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Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Framing Prayer 9 Devotion to The Holy Face

For decades, from 1979 to be exact, I knew and loved the great icon of the Face Painted without Hands, the Acheiropoieta, in the Eastern Tradition. I have one such Russian icon in my room here.

I had known that St. Therese of Lisieux had a great love for the Holy Face of Jesus, but I did not know how prevalent this devotion was until 2011. In that year, my dear friend Bernie shared with me her love of the Holy Face of Jesus, and then, when I went to Malta for the first time that year, in the Jesuit Church of the Circumcision, I saw a painting of the Holy Face for honoring Christ, and for intercessory prayer.

Synchronicity. The Carmelites love the image of the Holy Face because of the Little Flower, and include it in their prayers. This devotion may be traced back to Veronica's Veil, when Christ blessed the Jewish woman's kindness with a miraculous image, forever imprinted on her veil.

You may want to check out my post earlier this year,

The showing of the Shroud of Turin has also sparked new love for the Holy Face. In my old parish in Surrey, England, there is a group of people who pray in reparation for sins of blasphemy, using the devotional booklet connected to the The Golden Arrow Holy Face Devotion,  a set of prayers coming from the visions of the Carmelite nun, Sr. Marie of St. Peter.

"SrMarieofStPeter" by Unknown - English Wikipedia [1]. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons -

Hence,...the Carmelite love of the Holy Face truly began with this nun, born years before Little St. Therese found the devotion to her liking.

In these visions, Sr. Marie of St. Peter heard these words from Christ, "Those who will contemplate the wounds on My Face here on earth, shall contemplate it radiant in heaven" and especially in France, and then in England, this devotion spread among the laity, as well as among the nuns of Carmel.

I have a little booklet with this devotion in it, and here is the prayer of reparation against blasphemy to the Name of Jesus and to the Eucharist.

May the most holy, most sacred, most adorable,
most incomprehensible and ineffable Name of God
be forever 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.

The Venerable Leo Dupont is called The Apostle of the Holy Face, btw.  One can find references to him online. He was instrumental is promulgating Adoration of the Holy Eucharist as well as furthering the devotion of the Holy Face. He has the feast day of December first, same as Edmund Campion.

In addition, Pope Pius XII declared the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, Pancake Day, as the Feast of the Holy Face.

I repeat one of St. Therese of Lisieux's poems on the Holy Face of Jesus. She took this name, btw,

Saint Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face

Canticle to the Holy Face.

Dear Jesus! ‘tis Thy Holy Face

Is here the start that guides my way;

They countenance, so full of grace,

Is heaven on earth, for me, to-day.

And love finds holy charms for me

In Thy sweet eyes with tear-drops wet;

Through mine own tears I smile at Thee,

And in Thy griefs my pains forget.

How gladly would I live unknown,

Thus to console Thy aching heart.

Thy veiled beauty, it is shown

To those who live from earth apart.

I long to fly to Thee alone!

Thy Face is now my fatherland, —

The radiant sunshine of my days, —

My realm of love, my sunlit land,

Where, all life long, I sing Thy praise;

It is the lily of the vale,

Whose mystic perfume, freely given,

Brings comfort, when I faint and fail,

And makes me taste the peace of heaven.

Thy face, in its unearthly grace,

Is like the divinest myrrh to me,

That on my heart I gladly place;

It is my lyre of melody;

My rest — my comfort — is Thy Face.

My only wealth, Lord! is thy Face;

I ask naught else than this from Thee;

Hid in the secret of that Face,

The more I shall resemble Thee!

Oh, leave on me some impress faint

Of Thy sweet, humble, patient Face,

And soon I shall become a saint,

And draw men to Thy saving grace.

So, in the secret of Thy Face,

Oh! hide me, hide me, Jesus blest!

There let me find its hidden grace,

Its holy fires, and, in heaven’s rest,

Its rapturous kiss, in Thy embrace!

August 12, 1895.