NOTICE: I am a practicing Catholic, active and in good-standing with my local diocese, who professes faith and loyalty to the Church. This ministry - my "little work" - is strictly a personal expression of that faith and loyalty, and not an officially recognized ministry in the Diocese of Honolulu.

~ Peter, Ministry Administrator

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Holy Face Medal: Heaven's Coin

"As in a kingdom one can procure all
that is desired with a coin stamped with
the King's effigy, so in the Kingdom of
Heaven one will obtain all that one
desires with the precious coin of my
Holy Face."

~ Our Lord to Sr. Marie of St. Peter,
Carmelite Mystic (d. 1848)

The Holy Face Medal, as revealed by Heaven
to Bl. Maria Pierina de Micheli.

Family and Friends who know me very well are aware this author is an enthusiastic devotee of the Holy Face Medal.  I wrote a little about the history of the Holy Face Devotion this past July 2011 (click on this link to see the post: Holy Face Devotion), but with the recent celebration on September 11th of the Feast of one of the devotion's most ardent promoters - Bl. Maria Pierina de Micheli (a.k.a. Madre Pierina) - I felt inspired to share more about this special medal our Lord requested through his messenger, Madre Pierina.

A portrait of Jesus painted circa the 6th
Century (left) and the Holy Face of our
Lord, as miraculously imprinted on the
Shroud of Turin (right).

Again, devotion to the Holy Face is not new to the Church; the familiar image of the bearded face of Christ has its origin in the earliest days of Christian history, as confirmed by ancient paintings discovered on the walls of the Roman catacombs.  But the devotion has taken on a whole new significance in the 20th century through the efforts of Madre Pierina and her congregation, the Daughters of the Immaculate Conception of Buenos Aires.

From her childhood and throughout her lifetime, Madre Pierina experienced several mystical visits from our Lord and the Blessed Virgin, who requested that she promote the image of the suffering face of Jesus Christ as a visual reminder of how sin grievously offends God... and how there is an urgent need for reparation.  During the first Friday of Lent in 1936, Jesus reportedly appeared to the devout nun to request the following:

"I wish that my face, which reflects my
soul's deepest anguish, the sorrow and
love of my heart, be better honored.  He,
who contemplates me (the Holy Face),
consoles me."

In particular, the Lord asked for a new sacramental - a medal somewhat resembling a coin - to which he attached special graces and blessings for those who would wear it in the spirit of prayerful atonement.  The front of the medal is imprinted with an image of the Holy Face (based on the image from the Shroud of Turin) surrounded by the inscription:

Illumina Domine Vultum
Tuum Super Nos
(Shine your Face upon us, Lord)

... while the reverse of the medal displays the Blessed Sacrament surrounded with:

Mane Nobiscum Domine
(Stay with us, Lord)

The Holy Face Medal, as it came to be called, spread rapidly with innumerable favors being attributed to its pious use.  Through Madre Pierina, Jesus conveyed the following promise to all peoples who will exercise this devotion:

"I promise personal and spiritual protection
to all who venerate this medal."

In a feeble attempt to obstruct Madre Pierina’s mission the devil often harassed her - physically attacking her and setting fire to the supply of Holy Face pictures she kept on hand for distribution. But the brave nun wasn’t easily deterred by the evil one's assaults. Instead, she heroically prayed, sacrificed, and persevered in the mission entrusted to her by our Lord and the Blessed Virgin, while also scaling the heights of holiness. Her sanctity was attested to by her worthy confessor - the Ven. Hildebrand Gregori - and others who knew her closely. She died in 1945, perfectly fulfilling the personal sentiments that she had written earlier in 1941: "I feel a deep longing to live always united to Jesus, to love him intensely because my death can only be a transport of love with my spouse, Jesus."

 A portrait of Bl. Maria Pierina,
the Apostle of the Holy Face,
and 1st Class Relic of the
Blessed gifted to this ministry
by her congregation.

Madre Pierina was declared a Blessed by the Catholic Church on May 30, 2010, sparking renewed interest in her life and work. The message entrusted to her by Heaven has inspired this author to wear the Holy Face Medal (for over 15 years now, as of this writing) and it has proven to be a source of benediction and spiritual comfort for me.  I encourage all Catholics (and even non-Catholics) to wear it, too.  For more detailed information about the Holy Face Devotion and Madre Pierina, visit the website of the Holy Face Association: http://www.holyface.com/... or to download a printable, introductory brochure about this devotion, click here.

