Category Archives: Christ Jesus

New study of the Turin Shroud

Vatican Insider July 13, 2017
New study shows Man of the Shroud had “dislocated” arms

Four university professors have published an article in “Injury” magazine revealing that the crucified man that was wrapped in the Turin Shroud [(TS)] suffered a dislocation of the humerus, the paralysis of one arm and a violent trauma to the neck and chest. There are also traces of a double wrist-nailing

The Man of the Shroud “underwent an under glenoidal dislocation of the humerus on the right side and lowering of the shoulder, and has a flattened hand and enophthalmos; conditions that have not been described before, despite several studies on the subject. These injuries indicate that the Man suffered a violent blunt trauma to the neck, chest and shoulder from behind, causing neuromuscular damage and lesions of the entire brachial plexus.”

This is the conclusion four university professors arrived at in an in-depth study they carried out on the image of the crucified Man on the Turin Shroud. They observed that “the posture of the left claw-hand is indicative of an injury of the lower brachial plexus, as is the crossing of the hands on the pubis, not above the pubis as it would normally be, and are related to traction of the limbs as a result of the nailing to the patibulum.” Only part of the study has been published so far in Injury , the prestigious International Journal of the Care of the Injured. The rest of the study is to follow shortly. The four experts involved in the research are: Matteo Bevilacqua of the Hospital-University of Padua, Italy; Giulio Fanti of the Department of Industrial Engineering, University of Padua, Italy; Michele D’Arienzo of the Orthopaedic Clinic at the University of Palermo, Italy and Raffaele De Caro of the Institute of Anatomy at the University of Padua, Italy.

The first discovery the four experts made, is that the Man of the Shroud underwent a dislocation of the shoulder and paralysis of the right arm. The person whose figure is imprinted on the Shroud is believed to have collapsed under the weight of the cross, or the “patibulum” as it is referred to in the study, the horizontal part of the cross. The Man of the Shroud the academics explain, fell “forwards” and suffered a “violent” knock” “while falling to the ground.” “Neck and shoulder muscle paralysis” were “caused by a heavy object hitting the back between the neck and shoulder and causing displacement of the head from the side opposite to the shoulder depression. In this case, the nerves of the upper brachial plexus (particularly branches C5 and C6) are violently stretched resulting in an Erb-Duchenne paralysis (as occurs in dystocia) because of loss of motor innervation to the deltoid, supraspinatus, infraspinatus, biceps, supinator, brachioradialis and rhomboid muscles.” At this point it would have been impossible for the cross bearer to go on holding it and this brings to mind the passage in the Gospel which describes how the soldiers forced Simon of Cyrene to pick up Jesus’ cross. Not an act of compassion therefore, but of necessity. This explains why “the right shoulder is lower than the left by 10±5 degrees” and The right eye is retracted in the orbit” because of the paralysis of the entire arm, the academics say.

The second discovery described in the Injury article is to do with the double nailing of the Man’s hands: Until now, experts could not explain the absence of thumbprints. The four academics can now reveal that “the lack of thumbprints of both hands on the TS is related not only to a lesion of the median nerve that causes only a slight flexion of the thumb, but also, particularly, to the fact that the nail driven into the wrist has pulled or injured the flexor pollicis longus tendon causing its dragging in the hole and the complete retraction of the thumb.”

Why the double nailing?One plausible reason could be that the Man’s executioners were unable to nail his hands into the holes that had already been specially punched into the cross to prevent the nails from bending when they were hammered into the hard wood. Once the first wrist was nailed to the cross they failed to nail the second one using the pre-prepared hole and so the executioners had to unnail both wrists. They then apparently drove the nails in lower down between the two rows of carpal bones, on the ulnar side of the hand.

The third discovery is to do with the right foot of the Man of the Shroud: it was nailed to the cross twice. An analysis of the imprint of the sole of the right foot shows two nails were driven into it: one between the second and third metatarsal and another at heel level which other academics had not spotted clearly.

According to the four experts, the Man of the Shroud definitely suffered a very serious and widespread pain accompanied by an intense sensation of heat, and usually shock when there is event he slightest limb movement. This was caused by a total paralysis of the right arm, the nailing of the left arm because of damage to the median nerve and the nailing of the feet because of damage to the tibial nerves. This method of nailing led to breathing impairment: with the arms raised at an approximately 15 degree angle causing the ribcage to expand, the lungs had difficulty expiring, reducing air flow. In addition to this, each deep breath the Man took to speak or to catch his breath will have put a strain on the lower limbs causing him intense pain.

