The Face from a Deesis mural painting (12th century)
in a Romanesque collegiate church in Tum near Łęczyca, Poland
The Old Testament often mentions the Lord's Face. Cherubs and
Seraphs venerate Him in heaven and when He appears on the earth, patriarchs,
prophets and the righteous of all times look at His Face with deep respect and
After Incarnation, when the Word of the Lord took on our humanity, it was the
Lord's Face in Jesus that became the subject of veneration, respect and love,
initially of Mary and Joseph and later of the apostles, disciples and all the
others who had a chance to see His admirable beauty. In Bethlehem, in Nazareth,
on Mount Tabor and in various circumstances in which the Lord's Face was seen,
it deserved admiration and veneration as the mirror of His sacred Spirit and
Veneration of Jesus Chris as a service to His Holy Face is not new in the Church.
It is connected with the dogma of Incarnation and starts with the birth of
Jesus. When people listened to the words of God-Man, they adored His wisdom and
teaching. They also admired the incomparable charm of His speech but especially
His miraculous Face in which God's Majesty was reflected, as St. Jerome put it.
According to Origen, the Face of Jesus was alternately sweet and stern but also
merciful and frightful. It took on different expression depending on the inner
disposition of those who saw It. It was full of blessing and caress to children
yet frightful to those selling in the temple.
His Face deserves special veneration when Jesus was humiliated and pained during
His Passion. His sacred and most beautiful Face suffered numerous humilation,
insults and pains. They started in Gethsemane where His Face was covered in
bloody sweat and defamed with the treacherous kiss of Judas and ended when He
gave His last breath at the moment of death while bowing His head on the cross.
His head and forehead were crowned with thorns, His eyes were in poignant tears
and His mouth was watered with gall and vinegar. Slaps, spits and bloodiest
insults were lavished upon Him.
All these pains reflected in the Holy Face of the Saviour during His Passion
were contemplated throughout centuries by the hearts and souls of such chosen
ones as St. Augustine, St. Bernard, St. Gertrude, St. Mechtilde and others. The
Bible, Church Fathers, the Tradition and history inform us that the veneration
of our beloved Saviour's Face, based on sacred dogmas of the faith, has been
practised from time immemorial.
In the 19th century this veneration became more intense thanks to the
revelations experienced in the years 1844–1848 by Sister Mary of St. Peter
(1816–1848), a Carmelite nun from Tours in France. In one of these revelations
the Saviour said these solemn words to her, "I give you the Holy Image of my
Face in the presence of My Father and the Holy Spirit, and angels and all saints.
I give you this gift through the hands of My Holy Mother and St. Veronica who
will teach you to worship It properly. You will work miracles with the help of
My Holy Face". Then He told her that it was the second greatest grace to the
Holy Sacrament He could give her.
After the revelation in La Salette, Jesus spoke to her again and told her, "My
daughter, I take you as my minister and place the Image of My Face in your hands
so that you could continually offer It to My Father in order to save your
country. Use this gift advantageously. It is a treasure with which you can
provide for all the needs of My home. Through It you can earn salvation for many
sinners. When you offer It to My Father, He will not refuse to provide you with
anything. If only you knew how dear My Face is to My Father".
Another time, prompting her to trust in the power of His Face, Jesus told her,
"I give you again My Head so that you could offer it to My Father and appease
His righteous anger. If only you knew the saving power of this Image. And Its
power comes from the fact that I took all human sins upon My Head so that other
parts of My Body could be saved from harm. So offer the Image of My Face to My
Father as it is the way of appeasing Him".
Soon later the Saviour let her learn that this Face has the power to reflect
God's image in people's souls. He begins with the soul of His faithful handmaid
in order to make other souls cleansed in His holy Blood learn the power of His
Face and impress in them anew the Lord's image which has been largely effaced
Basing on the example of St. Peter, He showed her how powerful the expression of
the Holy Face is. Sister Mary describes it as follows. "In the world there are
people who mastered the art of healing the body, but only the Saviour has the
art of healing souls created in the image and likeness of God. Our Divine Rabbi
has promised such grace to anybody who tries to worship and adore His Holy Face
properly. The example of Saint Peter shows us the power of this Holy Face. The
apostle effaced God's image impressed in his soul by denying three times he knew
Jesus, but He turned His Holy Face to the unfaithful apostle and immediately
Peter felt deep remorse".
Following the example of God's servant Leon Dupont who was Sister Mary's
confidant, three years after her death, in 1851, the keen Catholics of Tours
started adoring and praying to the Holy Face of Jesus insulted during His
Passion. Initially, in the living room of Leon Dupont's house a few faithful
souls gathered timidly near the keen God's servant in order to join him in his
prayers. It was not an association but a simple connection of private and
voluntary prayers. Soon the service became so popular that the archbishop of
Tours formally consecrated the shrine on 29 June 1879. He recognised it as a
public chapel serving to increase even further the adoration of the Holy Face of
Jesus Christ. Since that day pious pilgrimages have arrived at this place to
pray and priests have said holy masses. The fact that the prayers were pleasing
to God is confirmed by numerous votive offerings left by pilgrims as signs of
gratitude for spiritual and temporal graces they received.
In 1884 the Association of the Holy Face was established to administer the
service and it was approved by the Holy See in the following year. Similar
associations were created in many towns of France and the worship of the Holy
Face spread to many countries of Europe, America and even Asia. In Poland the
service to the Holy Face of Jesus was propagated by Blessed Father Honorat
KoĽmiński (1829–1916), a Capuchin friar and an author of a few books referring
to this cult. He gained the cooperation of Eliza Cejzik (1858–1898) whom he
chose to be the co-founder of one religious congregations not wearing a habit he
established. The congregation under the name of "Heralds of Reparation" was
established in 1888 and has existed since then known as the Congregation of
Reparation of the Holy Face of Our Lord Jesus Christ, commonly called the
Sisters of the Holy Face.
Promises, litany invocations,
reparation acts, prayers to the Holy Face
Promises of the
Saviour to the worshippers of the Holy Face
Promises to those adoring and making
reparations to the Holy Face
The promise made to St. Gertrude
Litany invocations (I)
Litany invocations (II)
The prayer for the celebration of
the Holy Face on Friday before Ash Wednesday
Prayers from the works of Leon
The chaplet of the Holy Face
The prayer to the Holy Face
Thanks to courtesy of website
Latin Hymn Pope Innocenz III wrote
for the Veil of the Holy Face
Hail holy face of our redeemer
on which shines the appearance of divine splendor
Impressed upon a little cloth of snowy radiance
and given to Veronica as a standard of love.
Hail beauty of the ages, mirror of the saints,
which the Spirits of the heavens desire to see.
Cleanse us from every stain of sin
and guide us to the fellowship of the blessed.
Hail our glory amidst this hard life, so fragile and unstable,
quickly passing away. Point us, o happy figure,
to the heavenly homeland
to see the face that is Christ indeed.
Hail, o sudarium, noble encased jewel,
both our solace and the memorial of him
who assumed a little mortal body
– our true joy and ultimate good!