Monday, April 16, 2018

Biography of Father Dominic da Cese Published in Brazil

The Capuchin Apostle of the Holy Face, with a Life Parallel to that of Padre Pio

By Antonio Bini

Fr Domenico da Cese, in his lifetime, had repeatedly maintained that he would be written about only after his death, as also his friend and first biographer, Bruno Sammaciccia, wrote. He asked that we should not talk about him, but about the Holy Face. Those who knew him or who became aware of his figure only in recent years know how much the life of the Capuchin born in Cese, a hamlet of Avezzano, has been full of extraordinary facts.

So, it was with a certain sense of disbelief that Father Eugenio Di Gianberardino, speaking at the commemoration of Father Dominic da Cese, held in Manoppello on September 17, 2016, had to mention the interest of a Brazilian publisher who had requested authorization to to publish in Portuguese his 2014 biography on the Servant of God. Probably he was not convinced of the interest shown over the ocean towards the life of the humble Capuchin of Abruzzo and that the publication would ever be actually realized.

The book was then published by Ecclesiae, of Campinas, in the state of São Paulo, with the title "Padre Domenico de Cese, apostolo da Sagrada Face de Manoppello" (Father Dominic da Cese, Apostle of the Holy Face). The emphasis on the connection with the Holy Face, was appropriately made by the publisher himself, Diogo Chiuso, who personally oversaw the book's introduction, explaining how the figure of the Servant of God was closely linked to that of the sacred image, of which Father Dominic was a devout and tireless promoter, until his death on September 17, 1978 in Turin, where he had gone for the exposition of the Shroud.

The introduction recalls the life of the Capuchin from Abruzzo as being parallel to that of Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, who, when he was alive, often recommended to many of his devotees from the north of Puglia that they save  themselves the trip to San Giovanni Rotondo by visiting Fr. Dominic at Manoppello instead. And there are many testimonies which have been obtained in this regard, and what's more, from people still living.

To try to understand what were the circumstances that led to the publication I contacted Prof. José Eduardo Câmara who, knowing the Italian language, had handled the relationship between the Brazilian publisher and the author of the Italian edition, Father Eugenio Di Gianberardino, Vice- postulator of the cause of beatification of the humble Capuchin from Abruzzo.

Professor. Camara has long known about the Holy Face, while the story of Father Dominic he had learned  about more recently, while consulting a book that collects the profiles of holiness of  Capuchins in the world. The story of the Capuchin then came to the notice of another Brazilian scholar of the life of Father Pio of Pietrelcina and of the extraordinary phenomena that marked his life.

Prof. José E. Câmara (left) with the editor Diogo Chiuso

The scope of these discussions ended up involving the publisher Diogo Chiuso, who was particularly attracted by the story of Father Dominc and his unique relationship with Padre Pio, a report re-introduced in 2011 by an article - entitled "Padre Pio's last visit" - which described the bi-location of Padre Pio in Manoppello, in front of the Holy Face, at the dawn of the last day of his earthly life, which was published in "The Voice of Padre Pio" by the authoritative Australian journalist Paul MacLeod, a scholar of the Saint of Pietrelcina , recently passed away.

The article, also repeated on this blog at, extending the story told years earlier by the German Catholic magazine PUR (Spezial No. 4/2005).

The phenomenon of the bi-location would be completed, just a few days following Padre Pio's death, with Fr. Dominic's presence at the funeral of  Padre Pio at San Giovanni Rotondo,despite Father Dominic not having moved from the shrine of Manoppello, receiving as many people there as every other day. (cf. report with video at

The two Capuchins, united by their ability to read people's souls, had met in 1940, when Fr. Dominic, then a military chaplain, first in Trieste and then in Ragusa, in the former Yugoslavia, wanted to go to San Giovanni Rotondo, during a furlough, to personally meet Padre Pio. On this occasion he stayed in the Capuchin friary of Padre Pio in the Gargano for five days.  Fr. Dominic's father, like Padre Pio's,  was a farmer and both were emigrants to the United States.

Prof. Câmara himself admits that the Brazilian edition of the book represents "a small miracle", considering the circumstances that preceded it and all the difficulties in publishing texts of spirituality in Brazil and in particular biographies of saints.

