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Devotion to the Holy Face & Chaplet

Hey, I’m Emily. Today I’ll be talking about the Devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus. Br. Kevin asked me to talk about this devotion after I sent out that GroupMe recommending the Chaplet of the Holy Face. If you’re not on the GroupMe, we can get you on it. I don’t have the app, but someone who is a bit more hip tech than I can help you.

So who am I? Well, I am actually very new to being faithful. This Easter I just received First Communion and Confirmation. I was baptized Catholic as a baby, but I grew up never going to church and I knew nothing about God. Honestly, there was a distinct time in my life where I believed that there was probably a higher power, but with so many religions out there and with my lack of knowledge, I doubted that God was the true God or even existed. 

Before Covid, I was an actor—theatre, film, voiceover, and I was very secular. God actually used acting to bring me to the faith. There are a number of things that I could go into about my conversion, but before I had started going to church a few years ago, I was cast on Fox’s tv series, The Exorcist, that was filmed here in Chicago. I was cast as a nun, and the main lines I had to memorize were the Our Father, the Hail Mary, the Hail Holy Queen, and the Litany of Loreto. Prayers I didn’t know at the time. So tell me God doesn’t have a plan. About a year after that I started going to church. The silence of the Covid lockdown greatly deepened my faith and my relationship with God, and I hope to share that love that I have found with you today.

We’ve done a few talks on prayer in general, so we know that when we pray, we are always responding to an invitation from God to be in relationship with Him. God is always waiting for our fiat, our yes, and recently God introduced me to and invited me to pray this devotion, a devotion that can obtain the conversion of sinners and is for the reparation of sins out of indifference, neglect or outright hatred that offend God. Through me, God is inviting you to pray as well and to put on the full armor of God that you might be able to stand against the deceits of the devil during our troubled times. 

So what is the Devotion to the Holy Face? Let’s start by going back in time, back to the Passion of Christ. After the agony in the garden, Jesus is arrested, and all the apostles flee. Peter denies Christ three times, and even though Jesus foretold that he would do this, it isn’t until Jesus looks upon Peter that Peter repents and weeps bitterly. The rooster already crowed three times, but it isn’t until he sees the Lord’s face that Peter remembers and realizes what he had done. Only by the gaze of Jesus is Peter converted. St. Ambrose commented on the Lord’s gaze saying: “If you look at us, our sins fade and in tears, the guilt is dissolved.” And Psalm 80 exhorts: “Convert us, O God: and shew us thy face, and we shall be saved.” The Holy Face has the power of conversion.

Continuing in His passion, while carrying the cross, Jesus’ face is covered with blood, sweat, dust and spittle. And seeing Him suffering, Veronica, in an act of true courage and compassion, comes forward to comfort Him the only way she can, by offering her veil to Him that He might wipe His Adorable Face. Upon her veil, His Sacred Countenance was miraculously imprinted, and her veil is currently preserved in St. Peter’s Basillica. Interestingly, the name Veronica means “true image,” vera icon. 

Many saints in the history of the church have venerated the Holy Face of Jesus, but it wasn’t until 1843 that a true devotion to the Holy Face was born. Over the course of about 5 years, Sister Mary of St. Peter, a Carmelite nun in France, received revelations from Our Lord, in which He requested a devotion to His Holy Face. This devotion was to have the purpose of reparation for sins against the first three commandments. 

