Renowned journalist, historian and best-selling author Paul Badde has released The Holy Veil of Manoppello: The Holy Face of God (Sophia Institute Press), his latest update on the veil that covered Jesus’ face while he was in the tomb. Badde’s initial book on this subject, The Face of God: The Rediscovery of the True Face of Christ, was a well-researched, riveting page-turner. He has also penned books on Our Lady of Guadalupe and Benedict XVI. Badde, who was a correspondent in Jerusalem and Rome for the daily Die Welt in Berlin until 2013, has since then worked for EWTN in Germany. He and his wife reside in Rome. Via an email interview, Badde spoke to Register staff writer Joseph Pronechen about his new book.
Your new book contains some amazing new revelations concerning the Holy Veil of Manoppello. What is one of the newest proofs or findings?
I wanted to share the fact that not a “media scoop” brought back the “Face of God” to history, but Domenico da Cese, a saintly and humble Capuchin Friar and spiritual brother of Padre Pio, who died 40 years ago in Turin, only days before John Paul II began his pontificate in Rome with the words: “Do not be afraid. Open wide the doors for Christ!”
Furthermore … in 2016, the Capuchin friars of Manoppello reintroduced the feast of Omnis Terra into the Church (two Sundays after Epiphany). It was named by the first two Latin words of Psalm 65, which opens the liturgy of that second Sunday after Epiphany: Omnis terra adoret te, Deus, which means: “All the earth worships You, O God.” They introduced the feast in memory of that day in 1208 when Pope Innocent III for the first time displayed the “True Icon” in Rome to the Western world. He carried it in a solemn procession from St. Peter’s to the nearby Hospital Santo Spirito in Sassia. This feast makes the “True Icon” again known to the world, as, for instance, will this Jan. 20, 2019, when Cardinal Gerhard Müller promised to come to Manoppello to bless all the world with the Face of God, together with Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, who will be coming from San Francisco to join him.
Because you’re already so familiar with this Sudarium — Holy Veil — was there any new fact that was completely surprising to you personally?
It surprises me how many surprises come to light nearly every week in the process of the re-revelation of the Face of God for our times — for instance, the role the Shroud [of Turin] and this Sudarium from the Holy Sepulcher played in the Latin liturgy for hundreds of years. Or a discovery triggered recently when Dr. Dirk Weisbrod, a library and information scientist from Bonn, found that an old Georgian manuscript from the sixth century — which I have often quoted, since it claims that Our Lady, after the Ascension of the Lord, kept a mysterious veil “by her so that she could always gaze on the wondrously beautiful face of her Son” — contains a passage untranslated until today which says that the apostles put that very veil on her face in her grave in Jerusalem after she had passed away. That’s absolutely plausible and nothing less than a sensation — that the Holy Veil had first been put on Christ’s face at his funeral and later on the face of his mother as she went to sleep for the last time on earth.
With this, your third work, writing and discovering more on the Veil of Manoppello surely seems to be your mission. Why have you concentrated so much on this holy relic?
At the end of his Divine Comedy, Dante called this “Face of Love” the power “that moves the sun and the other stars.” No wonder that it keeps moving me, too. Nevertheless, I’ve got to tell you a little story. Right after Omnis Terra 2017, when for the first time the world had been blessed in Manoppello with the heavy reliquary of the Holy Veil by Monsignor Americo Ciani, a canon priest of St. Peter’s in Rome, I got a phone call from Mauro Zolea of the publishing house Effatà in the Turin area. We met for a cup of coffee in the Bar delle Grazie opposite our apartment in Rome, where he immediately asked me whether I could write another book on the Holy Veil. I’ve written two already, I told him, and countless articles. He knew, but nevertheless wanted to ask me on behalf of the Capuchin friars.
Then the earthquake of 1915 came to my mind — and its crucial role for the re-entrance of the Face of God into history (detailed in the book). I had never really talked about it before. So I agreed, saying: “But beware that it doesn’t cause a new earthquake.” Right then, I received a call on my cellphone [and heard] my wife asking: “Have you felt the shockwave?” No, I hadn’t, but I went to the cashier of the bar to pay for our coffee, and he, too, asked me: “Have you felt it?” It was the earthquake of Jan. 16, 2017, in the Abruzzi mountains, whose waves had reached even Rome. That’s how things are happening around the Face of God.
