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 (Zenit.org).- 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!”