Southwestern Indiana's Catholic Community Newspaper

More On The Holy Veil Of Manoppello

Tim Lilley

There is more to the Holy Veil of Manoppello than Catholic News Service reporter Junno Arocho Esteves included in the CNS feature that appeared in the April 19 issue of The Message. He didn’t have enough space to include everything.

Before moving to Evansville, I worked in the Atlanta area for a media firm that counted, among its major clients, Ignatius Press, which is one of the world’s largest publishers of English-language Catholic media. In 2010, Ignatius published “The Face of God,” a book originally published in 2006, in German, by investigative reporter Paul Badde, who served at the time as the Vatican correspondent for the German magazine “Die Welt.”

Badde’s research – as laid out in “The Face of God” – leads to the conclusion that the relic Esteves reported on in the CNS story first appears in John 20: 6-8: “When Simon Peter arrived after him, he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there, and the cloth that had covered his head, not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place.” Badde believes that the Holy Veil is “the cloth that had covered his head.”

“The Veil of Manoppello is the sudarium of Christ,” Badde writes in the book, in a chapter entitled “A Final Supplement.” Webster defines sudarium as “an image of the face of Christ painted on a cloth and used as an aid to devotion: Veronica.” Veronica is a name taken from the Latin Vera (true) and the Greek Eikon (image) – the True Image.

The Holy Veil of Manoppello is made of byssus, also known as sea silk. Its natural properties make it impervious to paint or other decoration. There is no evidence that anyone drew or painted that image on the veil.

I could write several columns on the Holy Veil because there is much to discuss. For one thing, the image on the Holy Veil of Manoppello is an exact match for the facial portion of the Shroud of Turin, with one exception. On the Holy Veil, the image is of a man who clearly is alive.

Also in “The Face of God,” Badde makes a compelling case that all of the cloths John described from Jesus’ tomb – cloths that, collectively, represent a traditional Jewish burial wrap from Christ’s time – are still in existence today:

• A cloth that would have been wrapped fully around His head, and would have absorbed much blood from His wounds. Such a cloth exists in Oviedo, Spain. It has no easily visible facial image, but the blood on it is the same type – AB – as that on the Shroud of Turin.

• A cap, known in Jewish tradition as a pathil, would go over that cloth and would keep the lower jaw closed. Such a cap is venerated as a relic in Cahors, southern France. There is evidence that it has been in Cahors since 1239 and was in Constantinople before that, where it was known as a soudarion.

• A full body wrap would be used over these first two pieces. The Shroud of Turin continues to be investigated as that wrap.

• A final covering over the face, traditionally of the finest material available to those burying the dead. It served as a final honor and tribute to the dead. The nature and size of the Holy Veil of Manoppello corresponds with such a final tribute; “the cloth that had covered his head.”

Badde also reports in “The Face of God” that the last documented case of the St. Padre Pio’s miraculous bilocations involved the Holy Veil.

In the book, Badde writes that early in the morning of Sept. 22, 1968, Padre Domenico da Cese del Volto Santo, assigned to the chapel at Manoppello, found St. Padre Pio in the chapel, kneeling before the Holy Veil. Father Domenico asked St. Padre Pio what he was doing there. He replied, “I no longer have confidence in myself. Pray for me. And I’ll see you in Paradise!” At that same moment, St. Padre Pio was near death 125 miles away in his cell, “which he had not left for a long time,” Badde reported. Padre Pio died about 20 hours later.

More in future columns.