This old statue of the Sacred Heart had originally been carved by the Stuflesser studio of Italy; in a 'modern' style. To this end, the face seemed to have a slightly flattened appearance. While working on the statue I was surprised to find that the mouth had teeth; not because I haven't encountered statues with teeth before - but because a previous decorative artist, had painted them out. In doing so the lips had acquired a pursed appearance, the 'lipstick' had been applied in a lop-sided fashion.
As I prepared the "Before" image (shown left) to make it blog -friendly, google helpfully offered me an identifying Tag - namely 'Guy Fawkes'.
I hadn't seen that particular association before, but looking at the image now, the paintwork bore a resemblance to the plastic masks of Guy Fawkes which become available in shops early November.
While Guy Fawkes was fighting for the oppressed, he could hardly be first choice to depict the visage of Jesus Christ.
The Holy face of Manoppello
The first time I visited the church to which the statue belonged, I noticed that aside the confessionals was a carved plaque of the Holy face of Jesus wearing the crown of thorns. I mused if there had ever been a devotion to the Holy face practiced there in the past, or, it may have just been placed there so as to balance the image of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour on the opposite side of the church. It was strange to me that as I restored the statue, the face began to look familiar. At first I couldn't quite place where I had seen it before, as there are many thousands if not millions of depictions of Jesus worldwide. Then I recalled an ancient image associated with Jesus passion and crucifixion - it was the holy face of Manopello. The image is set in an early medieval frame and its linen fabric gossamer thin, semi- transparent in fact. This fragility seems to have contributed to the slight distortion of the features as it was stretched to fill the frame. The elusive image can be seen in glancing sunlight, and appears on both sides of the fabric.
I wondered if the artist at Stuflesser had seen the image and attempted to replicate it, in an attempt to truly represent an authentic image of Jesus? One problem is that the image was found to have slightly distorted within the frame.
If this was the case, the previous heavy paintwork had obscured details which the carpenter had thought important; in providing an icon not only of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, but also his Holy Face. Perhaps the original artist was a Catholic, who understood the significance of the two devotions. Perhaps he was familiar with the revelations of Sr. Mary of Saint Peter?
The Holy Face & Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Honoring the Holy Face of Jesus is an ancient devotion, St. Therese of Liseux is known for her devotion to the Holy face and often depicted holding such an image. (see my sketch below...)
Yet the Discalced Carmelite who introduced the devotion in its most recent form, is sister Mary of Saint Peter who is a contemporary of St. Therese.
Pertaining to the statue I had restored, interestingly Sr. Mary of St. Peter explains the connection between Jesus’ Sacred Heart and His Holy Face:
“The Holy Face is a picture of the Divinity outraged by the opprobrium of blasphemies, as the Sacred Heart is a picture of the immense love of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist.”
Throughout her life, Sr. Mary of St. Peter (1816 -1848) received divine revelations from our Lord concerning the Work of Reparation he was entrusting to her. The two main offenses that were repeatedly mentioned as causing our Lord so much pain included
2. The profanation of the Holy Days of our Lord.
These 'approved' revelations are considered a remedy against modern atheistic communism. They have significance for the times we now find ourselves living in; where society it seems is intent on erasing God from all institutions.
More about the devotion to the Holy Face