Monday 11 January 2016

The Holy Face of Manoppello Hoax

Devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus is an ancient devotion in the Catholic Church, and has been cultivated in every century. The devotion became most well-known in the 1800s when the Church established the Archconfraternity of the Holy Face via papal bull. This occurred after 30 continuous years of miracles occurring in the home of Leo Dupont in Tours, France, where people had prayed in front of a relic of the Holy Face created in the Vatican. Suddenly in recent years we are now seeing interest in a supposed new image of the Holy Face, but this time under the name of the "Holy Face of Manoppello". However, there are several serious inconsistencies and concerns with this new image and the story that goes with it, one of them being that it discredits the entire Holy Face devotion and Archconfraternity of the Holy Face established in the 1800s. How can it be possible for God Himself to grant us the devotion through Sister Mary of St. Peter, and for the papacy to establish the Archconfraternity of the Holy Face via papal bull in 1885, and then a little over a century later promote a newly updated devotion which completely discredits the original? This is obviously an impossibility, which we will now explain.

A Brief History of the Primary Holy Face Devotion

Holy Face Devotion in the 1800s
In the mid-1840s, Sister Mary of St. Peter, a Carmelite nun in Tours, France experienced a series of revelations from Our Lord about a powerful devotion He wished to be established worldwide - the devotion to His Holy Face. The express purpose of this devotion was to make reparation for blasphemies and the profanation of Sundays and Holy days taking place in the world at the time, but was also established as a means through which we can all appeal to God for anything we wish. Around the same time, Sister Mary of St. Peter spoke to a friend named Leo Dupont from Tours, France and shared with him the revelations and related prayers to the Holy Face. Leo Dupont believed the revelations to be authentic, and took a copy of the prayers to his home to practice them privately.
In Rome in 1849, shortly after the death of Sister Mary of St. Peter in France, Pope Pius IX ordered public prayers be offered in all churches in Rome to implore God's mercy on the Papal States due to revolution occurring at the time. As part of these public prayers, a three-day exposition of the relic of Veronica's veil was held for public veneration at St. Peter's Basilica. On the third day of the showing, January 6, 1849, a miracle occurred through which Our Lord's face on the veil became very distinct and glowed with a soft light. The Canons of the Basilica ordered the bells rung at sight of the miracle, which attracted crowds of people. The miracle lasted for three hours, and was attested to by an apostolic notary during the incident, and was documented in the daybook of the Vatican Basilica.

 That same evening, copies of the image of Veronica's veil were made, which were touched to the original veil, a relic of the true cross, and to the lance which pierced Christ's side, and were later sent abroad. In subsequent years, similar copies of Veronica's veil were created each year in the Vatican, making them objects of special devotion. These too were sent abroad. A photo of one of these relics can be seen to the right.

Around this time, Leo Dupont received a copy of one of these Holy Face relics, and placed it in his parlor with a perpetually lit crystal oil lamp in front of it, as a sign of veneration. There he would say the Holy Face prayers he previously received from Sister Mary of St. Peter. Immediately, first class miracles began to occur with friends and acquaintances who said these prayers in front of the Holy Face relic with him. Leo Dupont's home quickly became a place of pilgrimage. Healings of incurable diseases were occurring daily in Leo Dupont's home for over 30 years and were so numerous that Pope Pius IX declared Leo Dupont to be perhaps one of the greatest miracle workers in Church history! The fact that so many first class miracles occurred through this devotion attests to the authenticity of the revelations from Our Lord to Sister Mary of St. Peter.

In 1885, in response to the countless miracles associated with the Holy Face devotion, Pope Leo XIII established the Archconfraternity of the Holy Face; and contrary to custom, He immediately established it for the entire world. Shortly afterward, the Manual of the Archconfraternity of the Holy Face was created, providing a history and guidelines for the members of the Archconfraternity. That manual can be viewed at
It is also worth noting that around the same time, St. Therese of Lisieux and her family registered as members of the Archconfraternity of Reparation to the Holy Face at Tours France, and St. Therese herself was so devoted to it that she added the title to her name at the time she took the habit. This is why you will often see St. Therese referred to as St. Therese of the Child Jesus "and of the Holy Face".

