shroud_2For all eternity, God the Father loves His Son, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him” (cf. Mt. 17:5). In heaven, the angels and the saints and the whole heavenly court, continually behold and adore the most Holy Face of Jesus.

The patriarchs, prophets, and the faithful of all ages frequently mentioned the Face of God and His Presence interchangeably in the Old Testament.  The Face of God was being presented with sentiments of profound worship and pious awe for they were afraid to look on God.  But Moses was privileged to converse with God and saw Him face to face.

When the Son of God, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, became Man by the power of the Holy Spirit, God’s Face took a human face in Jesus.  From Jesus’ birth unto His passion, death, and resurrection, His most Holy Face became an object of admiration, contemplation, adoration, and love;  first to Mary and Joseph, the shepherds and the Magi, then to Jesus’ disciples and apostles, and to all others. 

“Even as many were amazed at him -  so marred was his look beyond that of man, and His appearance beyond that of mortals –  so shall He startle many nations, because of Him kings shall stand speechless; for those who have not been told shall see, those who have not heard shall ponder it” (Is. 52:14-15).

Hence, the devotion to the Holy Face is not new in the Church.  God the Father inaugurated It, and with the aid of our Blessed Mother, is being preserved for all ages by those who believe in Jesus, the Christ.

Theological analysis

In his 2005 book On the Way to Jesus Christ, Pope Benedict XVI performed an analysis of Holy Face devotion, and characterized it as having three separate components. The first element is DISCIPLESHIP, and the orientation of one’s life towards an encounter with Jesus. The second element is seeing Jesus in the EUCHARIST, the third element is ESCHATOLOGICAL, and is interwoven between the other two.

Referring to Matthew 25:31-36 Benedict XVI stated that the first element (i.e. discipleship) involves seeing Jesus in the face of the poor and the oppressed, and caring for them, but to properly see Jesus in the face of those in need, believers first need to become better acquainted with Jesus through the Eucharist. The second element involves relating the Passion of Jesus, and the suffering expressed by the images that represent his wounded face to the Eucharistic experience. Thus the devotion that starts with the images of the face of Jesus leads to his contemplation in the Eucharistic experience. The eschatological element then builds on awakening to Christ by contemplating His Face in the Eucharist. (cf.