According to the authors of the Injury article, the serum stains, which are separate to the stains of blood that came from the chest and were probably caused by the stabbing with a spear after he had died, were formed as a result of bleeding in the lungs. This bleeding will have started before the crucifixion, after the violent fall which caused the cross to fall onto the Man’s shoulders. The academics do not agree on the theories presented so far which claim that the blood leak on the side was caused by a spear wound in the pericardium because if the heart is pierced the pericardial sac can hold between 50 to 300 ml of blood which would have deposited itself on the diaphragm, without draining outwards.

Finally, the authors of the article put forward their theory on the Man of the Shroud’s immediate cause of death. Restricted breathing and the presence of the haemothorax which put pressure on the right lung were not enough to bring about death by asphyxia. Asphyxia involves an inability to breath which results in loss of conscience and coma. The four experts say the fall and/or the flagellation have caused not only a pulmonary contusion but also a cardiac contusion. This, together with the serious clinical and mental condition the Man was in, may have led to a heart attack and a broken heart.

In their conclusion, Bevilacqua, Fanti, D’Arienzo and De Caro write that “from correspondences here and elsewhere detected between TS Man and the description of Jesus’s Passion in the Gospels and Christian Tradition, the authors provide further evidence in favour of the hypothesis that TS Man is Jesus of Nazareth.” 


Phenomena at Christ’s tomb

Workers report extraordinary phenomena at Christ’s tomb
November 15, 2016

Workers engaged in a restoration project at the church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem have reported extraordinary phenomena at the tomb in which Jesus was laid, located inside the basilica.

Workers report that as they approached the tomb they detected a “sweet aroma”—the sort of floral scent that has often been reported in encounters with the saints and with Marian apparitions.

The workers also report that some electronic devices that were left near the tomb began to malfunction or broke down entirely, suggesting that they had been affected by powerful electromagnetic forces.

An international team is engaged in restoration work at the Edicule: the little shrine that was built around the site of Jesus’ tomb. In October, the team exposed the sheet of rock on which Christ’s body was laid.

The failure of history without Christ

Flag with cross

Flag with cross

On the failure of history—and historians—without Christ
By Dr. Jeff Mirus, Jan 29, 2015

Your Editor’s note: Our country’s beginning was framed with God and His Son in mind.

When I was a brash young graduate student in the very early 1970s, Professor Lawrence Stone tried to teach me that the English Revolution and civil war were essentially caused by social and demographic factors, and that the previous emphasis on religious differences was essentially laughable. I remember telling him, with my classic humility, that he had the cart before the horse. (Extaordinarly witty, no? But it is deceptively easy to draw down on a professor when you’re 22, you’ve been admitted to the Ivy League, and you already know everything.)

It so happened that Professor Stone did not like my attention to religious beliefs as historical motivators, and so he did what any open-minded sceptic would do: He tried to get my fellowship revoked so I could not continue to study at Princeton. Amazingly, this turned out to be a violation of the rules as long as my grades were good. But it also taught me a significant lesson about how academic reputations are made (usually by attacking someone else’s theory) and retained (usually by advancing students who have become your clones). Read More

Franciscan spirituality – Transcendent or Immanent?

Bret's logo

Bret’s logo

In my book, I often refer to God as being poor, which may seem a little confusing. Haven’t we been taught that God is all-powerful and omnipotent? Certainly, we can never entirely know God, we can only reflect on parts of his nature – those parts he has revealed to us. We can never entirely understand God – he is the Creator, we are the created. Nonetheless, in my book, I refer to God as minor, lesser. Like water, he always goes down. It might be more correct to say that God is humble. He is all powerful, yet he stoops down.

However, like water, God always goes up, too. In fact, if we use the analogy of water, God goes down – like rain, goes to the lowest parts and refreshes the earth; but like water evaporates and ascends; just so, God raises up, too. Then as the water builds up in the sky in the form of rainclouds, it once again comes back down again, so, too does the Holy Spirit continue to descend. We can look at the mysteries of the rosary – resurrection of Jesus, ascension of Jesus, descent of the Holy Spirit, assumption of Mary, coronation of Mary –themes of God going up; yet, like the descent of the Holy Spirit and some of the sorrowful mysteries, God goes down.