The evidence of all the latest findings gives further proof that this is the veil from the empty tomb (John 20:7). Do you find these latest revelations have led to an acceptance of the veil from former skeptics?
I doubt it, honestly. I know the leading protagonist personally, who is the driving force of that front against the Holy Veil and who can never forgive that I have proved one of his key theories regarding the Shroud of Turin as wrong — no matter that I did it in a very friendly and respectful way 14 years ago. Since then, he tries to wage war against me within the so-called scientific community, where he tries to prove that I’m untrustworthy since I’m not a scholar, something I never claimed to be. I’m a journalist and reporter. In matters of faith and truth, however, it’s not the number of arguments that count, but evidence alone, as the old philosopher Robert Spaemann told me some months ago. And what we see in the Volto Santo, the Holy Veil, is evidence pure and condensed, no matter how humble and unaggressive this face appears.
You mention other recent attacks on the Holy Veil coming from various sources, most of whom have not even seen the veil. Your book reveals the absurdity of those who say its devotion is based on an “infantile and old-fashioned” faith. Why might they be doing this?
As somebody who really should know, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI told me literally in our last conversation that even “otherwise good theologians” tend to “believe in a grave of Christ that rather has not been empty”; in other words, that they couldn’t believe anymore in the resurrection from the dead as such, which he found “incomprehensible.” I instead find it quite comprehensible, since I know that relics and items of that kind aren’t important for theologians, as many of them tend to see it. Words, words, words are important. Many of them, however, just don’t realize that the Gutenberg Era is over — and that God really became man, not a book; all the Gospels came later, as written theology — and that this is the most unbelievable fact of our Creed, in a challenge to man’s mind unheard of before. But then: It’s easier indeed and more enlightened and “modern” to believe — as Nietzsche did — that God is dead rather than that he’s alive.
Was Benedict XVI’s visit to Manoppello a turning point in learning about the Sudarium, like a stamp of papal approval on this being the real veil of Christ?
Who on earth will read books and big volumes anyway in 100 years, in digital times, as we cannot imagine them today in the last days of the age of Gutenberg? However, because of the semantics, the syntax and the grammar of images, the image of his silent prayer in front of the Face of God in Manoppello on Sept. 1, 2006, will remain and speak forever louder and louder of his unique pontificate.
In your book you write, “Because the Creator of Heaven and Earth has shown His face not only to Jews and Christians, but to the whole world, the translucent image of Christ on that thin cloth will change the world and the course of history in a way that today no man can imagine.” How have you seen it change already?
Could you have imagined the changes the introduction of the first iPhone on June 29, 2007, has triggered in society? Nobody could have imagined these immense changes! The digital revolution is the challenge the world and the Church are facing, and it frightens many old-school scholars. That is exactly the historic context in which this True Icon of the Son of Man reappears in the history of man. He will resist every artificial intelligence as the next great threat to mankind and our freedom.
What was the latest turning point in introducing the Sudarium around the world?
Maybe when Cardinal [Luis] Tagle from Manila visited the Holy Face, declaring: “It’s him” — or when Cardinal Robert Sarah visited it for the second time in July 2017, confirming: “Here we meet the Lord face-to-face.” I can’t tell. It was very important as I see it, though, when Mrs. Daisy Neves from Bellevue, Washington, started something like a crusade to make the Face of God known to Asia and the Americans in this hour of the deep crisis of the American Church. The encounter with the Face of God changes your life once you realize that everything the Gospel tells us about God incarnate and his death and resurrection is true.
How do you hope that this latest work will affect readers and Christians overall?
That they realize, too, as Job in the Bible did, that our “Redeemer liveth” — and that we know his name and face, that he is not anonymous.
What would you personally like to see happen in regards to devotion to the Holy Veil?
That the “purification of the memory,” which St. John Paul had demanded time and again from the Church, gains more momentum in our days. I myself turned 70 this year and have only the usual wishes for my wife and our children and their families. I have experienced many beautiful wishes fulfilled I never even had dared to dream.
Regarding the Holy Veil, I wish to complete for EWTN a series of 20 films contemplating the Face of Christ in the 20 Mysteries of the Rosary in the Holy Land, though I’m aware that it is God himself and nobody else who is completing our work and his wishes regarding the revelation of his face again for the world and promoting it for our times.
Joseph Pronechen is a Register staff writer.