Votive Feast of the Holy Face of Our Lord Jesus Christ Deformed in the Passion:
This Feast is not found in the Missae pro Aliquibus Locis of most editions of the Roman Missal. The Devotion to the Holy Face has its origins in the 12th century, with the relic of the Veil of Veronica kept at St. Peter’s Basilica. The different Masses of the Holy Face used today and throughout history honour this relic which is guarded in the Vatican Basilica.
The Mass for this Feast appears in a Missal from St. Peter’s Basilica, Rome, dating from the 1500’s. There is also a Votive Mass of the Holy Face in the Holy Land, which formed the 6th Mass of the “Via Crucis.”
In 1889 Leo XIII approved the Confraternity of the Holy Face. Then, in 1910 St. Pius X through an S.R.C. decree approved a Mass for the Holy Face using the Mass “Humiliavit” (used as the Votive Mass of the Passion for Fridays and Tuesday within Sexagesima) along with three specially composed prayers for the Collect, Secret, and Postcommunion.
As Fr. Stefano Pedica, O.S.B. writes, “The Mass of the Holy Face of Jesus was permitted by the Holy Pope Pius X, who desired that it might be the same Mass of the Passion, namely the “Missa Humiliavit” with three “appropriate prayers” shedding light upon and determining the liturgical and theological sense of what is proper and due to the Most Sacred Face of the Redeemer…There appears clearly in the prayers the meaning the Holy See desires, about the devotion to the Holy Face. Veronica is not mentioned in them, as in the ancient prayers, nor is there mention of anything which could in the slightest way give cause to critics to oppose that which Holy Mother Church proposes to the faithful, in “lex orandi” and “lex credendi.” The wording taken from the Old and New Testaments, confers a dogmatic rather than historic value to the cult of the Holy Face. The Votive Mass of the Most Holy Face of Jesus has been requested by very many Religious Communities (particularly the Benedictine-Silvestrines) and in various Dioceses throughout the world; showing that the devotion to the Holy Face is always growing and more deeply felt in the souls of the faithful.”
This feast, being one of reparation, also pairs well with the age old custom of having the Forty Hours Devotion in reparation for Carnival, which ends on this day.*****
Sr. Mary of Saint Peter (1816-1848)
Sr. Mary of St. Peter was born in Rennes in Brittany on October 4, 1816. She was rather sickly as child and not at all pious. In fact, she describes herself as stubborn and easily roused to anger. After making her 1st confession at the age of 6 1/2 years, she began to seriously work on overcoming herself and about this same time, her parents instilled into her a devotion to the Most Blessed Virgin. After making her First Communion at the age of 10 1/2 years, she progressed most rapidly in virtue to the amazement of all those who knew her. She received many graces in prayer and began to understand that Our Lord was calling her to consecrate herself to him in religion. With the direction of a wise and holy confessor who tried her in virtue for 5 years and prepared her for the religious life, she finally entered the Carmelite Monastery in Tours, France on November 13.
As a novice, she continued receiving extraordinary favours in prayer. She submitted all of these interior communications of Our Lord to her Superiors and waited upon their consent before she could offer herself completely to Our Lord as He had been asking. Once permission was obtained, Our Lord began revealing to her this great project of establishing the Work of Reparation. There had been a Confraternity established only 18 days prior to that of which Our Lord was revealing to Sr. Mary of St. Peter which had been put under the patronage of St. Louis, King of France. Our Lord told Sr. Mary however, that the devotion He was entrusting to her was to have as its aim not only reparation for blasphemy, but also reparation for the profanation of the Holy Day of the Lord, both enormous sins, arousing the anger of God.
“My name is everywhere blasphemed!…He then made me see that this frightful sin wounds His divine Heart more grievously than all other sins, showing me how by blasphemy the sinner curses Him to His Face, attacks Him publicly, nullifies his redemption, and pronounces his own judgment and condemnation. Our Lord then made me visualize the act of blasphemy as a poisoned arrow continually wounding His divine Heart. After that He revealed to me that He wanted to give me a ‘Golden Arrow’ which would have the power of wounding Him delightfully, and which would also heal those other wounds inflicted by the malice of sinners.” (August 26, 1843)
“I give you My Name to be your light in the darkness and your strength in battle. Satan will do all in his power to crush this Work at its roots. But I assure you that the Holy Name of God will triumph, and it will be the Holy Angels who will gain the victory in the conflict.” (Our Lord to Sr. Mary of St. Peter Nov. 18, 1843)
“Oh, to whom shall I address myself if not to a Carmelite whose very vocation obliges her unceasingly to glorify My Name?” “While this was taking place, I felt my soul entirely lost in God, and simultaneously I was overcome by awe as our Lord made me realize the meaning of the words spoken to Abraham, that if there could be found at least ten just souls, God would spare the guilty cities for the sake of these ten just. It also seemed to me that for the sake of those who would practice Reparation for the sins committed against the majesty of God, His justice would be appeased and He would grant mercy to the guilty.”
“Drawing me strongly to the contemplation of His adorable Face, our Divine Saviour made me see through a ray of light issuing from His august Countenance that the Holy Face which He presented to mankind for their adoration, was indeed the mirror of those unutterable Divine Perfections comprised and contained in the Most Holy Name of God…. I saw that by thus honouring and venerating this Sacred Countenance covered anew with outrages, we could atone for blasphemers who attack the Divinity of which this Holy Face is the figure, the mirror and the expression.”
“…[Our Lord] told me that He was seeking in our convent souls who would heal the wounds inflicted on His Face by pouring over them the wine of compassion and the oil of love, which is Reparation. Then Our Lord promised that if the community embraced this exercise of Reparation, He would give it a kiss of love which would be the pledge of the eternal kiss.”
“Yes, it is through this august Sacrament that Jesus, our Saviour, desires to impart to souls the rare virtue emanating from is most Holy Face, for indeed there in the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar His adorable Face is more dazzling than the sun. He then once more promised me to imprint His Divine likeness upon the souls of those who honour the features of His Face.”