God’s Face, pure and simple, is something most of human kind has never seen this side of heaven. Seeing God’s face is supposed to be the ultimate goal of every human being – to be able to view God’s face and be happy doing it eternally. That’s heaven summed up. It is called the beatific vision. The most beautiful thing we will ever see. To hate to see God’s face is hell.
The Flower and The Face
I took the Confirmation name of The Little Flower, Saint Therese of Lisieux. Her full title is Of the Child Jesus and The Holy Face. I almost never hear anyone refer to her by The Holy Face. Having enlisted this stalwart little saint, I now see the fruit of my confirmation choice. She has never let the Holy Face leave my life. Such a gift! Little did I know then what would transpire from a choice I made as a young teen. Part of St. Therese’s ministry to me was to walk alongside me through life. A herculean effort for her, no doubt. I often feel as if I should make regular apologies to her. The other unexpected gift was that my father’s sister has a lifelong devotion to her, and so over the years, she has showered me with prayers to St. Therese, and also lovely books about her or written by her. Always, there was a thread of The Holy Face. St. Therese herself was so impressed with the new devotion in France that she requested her religious name have “The Holy Face” added.
I have consistently enjoyed researching the Shroud of Turin. I’ve always loved research period. So, the scientific aspects of the Shroud enthrall me and make me think it’s the authentic face of God. There was never much mention of God’s face as I grew up, until the Shroud made a big hit in my later childhood, and it would resurface over the years. I was always intrigued and happy to learn more and more. Don’t you just love to stare at the face on the Shroud? What a peaceful feeling it gives.
Il Volto Santo
Then there came other reports, legends and stories all about The Holy Face over the years. I would curiously investigate those as well. I was so keen to learn more that in 2011, I joined a friend in Rome for a vacation but my main purpose was to head out to eastern Italy to see a purported image of God’s face, called Il Volto Santo. I felt that making a pilgrimage to venerate God’s face was a worthy endeavor. Of course, the enemy of my soul must have seen that this would be a beneficial journey for me ,as well, and tried to derail the pilgrimage at different points using my health and even the friend in Rome to become an obstacle. I knew then I had to hang on and steel myself to make the trip no matter what or who got in my way.
Barriers to The Face
Of course, our enemy does not want any of us to see God’s face or to be inspired and helped by the effort to go see God’s face. This enemy of our souls will do anything to keep us from the full bliss of eternally loving and worshiping God’s face in the beatific vision. Do any of us in these modern times ever stop to think of that?
There are now many in human history who are being added to the privileged numbers of those seeing God’s face. God may have also left us His face, His ineffably beautiful face, on a piece of rarest Mediterranean sea silk. It rests in eastern Italy in a tiny town perched on a storybook hilltop called Manoppello. Whether or not we choose to believe the authenticity of these types of holy objects is up to us, just as believing in private revelations is a personal choice, as well.
A Divine Day
As a sign of God’s blessing on my efforts to arrive at the church in Manoppello, it turned out that that very day was the anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI’s first day as Pope. It was also the Tuesday of Holy Week, and since the Capuchin Church of St. Michael Archangel had been raised to a minor basilica by Pope Benedict XVI, we received a plenary indulgence and the Papal Blessing. What a thrill.
A Sweet Reward
God rewarded me for overcoming terrible obstacles to go venerate what could be His face. As I later learned, the Tuesday of Holy Week is the Feast of the Holy Face! Looking back at my calendar and seeing this caused me to gasp, cover my mouth, and get chills. I felt tears spring to my eyes I was so moved to look back seven years and realize that God called me to venerate His face on the very feast He so wanted. I wept openly when the enormity of this hit me while writing this post. He called me to His face! What greater confirmation of writing a post about His holy face can I get?
On the good chance that God chose to leave His face on more than one object, I went to venerate it. I’m not worried about which face is the real face, etc. I’ll leave the Shroud versus other artifacts debate to others. We have plenty of statues and paintings of Mary, and no one fusses about which one is the most authentic, etc. We know some are merely painted and some are miraculous images. As long as we venerate her with love and filial devotion, which image does not matter. I take the same grain of salt approach in the Manoppello image. I do not wish to waste energy on divisive arguments. I’d rather save my energy and focus for worshipping God and let Him sort all that out. I have read about various images of Christ and will not engage in discussions that encourage division. Division is what comes from our enemy. Let’s elude that trap.
I found a very old, brown and tattered pamphlet explaining The Holy Face history and devotions, among discarded religious reading material. I was so excited I snatched it for my own spiritual reading. I happily read through it during a Eucharistic Holy Hour we had for Ireland. I discovered that this old book was from Ireland, though eight decades out of print. I sat enraptured by the beauty of the prayers and the thrilling histories of Christ appearing to have His face reinserted into our history in order to heal and save us. Christ appeared to Sr. Mary of St. Peter in 1845 in Tours, France and asked for The Holy Face devotions in order for us to make reparation to His Sacred Heart. Click here for a copy: Devotion to Holy Face out of print
As I was preparing this blog post during the lead up to the feast of His Sacred Heart, the timing felt divinely ordered for me. Jesus asked us to spread devotion to His face to make reparation for the sins against the First Three Commandments: Denial of God through atheism and communism, Blasphemy (something I witnessed as the most profoundly shocking part of the speech in Ireland – taking the name of the Lord in vain constantly, as if it was just A-OK), and the profanation of Sundays and Holy Days.
Have you ever heard of the devotion to The Holy Face?
When I prepared this blog post, I did a ton of new research on The Holy Face. I never start out in life without a ton of research. I guess it’s that desire to be prepared that came from being in the Explorer Division of the Boy Scouts. I was happy to find that fellow believers in Ireland now promote The Holy Face and are following Christ’s command to use His Holy Face for reparation. Marvelous. You can see huge images of the face from the Shroud of Turin all over Ireland on billboards, etc. I’m so proud of my Irish brethren for taking Christ at His word and setting out into deep waters to save Ireland from the darkness that is currently swallowing it — and wounding His Sacred Heart.
Feast of the Holy Face
Did you know that Holy Tuesday is the Feast of the Holy Face of Jesus? I had no idea until I read the old booklet. And I certainly had no idea when I was in Manoppello! Pope Pius XII declared the feast for all Roman Catholics to be the day before Ash Wednesday. Imagine how improved our world would be if we made reparations to the Sacred Heart instead of eating, drinking, carousing and indulging in excess, debauchery and frivolity.
Make Tuesdays Special
I’ve always thought Tuesdays so ho-hum. Not any more! Any of us can make a visit to the Blessed Sacrament on a Tuesday and pray in a spirit of reparation to the Holy Face. Jesus said we would receive special graces. Jesus has hidden His face under the appearance of bread.
But His entire body, blood, soul and divinity are there, and that means His face too! If you can’t get to church, go online and adore the Lord with live online adoration (www.savior.org).
What is in it for you?
To be continued. . .
© 2018 Frances Peterson
Photo credits: Frances Peterson
The Holy Face Devotion: https://theholyface.com/
The Beatific Vision definition:
The Lord Bless You and Keep You, by John Rutter:
A wonderful painting of Christ’s Face:
Holy Face Association:
A very nice summary of the story of Sr. Mary of St. Peter and the layman who made the devotion famous:
Song: The Holy Face of Jesus: