Today I went to see the replica of the Holy Face of Manoppello during its presence this weekend in the Rome church of Santo Spirito, Holy Spirit. This church, just blocks from St. Peter’s Basilica, is principally dedicated to Divine Mercy and is crowded just about every day of the week, often at the 3 pm time of the Hour of Divine Mercy.




I got to the church exactly at 4 pm (not that I had planned such a precise arrival) and I discovered that a Mass for Polish pilgrims had just begun. I was a lector at Mass last evening with the Santa Susanna community so this second Sunday Mass was a special joy, especially given the presence of the Holy Face (about which I wrote in my Friday, January 15 column).

Polish pilgrims come often to Santo Spirito because, as you know it was a Polish nun, St. Faustina Kowalska, who spread the devotion to Divine Mercy and a Polish Pope, John Paul II, who instituted Divine Mercy Sunday, the Sunday after Easter.

The altar dedicated to Divine Mercy and St. Faustina:20160117_164409


A reliquary near the Divine Mercy altar:


The altar dedicated to St. John Paul:


A reliquary with relics of John Paul:


I took these photos after Mass as hundreds gathered to pray before the replica of the Manoppello icon, before the altar dedicated to St. John Paul and before the altar dedicated to Divine Mercy.






My special guest this weekend on “Vatican Insider” is Msgr. John Kozar, president of CNEWA, the Catholic Near East Welfare Association, for almost five years now, coming to that post after serving as national director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in the United States. He is in Rome for a series of meetings and found time to be my guest on Vatican Insider. We learn what CNEWA is and does, where it works and we talk about current and future projects.


An EWTN/CNA photo take outside the Rome CNEWA office:


As you know, in the United States, you can listen to Vatican Insider on a Catholic radio station near you (there is a list of U.S. stations at or on Sirius-XM satellite radio. If you live outside the U.S., you can listen to EWTN radio on our website home page by clicking on the right side where you see “LISTEN TO EWTN.” Vatican Insider airs Saturday mornings at 9:30 am (Eastern time) and re-airs Sundays at 4:30 pm (ET). Check for your time zone. Past shows are found in Vatican Insider archives:


A replica of the Holy Face of Manoppello will make an historical pilgrimage from Manoppello to Rome this weekend, accompanied by a sizeable group of pilgrims, volunteers and the choir of the local church.

These pilgrims will be retracing a path following the ancient procession of the Veronica that was instituted by Pope Innocent III in 1208, carrying in procession a copy of the Holy Face which many scholars identify with the Veronica (vera icona “true icon”).


The image, enclosed in the reliquary which from 1902 to 1947 was used to hold the Holy Face in Manoppello, will remain on display in the Santo Spirito church in Rome also on Sunday January 17, until 8pm. At 6:30pm on the 17th, a solemn closing Mass will be celebratedwith music led by the parish choir of the Church of Saint Ignatius of Antioch in Rome.

The idea for the pilgrimage came about during the National Conference of the Rectors of Italian Shrines that took place in Rome from November 22 to 27, 2015 and which had as its theme “Jubilee of a history: a welcome, nearby, prophetic memory.”

In fact it was the greatness of history which was the basis for the plans to organize the pilgrimage.


I learned of the pilgrimage to Rome from Paul Badde, a good friend, frequent EWTN contributor, one of the foremost experts on the Holy Face of Manoppello and author of a book on the topic. Paul an his wife and I met at our favorite eatery, La Vittoria, and Paul explained many details of this rare pilgrimage. I will be interviewing him for “Vatican Insider” very soon and we will not only look back on the pilgrimage but look into what the Holy Face is, its history, provenance, etc.

Paul will be closely involved with various aspects of the two-day presence in Rome and the Vatican of the replica of the Holy Face.

He explained that the linen arrives in Rome tomorrow afternoon, January 16, about 3 pm, and will be processed through the Holy Door of St. Peter’s Basilica and then to the almost exact same spot where it was kept in the old Constantinian basilica, that is, the former St. Mary’s Chapel, where Michelangelo’s Pietà stands today. From there, the procession then goes back out on St. Peter’s Square and next to the nativity scene where the Manoppello pilgrims and guests will gather with the Manoppello choir. The image will then be carried it from there to the church of Santo Spirito (Holy Spirit), about 5 blocks away on Borgo Santo Spirito.