One of the aspects of organizing and accompanying pilgrimages to Italy is that I have had the opportunity to meet and work with all kinds of people. I have journeyed to Assisi and Rome with people from many different countries who are not only different ethnically and culturally, but many espouse quite diverse beliefs and understandings of our same faith. Having lived most of my life in suburban Atlanta, and having gone through RCIA and SFO formation in the same area, my religious and Franciscan formation naturally took on a certain quality. Some might call it ‘conservative’. Though I am fairly well-read, have a post-graduate degree, and read several languages, when I initially began my pilgrimage ministry, I assumed that most Catholics believed like I did. Despite my education and background, I was, nevertheless, a little naive.

When I first began this work, most of the groups were from the Atlanta area, or at least the southeast. Then I began working with groups from various regions of the US, as well as a number of countries outside the US. In the beginning, I naievely assumed most people believed like I did, or like most of the Franciscans in our southeastern region and the Italian friars I knew. But I found out very quickly that some people and groups had very different ideas of Catholicism and Franciscan spirituality. In fact, I initially concluded that there was not one Catholic Church, but two Catholic Churches, and everything in between. Each side felt strongly that they were correct and others were wrong. Initially I defined the two churches as liberal and conservative. But I was never happy with these words. They are political and should not be used to describe religious beliefs. Only recently have I come to understand that the groups are not liberal nor conservative, rather they have a different spirituality based on their focus on one form or another of the role of God in our lives. The correct words, I believe, should be transcendent and immanent.

Transcendence has to do with otherness, the fact that God is not human, but is above humanity, existing above the world and before creation. God surpasses physical existence and is independent of it. Transcendence focuses on God not only in his being, but also in his knowledge. Thus, God transcends the material world, indeed the universe and is also beyond the grasp of the human mind. God is seen to be outside – i.e. to “transcend” – our earthly experience. Transcendence is the spirituality of “up” and “above”.

Thus in terms of worship those with a transcendent understanding of God tend to focus on correctly worshipping the God who is above. The old Latin adage, “lex orandi lex credendi” would fit here (the law of prayer is the law of belief; or the Church believes as she prays). Thus, there is a focus on correct belief and, consequentially, the authorities whose duty it is to teach correct doctrine to and reprimand the faithful. Underlying all of this is a focus on morality and correct behavior; i.e. avoiding sin and living a virtuous life. Thus, it follows that Christologically Jesus is seen primarily as having been born incarnate to atone for sinful humanity; his death and resurrection served to expiate our sins. Finally, a transcendent view of God sees him in terms of truth and law.

The Bible is filled with passages confirming God as transcendent. “In the beginning, he created the heavens and the earth.” (Gen 1: 1) “Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other…. To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear. ‘Only in the Lord, it shall be said of me, are righteousness and strength.’” (Isaiah 45: 22-24) God called Moses from the midst of a bush that burns without being consumed: “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” God revealed his name by saying “I am who I am (in Hebrew-Yahweh).” The name is mysterious, just as God is a mystery. God is unique; there are no other gods besides him. He transcends the world and all of history. He made heaven and earth: “They will perish, but you will endure; they will all wear out like a garment…but you are the same and your years have no end.” (Psalm 102: 26-27). God is almighty in heaven and earth because he is the creator of heaven and earth whose order he established, and which remains subject to him and at his disposal. God existed before the world, and is, thus, outside of the world. Thus, the transcendent God reveals himself as a God who is holy, creator, mysterious, incomprehensible, all-powerful, omnipotent, and providential.

Yet, at other times God has revealed himself “down here” with us. In this other seemingly contrasting view of God, God reaches down, even stoops down, from heaven to be with us. He is not merely a being up in heaven somewhere; he is down with us. This I would refer to as immanence. The word is derived from Latin “in manere” (to remain within). Immanence has to do with closeness of relationship; with the aspects of relationship that produce unity. While transcendence refers to what is above or on the outside, immanent spirituality focuses on what is “down here” and within. It refers to the presence of God, in which the divine is seen to be manifested in or present in the material world.

Even in the Old Testament, God began to reveal himself in an immanent manner. He walked in the garden with Adam and Eve and spoke with them. After the sin of Adam and Eve, God at once sought to save humanity; he gave a covenant with Noah after the flood. Later he chose Abraham in order to gather together scattered humanity; he made Abraham the father of a multitude of nations. Then he formed his people, Israel, and revealed to them his law – the commandments. However, the fullness of all God’s revelation was made most clearly apparent in the Incarnation. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3: 16). Christ, the Son of God, the Word, the Second Person of the Trinity, is made man. He is the Father’s one, perfect, and unsurpassable Word. In Christ, God has said everything. So for us Christians, God has made his revelation full through the revelation of Christ.

