6:24-26 "The Lord bless thee, and keep thee. The Lord shew His Face to thee,
and have mercy on thee. The Lord turn His Countenance to thee, and give thee
Psalm 26:8 "My heart hath said to thee: My face hath sought Thee: Thy Face,
O Lord, will I still seek."
Psalm 30:20-21 "O how great is the multitude of Thy sweetness, O Lord, which
Thou hast hidden for them that fear Thee! Which Thou hast wrought for them
that hope in Thee, in the sight of the sons of men. Thou shalt hide them
in the secret of Thy Face, from the disturbance of men. Thou shalt protect
them in Thy tabernacle from the contradiction of tongues."
Psalm 67:2 "Let God arise, and let His enemies be scattered: and let them
that hate Him flee from before His Face."
I Corinthians 13:12 "We see now through a glass in a dark manner; but then
face to Face. Now I know I part; but then I shall know even as I am
Devotion to the Holy Face is like the Devotions to Christ's
Childhood and Five
Wounds: it is another aspect of focusing on the Incarnation that Latin
Catholics love to contemplate, but an aspect that is especially compelling
because of the nature of the human face. When we think of someone we love,
we think of that person's face because it is primarily the face that identifies
and expresses who that person is. Indeed, the very word "person" is rooted
in the Latin word for "mask." We can look at a friend and know instantly
how he is feeling by his subtle expression -- by the "lights" of his eyes
and that ineffable way the eyes act as a "window to the soul."
Now consider! Because of the Incarnation, there is God with a human
Face! The Divine Being with human eyes -- eyes into which human beings could
gaze, eyes that beheld things as beautiful as His mother, and as ugly as
soldiers' spittle. God with eyes that cried (John 11:35). Meditating
on the Holy Face is not simply to recall the visage of some spiritual teacher
who lived on earth 2,000 years ago; it is to realize something so movingly
true about the One Who created the very Sun and Moon and stars: that He is
a deeply personal Being, so personal that He took on our nature and walked
among us, looking at us through human eyes, and letting Himself be seen.
Thomas saith to him: Lord, we know not whither Thou goest; and how can we
know the way? Jesus saith to him: I am the way, and the truth, and the life.
No man cometh to the Father, but by Me. If you had known Me, you would without
doubt have known My Father also: and from henceforth you shall know Him,
and you have seen Him. Philip saith to Him: Lord, shew us the Father, and
it is enough for us. Jesus saith to him: Have I been so long a time with
you; and have you not known me? Philip, he that seeth Me seeth the Father
is what the Father is like! Alleluia! God isn't some far-away, coldly
intellectual "source"; He is Father, and we see Him through the human Face
of His Son Who wept at the ugliness of St. Lazarus's death, Who healed the
sick, Who allowed Himself to be beaten for our iniquities. We aren't evolved
monkey-flesh that suffers needlessly and without meaning; we are creatures
deeply loved by a personal God, called to partake of the Divine Nature! The
very fact that God took on a human Face is a rich Mystery, and behind that
adorable Countenace is the eternal Mystery of God Himself.
Devotion to the Holy Face isn't only a matter of marvelling at these Truths,
however; in another sense, it is to "become St. Veronica "-- the woman we
recall at the sixth Station of the Cross, the
one who took pity on Him and wiped the sweat from His Face with her veil
which bears the impession of His Holy Face to this day. It is to do as she
did and comfort Jesus for the wounds the world still inflicts on Him with
its irreverence, sacrilege, and blasphemy -- especially by doing that which
pleases Him most: bringing souls to Him.
There has been devotion to the Holy Face ever since Our Lord walked the earth.
His mother looking down into the manger and seeing the Face of a beautiful
Boy, the eyes of St. Mary Magdalen as she looked up at Him with love after
anointing His Feet with perfume, the already mentioned St. Veronica whose
veil, along with the Holy Shroud, is the basis for our depictions of Christ
in the icons upon which we've gazed for two millennia -- all who saw
Him and knew Who He was carried the image of His Holy Face with them in their
hearts. But throughout Catholic History, there have been those who've done
more than others to popularize the devotion in an explicit way.
Sister Mary of Saint Peter
and the Venerable Leo Dupont
In the mid-19th
century, in Tours, France, a Carmelite nun named Sister Marie de Saint Pierre
(1816-1848) received a private revelation from Our Lord that "Those who will
contemplate the wounds on My Face here on earth, shall contemplate it radiant
in heaven." In her vision, she was transported to the road to Calvary and
saw St. Veronica wiping away the spit and mud from His Holy Face with her
veil. Sister realized that the taking of the Name of God in vain and all
the other sacrilegious and blasphemous acts that men do fall on the Lord's
Face like that spit and mud that St. Veronica so lovingly wiped away. Jesus
revealed to Sister that He desired devotion to His Holy Face in reparation
for sacrilege, the profanation of Sundays, and blasphemy, which He described
to her as being like a "poisoned arrow." To her He dictated the prayer which
has become known as "The Golden Arrow" and which honors His
May the most Holy, most Sacred, most Adorable, Most Incomprehensible and
Ineffable Name of God Be always Praised, Blessed, Loved, Adored and Glorified,
In Heaven, on Earth and under the Earth, By all the Creatures of God, And
by the Sacred Heart of Our Lord Jesus Christ, In the most Holy Sacrament
of the Altar. Amen.