It is also surprising how different people, including the publisher Diogo Chiuso, descendant of Italian emigrants to Brazil, have approached the Holy Face through the knowledge of the figure and the life of Father Dominic da Cese, or Emidio Petracca as he was known before entering the Capuchins.

In addition to this, in the past there were many Italian emigrants to various countries who had written letters to Fr. Dominic from various countries, entrusting him with their sorrows and personal and family tragedies. But there were also many Austrian, German and Swiss devotees who in the sixties and seventies organized pilgrimages to Manoppello and San Giovanni Rotondo, as documented by recently recovered German language Catholic magazines.

The Portuguese edition of the biography of Father Dominic is sober, well edited and includes, along with the Italian edition, in addition to the aforementioned introduction, also the text of the prayer for the beatification of Father Domenico, written in 2006 by Luca Brandolini, then bishop of Sora.

The Capuchin would say that he would be spoken and written about only after his death. From Brazil comes one confirmation, among many, of his prophetic message.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

The Celebration of the 39th Anniversary of the Death of Father Domenico da Cese, Apostle of the Holy Face

After the 39th Anniversary of the death of the Capuchin Father Domenico da Cese a push for the transferral of his mortal remains to the Basilica of the Holy Face

by Antonio Bini

On September 17, 2017, the 39th anniversary of Father Domenico's death was celebrated. Whoever thought that after the passing of the years the fame of holiness of the friar would have become extinct, were proven wrong by the massive presence of his devotees and former spiritual children, who flocked from all over on the day of the commemoration, packing the church and participating in the remembrance of his Christian and Religious life which he had lived in an exemplary way. Coaches arrived from Cese, Ruvo di Puglia and Andria and automobiles from: Chieti, Pescara, Rome, Sulmona, Ascoli Piceno, Vasto and other neighboring cities.

In the shrine's San Damiano hall there was a presentation on the work of a team in the process of gathering and arranging the documents concerning the servant of God including letters written and / or received by the friar, various testimonies of the faithful recounting episodes that occurred to them or benefits received through his intercession and articles of newspapers and magazines, as well as the transcription of  manuscript texts and a series of black and white and color photographs. We have writings of 493 people, arranged in about fifteen collections, and the texts from various sources amount to 908 so far. To these are added 166 binders concerning the correspondence of Father Domenico with his superiors and his personal documents. We have 100 of his letters to the faithful.

Sr. Petra-Maria Steiner and Sr. Tabita cataloging documents regarding Fr. Domenico

Recently several copies of the Austrian Catholic magazine "Grüß Gott" were acquired, which before the death of Father Domenico, published articles on the pilgrimages of Austrian and German devotees to San Giovanni Rotondo and to Manoppello where they went to meet Father Domenico. Films and vocal recordings are also being collected.

The readers of this article who would have any of these or be aware of them, are asked to send them or report them to the Shrine. This working group has as its animator Sr. Petra-Maria Steiner and is composed of Dr. Antonio Bini, the lawyer René Udwari, the librarian Dr. Dirk Weisbrot, Fr. Vincenzo D'Elpidio, the Vice-Postulator of the cause of beatification, Fr. Eugenio Di Giamberardino (Vice-Postulator of the cause of beatification), and the rector of the Holy Face Basilica, Fr. Carmine Cucinelli.

In concluding her speech in which she retraced the main stages of the Servant of God's life, Sister Petra-Maria recalled an episode recounted in the aforementioned Austrian magazine by Mrs Ida Loidl:
«Father Domenico said when you have a problem or need help, send me your guardian angel and say to him:" Angel of God, you are my guardian, go to Father Domenico and tell him in my name (and here you must add your name ) that I need this grace '».
When I, several years later, went to Manoppello, he saw me from afar and exclaimed: "Ah, here is the lady who sends me the angels around midnight". I was a bit 'dazed but he reassured me by adding: "Keep on doing so, you are a mother and mothers have so many things to do!"

During the meeting several devotees also spoke, telling extraordinary facts of which they were direct witnesses.

The day was also accompanied by good weather. Father Claudio Calvarese, provincial vicar of the Capuchin friars of Abruzzi, presided over the concluding Eucharist. He highlighted the figure of his confrere by framing him in the liturgy of the day which spoke of love, in particular of the forgiveness that is its highest and sometimes most heroic attribute. Concelebrating were: Father Eugenio Di Giamberardino, Father Carmine Cucinelli, the parish priest of Cese (AQ) Fr. Onwujiogu Valentine Obinna and a Kenyan priest his friend.