I close this post by sharing more promises attached to this medal and devotion.  The following were given by Our Lady during one of her private apparitions to Bl. Maria Pierina de Micheli.

"All who wear a medal like this and
make, if possible, every Tuesday visit
to the Blessed Sacrament, in order to
repair the outrages to the Holy Face
of my son, Jesus, received during his
Passion and every day in the Holy
Eucharist, will be strengthened in
faith... prompted to defend it... and
will overcome all difficulties internal
and external.  Furthermore, they will
have a peaceful death under the
loving gaze of my Divine Son."

~ Our Lady to Madre Pierina,
May 1936

NOTICE:  To download a free introductory pamphlet on Sacramentals, in general, click here.

*** This lay-ministry currently has a limited supply of gold-colored aluminum Holy Face Medals, which are being offered to the readers of this blog at no charge (Hawaii or US-mainland residents only).  If you would like to receive a medal (one medal per person, per request), please email me - Peter - with your full name and mailing address at guadalupe_house@yahoo.com (indicate 'Holy Face Medal Request' in the subject line).  As an added blessing, the Holy Face Medal will be prayed over and touched to the relic of Bl. Maria Pierina de Micheli pictured above before being mailed to the requestor.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Maria Bambina: Celebrating Mary's Nativity & Infancy

The miracle image of the Maria Bambina,
as venerated in Milan, Italy

Catholics throughout the world are familiar with images of the Christ Child, most especially with replicas of the miraculous image of the Infant Jesus of Prague. But not many are aware that there’s a counterpart Baby-Mary statue in Milan, Italy, that’s affectionately called the “Maria Bambina” (Infant Mary). Like the famous Prague statue, the Maria Bambina is also molded from wax and enjoys a solid reputation as a channel of heavenly grace, especially healing.

The life-sized image of the Maria Bambina was originally molded by a saintly Poor Clare nun named Sr. Chiara Isabella Fornari from Todi, Italy. Sr. Chiara Isabella was a talented artist who also happened to be a great mystic. She experienced special favors from the Lord, including the invisible Stigmata, which were accompanied by a set of wounds around her brow, symbolizing the crown of thorns worn by our Lord. When she died in 1744, she left this world with a firmly established reputation for holiness and miracles. 

Sr. Chiara Isabella’s tender devotion to Our Lady and the mystery of her holy infancy inspired her to sculpt the wax image, which was then venerated in her convent. Before her death she bequethed the Maria Bambina to a Capuchin Convent in Milan after which it passed from one custodian to another until it was received in 1876 by the Sisters of Charity within the same city.  By that time, the image was worn with age and had become an unattractive grayish-yellow color, but the Sisters continued to privately honor it each September 8th - the Feast of Our Lady's Nativity - despite its homely appearance.

Sr. Chiara Isabella Fornari, a Poor
Clare Mystic & Stigmatic 

In September 1884, a series of extraordinary events occurred which brought the Maria Bambina into the public spotlight. A paralyzed sister, Sr. Giuseppina Woinovich, asked the superior for the image to be brought to her bedside; a request, which the superior granted. The statue remained with the afflicted sister overnight and before being returned to its storage chest, the superior was inspired to bring the image to another seriously ill sister who was suffering in the infirmary. The nun - a novice named Giulia Macario - affectionately cradled the image in her arms and fervently implored Our Lady’s intercession; she was immediately cured. Within the next few months, Sr. Giuseppina was also miraculously healed of her paralysis through Mary's intercession, along with another gravely ill Sister.  The community of nuns marveled at all the heavenly graces that they received through the Maria Bambina, but they were unaware that Our Lady had yet another wonder in store for them...

On January 16, 1885, the Sisters of Charity noted that the statue itself had begun a remarkable transformation - gradually, within a few days, its unattractive grayish hue changed to a rosy flesh-color, while its roughly-molded features took on a charming and exquisite life-like appearance. The miracle make-over was strikingly obvious, and the effects of it can still be seen today.

A closer view of the life-like features
of the Maria Bambina.

Not surprisingly, news of the miraculous image spread outside of the convent walls, which quickly established the fame of the Maria Bambina in Italy. Today, the image is kept in an ornate, cradle-like shrine in the motherhouse chapel of the Sisters of Charity and is venerated in a special manner each year on September 8th. The statue is so well-known in the region, the good Sisters have become synonymous with it and are now also referred to as the “Maria Bambina Sisters” because of their custodial duties with the image.