Details on the revelations of Sister Mary of St. Peter can be found in the book, "The Golden Arrow", and details on the miracles experienced with Leo Dupont can be found in the book, "The Holy Man of Tours". Numerous other books, approved by the Church, are also available, confirming the revelations of the 1800s pertaining to the Holy Face.

Introduction of the “Holy Face of Manoppello” in the 1990s
In the late 1990s,  it was publicly announced by a Fr. Heinrich Pfeiffer, S.J., Professor at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, that he had discovered "Veronica's veil" in a small Capuchin friary in Manoppello, Italy, where it is said to have been since the 1600s (photo of the image below). As Catholics well know, the original veil of Veronica is kept in the Vatican, so how could anyone claim to have "discovered" it? Yet Fr. Pfeiffer boldly claimed his new discovery is the real Veronica's veil. Since this announcement, numerous books and websites (mainly in Europe) have surfaced providing various stories on the supposed origins of the image, and how it wound up in Manoppello.

Today we have a variety of absurd claims surrounding the image of Manoppello which go as far as to state the original of Veronica's veil in the Vatican (involved in the miracle of 1849 mentioned above) was actually stolen centuries ago, and that what remains in the Vatican now is a fake. Furthermore, the claim is that this newly found image in Manoppello is supposedly the real Veronica's veil that was stolen from the Vatican centuries ago, and that there is no such thing as St. Veronica, or the veil with which she wiped the face of Jesus. In 2000, Fr. Pfeiffer blatantly denied the teaching of the Magisterium of the Catholic Church by writing in the book entitled "Il Volto Santo di Manoppello" (The Holy Face of Manoppello) by Edizioni:
"There have already been attempts to remove the 6th station from the Way of the Cross in as much as modern theologians don't believe any more in the existence of a woman with the name of Veronica who would have given her veil to Christ in order to wipe his bloody face during the ascent to Calvary."
Instead of the story of St. Veronica passed down to us throughout the history of the Catholic Church, the new claim is that the true Veronica's veil was actually a cloth laid over the face of Jesus while He was in the tomb, and that the image of the face of Manoppello was miraculously transferred to the veil during the Resurrection of Jesus.
We need only look at approved Catholic books throughout the history of the Catholic Church to confirm that tradition has passed down to us the existence of St. Veronica, and that her veil is kept in the Vatican to this day:
  1. Ancient Ambrosian Breviary (16th century), Lesson III, on the feast day 4th February: 
    "Veronica, a matron of Jerusalem, a disciple of Christ as tradition affirms, hastened to meet Our Savior as He was being led to the place of execution, bearing His Cross. Seeing His adorable Face bathed with sweat and blood, she was moved with deep love and compassion, and taking her veil from her head, she gave it to Him, in order to wipe away the sweat and blood. Then the most merciful Savior as a reward for her piety, gave her back the veil with the impress of His Divine Face as a pledge and memorial of her love. The pious lady received the veil with ardent devotion, retaining and preserving it as a precious treasure. This venerable Portrait then which has ground to be called the Holy Face or Sudarium of Veronica, is religiously kept in the Most Holy Vatican Basilica and is exposed to public veneration unstated days to a huge gathering of people."
  2. Manual of the Archconfraternity of the Holy Face (1887), page 75: 
    "Tradition has transmitted to us this memorable fact; it is, in the exercises of the way of the Cross, the subject of the sixth station, and the precious veil, with the miraculous image imprinted upon it, is kept, at the present day, in the Church of St. Peter at Rome, where, from time immemorial, it has been an object of supreme honour. Veronica herself, according to the communications made to Sister Marie de Saint-Pierre, is given us by our Lord as the model of the reparatory souls of which our epoch stands in need upon that other Calvary which the Church is climbing in the 19th century..."
  3. The Catechism Explained (1921), page 346: 
    "It is well known that Our Lord miraculously imprinted His sacred countenance upon the cloth handed to Him by Veronica on the way to Calvary."
  4. The Golden Arrow (1954), page 153: 
    "Our Lord then instructed me saying that I must imitate the courage of St. Veronica, who bravely broke through the mob of His enemies to reach Him, and that He now presented her to me as my protectress and as my model. Following this, our Lord told me that by practicing Reparation for blasphemy, we render Him the same service as did the pious Veronica and that just as He looked with kindly eyes upon this holy woman during His passion, so would He regard with affection all those who make reparation. I could see from our Lord's attitude that He had a very tender love for St. Veronica."
  5. A Catholic Dictionary (3rd Ed, 1958) , Veronica: 
    "...the veil with which, according to a tradition, a compassionate woman wiped the face of our Lord when on His way to Calvary, an impression of His features remaining printed thereon. It is one of the greater relics preserved in St. Peter's at Rome and it may be handled and exposed for veneration only by a cannon of the Basilica."
  6. The Holy Face in the Documents of the Church, Pedica, (3rd Ed 1975), page 24: 
    "… The fact that Veronica wiped the face of Jesus, according to the pious tradition of the faithful has never been in question…"