The great participation of devotees led the provincial father of the Capuchins of Abruzzo - Fr. Nicola Galasso - to start the process of transferring the mortal remains of Fr. Domenico from the private chapel of the small cemetery in Cese to the Basilica of the Holy Face. To this end, once the positive opinion had been informally expressed by Archbishop Forte of the archdiocese of Chieti-Vasto,  Fr. Nicola Galasso asked, on January 16, 2018, for the consent to the transfer from the six nieces and nephews of Fr. Domenico.

Fr. Eugenio Di Giamberardino and Fr. Nicola Galasso

The father provincial justified the initiative by expressly recalling "Fr. Domenico's tenacious and passionate commitment to the promotion of the Holy Face, without forgetting that this was certainly his aspiration and that of many of his devotees and admirers ".

The nieces and nephews enthusiastically endorsed the proposal, expressing their consent with a joint letter. The procedure requires several further steps, including the conclusive opinion of the Vatican Congregation for the Causes of Saints. We will update you on further stages of the process.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Veneration of the Holy Face in Nampicuan, Nueva Ecija, Philippines

 A phenomenon that goes beyond the Philippines

The visit in August 2017 to Manoppello by Father Christian Magtalas - rector of the Shrine of the Holy Face of Asia

by Antonio Bini

originally published in "Il Volto Santo", the official publication of the Shrine of the Holy Face of Manoppello

Fr. Christian Magtalas celebrating Mass at the Shrine of the Holy Face of Manoppello

Until just a few years ago we had never even heard of Nampicuan, a town of about 13,000 inhabitants, in the province of New Ecija, in central Luzon region, a hundred kilometers from Manila. Much has changed, and also for Nampicuan itself , since September 16, 2014, the date on which Fr. Carmine Cucinelli brought as a gift a replica of the Holy Face which was solemnly enthroned in the church of the Immaculate Conception. (cf.

Fr. Carmine presenting Fr. Christian with a replica of the Holy Face

The event was part of a busy itinerary of what was the first international mission of the Holy Face to the Philippines and the United States, promoted and organized by Daisy Neves and a small number of friends. These included the spouses Ernest and Elena Alzate, Americans of Filipino origin, who wanted to pay homage to the town of Nampicuan, from which they emigrated.  (cf.

The parish priest of Nampicuan, Fr Christian Magtalas, previously had not known of the Holy Face, but enthusiastically welcomed the mission of Fr. Carmine and dedicated all his energies so that the event was a celebration that involved the entire population, the religious of the diocese and the local Bishop Roberto Mallari, who became a passionate supporter of enthronement, also taking part was Archbishop Florentino Lavarias ( Archdiocese of Pampaga) and the Bishop Florentino Cinense (Diocese of Tarlac).  (cf.

The months following this were unbelievable.

We had the opportunity to speak directly with Fr Christian who  last  August was able to fulfill his dream of arriving at the Shrine of the Holy Face in Manoppello.
Father Christian is a youthful 36-year-old priest. He is very emotional in front of the Holy Face and his emotion becomes even more palpable during the celebration of Mass.  It does not matter if in front of him there is only a small group of pilgrims who accompany him on the pilgrimage.

Paul and Ellen Badde also traveled to Manoppello to meet the young priest whom they had met in Nampicuan during their September 2015 mission. Paul's embrace is particularly affectionate.
I have the opportunity to speak with Fr Christian, with the help of Fr Bonifacio (Ted) Lopez, a Filipino priest of the Diocese of Rome, who met Fr. Christian during his second mission in the Philippines, accompanying Fr. Carmine on his return to Nampicuan.  