At around the time
Sister was receiving her visions, into Tours from Martinique moved the saintly
Monsieur Leo Dupont (1797-1876), a man whose young wife had died and whose
daughter God also took in this interesting way: she'd begun moving about
in "fashionable circles" and taking on a worldly air that caused M. Dupont
to worry about her eternal welfare, so much so that he prayed, "My God, if
You foresee that my daughter will part from You, I ask you to take her with
You so that she will not be separated from You." His daughter soon died of
typhoid. Though tormented by his temporal loss, he kept his faith in God
and nurtured it.
He soon heard of Sr. Mary of St. Peter's efforts to spread devotion to the
Holy Face and, inspired by the Holy Ghost through her example, decided to
dedicate his life to this work. He kept an oil lamp burning continuously
before an image of the Holy Face, and his home became a center of pilgrimage
when people began to gather to pray before the image, with many receiving
miraculous cures through the application of his lamp's oil to their skin.
He went on to establish the Archconfraternity of the Holy Face, and was later
recognized by the Church as a "Venerable." He is now known familiarly as
"The Holy Man of Tours."
Late 19th Century:
St. Therese of the
Child Jesus and of the Holy Face
About the picture she venerated -- a picture based on the image of
St. Veronica's Veil -- St. Therese said, "How well Our Lord did to
lower His eyes when He gave us His portrait! Since the eyes are the
mirror of the soul, if we had seen His soul, we would have died from
In yet another
sense, devotion to the Holy Face inspires us to know how to imitate Him best,
teaches us how to "put on Christ." What did people see when they saw Our
Blessed Lord? The Prophet Isaias tells us:
Isaias 52:14, 53:2-3
As many have been astonished at thee, so shall His Visage be inglorious among
men, and His form among the sons of men... And He shall grow up as a tender
plant before Him, and as a root out of a thirsty ground: there is no beauty
in Him, nor comeliness: and we have seen Him, and there was no sightliness,
that we should be desirous of him: Despised, and the most abject of men,
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with infirmity: and His look was as it were
hidden and despised, whereupon we esteemed Him not.
It is this sense
of the Holy Face devotion -- meditating on the despised, suffering Countenance
that hid His Divinity from those who had no eyes to see -- that inspired
the spirituality of St. Therese of Lisieux, "The Little Flower" whose religious
name was "St. Therese of the Child Jesus and
of the Holy Face." Contemplating His "hiddenness" and the Mystery of His
having humbled Himself as He did by becoming a Child and by suffering for
us is the source of St. Therese's "Little Way" -- her method of spiritual
discipline that teaches us we don't need to be great in the world's terms
in order to become a Saint. No matter where we are, no matter our talents
or intellect, we can love. Hidden away herself, in her Norman convent, she
wrote of the Prophet's words
These words of
Isaias: "He was without splendor, without beauty, His Face was hidden, as
it were, and His person was not acknowledged; one finds in them the
whole foundation of my devotion to the Holy Face, or to say it better, the
foundation of all my piety. I also desire myself to be without splendor,
without beauty, to tread alone the wine in the press, unknown by every
Jesus set the book
of nature before me and I saw that all the flowers He has created are lovely.
The splendor of the rose and the whiteness of the lily do not rob the little
violet of its scent nor the daisy of its simple charm. I realized that if
every tiny flower wanted to be a rose, spring would lose its loveliness and
there would be no wildflowers to make the meadows gay.
It is just the same in the world of souls -- which is the garden of Jesus.
He has created the great saints who are like the lilies and the roses, but
He has also created much lesser saints and they must be content to be the
daisies or the violets which rejoice his eyes whenever He glances down.
Perfection consists in doing His will, in being that which He wants us to
St. Therese did
no one particular thing that one would point at and say, "See? Clearly she
is a great Saint!" Her greatness was not in what she did so much as
how she did it: with humility, with acceptance of suffering, and all
for the love of Christ. She died of tuberculosis at the age of 24, telling
a Sister a few months before her death that she would spend her Heaven doing
good upon the earth, and that it will be like "a shower of roses." She left
behind her autobiography ("Story of a Soul") and poetry and prayers, among
which are her Canticle and Prayer to the Holy Face:
the Holy Face
12 August 1895
Jesus, Your ineffable image
Is the star which guides my steps.
Ah, You know, Your sweet Face
Is for me Heaven on earth.
My love discovers the charms
Of Your Face adorned with tears.
I smile through my own tears
When I contemplate Your sorrows.