Thus, those whose spirituality is predominantly immanent tend to have a strong concern for the world down here: they have a strong desire to help the poor and marginalized; they value ecology and are concerned for the environment; they focus on being together, community and fellowship; they believe strongly in individual conscience. For them God is not just an all-powerful “being” up in Heaven somewhere; he is with us here where we are – God is love.

So which side is right? As Franciscans, do we believe in the transcendent God or the immanent God? I believe they are both correct. One group is not wrong nor right, nor more wrong nor more right; they only have different focuses. As Christians (and Franciscans), we acknowledge that the only transcendent, almighty, and holy God, who cannot be approached or seen became immanent (incarnate) primarily in the God-man Jesus the Christ, the Second Person of the Trinity. We believe that God existed before and is distinct and fully independent of the material world, but that same God interacts directly with our world today primarily in the Church through Sacraments, the movement of the Holy Spirit, and ecclesial communities. Thus, transcendent and immanent are both correct.

Let’s again turn to Scripture: “Though he was in the form of God, Jesus did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2: 6-8). This is an immanent understanding of God. But what about the rest of the passage? “Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Ph 2: 9-11) This is transcendent. We can also look at the prologue of John: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be” (John 1: 1-3). This is transcendent. Yet, the Scripture continues, “And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth” (John 1: 4). Immanent.

So Jesus is both the Second Person of the Holy Trinity who existed before all creation and through which all creation was created; yet he was made incarnate and he received his humanity and a divinely-created human soul from the Virgin Mary. Thus, transcendence and immanence meet in our faith, practice and theology. The mysterious and paradoxical nature of Christ is the bridge between the infinite Deity and finite man, since we believe that Christ is both fully human and fully divine.

Let’s look at Francis and Clare to see how they responded to this mysterious, yet human God. We know that Francis was born into a wealthy mercantile family, and he sought to go “up” the social ladder as a young man by becoming a knight. After his conversion, however, he realized that he wanted to imitate Christ by going “down” the ladder and becoming poor. Further, he sought to be a servant to the poorest of the poor by serving lepers. This is how the immanent spirituality of Christ influenced his life.

I took some license by substituting some words of the previous Scripture: “Though he was born the son of a wealthy merchant, Francis did not deem his wealthy status something to be kept to himself. Rather, he emptied himself and gave away his money, taking on the life of a beggar, dressing like a pauper; and found poor in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to the point of serving the poorest of the poor, even lepers!”

Clare, having been born of a noble family, decided to enter religious life. She, too, like Francis imitating Christ, sought to be a servant. Initially she entered a well-endowed Benedictine monastery, however, not as a noblewoman with privileges and servants, as was her birthright. Like Francis, like Christ, she renounced her birthrights – did not cling to them – rather, she took the form of a slave, a servant, and served the Benedictine women. However, she soon left the Benedictine monastery and formed her own community founded on poverty and service to each other as well as the poor who came to the community. Using the same license above, I modified some Scripture again: “Though she was of noble family, Clare did not regard her noble status something to be kept to herself. Rather, she renounced her status, taking the form of a servant to noble nuns; further, she humbled herself by becoming embracing poverty and serving her sisters and the poor of Assisi.”

Francis and Clare, each in their own right, were lifted up by their service. Their end objective was not to a life of servitude; it was to be lifted up. Thus, they sought to gain heaven and did, as we believe them to be saints. Through their imitation of Christ, their commitment to simplicity and poverty, and their service to the poor, they sought to ‘transcend’ this life and enter into everlasting life. So Franciscan spirituality is not transcendent or immanent; it is actually both.

St. Bonaventure said in his biography of St. Francis: “St. Francis never failed to keep himself occupied doing good; like the angels Jacob saw on the ladder, he was always busy, either raising his heart to God in prayer, or descending to his neighbor.” Thus, to be a Christian and Franciscan, we should balance concern for the immanent world with anticipation of the transcendent world to come.

