Be touched and transformed by Jesus' Holy Face: Benedict

Pope Benedict has called on priests, religious and the faithful to love and be transformed by the holiness of Jesus' face as his summer stay in Castel Gandolfo winds up with a visit to the Manoppello shrine that houses the iconic Veronica's Veil.

Making the first visit by a reigning pontiff to the 17th Century sanctuary of Manoppello in Pescara Province, Italy, the Pope was greeted by several thousand pilgrims as he arrived by helicopter, the Chicago Times reports.

During his "private pilgrimage," Pope Benedict encouraged those who are ordained, or are about to be, to "love the holiness of his Face", knowing that "even the faithful entrusted to your care will be touched and transformed".

"Those who meet Jesus, who allow themselves to be drawn by him and who are prepared to follow him to the point of sacrificing their lives, live in God already on this earth, attracted and transformed by the splendour of his face," Pope Benedict said.

Those welcoming the Pontiff included Bishop Bruno Forte, a friend and theologian and bishop in nearby Chieti.

The Pontiff entered the sanctuary and prayed before the altar for about five minutes, then went behind it and prayed before the relic, known as the "Holy Face" or "Veil of Veronica."

While the Veil is not as famous as the Shroud of Turin, thought to be Christ's burial cloth, some experts say the images on the two cloths can be perfectly superimposed and that they were formed at the same time.

According to Christian tradition, Veronica was one of the holy women who accompanied Jesus to Calvary. She offered him a veil or cloth to wipe his face, and the image of Christ's face was imprinted on it.

However, the name "Veronica" is said to derive from the Latin words "vera iconica", meaning "true face."

AsiaNews adds that the search for Jesus and love of the "holiness of his Face" are becoming a leitmotif in meetings of Benedict XVI with priests.

"Dear priests," he said, "if the holiness of his Face remains impressed in you, shepherds of the flock of Christ, do not be afraid, even the faithful entrusted to your care will be touched and transformed.

"And you, seminarians, who are preparing to be responsible leaders of the Christian people, do not allow yourselves to be drawn by anything other than Jesus and the desire to serve his Church.

"I wish to say the same to you, members of religious orders, men and women, that all your activities may be a visible reflection of divine goodness and mercy," he continued.

Pope: Seeking face of God, priests will transform lives of the faithful (AsiaNews, 1/9/06)
Pope prays before 'Holy Face'(Chicago Times, 3/9/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Veronica's Veil (Wikipedia)
Has Veronica's Veil Been Found? (Catholic Forum)
Official site of the Holy Face Sanctuary

Pope: St Gregory the Great, model for politicians and Church pastors (AsiaNews, 3/9/06)

4 Sep 2006