Oh! To console You I want
To live unknown on earth!
Your beauty, which You know how to veil,
Discloses for me all its mystery.
I would like to fly away to You!
Your Face is my only homeland.
It's my Kingdom of love.
It's my cheerful meadow.
Each day, my sweet sun.
It's the Lily of the Valley
Whose mysterious perfume
Consoles my exiled soul,
Making it taste the peace of Heaven.
It's my Rest, my Sweetness
And my melodious Lyre
Your Face, O my Sweet Savior,
Is the Divine Bouquet of Myrrh
I want to keep on my heart!
Your Face is my only wealth.
I ask for nothing more.
Hiding myself in it unceasingly,
I will resemble You, Jesus
Leave in me, the Divine Impress
Of Your features filled with sweetness,
And soon I'll become holy.
I shall draw hearts to You.
So that I may gather
A beautiful golden harvest,
Deign to set me aflame with Your Fire.
With Your adorned mouth,
Give me soon the Eternal Kiss!
St. Theres's Prayer to the Holy face
O Jesus, Who in Thy bitter Passion didst become "the most abject of men,
a man of sorrows," I venerate Thy Sacred Face whereon there once did shine
the beauty and sweetness of the Godhead ... but now it has become for me
as if it were the Face of a leper! Nevertheless, under those disfigured features,
I recognize Thy Infinite Love and I am consumed with the desire to love Thee
and make Thee loved by all men.
The tears which well up abundantly in Thy Sacred Eyes appear to me as so
many precious pearls that I love to gather up, in order to purchase the souls
of poor sinners by means of their infinite value. O Jesus, Whose adorable
Face ravished my heart, I implore Thee to fix deep within me Thy Divine Image
and to set me on fire with Thy Love, that I may be found worthy to come to
the contemplation of Thy glorious Face in Heaven. Amen.
Early 20th Century:
Sister Maria Pierina De Micheli
Sister Maria Pierina
was inspired through visions of Our Lord and Lady to take up the work of
spreading devotion to the Holy Face. Lord Christ told her, "I will that My
Face, which reflects the intimate pains of my Spirit, the suffering and the
love of My Heart, be more honoured. He who meditates upon Me, consoles Me."
An image of a scapular bearing the likeness
of the Face on the Holy Shroud was revealed to her by Our Lady, who told
her, "This Scapular is an armour of defense, a shield of strength, a token
of the love and mercy which Jesus wishes to give the world in these times
of lust and hatred against God and His Church. Diabolical nets are thrown
to wrench the Faith from hearts, evils abound, true apostles are few, and
the remedy is the Holy Face of Jesus." Our Lady said that all those who piously
wear the image, make a visit to the Blessed Sacrament every Tuesday, if possible,
to make reparation for the assaults against the Holy Face, and receive the
Holy Eucharist every day will have a happy death under the loving gaze of
Sister Pierina set about to cast the image in the form of a medal, and after
some struggle in gaining permission, found she had no money to have the medals
cast. This last problem was remedied apparently miraculously: she found an
envelope with the exact sum of money needed on her desk, seemingly
from nowhere. After the medals were cast, the Evil One made known his
displeasure. How could he not despise an image of the image left behind when
Jesus walked away from His burial shroud? Enraged, Evil Spirit flung the
medals around the room, and physically assaulted Sister Pierina. But he was
defeated, and the practice of wearing the medals spread all over the world.
The obverse side of the medal bears the image of the Holy Face, as revealed
by the Shroud of Turin. Surrounding it are the words of Psalm 66:2, "Illumina
Domine Vultum Tuum super nos" ("Shew the light of Thy countenance, O Lord,
upon us."). On the back of the medal is a Sacred Host inscribed with the
monogram of the Holy Name ("IHS"), surrounded
by rays and the words, "Mane nobiscum Domine" ("Stay with us, O Lord").
died in 1945, a few years after having written in her diary, "I feel a deep
longing to live always united to Jesus, to love Him intensely because my
death can only be a transport of love with my Spouse, Jesus."
The Human Face of Lord Christ
For your adoration,
I provide you with a series of pictures of the
Shroud of Turin: the Shroud as it appears to the naked eye, the Shroud as
it appears in photgraphic negative, and an exquisite painting of Christ based
closely on the Shroud's image and painted by the Armenian artist, Ariel Agemian.
I position these pictures so you can see them side by side, and then present
the painting, englarged, so you can "look into the eyes of Christ."
Beneath these pictures are the Shroud image and the Agemian painting on either
side of an image of what the 12-year old Christ may have looked like as
determined by the Italian police whose artists, in A.D. 2004, took the image
of the Shroud and subtracted 20 years with methods used in police investigations.
In all of these images, you will see that, despite the Prophet's words that
"there is no beauty in Him, nor comeliness," there is great beauty and comeliness
indeed in the sweet and Holy Face of our Savior! This page may take some
time to load...
See also the
Novena to the Holy Face.