Nonetheless, there are dangers of focusing too much on one side or the other. An over-emphasis on transcendence frequently leads to ignoring the needs of peoples and communities. When the focus is on a God enthroned in Heaven above who judges people’s behavior, morality, proper beliefs, etc. and is not moved by people’s personal problems and struggles, it seems cold, legalistic, and judgmental. In its worst forms, transcendent spirituality can lead to war: when complete belief in righteous causes and an all-powerful God who lives above the world mixes with a weak view of the human person who is considered sinful it is not difficult to justify past atrocities like the crusades or even religious terrorism that is prevalent today.

On the other hand, an over-emphasis on immanence – finding God in this world – tends to downplay or even ignore God’s Providence, omnipotence and omniscience. Their determination to strive for “the Kingdom of Heaven within” this world leads them to sometimes downplay or even forget the promise of a Heaven and afterlife. Whereas transcendent-types’ focus on sin, God’s redemptive role in human live, and their hope of a better world to come can lead to a certain complacency with regards to society’s ills, immanent-types firmly believe that all could be well in this world if everyone would only behave properly. Unfortunately, this can lead to irritation, anger, and scandal when they realize that no matter how hard they struggle, sin continues to persist, leading to burnout and cynicism. Further, too much focus on God’s presence on earth may lead to panentheism – God is in everything material – or worse, pantheism – God is everything material. It can also lead to astrology, cosmology, even nature worship and/or neo-paganism. Equally errant is a tendency to dislike, even hate, religious authorities or to outright reject the existence of sin and hell.

So, what is the ultimate good in this? I believe it is in order to focus on a better good – that of recognizing the divine and good in the “other”, even when we don’t agree with that person, or vehemently disagree, or when we recognize that person is in error. We don’t judge or hate them, because we know where they are coming from. We recognize their worldview, their understanding of God, which is correct. In effect, both sides are responding to a movement of the Spirit. Just as Francis and Clare sought to go “down” in imitation of the humble Christ, they were ultimately seeking to go “up” to Heaven where the transcendent God resides.

Comprehending these subtle complexities allows us to understand others and, if necessary, to help us guide them towards the truer, deeper understanding of God and his true nature, or natures.

Concern for the poor
Ecology, concern for the environment
Focus on community
Politically: democratic –power of the people
Focus on conscience
Jesus came to show an example of living and to build community
God is love

Concern for worship
Morality: focus on behavior
Focus on sin
Politically: focus on leadership
Focus on authority
Jesus came for Atonement
God is Truth and Law

Which one do you agree with more? Write down A or B; if they are completely equal, write down both:

a. Being catholic means being obedient to the pope, the bishops and the magisterium (tr) or
b. Being catholic means being part of a universal church – a “catholic” body of believers (im)

a. If my parish had a surplus of money and the building were in need of repairs, I would prefer it be spent on fixing up and decorating the church because the church is a place of prayer (tr) or
b. If my parish had a surplus of money and was in a poor neighborhood, I would prefer to see the money be used to help the poor. (im) (in both cases the building needs repairs and there are poor people in the area)

a. I wish the bishops would speak out more on certain moral issues like pro-life, indissolubility of marriage, and against contraception (tr) or
b. I wish the bishops would speak out more on issues like the death penalty, poverty, and discrimination. (im)

a. Latin should be used more during Mass and liturgy because it is a universal language; it has its roots in the beginnings of the Church, and its words always means the same thing. (tr) or
b. Latin should not be used during Mass and liturgy because very few people understand it, and it is important to pray in a language one understands. (im)

a. If a monk or a nun were praying in community, and someone came to the convent or monastery door needing something of moderate importance, it would be more important to finish praying, because without prayer, they could offer nothing spiritually to anyone. (tr) or
b. If a monk or a nun were praying in community, and someone came to the convent or monastery door needing something of moderate importance, it would be more important to suspend prayer to serve that person. (im)

a. The bishops and pope should pray more in order to understand the issues facing the church and world today. (tr) or
b. The bishops and pope should consult the laity more in order to understand the issues facing the church and world today. (im)

a. I agree with the phrase, “lex orandi lex credendi.” (tr) or
b. Ritualistic prayers and rites are not important, any prayer is fine as long as it leads to a good relationship with Jesus. (im)

a. The Bible, creeds, and church councils were inspired by the Holy Spirit, and are inerrant. (tr) or
b. The Bible, creeds, and church councils were written a long time ago and should be understood in light of the cultural and historical context in which they were written. (im)