Paul Badde and Fr. Christian Magtalas

Fr. Bonifacio (Ted) Lopez

Fr. Christian relates that he had only become a priest in 2013 and had been assigned to Nampicuan, in a poor situation, where even religious participation was rather limited. A path not easy for the young priest, among other things made more difficult by his precarious health conditions due to a tumor he was getting treatment for. This situation did not discourage him, immediately deepening to the maximum his commitment to the parish community. But it was then the arrival of the Holy Face to change things, turning the church into a destination of pilgrims and devotees from the surrounding areas, so much so that the religious authorities gave it the new name of Shrine of the Holy Face. The first shrine of the Holy Face in Asia.  Father Christian reports that even the governmental authorities have supported the phenomenon so much so that they declared - last May 17 - the Shrine as a site of national interest for religious tourism. The national government is committed to helping the development of the locality, which has begun to be included in travel programs by travel agencies. Road signs for the Shrine have been added to the nearby motorway.

But Father Christian especially wants to emphasize that there are many testimonies of faith and healing that have been reported. No less important was his ability to promote the creation of a group of people - called "Servants of Holy Face" - which is continuously growing and collaborating with the Shrine in welcoming pilgrims, organizing events and taking care of the surrounding gardens. to the church. Each of them enthusiastically wears a t-shirt that identifies them with the inevitable Holy Face.

The young priest expresses his enthusiasm for the visit of Cardinal Tagle to Manoppello and for his homily given on the occasion of the feast of the Holy Face in May. Looking at the photos of the cardinal during the procession he comments: "considering the authority and the consideration that Cardinal Tagle has in the Philippines and in other countries, especially in Asia, all this represents for me a further push to move forward in promoting the knowledge and devotion to the Holy Face ".

At the same time this phenomenon is registering an increasing number of pilgrims to Manoppello coming from Asia (the Philippines, South Korea, Burma, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, etc.). Though not in large numbers but still, it's an unprecedented situation.

It is the same Father Christian who marvels about what has happened to him and the poor community of Nampicuan, in which they came to manifest unexpected acts of generosity that also led to the creation of a farm with a hundred mango trees whose income helps support the church and the local economy as well.

Also Daisy Neves, the tireless missionary of the Holy Face, on December 3, 2016 went on pilgrimage to the shrine in Nampicuan from the city of Bellevue (in the state of Washington) where she lives, personally witnessing the fervor of initiatives around the Shrine, encouraging the action of the young priest.

During his visit to Manoppello Father Christian received a gift from Fr. Carmine of a reproduction of the Shroud, which he himself had requested before coming to Italy. In the days immediately following his return to Nampicuan, the shroud with the face covered with a reproduction of the Holy Face was carried in a solemn procession through the streets of Nampicuan, accompanied by an immense crowd of people and pilgrims who came also from distant places. The event was also broadcast by CNN of the Philippines.

A unique initiative, which seems to correspond to the need for a united  representation of the two most popular cloths on which the image of Christ is exposed. In any case the Shrine is constantly at the center of media attention, as happened during last Easter week.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Easter Joy To All - The Lord is Truly Risen!

Jesus is Risen, He is Truly Risen

Sequence for the Mass of Easter the Resurrection of the Lord.

The Holy Face of Manoppello testifies to the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus 

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

EWTN Showing Video On Holy Face of Manoppello Today and Tomorrow

According to the EWTN website

Paul Badde's beautiful video:  The Human Face of God in the Holy Face of Manoppello will be broadcast today  at 2:30pm and tomorrow at 3:30am, Pacific Time.  Holy Week is a very appropriate time for viewing this enlightening video.  Also, the video is always available to be seen at any time on Youtube. 

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Saint Stephen of the Wolf (Del Lupo)

Brief history of Saint Stephen of the Wolf 

The actual location of the Shrine of the Holy Face was influenced by the devotion to the saint who lived in the nearby medieval abbey of Vallebona

