of Padre Domenico da Cese who were waiting for Brother Vincenzo’s presence.
But getting back to his farewell message. Brother Vincenzo managed to summarize in a few simple sentences the essence of his long religious life, inspired by the poor man of Assisi, with the memory of Padre Pio, who at the beginning of the 1960’s strongly advised him to stay in Pescara, among the people, instead of choosing the cloistered life. Padre Pio was not wrong. As a friar seeking alms, among the people, in the villages and the countryside he had the opportunity to get in touch with many people becoming very well known as the "friar seeker" ("frate cercatore") a figure linked above all to the world of the small farmer. He went about first, on foot, then in a horse drawn buggy and finally in a Piaggio Ape (small three wheeled vehicle) with the words “pace e bene” (peace and good) written on the front. (see https://www.piaggioapeusa.com/)
Significant his reference to Padre Domenico da Cese, in stating that he followed over the years " the teaching of various confreres and in particular that of the Servant of God Padre Domenico da Cese, of the Shrine of the Holy Face. For me he was an extraordinary example of dedication to the Church and of tireless attention to others, whom he welcomed from morning to night, listened to, comforted and invited to prayer and to live in the faith of the Lord." He writes above all that he felt " close to him in the years after his death "so much so that "some people, who were Padre Domenico’s spiritual children, felt they glimpsed in me something of His figure, even from the physical point of view". Then with his usual humility he acknowledges that he is "only a poor friar, not worthy of being compared to the Servant of God."
|Br. Vincenzo at Annual Celebration of Padre Domenico at the Shrine of the Holy Face|
Yet that "closeness" which Brother Vincenzo describes, was truly perceived in everyday reality by many who felt him to be in continuity with the Servant of God. This was the case for the associations of the Holy Face of Ruvo di Puglia and of Andria – formed by Sister Amalia Di Rella, spiritual daughter of Padre Domenico da Cese. Apart from physical similarities, there was no lack of common charisms. As his age advanced Brother Vincenzo's activity as "seeker" had become much less frequent so that he could devote himself more to listening to needy or despairing people who turned to him, even if simply for advice or a word of hope. In 1979 the then Archbishop of Pescara Mons. Antonio Iannucci granted him the power of special minister of the Eucharist and authorized him to give a blessing. On Saturdays and Sundays he received many people in the Shrine who lined up to talk to him. In many cases he hugged them, clutching them at length praying, even imposing his hands on their head. At times I saw him embrace entire nuclear families. Many felt something mysterious. One had the impression of receiving positive energy, but also affectionate attention, with liberation from anxieties and worries. This all took place publicly. There were numerous people who regained peace and serenity, while others regained their faith.
In recent years, spending most of his time in his room, he received many phone calls from people from all over Italy and even from abroad asking for his blessing. In the friary he had his own telephone line, which callers would rarely find without a busy signal. Since the beginning of November, the growing number of telephone calls from many people worried about not receiving answers –since Brother Vincenzo was being cared for in the friary infirmary – had led the friars to deactivate the telephone line.
At the end of his Funeral Mass, Brother Vincenzo’s message of farewell was read, to great emotion, by the superior of the Shrine Father Franco Nanni. Many people occupied the large space outside the friary following the anti-Covid restrictions. Assisting in keeping order during the service were members of the Prayer Groups of Padre Pio, who at the Shrine have as their guide Father Guglielmo Alimonti, who was close to Padre Pio.
A long heartfelt applause accompanied the conclusion of the reading, with many people in tears. It is certainly no coincidence that the newspaper Il Messaggero, in reporting news of the death of Brother Vincenzo, had written of "sorrow to the Hills” ("dolore ai Colli"), alluding to the populous district in which the Shrine is present.
During Mass, the presider Father Matteo Siro, who since last July has been leading the province of the Capuchins of Abruzzo, Lazio, and Umbria, highlighted the uncommon human and religious qualities of the friar who "made Jesus and his gospel approachable", with many people "having found in him a welcoming heart who knew how to lift up the most heartbroken souls, the most disintegrated families, the poor and also many pregnant women who in their hearts had decided to have an abortion". But with "simple evangelical and persuasive words Brother Vincenzo convinced them to welcome the life that was in them", as confirmed by several testimonies. It is not to be excluded that some of these saved lives were present, blending in among the crowd, which also included many young people.
The action of the good friar also continued in the case of poor families, providing them material aid when possible. In fact, his "questua" (seeking) represented a basic means of social distribution for the local community, collecting offerings of money, oil, wine, wheat, and food - which were needed to support the Friary and the minor seminary (when it was active) - Brother Vincenzo had the opportunity to generously redistribute what was collected in favor of those in need. In various circumstances he also made many boys feel his concern and advice. For this intense activity in 2008 he received public recognition with the award "Socially useful men", as part of an event organized at the Massimo theater in Pescara.
Brother Vincenzo Sabatino D'Elpidio was born in Guardia Vomano, in the province of Teramo, on February 16, 1932. In 1952, after listening to a preacher who had come to his town- Father Pio Palandrani da Mosciano Sant'Angelo - he made the decision to follow his example, entering the Capuchin friary of Sulmona. Unfortunately, his desire to study and become a priest could not be fulfilled for reasons of age, having limited his studies to the attendance of elementary school only. They advised him to remain as a religious brother, telling him that he could "become a saint rather than a priest". But this perspective was not easy for Brother Vincenzo to accept at first, though he devoted himself to the personal deepening of his ascetic knowledge and that of doctrinal scriptures, with the constant desire to do better and work for his own salvation and that of the souls to whom he would minister. His limited culture was largely compensated for by his extraordinary faith, so much so that Father Carmine Ranieri, who in recent years was provincial of the Capuchins of Abruzzo, learning the news of his passing, described him as "a man of rock solid faith and great energy which flowed from his physical might."
After nine months they sent him to the Friary of Penne, where he began the novitiate, making his simple profession on February 13, 1954. In early 1960 he was assigned to the Friary of Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows where he remained until his death. It was back then a rural area above the hill, with few houses around the friary, which over the years the friar saw grow disproportionately until it became a city within the city. For years he carried out the tasks of seeker of alms ("questuante"), cook, farmer, wine maker, sacristan, all which kept him busy from morning to night, even neglecting his health and never losing his simplicity and his proverbial good mood.
|Br. Vincenzo with Paul and Ellen Badde|
Also the German writer and journalist Paul Badde, author of "Face of God" (history of the Holy Face of Manoppello), at the news of Brother Vincenzo and seeing the images with the immense crowd present at the funeral despite the health restrictions, wrote to me " He was a saint indeed. No one will take his place."
|Br. Vincenzo and Antonio Bini|
My last meeting with Brother Vincenzo took place on October 23rd. At that time he asked me to personally take care of the reprinting of the book containing his testimonies regarding Padre Domenico da Cese, which he himself had provided in previous years, distributing them free of charge. Even this last circumstance allows me to conclude by stating that these two friars - exemplary expressions of the most authentic Franciscan charism - today seem to resume a common path, also in the popular imagination of very many people.
|Sr. Petra-Maria Steiner presenting Br. Vincenzo with copies of her book Servant of God, Padre Domenico Da Cese, O.F.M. Capuchin, An Illustrated Biography|