Archbishop Georg Gaenswein will celebrate Mass at Santo Spirit on Saturday evening. The replica of the relic will remain in this church on Sunday for veneration by the faithful.

Abp. Gaenswein, prefect of the Papal Household and also private secretary to Pope emeritus Benedict VI, caused some speculation about a possible papal visit when, last October 27, he was in Manoppello to visit the shrine of the Holy Face in the Abruzzi region of Italy, about a three-hour drive east of Rome. This followed his visit that same day to the shrine of the Eucharistic Miracle in Lanciano, also in Abruzzo.

Paul did an interview with EWTN’s German correspondent in Rome and you can find that here (with a google translation in English):

Here is the official website of the shrine of Manoppello:


(Vatican Radio) The Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, said “we cannot be paralyzed by fear” over the possibility of terrorist acts.

The Cardinal was answering a question about security concerns surrounding the Jubilee of Mercy which began in December.

“I think we must be realistic in these difficult times and recognize, with sincerity and humility, our fear about what has happened and could unfortunately happen again,” Cardinal Parolin said in a wide-ranging interview with the Spanish magazine Vida Nueva.

The Cardinal went on to say he was sure the Italian authorities are taking every appropriate security measure to prevent any attack, but he said succumbing to fear “is just what the terrorists want.”

He also said the so-called ‘Islamic State’ threatens “the peace and stability of the world,” and therefore must be fought within the framework of international law, and, in particular, through the framework of the United Nations Security Council.

Cardinal Parolin also reaffirmed that Muslim leaders are called to “unequivocally condemn” any terrorist attacks committed in the name of Islam, and noted most of the victims of Islamic extremism are themselves Muslim.

“We must also recognize that there have been leaders in the Islamic world who have denounced and condemned terrorism and, during the attacks in Paris which happened in January and November last year, there were Muslims who acted courageously to save lives,” he said.

“The Catholic Church, for its part, must continue to engage in interfaith dialogue, because today more than ever we need to meet and talk,” Cardinal Parolin said.

“At the same time, we must do more to understand the phenomenon of extremism, examining how and why young people become attracted to these ideologies,” he continued.

“Obviously, there are economic, social and political causes, but there are also spiritual causes,” Cardinal Parolin explained. “In this sense, the Church should redouble its efforts to fill the void created by spiritual nihilism, especially in our Western world, thus avoiding things which are filled with hatred and violence.”

Cardinal Parolin also addressed the current migration crisis, caused in part by the violence in the Middle East.

“It is urgent for the European Union to find solutions quickly,” he said. “Europe has the legal, technical, and – above all – the cultural means to address the migration issue in a manner which respects the dignity and rights of both its citizens and immigrants.”

When asked about the ongoing reform of the Roman Curia, Cardinal Parolin said he still sees a “coordinating role” for the Secretariat of State within the Curia, but any “excesses” can be avoided “with a greater emphasis on the practice of collegiality and synodality,” adding the creation of the Council of Cardinals and the enhancement of the Synod of Bishops are “crucial steps” in this direction.

The Cardinal also said the economic affairs of the Holy See are “less problematic” than is sometimes seen in public.

Speaking about working with Pope Francis, Cardinal Parolin said he is “easily accessible,” and both of them will call each other to discuss any issues which may arise.

“When confronting issues, the Pope is very interested to hear the views and opinions of the person with whom he is speaking, and when it is me, I feel free to speak and express my point of view,” he said.

“In addition, two things strike me during my encounters with the Holy Father,” Cardinal Parolin said.

“The first is the way he put himself in a constant state of discernment when facing any decision; a state where prayer has an important role to play, taking the decision before the Lord and making it according to his will” – he said – “The second is his serenity when facing any situation – even the complicated and difficult ones – which comes from a deep inner peace.”

Cardinal Parolin also said the Jubilee of Mercy is an “extraordinary moment of grace and spiritual renewal,” which returns people to the centre of Christian life, which is mercy.