Devotion to the Holy Face
I often like to listen to sermons online while I do housework or whatnot; it’s amazing how much one can learn from holy priests! About two weeks before Lent, I stumbled upon a sermon about Christ’s request for devotion to His Holy Face. We are all familiar with devotion to the Sacred Heart, but I must confess that I was not very familiar with devotion to the Holy Face, a sort of “sister devotion” to that of the Sacred Heart. However, the apparitions of Our Lord requesting its propagation make me wonder how I possibly could have been so ignorant! God has His timing, and I’m grateful to Him for revealing to me His requests for devotion to His Holy Face.
Reparation and Reverence
Although hers were not the only apparitions related to the Holy Face, Blessed Maria Pierina de Michell’s apparitions are of particular note in regard to Our Lord’s desire for devotion to His Holy Face. Blessed Pierina was a holy nun who died in 1945; during her lifetime, she received many visions of Our Lady and Our Lord in which she was asked to spread devotion to Our Lord’s Holy Face in reparation for the many insults Christ suffered in His Passion, and for His now being frequently dishonored in the Blessed Sacrament through neglect, sacrileges, and profanations. Among other things, Our Lord asked for a feast day to be established in honor of His Holy Face on Shrove Tuesday (which Pope Pius XII approved in 1958), a day on which He is so offended by so many sins:
See how I suffer. Nevertheless, I am understood by so few. What gratitude on the part of those who say they love me. I have given My Heart as a sensible object of My great love for man and I give My Face as a sensible object of My Sorrow for the sins of man. I desire that it be honored by a special feast on Tuesday in Quinquagesima [Shrove Tuesday]. The feast will be preceded by a novena in which the faithful make reparation with Me uniting themselves with my sorrow.
Doing Battle with the Enemy
Blessed Pierina was also given a medal which on one side bore a replica of the Holy Shroud and the inscription “Illumina, Domine, vultum tuum super nos” – Ps. 4:6: “May, O Lord, the light of Thy countenance shine upon us”; on the other side were the words “Mane nobiscum, Domine” – Luke 24:29: “Stay with us, O Lord.” She was able to eventually get these medals cast, using money that miraculously appeared in her convent in the exact amount needed, and the devil was none too pleased – he flung the medals down, burned pictures of Our Lord’s Holy Face, and beat Sister Pierina. This did not stop the medals nor the devotion from spreading, however; the devotion and medal’s popularity spread as miracles began to be granted by Our Lord in response to its use.
Promises of Great Things
There are a number of promises associated with devotion to the Holy Face, compiled from writings of Blessed Pierina and other saints. Of particular note is the efficacy of the devotion in bringing about the conversion of others and of ourselves: By My Holy Face you will obtain the conversion of numberless sinners. Nothing that you ask in making this offering with be refused you. According to the care you take in making reparation to My Face, disfigured by blasphemers, I will take care of yours, which has been disfigured by sin. I will reprint on it My Image, and render it as beautiful as it was on leaving the Baptismal Font. I promise personal and spiritual protection to all who venerate this medal (Our Lord to Sister Pierina).
I encourage you to learn more about this important devotion. If you do not already have an image of Our Lord’s Sacred Face, perhaps you might consider displaying one in your home; the image from the Shroud of Turin is an excellent option. There are a number of associations dedicated to the Holy Face, and these provide free medals to those who ask for them. The Holy Face Association in America and Canada provides more information on its website: www.holyface.com. A novena that can be used in response to Our Lord’s request for a novena leading up to Shrove Tuesday is available on the British association’s website: http://www.holyface.org.uk/content/holyfacenovena.htm.