Saturday, 18 April 2015

The Holy Face of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Part 3.

In the year 610, during the Pontificate of Boniface IV., the Holy Face was venerated in the church of St. Mary of the Martyrs, commonly called the Rotunda, by reason of its round form. This was the old Pantheon, built by Agrippa to Jupiter the Avenger, and later dedicated to all the Olympic deities. In the year of our Lord 608, Boniface IV., wishing to purify this temple, and to dedicate it to the Mother of God, went into the catacombs, and brought forth from their subterranean habitations a legion of Christian heroes, and sent them in twenty-eight magnificently decorated carriages, amidst the acclamations of all Rome, into the sanctuary of vanquished Paganism. The new church got the name of St. Mary of the Martyrs. Two centuries later, in 830, Gregory IV. consecrated it again to All the Saints, and commanded that, in memory of this consecration, there should be celebrated every year, and on the 1st November, in the entire Catholic world, the Feast of All Saints.
He wished to give St. Mary of the Martyrs the charge of the holy relic, being a place well fortified and very safe, and being likewise situated almost in the centre of the city, and at the same time sufficiently large to accommodate the multitudes of people who would go there to offer their adoration to our Saviour.

They have, even in our time, in this church, the case or shrine where the Holy Face was preserved. The urn which contained this case is placed in pieces on the table of the altar of the holy crucifix, with the following inscription: "Arca in qua sacrum sudarium, olim a diva Veronica delatum Romam ex Palestina, hac in Basilica, annis centum enituit"—" The case in which the Holy Towel brought from Palestine by Blessed Veronica, was kept with honour in this Basilica for a hundred years." This case or shrine had ten locks, the keys of which were entrusted to the care of the chiefs of the ten old Rioni, or Roman regions, so that' the holy Relic was committed to the care of the entire city, and its case could only be opened before its united representatives.

The holy Relic was exposed to the veneration of the faithful once a year, May 18, the anniversary of the first consecration of the church, as also in days of calamity to invoke the pardon and protection of God.

A century later the Holy Face was brought to St„ Peter's. Pope John VII., in the year 707, having built an oratory in the Vatican Basilica, which he dedicated to the Blessed Virgin "del Presepio" and in which he wished to have his- sepulchre, raised an altar in it in honour of the Holy Face, {quod vocatur Veronica) and placed it there in a beautiful, large, and ornamented tabernacle, with marble pillars, and the chapel took the name, and was called " Santa Maria del Sudario".

Grimaldi the notary and archivist of the Basilica, says that the altars of this Oratory were consecrated on the 24tb November, 707, and that Pope John VII. placed the Holy Relic there on the following day.

Torrigio, in a work of his called "Sagre Grotte Vaticane" assigns the same date for the replacing of the Holy Relic in St. Peter's, it having been for some time in the Rotunda or church of St. Mary of the Martyrs.

He also says that, under Adrian I., the tabernacle was enlarged, and surrounded by a balcony from which the Holy Face was exposed to the people for Veneration.
P. Mabillon, in his Museum Italicum, vol. ii., p. 122, inserts a Roman Ceremonial of 1130, dedicated to Cardinal Guy du Chata!, later Celestine II., where it is said, " afterwards the Pontiff goes to the Towel of Christ, which is called Veronica, and incenses it."
Alvieri affirms, with other anthers, that in the time of Innocent II. six noble Roman families were appointed to guard the Holy Face, and to take care of the ease or shrine in which it was enclosed.

Mallio, in his History of Remarkable Things in the Vatican Basilica, dedicated to Alexander III. in 1159, attests the remarkable veneration which was given to the Holy Face daring this epoch, before which burned day and night ten lamps. (Ante Veronicam decem lampades die noctuque.)

We have already spoken of the medals called Veronicas, which had impressed on them the likeness of the Holy Face, and the keys of St. Peter. The pilgrim's to the tombs of the apostles, Who had great confidence in the holy relic, attached them to their clothes.
Such was the veneration given to the Holy Image that it was often represented on the Pontifical coins. Scilla, in his treatise, Delle Monete Pontificie, shews different sorts of these coins, with the likeness of the Holy Face struck on them.

Cancellieri rays that Philip Augustus, King of France, being come to Homo in 1198, Pope Celestine III. showed him " The Veronica; that is to say, a certain linen which Jesus Christ applied to His Face, and which remains so manifestly imprinted even to this day, that you would believe you see the Face itself of Jesus Christ. They call it Veronica, from the name of the woman to whom the linen belonged, whose name was Veronica."
Innocent III., who filled the chair of St Peter in 1198, had a great veneration for the Holy Face; be composed some prayers in its honour, ordered them to be recited before it, and attached to them certain indulgences. Cancellieri, without specifying the date, says that the Holy Face was transferred to the hospital of the Holy Ghost; he mentions an old chronicle, from which it appears that the holy towel was at the house of S. Spirito in Sassia, in a little chamber entirely made of iron and marble, secured with six locks and keys, which were confided to six Roman families. It was exposed only once a year, and the gentlemen who had the honour of holding the keys, enjoyed the Franchise; they were not bound to do any civil service, and if one of them were appointed to to a senechal, &c, he was not obliged to do so. Each time that the holy relic was shown, they should be present, each with twenty companions, all armed around the holy image, to accompany it to the place appointed, and secure it. It was probably in memory of this temporary guard of the Holy Face in the church of the Holy Ghost, that Pope Innocent HI. instituted by a bull, in 1208, the procession which was usually made every year on the first Sunday after the Octave of the Epiphany, and in which was solemnly borne the Holy Face, from the Vatican Basilica to the church of the Holy Ghost. They likewise distributed a great amount of alms to poor strangers and to hospitals. The holy relic remained some time in the church of the Holy Ghost, and was afterwards brought back again to the Vatican Basilica, Later, about the year 1471, Sixtus IV., for just motives, abolished this procession, and decreed that instead the people should go every year, on the same day, to venerate the Relic in the Vatican Basilica.  The members of the Archconfraternity of St. Peter, in Sassia, which existed in 1198, and which had the honour to guard, for some time, the Holy Relic, having undoubtedly succeeded the six gentlemen already mentioned, now formed the procession to St. Peter's, on the second Sunday after the Epiphany, also on Whit-Monday, and, by a privilege, had an exposition of the Holy Face, which exposition was also made three times a year to the foundlings of both sexes, and to the ecclesiastics of the hospital of the Holy Ghost, in remembrance of the time it was formerly kept there. Boniface VIII. re-established in 1300, at Rome, the celebration of the " Holy Year," in the midst of an immense concourse of people, who came to Borne to gain the plenary indulgence. For the consolation of the pilgrims, he exposed the Holy Face every Friday and on solemn feasts. The same Pope exposed it to Charles II., King of Sicily, and James II, King of Aragon.