There are many, many flaws behind the claims surrounding the image of Manoppello, and below we will provide some obvious arguments.

Arguments against the Holy Face of Manoppello
Claims that St. Veronica was not mentioned in Scripture, therefore questioning her
Those promoting the image of Manoppello are casting doubt on the existence of St. Veronica passed down to us throughout the history of the Catholic Church because the name of St. Veronica is not mentioned in Scripture. It was a common error of the Protestants to only accept writings documented in Scripture, and to ignore anything passed down via tradition. Catholics today need to be reminded that Scripture itself confirms that not everything is written in Scripture, and that we must also believe what is passed down via tradition. For example:
"But there are also many other things which Jesus did; which, if they were written every one, the world itself, I think, would not be able to contain the books that should be written" John 21:25. Clearly there are many things Jesus said and did that were passed on as tradition (by word of mouth) and did not make it into the books of Scripture.
"Therefore, brethren, stand fast; and hold the traditions which you have learned, whether by word, or by our epistle." 2 Thessalonians 2:14. What else does this tell us than the Apostles spread the word of God not only through Epistles, but also by word, and that we should hold to the traditions which we are taught?

In addition to the quotes above confirming the existence of St. Veronica, to say St. Veronica didn't exist is to say the Catholic Church has misled the faithful throughout the entire history of the Catholic Church by encouraging veneration of her, by including her in the Stations of the Cross, by dedicating a large statue of St. Veronica holding her veil in the Vatican (see photo at right), and dedicating a chapel in her name in the Vatican, among countless other references in approved Catholic books. The Stations of the Cross have been approved to be displayed on the walls of all Catholic churches in the world for centuries. Not only that, but the Church has granted more indulgences for the Stations of the Cross than any other prayer. Are Catholics now to believe the sixth station showing Veronica wiping the face of Jesus has been fabricated all these centuries?! How could any Catholic even entertain the thought? Catholics need to be reminded that the Catholic Church is the "pillar and ground of truth". We have numerous promises from Christ Himself in Scripture stating that His Church would be free from error (known as the "Dogma of Infallibility of the Church"). To say that the Catholic Church has fooled the faithful all of these centuries into venerating a nonexistent St. Veronica is to deny these promises from Scripture. The infallibility of the Church is described clearly in "The Catechism Explained" (Spirago-Clarke), 1921:
"As Christ was not to remain always on earth, He appointed another infallible teacher, His Church, and provided it with the necessary gifts, especially with the assistance of the Holy Spirit. Christ conferred on His Apostles and their successors the teaching office and promised them His divine assistance. Thus He said at His ascension into heaven: "Going, teach ye all nations...and behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world" (Matt, xxviii. 19, 20) ; and at the Last Supper: "I will ask the Father and He shall give you another Paraclete that He may abide with you forever, the Spirit of truth"; (John xiv. 16, 17). To St. Peter He said: "The gates of hell shall not prevail against the Church" (Matt. xvi. 18). Since Christ is the Son of God, His words must be true. If the Church, in the carrying out of her teaching office, could lead man into error, Christ would not have kept His word. Hence St. Paul calls the Church "the pillar and ground of truth" (1 Tim. iii. 15), and the measures decided upon by the Apostles in the Council of Jerusalem were introduced with the words: "For it hath seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to us" (Acts xv. 28)."
Claims that the real “Veronica's veil" was actually a cloth found in Christ's tomb, where the image of Manoppello was miraculously transferred to it at the time of the Resurrection:
