Does this hilltop Italian shrine hold the true relic of Veronica’s veil?

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The expert claims that the veil of Manoppello perfectly matches the image on the Shroud of Turin.

Above the altar of the Sanctuary of the Holy Face in Manoppello, Italy, is an ornate silver frame that covers a small sheer fabric. At a glance, the fabric isn’t as remarkable as its protective case, but when light shines on it, the fabric reveals the face of a bearded man with open eyes.

Those devoted to the veil of Manoppello claim that it is the true relic of the veil of Veronica. It is believed that the relic was secreted far from Rome after its sacking in 1527, by order of Pope Clement VII. The veil made its way to the small town of Abruzzo, Italy, where it remained for almost 500 years.

Although there is no Gospel account of a woman wiping the face of Christ while he carried the cross, the sixth station of the cross is known as “Veronica wipes the face of Jesus”. The Trenton Monitor reports, according to legend, that Veronica took the veil to Rome to offer it to Saint Clement, one of the first popes.

At St. Peter’s Basilica there is another image of the face of Christ, also considered the veil of Veronica. This relic is presented each year on the 5th Sunday of Lent for the veneration of pilgrims. German journalist Paul Badde, however, is convinced that the Vatican relic, venerated for 400 years, is only a copy.

Perhaps the confusion comes from the secrecy behind the transport of the veil to Manoppello, where few people knew it until the Capuchin priest, Father Domenico di Cese, made it his mission to make known what he believed to be the true relic of Véronique’s veil.

Father Cese’s belief arose from the first time he saw the relic. While still a rookie priest in the 1930s, he saw the image of Christ and discovered that it was the same man who had saved him from the rubble of a church destroyed by an earthquake in 1915, when he was a child.

Father Cese died in 1975, but the veil did not become public until 1999, when Jesuit Father Heinrich Pfeiffer, art historian at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, claimed it was of the authentic relic. Father Pfeiffer claimed that the image on the veil of Manoppello could be perfectly superimposed on the image on the Shroud of Turin, considered to be the funerary shroud of Christ.


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The Vatican does not formally recognize the authenticity of the veil of Manoppello or the Shroud of Turin, but has not prevented thousands of pilgrims from visiting these relics for veneration. In fact, Pope Benedict XVI became the first pope to worship the veil in Manoppello, in 2006.

Badde told CNS that Pope Benedict was interested in the veil after reading a book about it. Apparently, his decision to visit Mannopello met with “enormous resistance in the Vatican”. Still, Pope Benedict made his trip to the small hilltop town, calling the trip a “private pilgrimage.”

Pope Benedict XVI has not commented on the possibility of the veil’s authenticity. Instead, he told the priests and faithful who filled the church for the papal visitation that those seeking the true face of Christ might find it in their brothers and sisters, “especially the poorest and most needy ”.


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