by Antonio Bini

During a solemn celebration held in the Basilica of the Holy Face on August 5, 2017, in the presence of numerous faithful, including many from Carovilli the birthplace of the saint,  the relic of part of the arm of Saint Stephen Confessor, called of the Wolf,(Del Lupo), was returned to its arm-shaped reliquary.  This reliquary is presumably from 1642, as attested to in writing by Father Carmine Cucinelli, superior of the Capuchin Franciscan community of Manoppello, by his assistant Fr. Paolo Palombarini, by Fr. Mario Fangio, parish priest of Carovilli and by the Vice-mayor of  Manoppello and of the Mayor of Carovilli. The relic, whose original document of authentication is preserved,  had been removed from its arm-shaped reliquary in 2014 because the reliquary was worm-eaten and in need of restoration, was then stabilized and disinfected, as can be seen from the minutes of December 9, 2015. The relic had been removed in the presence of don Nico Santilli,  parish priest at that time of Manoppello, of Fr. Mario Fangio, parish priest of Carovilli and of Fr.  Paolo Conti, parish priest of Vastogirardi and Castiglione di Carovilli and of Prof. Luigi Capasso and Prof. Ruggero D'Anastasio of the University of Annunzio of Chieti-Pescara, and placed in a glass container, wrapped in a white stole, and placed with this in a wooden box with glass panels with seals affixed. After the reliquary was restored, checking the integrity of the seals, they were broken and the relic was extracted from the wooden box with glass panels, and the extracted relic, re-inserted, together with the original seal of authenticity  inside the restored wooden arm. Everything was, in turn, put into the wooden box with glass panels that was also sealed. The relocation of the relic took place on August 5 2017, in the presence of numerous faithful, including many from Carovilli, the birthplace of the saint.

Mass to Celebrate the Restoration of Reliquary of St. Stephen - Reliquary is at the left on the altar
Fr. Carmine pointing to the reliquary with the relic of St. Stephen of the Wolf in the side chapel
of the Basilica of the Holy Face of Manoppello
A group of pilgrims from Carovilli in front of the Basilica of the Holy Face led by Fr. Mario Fangio 

* * *

The restoration of the cult of Saint Stephen Confessor, more commonly called St. Stephen of the Wolf (Del Lupo), is an opportunity to talk about some aspects of the history of the saint, whose religious life was closely linked to Manoppello.

As a young man Saint Stephen of the Wolf - born in Carovilli (Isernia) during the pontificate of Pope Paschal II (1099-1118) - was attracted - most likely -by news that came to him from the nearby Maiella mountain, at that time a refuge and asylum of saintly hermits.  Forcefully moved by the spirit of youthful hopes, Stephen arrived at the monastery of San Liberatore in Maiella, near Serramonacesca, about 6 kilometers from Manoppello.

Regarding the sacredness and spirituality of the Maiella, we remember that Petrarch, in his work "De Vita Solitaria", described the mountain as "Domus Christi", the home of Christ ...

In the thousand year old Abbey of San Liberatore - immersed in the woods at the foot of the Maiella - Stephen became a Benedictine monk.  Meditative, a lover of austerity and mortification, and strongly attracted by the hermit's solitude, in later times, with the permission of the superiors, he left the cloister of Serramonacesca to stop first in some caves and then, around the year of the Lord 1149, on the heights among the enchanting hills behind Manoppello, where Stephen founded the small and isolated monastery of S. Pietro Apostolo, later called S. Pietro in Vallebona.  His life became inseparable from the history of the monastery, in which he lived until his death.

Pilgrims along the trail from Vallebona to the Shrine of the Holy Face

There are not many stories concerning the saint who tradition recounts as taming a dangerous wolf, more ferocious than others, which had caused terror in the surrounding population. Further narratives also recall another incident. Stephen, who would go around with a donkey to gather firewood, was attacked by a ferocious wolf who killed the donkey. Nevertheless his fellow monks saw Stephen return with the wolf carrying the firewood on his back.

Inevitably the thought goes to the well-known episode of St. Francis and Brother Wolf, which took place in Gubbio in 1208, that is several years after the death of St. Stephen.

The presence of the wolf still characterizes the mountains of Abruzzo, and the Maiella in particular. In past centuries they were even more widespread and very dangerous, especially in winter, when wolves, which generally do not attack humans, were pushed to search for food arriving in the villages. It is no coincidence that the wolf logo today identifies the Maiella National Park.

 These events lead us to reflect even today on the relationship between man and nature, which in Saint Stephen, as in St. Francis - represented a harmonious way of living and respecting creation, principles that are the prerequisites for the encyclical letter "Laudato Si: On Care of Our Common Home" "by Pope Francis.

St. Stephen died  on July 19, 1191 in the monastery he founded, surrounded by the affection of the inhabitants of Manoppello and neighboring towns. There he was buried and on his tomb the legend "Hic Jacet Corpus S. Stephani Confessorius" was carved, which highlights his charism as confessor, so many devotees were drawn to the abbey then, isolated in the impervious nature and far from the inhabited centers. Even today it is possible to reach the ruins of the abbey only by means of some footpaths through the woods.

