Devotion to the Holy Face

Heaven’s Remedy against Blasphemy, Freemasonry and Communism

Mid-19th Century:
Sister Marie of Saint Peter and the Venerable Leo Dupont

In the mid-19th century, in Tours, France, a Carmelite nun named Sister Marie de Saint Pierre (1816-1848) received a private revelation from Our Lord that “Those who will contemplate the wounds on My Face here on earth, shall contemplate it radiant in heaven.” In her vision, she was transported to the road to Calvary and saw St. Veronica wiping away the spit and mud from His Holy Face with her veil. Sister realized that the taking of the Name of God in vain and all the other sacrilegious and blasphemous acts that men do fall on the Lord’s Face like that spit and mud that St. Veronica so lovingly wiped away. Jesus revealed to Sister that He desired devotion to His Holy Face in reparation for sacrilege, the profanation of Sundays, and blasphemy, which He described to her as being like a “poisoned arrow.” To her He dictated the prayer which has become known as “The Golden Arrow” and which honors His Holy Name.

At around the time Sister was receiving her visions, into Tours from Martinique moved the saintly Monsieur Leo Dupont (1797-1876), a man whose young wife had died and whose daughter God also took in this interesting way: she’d begun moving about in “fashionable circles” and taking on a worldly air that caused M. Dupont to worry about her eternal welfare, so much so that he prayed, “My God, if You foresee that my daughter will part from You, I ask you to take her with You so that she will not be separated from You.” His daughter soon died of typhoid. Though tormented by his temporal loss, he kept his faith in God and nurtured it.

He soon heard of Sr. Mary of St. Peter’s efforts to spread devotion to the Holy Face and, inspired by the Holy Ghost through her example, decided to dedicate his life to this work. He kept an oil lamp burning continuously before an image of the Holy Face, and his home became a center of pilgrimage when people began to gather to pray before the image, with many receiving miraculous cures through the application of his lamp’s oil to their skin. He went on to establish the Archconfraternity of the Holy Face, and was later recognized by the Church as a “Venerable.” He is now known familiarly as “The Holy Man of Tours.”

Late 19th Century:
St. Therese of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face

In yet another sense, devotion to the Holy Face inspires us to know how to imitate Him best, teaches us how to “put on Christ.” What did people see when they saw Our Blessed Lord? The Prophet Isaias tells us:

Isaias 52:14, 53:2-3
As many have been astonished at thee, so shall His Visage be inglorious among men, and His form among the sons of men… And He shall grow up as a tender plant before Him, and as a root out of a thirsty ground: there is no beauty in Him, nor comeliness: and we have seen Him, and there was no sightliness, that we should be desirous of him: Despised, and the most abject of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with infirmity: and His look was as it were hidden and despised, whereupon we esteemed Him not.

It is this sense of the Holy Face devotion – meditating on the despised, suffering Countenance that hid His Divinity from those who had no eyes to see – that inspired the spirituality of St. Therese of Lisieux, “The Little Flower” whose religious name was “St. Therese of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face.” Contemplating His “hiddenness” and the Mystery of His having humbled Himself as He did by becoming a Child and by suffering for us is the source of St. Therese’s “Little Way” – her method of spiritual discipline that teaches us we don’t need to be great in the world’s terms in order to become a Saint. No matter where we are, no matter our talents or intellect, we can love. Hidden away herself, in her Norman convent, she wrote of the Prophet’s words these words of Isaias: “He was without splendor, without beauty, His Face was hidden, as it were, and His person was not acknowledged”; one finds in them the whole foundation of my devotion to the Holy Face, or to say it better, the foundation of all my piety. I also desire myself to be without splendor, without beauty, to tread alone the wine in the press, unknown by every creature.

And later:

Jesus set the book of nature before me and I saw that all the flowers He has created are lovely. The splendor of the rose and the whiteness of the lily do not rob the little violet of its scent nor the daisy of its simple charm. I realized that if every tiny flower wanted to be a rose, spring would lose its loveliness and there would be no wildflowers to make the meadows gay.

It is just the same in the world of souls – which is the garden of Jesus. He has created the great saints who are like the lilies and the roses, but He has also created much lesser saints and they must be content to be the daisies or the violets which rejoice His eyes whenever He glances down. Perfection consists in doing His will, in being that which He wants us to be.

St. Therese did no one particular thing that one would point at and say, “See? Clearly she is a great Saint!” Her greatness was not in what she did so much as how she did it: with humility, with acceptance of suffering, and all for the love of Christ. She died of tuberculosis at the age of 24, telling a Sister a few months before her death that she would spend her Heaven doing good upon the earth, and that it will be like “a shower of roses.” She left behind her autobiography (“Story of a Soul”) and poetry and prayers, among which are her Canticle and Prayer to the Holy Face.

St. Therese’s Prayer to the Holy Face

O Jesus, Who in Thy bitter Passion didst become “the most abject of men, a man of sorrows,” I venerate Thy Sacred Face whereon there once did shine the beauty and sweetness of the Godhead … but now it has become for me as if it were the Face of a leper! Nevertheless, under those disfigured features, I recognize Thy Infinite Love and I am consumed with the desire to love Thee and make Thee loved by all men.

The tears which well up abundantly in Thy Sacred Eyes appear to me as so many precious pearls that I love to gather up, in order to purchase the souls of poor sinners by means of their infinite value. O Jesus, Whose adorable Face ravished my heart, I implore Thee to fix deep within me Thy Divine Image and to set me on fire with Thy Love, that I may be found worthy to come to the contemplation of Thy glorious Face in Heaven. Amen.