  • The First Commandment: “I am the Lord thy God, thou shalt not have strange gods before Me”—seeks reparation for sins of idolatry, heresy, sacrilege, occult practices, new age ideology, and holding false religions on par with the true faith. If you put anything before God, put your faith in something less than God, or compromise your faith to better get along with others or in society, you are breaking the First Commandment. It’s funny because before I found this devotion it was pressed upon my heart that the mask has become an idol, something we put our faith in before God, and while I was struggling with this, God introduced me to this devotion, which seeks the reparation of sins of idolatry.
  • The Second Commandment: “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord Thy God in vain”—seeks reparation for sins of blasphemy, irreverently using God’s name, speaking disrespectfully about holy things, breaking vows, and the doctrinal blasphemy of ideologies such as Communism, Modernism, and Freemasonry. This commandment gets broken all the time because phrases that take God’s name in vain are very popular in today’s language. Taking the Lord’s name in vain is like hurling spit and insults at Him during His passion. If you say the words, “O my God” that is the beginning of a prayer, like “O my God, have mercy on us.” Br. Kevin talked about this last week, but if you say the Lord’s name as a curse, as an exclamation of surprise, for emphasis, or even if you are texting an abbreviated version to your friends, that is taking the Lord’s name in vain.  A lot of us have a bad habit of doing this, and we need to become aware and more carefully guard our speech.
  • The Third Commandment: “Remember thou keep holy the Sabbath [Lord’s] day”—seeks reparation for sins of missing mass on Sundays or Holy Days of obligation without grave cause, performing undue servile work, or unnecessary public buying or selling. Sundays are supposed to be a day of rest, set aside for the Lord. As Our Lord said to Sr. Mary: “The executioners crucified Me on Friday, Christians crucify Me on Sunday.”

So to recap, Jesus asked that a devotion to His Holy Face be instituted for the:

  • Reparation of sins of atheism and indifference
  • Reparation of sins of blasphemy, and specifically Communism
  • And Reparation of sins of the profanation of Sunday. 

To put this devotion in context, Sr. Mary received these revelations about 50 years after the French Revolution, a time of turmoil that tore the country apart and reverberated throughout the world. As the Revolution heralded the influx of masonic and relativistic thinking, it was also a time of heavy persecution of the Church, forcing priests to vow allegiance to the civil state, and martyring, imprisoning, and exiling many priests and nuns. Innumerable sacrileges occurred as the Enlightenment movement sought to remove the faith altogether.

This devotion to the Holy Face is a sister devotion to that of Our Lady of Fatima, who also asked for repentance and reparation for our own sins and those of others to battle the errors of Communism. Jesus specifically named Communists as enemies of the church during His revelations to Sr, Mary. Our Lord is allowing the world to be chastised through “Revolutionary Men,” but He has given us the remedy in His Holy Face to defeat it. 

Interestingly, the Holy Face devotion, given to Sr. Mary from 1843-1847 is also related to the Marian Apparition of Our Lady of La Salette which occurred in 1846, in which Our Lady appeared weeping to two shepherd children also in France. Our Lady called for the conversion of sinners and told the children how displeased God was by the numerous sins committed against Him saying:

  • “Six days I have given you to labor, the seventh I have kept for myself; and they will not give it to me. It is this which makes the arm of my Son so heavy.
  • “Those who drive the carts cannot swear without introducing the name of my Son. These are the two things which make the arm of my Son so heavy.

Just like the Holy Face Devotion, Our Lady of La Salette calls for people to stop blaspheming God and to keep Sunday as a Holy Day set aside for the Lord. The connections are crazy!

To Practice the Holy Face Devotion, Prayers of Reparation are to be made on Sundays and Holy Days of obligation in front of the Blessed Sacrament or in front of an image of the Holy Face. Nine Promises were given from Our Lord in connection with this devotion, but the three most impactful to me were:

  • “By My Holy Face, they will work wonders, appease the anger of God and draw down mercy on sinners.”——and in fact there are many miracles and healings (in the thousands) associated with the Holy Face Devotion, particularly through the Venerable Leo Dupont that I won’t get into for time’s sake, but definitely look him up
  • “According to the care they take in making reparation to My Face disfigured by blasphemers, so will I take care of their souls which have been disfigured by sin. My Face is the Seal of the Divinity, which has the virtue of reproducing in souls the image of God.”
  • “Just as in an earthly kingdom money which is stamped with the picture of the sovereign or ruling executive of the country procures whatever one desires to purchase, so likewise in the Kingdom of Heaven, you shall obtain all that you desire by offering the coin of My precious Humanity which is my adorable Face.”

Sr. Mary was also given what is known as the Golden Arrow prayer. There is a book about Sr. Mary and the Holy Face Devotion by the same name, and I think right now it’s one of Tan Books $5 book deals if you want to learn more. Our Lord gave Sr. Mary the Golden Arrow prayer as special reparation for blasphemy because as Sr. Mary recounts, blasphemy “wounds His divine Heart more grievously than all other sins…[it] is a poisoned arrow continually wounding His divine Heart. Receiving this prayer, Sr. Mary then beheld a vision of Our Lord’s Sacred Heart being wounded delightfully by this Golden Arrow, and out flowed a torrent of grace for the conversion of sinners. By this prayer, we can heal the wounds inflicted on Him and obtain graces.