Rinaldi informs us, that in the year 1328, at the time when Louis of Bavaria, with his heretics and schismatics, and a number of courtiers, came to Rome, the city was interdicted, and many of the Faithful, as also many ecclesiastics and religious fled. The canon of St. Peter's, who had charge of the holy towel, concealed it, because this crowd of atheists were not worthy to behold it. , Clement VI., residing at Avignon, issued an order to celebrate at Borne, in 1350, the second General Jubilee. It is impossible to conceive the great concourse of pilgrims on this occasion; the crowd was so great, that, many times, numbers of the people died, as Matteo Villani, who was present, testifies. The Pope wrote to the canons of the Vatican, ordering them to have many expositions of the Holy Face, on account of the great devotion of the people for this Holy Relic.

Louis I., King of Hungary, asked, and obtained permission of the Sovereign Pontiff, to venerate it every day.
Cancellieri, in" his work, " Settimana Santa" says that the Holy Face was brought to the Castle of St. Angelo, as appears from an old journal, which says: "The 4th of October, 1409, the towel of St. Veronica was brought from the sacristy of St. Peter's to the Castle of St. Angelo, where it might be safe from the insults of the soldiers." 1

A contemporary journalist, Antonio de Pietri, adds: " January 1, 1410, at the hour of Tierce, Jacomo de Cafoi, canon, vicar and sacristan of the Basilica of St. Peter, accompanied by six other canons went to the castle of San-Angelo, and brought from it to St. Peter's the Veronica, or Holy Face."
Nicholas, in 1450, had three little bells made, with silvery and harmonious sounds, to announce the exposition of the Holy Relic, as is the practice at this present time. On the bells was the following inscription, " Nicolaus Papa V. fecit anno Jubilæi 1450."

During this "Holy Year,-" the multitudes of pilgrims, haying recourse to venerate the Holy Relic, were bo great that, in one day alone, eighty-seven persons fell from the bridge of San Angelo, into the Tiber, and were drowned.

We know from Torrigio, that Nicholas V., in 1452, after having crowned the Emperor, Frederic III., and created him Canon of the Vatican, as was customary, gave him the special power, in canonical costume, to expose in the tabernacle the Holy Face, and to venerate with awe and respect the Holy Relic, a favour not usually accorded even to the beneficed canons. It i& necessary here to remember that the emperors, after their coronation by the Pope, became canons of the chapters of the Lateran, and the Vatican, and wore the rochet, cope, and biretta. The emperors who wished to venerate the Holy Relic, through devotion, were obliged to do so in canonical costume.

The Emperor of Turkey having made a present to Innocent VIII., of the holy lance, which pierced the side of our Redeemer, the Pope kept it in his room, intending to build a sumptuous chapel for it, in the Basilica of St. Peter; but, finding his end approach, he ordered that the Relic should be placed in the chapel of the Holy Face.

It was during the pontificate of Urban VIII., in 1625, that the Holy Face was solemnly borne into the new Basilica of St. Peter, on its completion, and placed in the niche where it is venerated at the present day. For a long time, the old church, built by Constantino, threatening decay, Pope Nicholas V. the great protector of letters and of arts, conceived the design of raising around the old Basilica, a temple sufficiently large to represent by its form the universal Church. The labours commenced in 1450. Julius II, admirably assisted by Bramanta, forwarded the execution by the energy and ardour of his resolute character; after him, Leo X. and Raphael continued the work, without interruption. Michael Angelo laboured during seventeen years, under five successive Popes. This great man, in a moment of sublime inspiration, taking on the wings of his genius, the Pantheon, the greatest work of ancient art, had borne it into the air to the height of 300 feet, on four enormous pillars of pentagonal form, afterwards raising the crown-work of the papal altar, the cupola of St. Peter's, that sublime cupola which pilgrims hail in the distance, with tears in their eyes, and which cannot be thought of without emotion, by any one who has had the happiness to behold it.
Urban VIII., on his elevation to the papal throne, found this great work very near completion, and gave a great impetus to it. He ordered Bernin to make in the pillars of the admirable cupola the four niches, with places for the exposition of the holy relics, and, on the 23rd December, 1625, the Holy Face and the Holy Lance, which had been previously deposited in the archives of the Basilica, and enclosed in a case, or shrine, of iron, covered with rich cloth, were borne in a procession, under a canopy, to a niche, since called the "Holy Veronica" The canopy was carried on the occasion by the Archduke Leopold, son of the Emperor Ferdinand III, and by other great personages.

1 Ladislaus, King of Naples, taking advantage of the schism, occupied Rome, whence Paolo Orsini drove him to December 1407.