A statuette - representing the infant
Mary - that was gifted to my ministry
by a friend in California.
A Prayer to the Infant Mary

Sweet Child Mary, destined to be the Mother of God and our sovereign and loving Mother, by the prodigies of grace you lavish upon us, mercifully listen to my humble supplications. In the needs which press upon me from every side and especially in my present tribulation, I place all my trust in you.

O Holy Child, by the privileges granted to you alone and by the merits which you have acquired, be merciful to me this day. Show that the source of spiritual favors and the continuous benefits which you dispense are inexhaustible, because your power with the Heart of God is unlimited. Deign through the immense profusion of graces with which the Most High has enriched you from the first moment of your Immaculate Conception, grant me, O Celestial Child, my petition, and I shall eternally praise the goodness of your Heart.  Amen.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

First Saturday Parish Rosary at St. Anthony's Church, 9/3/2011

September's First Saturday Rosary

The First Saturday Monthly Rosary was again prayed in our parish's day chapel... the small group of regular participants who came together to pray the rosary did so with sincere faith and devotion, and we were also joined by several new faces in the pews, which is always a welcomed sight.  May our prayers for peace continue to bear many positive fruits in our lives, as well as in our parish and neighboring communities.

The next First Saturday Rosary will be prayed on 10/1/2011 at 4:30pm. The regularly scheduled Saturday evening Vigil Mass will follow at 5:00pm in the main church.  Come and pray with us in October - the month of the Holy Rosary! - in the special presence of rare, authenticated relics of the Blessed Mother's veil (Ex Velo) and dress (Ex Camisia) - all are welcomed!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Saint of the Month - September, 2011: Blessed Colomba Gabriel

Bl. Colomba Gabriel
Advocate of Poor Laborers
Memorial: September 24th

Originally from Poland, this foundress of a thriving modern congregation was actually once a nun in her own homeland, but through the mysterious design of Divine Providence, she found herself led to Rome where her spirit of charity was greatly needed during her lifetime... and even beyond.

Born on May 3, 1858, Janina Matylda Gabriel was from a wealthy and influential family from the Polish town of Ivano-Frankivsk (now part of Ukraine). As a youthful socialite she was described as being devout, intelligent, and attractive, but despite the prospects of a glittery future that her rank accorded her, she longed for something much more meaningful. In 1882, Janina left her privileged life behind to follow her dream of becoming a religious; she joined the Benedictine Order in Lviv and took the name, Sr. Colomba.

In Lviv, Colomba's piety and leadership qualities quickly distinguished her from her companions and the young nun was elected to the office of Abbess. All seemed well at first until the evil one made his presence known by stirring up discord among the Benedictine Sisters. The jealousy of a few unworthy nuns lead to columny and intense conflict within the community, and Sr. Colomba discerned in the situation a sign for her to leave her monastery to follow another inspiration from the Lord. So in 1900 she left for Rome, Italy, where she lived for a short while before rejoining the Benedictines in nearby Subiaco; she was never to see her home-country again.

In 1902, Colomba returned to Rome where she further discerned an urgent need to assist naïve factory workers who were exploited in the city, especially impoverished young girls. She began a charitable apostolate that involved the opening of a small 'home', which provided shelter, protection, education, and food to poor laborers. The work attracted other pious women and, as the apostolate expanded, Sr. Colomba organized her growing band of helpers into a formal religious congregation that she named the Benedictine Sisters of Charity.

The new foundress - now 'Mother Colomba' - served as the capable superior of the congregation, and for the rest of her life, continued to work tirelessly in opening one home after another throughout Italy. She was sustained in her difficult mission by deep faith and an intense prayer life, and generously motivated by her sincere desire to assist the needy and the poor.

When her death occurred on September 24, 1926, Mother Colomba was mourned by the populace of Rome, who had gratefully adopted the Polish noblewoman as one of their own. The Church later recognized the sanctity of the foundress by Beatifying her in 1993. Her body is reportedly incorrupt and is enshrined and venerated in the motherhouse of her congregation in Rome.

A Reflection:
'Ora et Labora (Pray and Work)' ~ The Motto of the Benedictine Order
A Short Prayer:
Dear Lord, following the example of your servant, Bl. Colomba Gabriel, help us to also fill our days with not just work, but also with prayer.  Amen.