The Golden Arrow prayer is this: 

May the most Holy, most Sacred, most Adorable, Most Incomprehensible and Ineffable Name of God Be always Praised, Blessed, Loved, Adored and Glorified, In Heaven, on Earth and under the Earth, By all the Creatures of God, And by the Sacred Heart of Our Lord Jesus Christ, In the most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. Amen.

A Chaplet of the Holy Face was also given to Sr. Mary to battle against the enemies of God, especially Communists. This is an excellent prayer to obtain the triumph of the Church, something we are in dire need of right now. The Chaplet is designed to honor the suffering Our Lord Jesus Christ received to all of His 5 senses during His passion. It is composed of 39 beads in total, 33 of which are small beads, representing each year of His life. And 3 of which are grouped together at the end, between the crucifix and a medal of His Holy Face, representing His 3 years of public ministry. The 30 beads that represent His private life are separated into 5 groups of 6 beads each. The Glory Be is prayed 7 times during this Chaplet, honoring Jesus’ 7 last words from the cross and the Seven Sorrows of Our Blessed Mother.

The Chaplet begins with the first line of Psalm 70: “O God, come to my assistance – O Lord, make haste to help me” followed by a Glory Be.

On each of the large beads you recite, “My Jesus Mercy,” in honor of the specific sense of Jesus (sight, hearing, touch), and Pray a Glory Be.

And on the small beads, you pray the first line of Psalm 68: “Arise, O Lord, and let Thy enemies be scattered, and let all that hate Thee flee from before Thy Face”

St. Athanasius is recorded as saying that it is this verse, Arise O Lord, that the devils fear most because it compels them to take flight.

The Chaplet is concluded by praying on the Holy Face Medal: “God, our Protector, look on us, and cast thine eyes upon the Face of Thy Christ”

A short while after the death of Sr. Mary, the Veil of Veronica was publicly venerated as part of a 3 day exposition ordered by Pope Pius IX. On the third day of the showing, the Lord’s image on the veil miraculously glowed and became very distinct, despite many years of natural degradation that had caused the image to fade. The miracle lasted three hours, and it was after that detailed copies of the Holy Face image were made and touched to Veronica’s veil. While the Holy Face Devotion became very popular for a time, especially due to miracles, it faded around WWI and was mostly forgotten.

There is actually a second devotion to the Holy Face that came about in the 1930s from revelations received by Blessed Maria Pierina from Italy. When Blessed Maria was 12 years old, she heard the voice of Jesus during a Good Friday Service in which everyone was venerating the cross. Jesus said to her: “No one gives me a kiss of love on My Face to make amends for the kiss of Judas.” Once Blessed Maria entered a convent, she received further revelations, and  Jesus told her: “Each time My Face is contemplated I will pour My Love into hearts, and through My Holy Face many souls will be saved.” It is through these revelations that we received the medal of the Holy Face. On one side of the medal is Jesus’ face with the words, “Let thy Face shine upon us, O Lord.” And on the other side is an image of the Sacred Host with the words “Stay with us, O Lord.” The Blessed Virgin told Sister Pierina: “[T]his scapular is a weapon of defense, a shield of strength, a pledge of love and mercy which Jesus wishes to give to the world in these times of sensuality and hatred against God and the Church. Diabolic snares are being laid to tear the Faith from men’s hearts, and evil is spreading. True apostles are few, a Divine remedy is necessary, and this remedy is the Holy Face of Jesus.

The two devotions of Sr. Mary of St. Peter and Blessed Maria Pierina are similar in that they both honor the Holy Face and both are for the intention of reparation of sins, but they honor different images of the Holy Face, and have different conditions and promises attached. The devotion of Sr. Mary, with the Golden Arrow prayer, venerates the image of Jesus’ face from the Veil of Veronica, while Jesus was still alive, and is in reparation of the sins of the first 3 commandments. 

