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New Interview Highlights Authenticity of the Holy Face of Manoppello

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Paul Badde, the well-known German Vatican expert and journalist for EWTN, just published, on 6 August, an interview which could very well help to show the world the true Face of God, namely: the Volto Santo of Manoppello, which, in spite of Pope Benedict’s public visit and veneration in 2010, has still not gained its deserved world-wide appreciation and esteem. Badde published his interview with Bruno Forte, the archbishop of Chieti-Vasto – the Italian diocese, in which the Holy Face of Manoppello is located – on the same day, both in German as well as in English. Subsequently, on 9 August, it was also published in Italian. In a personal note to me, Paul Badde wrote that he himself considers this interview to be “a kind of quantum leap in the 10-year-long discussions concerning the Volto Santo of Manoppello.”

For those who do not know yet about the Holy Face of Manoppello: It is a picture of Jesus’ face on a very thin, silken cloth made from mussel hair. It was an ancient Jewish custom to put such a precious and rare cloth on the face of a deceased one. All the evidence shows that the face on this particular cloth is not man-made. That is to say, there are not any particles of paint to be found on it. It is a miraculous picture which many experts say has been imprinted upon the cloth – “soudarion” – at the moment of Christ’s Resurrection (the reason being that the preserved face, though showing signs of torture, is not a suffering face, but, rather a calm, radiant, and pondering face).

This Holy Face was earlier publicly displayed in Rome, for centuries, and at different times of the year, under the title “The Veil of Veronica,” even though evidence now shows that it was, rather, the burial cloth mentioned in the Gospel of St. John as being particularly set aside in the tomb, as distinct from the Shroud of Turin itself. (St. John describes the scene upon his arrival at the tomb after Christ’s Resurrection.) During the “Sack of Rome” in 1527, as it seems, the miraculous image was removed from Rome in order to preserve it from damage, and it finally ended up in the little Capuchin Church in Manoppello where it was rediscovered more prominently only in the 21st century. While some of the history of the Holy Face is still in need of further research, many experts such as Paul Badde and the Trappist nun, Sister Blandina Paschalis Schlömer, modestly and ardently insist that it represents the true face of Jesus Christ.

Badde himself has been tirelessly working to promote this still little known treasure which the Catholic Church has at her disposal: that is to say: the true image of God. Two of his major works in this field are available in English:  The Face of God: The Rediscovery of the True Face of Jesus and The True Icon. From the Shroud of Turin to the Veil of Manoppello. Almost ten years ago, in 2007, I myself reviewed Badde’s first book on the Holy Face of Manoppello (the review starting on page 8). I can only recommend that every Catholic read this material, in order to discover one of the greatest and most beautiful gifts of God to us, next, of course, to the Holy Eucharist and the Blessed Mother! As I have said elsewhere, our little family has this Holy Image in our home at two different locations, and we daily pray in front of it, in the morning and in the evening. It is a great blessing to be able to speak directly to the trusted countenance of Jesus Christ, as He looked when he walked on this earth.

The current bishop of Chieti-Vasto is Archbishop Bruno Forte whose name is likely well-known to many of our readers, especially because of his very disturbing role during the first 2014 Synod of Bishops on Marriage and the Family and because of his more recent personal disclosure concerning the pope’s own advice to him not to mention some of the divisive themes ahead of time in order to conceal their larger and real agenda at both of the Family Synods. However, in this Badde interview, Forte shows himself to have studied the question of the Volto Santo intensively and extensively. And, by virtue of his own authority as the bishop responsible for the Volto Santo, he is now intent to defend its authenticity and importance.

The occasion for this Badde interview with Archbishop Forte is the tenth anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to the Shrine of Manoppello, in Italy’s Abruzzo mountains, where a little Church hosts this precious relic. Pope Benedict had visited the pilgrimage shrine on 1 September 2006, and as Forte reveals, the pope came on his own behalf and at his own initiative. As Forte recounts:

Here I must specify that Pope Benedict’s decision to come to the Volto Santo was made by he [sic]  himself, and totally alone. He shared that with me even before his election to be the Successor of Peter and after the election in the course of an audience, in which I participated as member of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity. This initiative was a great gift from him. I was very happy about that and it filled me with great thankfulness towards him.

Forte also describes in the Badde interview his own impression of Benedict’s visit:

In those moments, my eyes were going back and forth between the venerated image and the face of the Successor of Peter, who contemplated it intensely, as if to be captured by the image and at the same time challenged to enter into that which this veil suggests – with that extraordinary mystical and inquiring intelligence that characterized the whole work of Joseph Ratzinger and Benedict XVI. It was like attending a dialogue in which silence was more eloquent than each word: a silence from the surplus, touching and being touched on the threshold of mystery from whose depths allows itself to be illuminated.