a. The Second Vatican Council should be understood as a continuum of previous councils (tr) or
b. The Second Vatican Council introduced new theology and was a break from the past (im)

a. Mass is important because it allows me to receive Jesus in the Eucharistic host (tr) or
b. Mass is important because it allows me to take part in the community of faithful gathering together in worship (im)

a. Eucharist refers to the celebration of the Mass in which the bread and wine at consecration are transubstantiated (changed in substance) into the body and blood of Jesus Christ, Lord and God. (tr) or
b. Eucharist refers to an assembly of God’s people who come together, under the leadership of a priest, to praise God, to hear God’s Word and to “break bread” with the firm belief that the Lord Jesus is present among his people. (im)

a. Eucharist is a sign of unity among Catholics, and therefore only Catholics without unconfessed mortal sin are permitted to receive communion (tr) or
b. Eucharist is a source of unity between Christians, and therefore all Christians should be invited to receive communion at Mass. (im)

a. I see Jesus as the King of kings (tr) or
b. I see Jesus in the face of the poor (im)

a. I see God as a Lawgiver, Father, Judge, Creator & Redeemer (tr) or
b. I see God as a friend, healer, liberator, even spouse. (im)

a. The saints are important because they intercede for us, cleanse our souls, and help us reach heaven (tr) or
b. The saints are important because they act as models of holiness and show us how to live our lives (im)

a. The Church’s main mission should be to teach people to lead a virtuous and moral life (tr) or
b. The Church’s main mission should be to serve the poor and marginalized (im)

a. The reason Jesus came was to redeem us from our sins and gain for us eternal life in heaven (tr) or 
b. The reason Jesus came was to heal, cleanse, reconcile, and invite us to deeper involvement in proclaiming God’s Kingdom, calling us to be his body in the world. (im)

a. God is truth (tr) or
b. God is love (im)

Secret Veil Illustrates Christ’s Resurrection

Interview With Author of “The Face of God,”

Paul Badde By Genevieve Pollock

When [the] veil in Manoppello [was] laid upon the face of the Shroud of Turin they both form a perfect match — of one living face upon a dead face of the very same person: Jesus Christ.