In 1283 the Abbey was absorbed by the Celestines and aggregated to the Abbey of Santo Spirito in Maiella (Roccamorice), then the headquarters of the order. The hypothesis that Pietro da Morrone went to pray on his grave, who must have nurtured a particular devotion towards the saint, is well founded. It is certain that among the very first acts of the new pope, who took the name Celestine V, there is the papal bull "Etsi cunctos ordines", issued on September 27,  1294, by which privileges were recognized for the benefit of the Order which he himself had founded, including a list of its main monasteries, among which was the Abbey of Vallebona.

The most widespread image of the saint is depicted in the seventeenth-century painting by Carl Ruther, a Polish painter from the Flemish school and a monk belonging to the order of the Celestines, who lived in the Basilica of Collemaggio (the painting is part of the Museum of L'Aquila). This probably explains why Ruther depicted the saint in the habit of the Celestines. In other respects the same eremitical life united Stephen to the Celestines. In  following centuries the famous abbey experienced decline and then was abandoned.

 In 1591, despite the resistance of the people of Manoppello the relics of the saint were transferred to the hermitage of Santo Spirito, about 30 kilometers away. Until then the cult of Saint Stephen was alive in Manoppello and celebrated annually on July 19 with a solemn procession, as Father Filippo da Tussio recalled in his monograph on the Holy Face published in 1875.

It was the strong link of the population to Saint Stephen that led - in the year 1616 - to identify in an area immediately further downstream and easier to reach, the land intended for the construction of the Capuchin friary, to which Dr. De Fabritiis will later donate the Holy Face.

Over a century ago, Father Berardino di Monticchio, learned Capuchin, in tracing the history of the Holy Face, wrote in the magazine of the Shrine (founded in 1906) that the choice of the area on which to build the new friary was much discussed, but that the decision to choose the Tarigni Hill, less than a kilometer as the crow flies further down from the ancient abbey, was unanimous.

This friary of the Capuchins remained isolated until just a few decades ago, when some homes were built nearby. The deliberate continuity of the places is confirmed by the presence in the Shrine of the relics of the Saint's arm and of Our Lady of the Snows, also from the Vallebona Abbey.

Statue of Our Lady of the Snows in the Basilica of the Holy Face

 It is interesting to note that the relic of the arm was reported by the people of Manoppello as being in the Shrine of the Holy Face in the times immediately following the drafting of the Relatione Historica by Father Donato da Bomba (1640, later made public in 1646).

Woodcut dating from 1840 showing the ruins of the Abbey of Santo Spirito 

In 1807 the suppression of the order of the Celestines led to the abandonment of the Abbey of Santo Spirito.  Carovilli, Stephen's native village, finally got the saint's remains. A small reliquary, however, remained in the parish church of San Donato in Roccamorice, testifying to the devotion spread then among the local population. The wooden reliquary - reproducing the bust of the saint - is found there together with some relics of Celestine V, also from Santo Spirito. Testimonies on the life of the saint also refer to miracles in the area and in Caramanico.

Today the cult of Saint Stephen is alive above all in Carovilli, the town of which he is its patron. His devotion also accompanies abroad the emigrants from Carovilli  and in particular the large settlement communities in the city of Akron, in the state of Ohio (USA), where a marble bust of the saint is present in the church of Saint Anthony, and in the city of Lanús, in the metropolitan area of ​​Buenos Aires, in Argentina. To the latter community we owe the gift of the banner carried in procession to Carovilli on the occasion of the feast of the Saint.

Statue of St. Stephen in the Church of St. Anthony, Akron, Ohio (USA)

The feast is celebrated annually on July 19th, with a large popular participation. In the last edition of the feast and procession, there saw the participation of Fr. Carmine Cucinelli, together with a small group of citizens of Manoppello.

To Fr. Mario Fangio, parish priest of Carovilli, we owe the passionate work of recovering the memory of St. Stephen in the places where he founded the monastery of Vallebona and in which he matured his religious life and developed his holiness. Also to Don Mario we owe the publication of a monograph on the life of the Saint (2005), in which the results of the recognition of the relics made by the professors Luigi Capasso and Ruggero D'Anastasio of the University of Chieti was also made known. The same professors will later certify that the relics of Manoppello belong to the remains venerated in Carovilli.