Most importantly, Forte makes many earnest and historical statements concerning his moral certitude that the Holy Image of Manoppello is, indeed, identical with that cloth that the Evangelist St. John mentioned as the “soudarion” from Christ’s empty tomb in Jerusalem. Forte says:

John names it in verses 6 and 7 in the 20th chapter of his Gospel: “When Simon Peter arrived after him, he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there, and the cloth that had covered his head, not with the burial cloths, but rolled up in a separate place.” The burial cloths – in the original “tá othónia” – correspond in all likelihood with that unique witness that we have in the famous Shroud of Turin (or Santa Sindone in Italian). The “Soudárion,” on the other hand, allows me to say from my moral certainty that it corresponds with the veil from Manoppello. This certainty is supported by various data. First and foremost, the veil was kept in Jerusalem as a precious remembrance of the Redeemer. Then it was taken to Camulia in Cappadocia where it was venerated for a long time. From there it was later taken under the threat of the so-called iconoclasts first to Constantinople and then in safety to Rome. Here it was displayed at the beginning of the 13th century for the public to view, where it was treasured as an incomparable relic at St. Peter’s Basilica. When the new construction of the magnificent and current St. Peter’s began on April 18, 1506, the sacred Sudarium was still located in a vault, from where the veil in all likelihood was brought to safety by Cardinal Giampietro Carafa, Archbishop of Chieti and later governor of the city (and future Pope Paul IV) in 1527 as German and Spanish soldiers ravaged Rome in the so-called “Sack of Rome.” And which place was safer than a monastery on the other side of the Papal States’ borders – in his Diocese of Chieti-Vasto, Manoppello was the first town behind the border, which is reached as soon as one comes out of Rome and therefore the holy veil arrived here at a Capuchin monastery after it was previously kept in sure hands in private homes. But when it was decided in 1640 to put the veil on display for public veneration, the threat that the Vatican’s Chapter of Canons could demand to get the veil back was foiled and thwarted by a certain Fra’ Donato da Bomba with a chronicle in which he asserted that the holy veil had already reached Manoppello in 1506, when the new construction on St. Peter’s began. Therefore, it could not be possible to be the so-called Veil of Veronica as it was back then also called in Rome. It was thus a pious lie, but nevertheless a lie, even if it was pronounced with good intentions, which saved the whereabouts of this genuine divine proof of the passion and resurrection of Christ for the people of Abruzzi and for all of us… [my emphasis added]

After showing the further history of this Holy Image, Archbishop Forte also refers to the very important work of the beloved nun who has dedicated her life to this holy relic, Sister Blandina. When asked about the relationship between the Holy Face of Manoppello and the Shroud of Turin, Forte answers:

The Shroud of Turin has been well known and honored for a long time throughout the world; however, the Holy Face of Manoppello seems for some still to be something unheard of and new, which is not supported in the same way from the perception and tradition of the faith of the people of God. But it is not so in reality, as I have just called to mind. Between these two incomparable witnesses, there is not only no contradiction, but also they have even been proven for a long time to concur and correspond perfectly to one another. The Trappist sister Blandina Paschalis Schlömer has compellingly pointed out a variety of concurring points that show the extreme compatibility between the face on the Sindone (or Shroud) and the face on the Sudarium. It indicates that there is a relationship between both cloths, which were established in the holy tomb in Jerusalem. In any case, the Shroud of Turin and the Manoppello Image show the inexplicable and mysterious way the same person once dead and once alive. It is Jesus Christ, the Lord. [my emphasis added]

As Sister Blandina’s research has shown, both faces – the Manoppello and the Shroud face – are completely compatible. Even moreso, when put on top of each other, on two foils, they form a new, more vivid and filled face than each of them alone shows. I can speak of this matter myself since one of my family members kindly sent me a gift from Manoppello – made by Sister herself – where the Volto Santo is put together in one frame with the image of Jesus’ face from the Holy Shroud of Turin. Archbishop Forte also refers in this interview to the ongoing research concerning the question as to whether the Holy Face of Manopello is man-made:

The Veil of Manoppello was tested under an electron microscope and even in extra enlargements, no traces of paint were found. The image was not painted; rather, it is a true image – and that makes it even more precious because it provides us with a kind of authentic image which we have of the Redeemer of the world.

On this background, Archbishop Forte himself declares to be wrong those theories which deny that Christ truly resurrected:

In the gap of time between the death of Jesus on the cross and the new beginning of Easter, something essential must have happened in order to transform the frightened and fleeing disciples on Good Friday into the bold heralds of the resurrection of Christ on Easter. This “something” was not a fruit of hysterical imagination of the events as, for example, Ernest Renan declared; rather, it approaches them externally as an unexpected gift that transformed their sorrow into joy and their fear into audacious courage and their escape from Jerusalem into a new life and worldwide mission. To conclude, there is almost complete unanimity in serious research since then on the historical Jesus.

It is to be hoped that this interview – conducted by Paul Badde and supported by the important work of Sister Blandina Schlömer (who now lives and still works in Manoppello) – will help many Catholics to realize what a precious gift God has given us in this miraculous image: namely, the gift of seeing His True Face, and an opportunity, when praying in front of it, of drawing much closer to Him in a more incarnate and intimately human way. This gift Saint Padre Pio himself once called “the greatest miracle we have.” He himself was found – in bilocation, very shortly before his own death – kneeling and praying in Manoppello before this Holy Image, asking God to have mercy on him.