Veronica's veil is now suddenly claimed to be a cloth that was placed on the Shroud of Turin over the face of Jesus while in the tomb, and a "positive" of the image of the Holy Face supposedly transferred to the veil at the moment of Christ's Resurrection, while at the same time a "negative" was transferred to the shroud of Turin. Supporters of the Manoppello image refer to John 20:6 in Scripture as their proof, which mentions a separate cloth being found in Christ's tomb along with the shroud. How can so-called "experts" in our day make the giant leap tying the Manoppello image to the separate cloth mentioned in John 20:6? And are Catholics now to believe St. Veronica and her veil were fabricated for the last 20 centuries? This claim is not only completely unfounded, but we can see in the Stations of the Cross and other past writings from the Church that it has always been believed that St. Veronica wiped the face of Jesus as He carried His cross, and the miraculous image of His face was transferred to the veil at that time. Here is an example from the Manual of the Archconfraternity of the Holy Face (1887) showing clearly the belief in St. Veronica and her veil: 
Models of reparation, page 75: “Our Lord has Himself willed to point out to us, what is, in regard to Him, the best means of reparation, first by raising up upon the road to Calvary a pious woman who offered him the solace of which he stood in need. Veronica perceives him laden with his Cross, climbing the mountain of his sacrifice; his Face soiled, wounded, bleeding. Listening only to her compassion and her piety, the courageous Israelite braves the raillery other fellow citizens, and the brutality of the executioners, and, making her way through the crowd, draws nigh to him; she detaches the veil of fine Egyptian linen which covers her head, spreads it over the wounded Face of the Saviour, gently wipes with it his adorable Face, solacing, contorting and reanimating it...”

Claims that the original Veronica's veil in the Vatican (supposedly created in the tomb during the Resurrection) was stolen and swapped with a fake:
Most supporters of the image of Manoppello are also claiming the original of Veronica's veil (again, supposedly created in Christ's tomb during the Resurrection) was stolen from Rome in 1608, and swapped with a fake, and now the original was just supposedly discovered in Manoppello in the 1990s. Where do we see such a claim in the history of the teaching of the Church? The Vatican has always clearly stated the original Veronica's veil remains in St. Peter's Basilica, and this is confirmed in the quotes above and found in countless Catholic books. The veil's authenticity is also certainly confirmed by the miracle in the Vatican on January 6, 1849, witnessed by the clergy and crowds of people there for three hours, and documented in the Vatican daybook. Certainly God wouldn't grant such a fabulous miracle with a fake veil! Are we really to believe that Fr. Pfeiffer suddenly has inside information on a supposed theft of Veronica's veil in the Vatican over four centuries ago, but that the Vatican has been unaware of it all of these centuries? An additional claim by those holding this theory is that on the original image on the veil (supposedly stolen), the eyes were open, and the "fake" (now supposedly in the Vatican) has eyes closed. Not only is this completely unfounded, but it also raises the question, why would God have chosen to perform 30 years of miracles in the home of Leo Dupont with a copy of the supposed “fake" veil? These claims are obviously absurd and clearly contrary to what has always been taught and seen throughout the history of the Catholic Church. The entire existence of the Archconfraternity of the Holy Face hinges on the Church's teaching on St. Veronica and the veil with which she wiped the face of Jesus. It was a copy of the original veil made in the Vatican in the mid-1800s, obtained by Leo Dupont, that resulted in the 30 years of miracles in his parlor as mentioned in the book, "The Holy Man of Tours". But now Fr. Pfeiffer has come forward to deny all of this?