The devotion of Blessed Maria Pierina, with the Holy Face medal, venerates the image of Jesus from the Shroud of Turin, covered over Jesus’ body after His death, and is in reparation for the outrages the Holy Face of Jesus received during His Passion and which He continues to receive everyday in the Holy Eucharist, such as a lack of reverence when in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament or in front of the tabernacle, receiving Communion with indifference, out of habit or in a state of mortal sin, and trampling on Our Lord in the particles of consecrated hosts dropped to the floor or still present in the hands of communicants: outrages that have only increased during our times. Tuesday is set aside as the particular day for this devotion to the Holy Face, particularly Shrove Tuesday, also known as Mardi Gras, the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. The promises attached to wearing the medal and visiting the Blessed Sacrament on Tuesdays according to Our Blessed Mother are: to be strengthened in the faith, to be prompt to defend it, to overcome all difficulties internal and external, and to be granted a peaceful, holy death under the gaze of My Divine Son. 

Pope Pius XI said, “This salutary reparation to the Holy Face of Jesus is a divine work, destined to save modern society.” Our Lord told Blessed Maria Pierina that “whoever gazes upon Me, already consoles Me.”

Battles rage all around us. Turmoil in the world, turmoil in the church. But we know that the war is already won. This is not a time to be scandalized by the trials we are facing, like the apostles were during Jesus’ passion, and when Peter denied Our Lord. Good and evil, God and Satan are not equal opposites. God is supreme, and everything else is a created creature. By meditating upon Jesus’ face, disfigured and pained, we can see things in the light of eternity, and instead of being scandalized and falling away, we can be steadfast in our faith and imitate Peter when he said: “Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.”

Even though the war is won doesn’t mean we don’t have battles to fight. We are the Church Militant. We must fight the good fight and trust in God. Souls are at stake. We must save our own soul, and as many souls of others that we can.

I’ve been listening to the Bible in a Year podcast, and in 2 Kings 4 Fr. Mike gives a reflection on the widow with two sons who needed money for a creditor, so Elisha told her to gather vessels and pour the little bit of oil she had into these vessels until they were full. In his reflection, he says that we know the end of the story. We know that the little bit oil multiplies to fill all the vessels, but the widow didn’t know. She is looking at this small bit of oil probably thinking that she doesn’t need to gather too many vessels to pour it into to. Maybe a few extra because she consulted a holy man of God, but really, how many vessels can this bit of oil fill? Imagine how many more vessels she would have brought if she knew the miracle that would occur. Only when she ran out of vessels did the oil stop. If she had had more, more oil would have flowed. That’s where we stand now, in a place that requires blind faith, trusting that God can take our small offering of something like praying this Chaplet to the Holy Face and multiply it so that many graces can be poured out upon the world.

A time like this is when great saints are born. When saints, imitating the courage and compassion of St. Veronica, stand against society so that they may stand for the Lord. You could be a great saint. Don’t just dismiss this idea. Imagine if you had the holy confidence and trust in God to teach you how to be a great saint. It is only in our weakness that we are strong. All saints have a past, and all sinners have a future. And God gives us what we need in our lives through obstacles, relationships, and the small tasks of daily living to become saints. So wherever you are in your life or your relationship with God, this is your call, today, right now, to break your attachments to sin and to the things of the world and instead cling to God, and love Him with all of your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind that you may abide in Him and He in you. For He is sufficient.

I’d like to end with a prayer: 

Lord Jesus Christ, heal our hearts disfigured by sin. May we always seek to see Your Face in others. Imprint your Face upon our hearts, O Lord, and make us saints. Amen.

Some additional prayers that are recommended to be said afterward (from the revelations of Sister Mary of St. Peter in the Golden Arrow, pages 113 and 207):
1) May God arise and let His enemies be scattered and let those who hate Him flee before His Face!
2) May the thrice Holy Name of God overthrow all their plans!
3) May the Holy Name of the Living God split them up by disagreements!
4) May the terrible Name of the God of Eternity stamp out all their godlessness!
5) Lord, I do not desire the death of the sinner, but that he be converted and live. “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”
6) The “Golden Arrow” prayer