Since 1983, Fr. Mario has been leading the community of Carovilli each year - at the beginning of May - in a singular pilgrimage to Manoppello to clean up the millennium old impervious path through the woods that leads to the ruins of the ancient abbey and then pray in the place where St. Stephen lived and then go to visit the nearby Shrine of the Holy Face. In 2002 the community of Carovilli proceeded to reproduce a large image of the saint placed in an artistic structure in wrought iron close to the ruins of the abbey.

Pilgrims in prayer before the image of St. Stephen in front of the ruins of the Abbey of Vallebona

Last spring the people of Carovilli have finally found a welcome different to that of previous years, with the path freed from scrub, brambles and more, thanks to the work of some volunteers of Manoppello, Venturino Febbo, Santino De Meis and Tonino Romasco: a spontaneous act that in its simplicity opens up new perspectives towards the recovery of a common memory of the saint together with the Molise community in retracing the spirituality of places that still speak to us of the charm of a natural context that appears almost unchanged from the time when Saint Stephen was alive. The same volunteers are working for the recovery of the paths that historically linked San Liberatore, Vallebona and the Holy Face, over the centuries crossed by Benedictines, Celestines and finally by Capuchins.

Monday, February 5, 2018

The Holy Face in the Lily of a Chapel in Katowice

The first enthronement of the Holy Face of Manoppello in Poland was made in Katowice, in December 2015, by the hand of Archbishop S. E. Mgr. Wiktor Pawel Skworcè, in the church of the Immaculate Conception. Everything happened thanks to the interest and diligence of the parish priest Fr Andrea Suchoń and of an active parishioner, Mrs. Ewa Pasko.

The Holy Face was placed in the Adoration Chapel (the first on the left). A local architect designed it in a unique way. He set the case to display the Blessed Sacrament in a large flower-shaped monstrance. In front, just below, he placed the framed image of the Holy Face. He wanted to show that the faithful, while adoring the Blessed Sacrament, looking at the Face of Jesus, can be helped to contemplate also the human features of his Person and to make his adoration so fruitful. The chapel is very popular with young people (the university is only a few steps away) as well as the less young, who also are coming from other parishes.

On the occasion of the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary, patron and titular of the parish, December 8, and on the occasion of the inauguration of the recent restoration of the church, the parish priest invited the rector of the Shrine of the Holy Face of Manoppello, Fr. Carmine Cucinelli, OFM, Cap.,  to Katowice to thank him for the copy of the Image of the Holy Face which he had given and to have him meet with the whole parish. It was a pastoral visit and a short mission.

The program of the mission began at 12.00 on the day of the Immaculate with the Hour of Grace, with the prayer before the Image of the Holy Face and the explanation of the Holy Relic. A Polish Capuchin, a university student in Rome, Father Pawel Paszko, who accompanied Father Carmine from Italy, acted as interpreter.

At 6 pm, after the singing of the Vespers, there was the solemn celebration of Holy Mass presided over by the Archbishop emeritus who had enthroned the sacred image, along with a dozen concelebrants.   A chasuble with the Holy Face was donated to the parish priest and a stole and a bronze medallion to the parish priest. The church was crowded with worshipers.

On December 9th, there was a visit to the Cultural and Spiritual Center of St. John Paul II in Krakow and a conference on the Holy Face which was broadcast on regional TV and radio. An interview was given to several journalists. Professor Zbigniev Treppa, a scientist from the University of Gdansk, author of articles and a book on the Holy Face was also present at the conference.

The following Sunday, again with the help of Father Pawel, the rector spoke of the Holy Face in all the Masses.On other days there was time also for devotion, visiting the Marian shrine of Czestochowa.

The last meeting took place in the convent of the Capuchin friars of Krakow, home to their theological house of studies.

The short week of visits to Katowice was very positive, receiving warm welcome from the faithful, who attended numerous meetings, and expressed their devotion and interest in knowing the Holy Face. Now Manoppello and Katowice are closer spiritually, because they venerate the same image of Jesus and have an equal mission, that of giving the possibility to the faithful to contemplate the "true image of Jesus" (Veronica) and bring souls to the person of Jesus .