Claims that the image of Manoppello and the image of the Holy Face on the Shroud of Turin are identical:
There are claims from those supporting the image of Manoppello that supposed "experts" have investigated the image of Manoppello and the image of the Holy Face of Jesus on the Shroud of Turin, and are claiming they are identical. Looking at each image side-by-side directly below, the first question that comes to mind is, why then do the two images look so incredibly different? And why does the image of Manoppello look so different from every picture of Jesus ever created throughout the history of the Catholic Church? No doubt these supposed experts want us to think they see something with their expertise that no one else can see. If someone can claim the image of Manoppello is identical to the Holy Face on the Shroud of Turin, then we can say just about any face is identical, for who can tell for certain but only the supposed experts?

The original Holy Face devotion has been swept aside:
Of the Manoppello websites we have reviewed, only a few mention in passing the Holy Face devotions approved by the Church in prior centuries. Also, none of these websites even mention the miraculous Holy Face image through which 30 years of miracles occurred in the home of Leo Dupont (the image at the top of this article), which is the primary reason the Archconfraternity of the Holy Face was established in 1885. We have also noticed the Manoppello websites scarcely mention the reason God wanted the Holy Face devotion spread in the first place, which is to make reparation to God for the many sins of our day. Sister Mary of St. Peter quotes our Lord as referring to the Holy Face devotion that was about to be established throughout the world as "the most beautiful work under the sun", yet all of the Manoppello websites omit all of this information and would have us believe it is all obsolete, and that Manoppello is the new replacement?!

You cannot believe in the image of Manoppello and at the same time St Veronica and her veil in the Vatican - the two stories cannot coexist at the same time according to Fr. Pfeiffer. For one to believe the story attached to the image of Manoppello, they must also at the same time condemn the Stations of the Cross and the Holy Face devotion previously approved by the Church, as each of these are dependent on the existence of St. Veronica and the veil with which she wiped the face of Jesus. No one can possibly challenge the Stations of the Cross and Holy Face devotion approved by the Church and still call themselves Catholic.
We were contacted by Father Pfeiffer via e-mail when this article was first posted on our website in 2014. At that time we asked him for answers to the inconsistencies brought up in this article. He has not been heard from since.
The image of Manoppello has absolutely nothing to do with the Holy Face devotion approved by the Church in the 1800s. The image of Manoppello is at best a human work created in later centuries. Several people have written to us, repeating what is found on other websites, stating that the image of Manoppello is miraculous in itself because of its physical qualities (i.e. supposedly not having any pigments and visible from both sides). Even if this were true, such qualities would not be considered miraculous. With today's technology, almost anything is possible.
In the book "The Golden Arrow", Our Lord mentioned to Sister Mary of St. Peter numerous times that the devil was going to do all in his power to prevent the Holy Face devotion from being established. Considering all of the observations we make above, we believe the story behind the image of Manoppello was started by the devil himself. Catholics should give no attention to this hoax. The Catholic Church already has an approved Holy Face devotion and Archconfraternity approved by papal bull, confirmed through repeated first-class miracles, as detailed on this website. Only the devil himself would try to abolish the original devotion.

Immaculate Heart of Mary Apostolate
Last updated, November 2015