Monday, 20 April 2015
The Holy Face of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Part 4.
To add to the splendour of the basilica 'and increase more and more the veneration of the faithful, Urban VIII, on the 8th of April 1629, wished to add to the image of the Holy Face and Holy Lance, the wood of the true cross, and commanded by a bull f that the three Belies should be always exposed one after the other, he likewise granted a plenary indulgence to those, who, having confessed and worthily communicated, should be present at the exposition. Urban VIII. extended it to the following day, to the twentieth hour, (about two o'clock in the afternoon,) and prostrate before the holy Relics, he venerated them with great devotion, and commanded under pain of excommunication, by a notice which he placed under the niche, that no one should remove the veil which covers the Holy Face, without the authority of the Pope.
We should mention here the arrival at Borne in 1625 of Wladeslas, son of Sigismond III, King of Poland, who was received by Urban VIII, and presented with the cloak and blest sword in recompense for his valorous devotion to the Church. By a special favour, the Pope created him a Canon of St. Peter's, in order that he might be able to venerate, near at hand, the Holy Face. The prince approached the tabernacle in surplice and rochet, but without a stole, because he was not in Holy Orders, and was authorized to show to the people the Holy Belie with the assistance of two other canons. Devenu, King of Poland in 1652, under the name of Wladislas VII, received from the chaplain and canons of St. Peter's a letter of congratulation, to which he made the following beautiful reply:—" We have not forgotten that, during our sojourn in Rome, we were added to your college, to the end that we might contemplate the Holy Face of our Saviour."
The pious Como, grand Duke of Tuscany, having come to Rome in 1700 to gain the indulgence of the general Jubilee, and to venerate the Holy Face, Innocent XII. created him a canon in order that he might be able to hold in his hands the holy Relics. He went to the shrine clothed in a violet soutane, wearing surplice, biretta and red gloves, according to the custom even in our days, and after having devoutly venerated the Holy Relic, he exposed it to the people and standing between two canons blessed them with it. A painting in the Vatican represents him dressed as a canon.
By a brief " Ut carrissimus" of 31st. May, 1717, Clement XI. granted to James III. of England, (commonly called the Pretender, son of James II.) the privilege of venerating the Holy Face in the Vestibule of the oratory where it is religiously preserved.
Pius VII of happy memory, granted that Charles Emmanuel IV. King of Sardinia, afterwards a Jesuit, and the Queen his wife, the Venerable Mary Clotilda of France, should have the consolation of beholding and kissing the Holy Face of our Saviour in the Vestibule of the Sanctuary. If the present representative of this illustrious House of Savoy, this family of Saints, had not repudiated the inheritance of piety which was left him by his ancestors, he would not have caused so much sorrow to the Church, and so many tears to our glorious and beloved Pontiff, Pius IX.
Pius VII. granted a special favour in February 1801, to the pious Archduchess Maria Anne of Austria, who came to receive the most Adorable Eucharist in the Basilica. After having satisfied her devotion, the Canons blest with the Holy Relic, the court, and the people assembled in the temple.
April 7, 1806, the same pope, after the ceremonies of the Monday of the Passover, went with his noble court to the Vatican Basilica; then preceded by lighted torches, assisted by two canons, went to the Sanctuary of the Veronica. After having prayed for some time before the three very Holy Relics he allowed also his suite to approach and venerate so glorious a souvenir of our Lord's Redemption.
We had ourselves the consolation (sweet souvenir) of assisting in 1853 at an exposition of the Holy Face, made before our Most Holy Father Pius IX. On Friday at 10 o'clock, a. m., the pope arrived at the Vatican Basilica; after having adored our Saviour in the chapel of the Most Holy Sacrament, he proceeded with his court to the confessional of St. Peter, and knelt down at the tomb of the glorious Apostles. A canon robed in the costume already described ascended to the Relics, took in his hands successively the Holy Lance, the blessed wood of the Cross, and that of the Holy Face of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Pius IX. the Cardinals and the faithful, prostrated on the floor of the temple, gazed upon, and lovingly bowed under the benediction which he gave them. After having satisfied his devotion, Pius IX. returned to his palace, but not without having first, at the foot of the fisherman, bowed his venerable head, where shone the triple crown of priesthood, sanctity, and martyrdom.
The following year 1854, a year ever memorable on account of the dogmatic definition of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Cardinal Patrizzi, Vicar of Rome, announced in the " Invito Sagro," of the 28th of November, that by order of the Holy Father, the three great Belies would be exposed on an altar of the Basilica of St. Peter, the first Sunday of Advent, December the 3rd, and that they would remain exposed till the noon of the Thursday following. The Holy Face and the two other Relics were placed on the altar of the Most Holy Sacrament, under a canopy, in order that as great a number as possible of the bishops who had come to Rome for this solemn occasion, should have the consolation of celebrating there, the Holy Mysteries. It was the first time that the Holy Face was exposed for so many days on an altar in the Vatican Basilica; the Pope wished to signify by this extraordinary favour, the glorious promulgation of the great privilege of our glorious Mother, which was desired for the last eighteen centuries, and which excited so much joy in heaven and on earth. Thus is preserved from the commencement of the Church to the present time, the most Holy Relic of our Lord Jesus Christ, since His Divine Body ascended into heaven. Since the time that Veronica received from the blessed hands of oar Saviour, this everlasting pledge of His love, to the time when she gave it to Pope Clement I. the fourth successor of St. Peter to Pius IX. now gloriously reigning, this image of our Lord has not ceased to be under the guardianship and in the hands of the sovereign Pontiffs. And although the city of Rome had been often pillaged and sacked, Divine Providence did not permit sacrilegious hands to defile this Holy Belie. All the popes have watched it with a jealous care, and guarded it with love and veneration; many composed hymns and prayers in its honour, which are sung in the religious ceremonies, (see p. 52.)
We behold from time to time illustrious princes, kings and renowned emperors making pilgrimages to Rome, to contemplate the adorable features of our Saviour in His dolorous Passion ; we see them lay down their sceptres and crowns, and despoil themselves of their high birth, to venerate on their knees and in tears, the linen all covered with sweat and blood where the divine features were represented, esteeming these holy vestiges more than all the masterpieces of art and -all the other treasures which are accumulated in Rome, and appreciating their own -dignities inasmuch us they procured for them the exceptional favour of beholding more closely this venerable Relic of our Saviour.
The people hastened often in crowds, and exposed themselves to every fatigue and peril, and even looked upon themselves as happy when permitted to venerate even in the distance, the Holy Face. In the years of the general jubilees, and in times of great calamities, the people hurried to the holy Relic as to a powerful Palladium, and cried out, Lord, show us Thy Face, and we shall be saved"—(" Domine ostende faciem tuam, el salvi erimus") Ps. lxxix. 8. They would strike their breasts and shed abundant tears, when they -considered the lamentable state into which their sins had reduced the Redeemer, and entering into themselves, their hearts would be filled with consolation and hope. Often in these circumstances, God displayed His mercy by great miracles, and granted singular favours for this great devotion of the people towards the Holy Face.
The Church always guarded this precious treasure with a jealous care, we were going to say parsimoniously.