27 thoughts on “New Interview Highlights Authenticity of the Holy Face of Manoppello”

  1. I don’t mean to question its miraculous nature. If they say it is an acheiropoieta it must be. But….

    I don’t think it is the sudarium. That piece is kept at Oviedo cathedral and recently and italian study showed the perfect correspondance between the blood stains and holes of the sudarium of Oviedo and the shroud of Turin. Check this video at 16’20”

    It is a really fascinating study, quite different from the traditional documentary on the shroud, as it shows, by the study of geometrical data, how the “canvas” captured Jesus’ movements during the resurrection and the differents objects that he carried.

  2. Photos of the Holy Face of Manoppello do not adequately represent it, because nobody seems to have figured out a way to photograph the gleams and shadows of sea byssus, much less an image on sea byssus. (It’s too bright and subtle to let darker parts get photographed well, a more complicated version of the trouble photographing such normal things as black cats.) So what you’re looking at above – that’s only a photo-approximation.

    Onionskin dyes and paints leave marks on surfaces. Any kind of dye or paint leaves marks on surfaces. You’re not going to be able to hide that sort of thing from an electron microscope.

    If you want to argue anything mundane, you would have to argue that the woman weaving the sea byssus cloth from mussel fibers (which is a nearly lost art and technology in itself) also figured out a way to use miniscule natural differences in byssus strand colors to create the image of a face. From one single batch of byssus. Such a work of art would be practically miraculous.

    An artist like that would have been feted by the Roman Emperor, and the already-rich byssus manufactories would have been assigned to weave other byssus designs. Whole branches of sea byssus technology would have resulted. There would have been no need to pass such a breakthrough artwork off as a one-of-a-kind miracle — especially since relics are forbidden to be sold and can only be given.

    • Here’s an interesting interview with the world’s only living weaver of byssus, Chiara Vigo of Sardinia.

      The article’s description of how byssus is treated in order to make it turn gleaming gold does suggest another mundane possibility: one might protect tiny pieces of the cloth from getting the full gleam, thus creating an image. But again, this begs the question of why such a process (much easier than weaving subtle natural variations of color) would not be used again and again by the byssus makers, so that a valuable kind of cloth could be made even more valuable.

      Byssus can be dyed, but we know what that looks like. You can see an example in the article. And I can guarantee that the dye shows up on electron microscopes.

  3. Jews still living in the Holy Land and the Byzantine Empire, together with some Eastern Orthodox, had quite a thriving business out of selling fake relics to Western Catholics.
    Umberto Eco writes that there were several heads of the same saint in different places in the Middle Ages, each pretending it was the true one. And a forest of pieces of the True Cross, and so on.

    • Well, I think Umberto Eco is not the go-to-guy when it comes to Church history. Indeed, we do not know for sure where the head of St. John the Baptist is, but the “forest of pieces of the True Cross” has been debunked numerous times.

      • Eco knows quite a lot about the Middle Ages. And the relic trade was flourishing in those times:
        The obsession with relics is a remnant of the pagan religions and borders on superstitious, and on the ridiculous.
        Why do some people insist on seeing God’s face when He said that no one can see it and live ?
        There are no portraits of Christ from his time on earth for a reason – so that people believe in his words without having seen him. They have to make a leap of faith. That’s why he said “blessed are those who believe without seeing”.

        • Go spew your “spirit of Vatican II,” modernist, heretical trash someplace else.

          The practice of venerating relics is solidly backed up in Scripture

          • Venerating relics is not “pagan,” it is a long standing Jewish practice that was continued by Christians and is backed up by scripture. Like any religious practice, it can be taken too far or abused. That doesn’t mean it is not a valid form of reverence.

  4. …..and the devil known as Satan continues his nefarious works……….!!! Think of exorcisms and the devil’s possession of others, then see or read the looks on those humans who are possessed………

  5. It is a fake because the Italian experimental photographer Vincenzo Ruello discovered the only second negative holographic image encoded in the Rome Veronica at St Peters in 2011. The Manoppello cloth was painted by the artist Albert Durer and given to his friend Raphael a self portrait on byssus silk as testified and documented by the art historian Vasari who wrote that Durer was painting his portrait for Raphael his friend on byssus silk unheard of at the time

  6. A painting by Albert Durer written about as having painted his portrait on byssus silk and given to his friend Raphael

  7. This is a hoax. It is completely different in proportion and size to the Holy Shroud and the Veil of Veronica kept in the Vatican. Don’t believe it.

  8. Pope Benedict XVI. viewed the Image. In 2010 and believed it to be the true. face of. Jesus. I carry the pics. in my wallet every day.

  9. Why was Padre Domenico da Cese, O.F.M Capuchin not mentioned in this article? It was he who was the “Apostle of the Holy Face ” before Sr. Blandina.


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