MANOPPELLO, Italy, MARCH 28, 2011 ( A veil in Manoppello, kept secret for centuries and only recently reemerging, illustrates Christ’s resurrection in a way that will change the world, says Paul Badde.
Badde, author of “The Face of God: The Rediscovery of the True Face of Jesus” (Ignatius Press), explained to ZENIT how this veil features “uncountable” images of the Risen Christ.
The journalist and historian, and editor for the German newspaper “Die Welt,” noted that the veil also illustrates much of what Benedict XVI wrote about in his newest book, “Jesus of Nazareth Part II: Holy Week — From the Entrance into Jerusalem to the Resurrection” (Ignatius Press).
In fact, the Pope visited the shrine at Manoppello as one of the first trips of his pontificate, reflecting his decades-long interest in the meditation on the face of God, the author noted.
In this interview with ZENIT, Badde explained some of the conclusions of his research on this veil, and why he thinks it is bound to change the world.
ZENIT: Some have referred to the Veil of Manoppello as belonging to Veronica, and having the image of Jesus’ face from before the Crucifixion. Your investigation, however, led you to a different conclusion. Could you clarify what this veil is?
Badde: This veil has had many names in the last 2000 years — maintaining only its unique character in the same time.
It is, in fact, “the napkin” or “handkerchief” (in Greek: soudarion), to which St. John the Evangelist is referring in his report of the discovery of the empty tomb by St. Peter and himself, that they saw “apart” from the cloths (including the shroud of Joseph from Arimathea) in which Jesus had been buried.
This napkin, St. John says, had originally been laying upon the Face of Jesus.
This veil had to be kept completely secret right away — together with the Shroud of Turin — in the first community of the Apostles in Jerusalem due to the ritual impurity in Judaism of everything stemming from a grave. And it remained secret for many centuries.
This explains why it had been bearing many different names in the course of history after it appeared in public some hundred years later in the Anatolian town of Edessa for the first time.
Among all these different names are for instance: The Edessa Veil, The Image or Letter of King Abgar, The Camuliana Veil, The Mandylion, The Image Not Made by Man’s Hand (in Greek: acheiropoieton), The Fourfolded Veil (in Greek: tetradiplon) or — today — The Holy Face (Il Volto Santo). The “Veil of Veronica” is just another name of all those that meant altogether this very veil in Manoppello.
The famous Veronica herself, though, who allegedly had wiped Jesus’ Face on his way to Calvary, does not appear in the Gospels. It is not earlier than the Middle Ages, around the 12th century, that she became mentioned for the first time in pious tales and traditions. Her name contains, however, one of the real and true names of this veil, in a Latin and Greek mixture: Vera Ikon. This is: True Icon.
ZENIT: Why do you think Benedict XVI chose to visit the shrine at Manoppello as one of the first trips of his pontificate?
Badde: He chose to travel there immediately after he had read my book, of which I had sent my very first copy to him on October 1, 2005.
This book triggered his decision to go there as soon as it became possible after his election — notwithstanding the fact, of course, that he had been meditating on the face of God for decades already.
A complete book could and should be published of all the occasions and sentences in which he reflected and meditated on Jesus’ Face as the true face of God that he sees — together with Dante — in the center of paradise and the universe.
Everything I wrote in my book fit perfectly into this conviction — with exciting news of the survival and rediscovery of the True Image in a remote little town in the Abruzzi Mountains.
ZENIT: When Benedict XVI visited Manoppello he encouraged the contemplation of the Holy Face of Jesus as a way of meditating on the mystery of divine love. Could you describe some of the characteristics of the face on the veil that contribute to this meditation?
Badde: Everything of the Holy Face is most precious and as inexplicable as any good and true miracle.
The fabric (Byssos — fabric made from mussel silk), for instance, is the most precious fabric you can imagine — and it is absolutely a fabric that cannot be painted on.
It shows a beautiful portrait of Jesus — but with no traces of colors or blood.
It seems to be painted with light somehow and is therefore changing from every angle, in every different light, in different seasons, daytimes, etc.
It is in fact not one image of Jesus therefore — it is an uncountable number of images of the Risen Christ.
When laid upon the face of the Shroud of Turin they both form a perfect match — of one living face upon a dead face of the very same person: Jesus Christ.
All these qualifications seem to be only technical details. Though, in regard to the deep impression one has when he stands in front of this living image for the first time, one feels an ocean of mercy and compassion from the image in Manoppello.
ZENIT: How can the contemplation of the face on this veil help people to deepen in the meditation of the passion, death and resurrection of Our Lord, especially during Lent and Easter?
Badde: The veil shows, in one single look, not everything, but a great deal of what Pope Benedict XVI says in “Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week — From the Entrance into Jerusalem to the Resurrection,” his recent, beautiful and wise book about the resurrection of Christ.
It adds something else though, which is to dawn upon the Christianity in our days fully for the first time in history. And this couldn’t be better expressed, I think, than by a letter I received the other day by a certain Mother Columba from a French monastery, who is an Orthodox nun and an icon-painter.
“Each one of us who read ‘The Face of God’ was profoundly affected,” she writes.
She continued: “Through this lively, simple and unaffected account, something gripped us that was far beyond and above the book itself, I would say, infinitely beyond. And I am convinced it is because the face of him who is both natural and above-nature is hiding behind the lines, shining through.
“This undeniable effect on each one of us who read the book is enough in itself to convince me of the authenticity of the image of Manoppello. God has left an image of his Face on earth!
“As Orthodox we are very much centered on Christian personalism: The mystery of the person, of which the face is the manifestation ‘par excellence.’ He who is at the center of all, the Alpha and the Omega, and in whose Face, as Dante said, our own faces are painted (or written) — it is only when we shall fully behold the Face of him whose name is I Am that we, too, shall be able to say, now, in him, I am.”
ZENIT: What is the significance of the rediscovery of this veil with its image at this moment in history?
Badde: This answer is one that only God fully knows.
What I know, however, is this: It is going to change the face of the world as soon as Christianity realizes fully that God has indeed left not only the testimony of a good number of reliable witnesses (in the Gospels for instance) but also a material image of himself on earth.
It will change the world sooner rather than later — at least in a way that the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe has changed the map and history in Mexico after she had appeared and left her image there on December 12, 1531.
This image of her Son, however, has reappeared at the brink of the digital revolution — and at the brink of the “Iconic turn.”
I believe we are going to see a dramatic shift in the way we communicate — a world where communication will be more visual rather than intellectual.
It is in these very days that we come to realize for the first time what Mother Columba said in her letter from France: “God has left an image of his Face on earth!”