A true-meaning-of-Christmas gift came my way this morning via email, signed “Love from Rome -Paul Badde.”
My eyes blurred with tears when I opened the magnificent photograph of the Christ Child arriving just two days before Christmas Eve. The photograph, taken by best-selling Face of God author Paul Badde in the museum adjacent to the Basilica of Saint Francis, in Assisi, Italy, depicts a painting dating back to the 15th century from the school of Pier Francesco Fiorentino.
This is the image of the Child Jesus chosen as the image for a Christmas greeting by the Pope, and the one seen by millions of Italians on the cover of St. Francis Patron Saint of Italy magazine in 2011.
“Here I send you some fine pictures as a little gift for Christmas (with Christ dressed in Byssus as it seems)”, my hero of authors Paul Badde wrote in this morning’s email.
Byssus is sea silk, on which The Holy Face of Manoppello appears. (Face of God)
I knew the moment I saw the photograph that this was the Christmas image I wanted to send to all from the front page of Canada Free Press (CFP) this Christmas.
It was Badde’s masterful book, The Face of God that kept me enrapt in 2010. It was his most recent book, The True Icon that I couldn’t put down in 2011.
Seasoned Investigative journalists and historians, of which Badde is both make authors whose books are gripping reads.
In The Face of God, Badde takes readers down through the centuries following an historic trail sometimes lost and having to be picked up again in finding the truth behind the Holy Face of Manoppello, a relic recently rediscovered and honoured as a burial cloth of Christ bearing the image of the Holy Face in a quaint and remote Italian village time had all but forgotten.
In The True Icon: From the Shroud of Turin to the Veil of Manoppello, Badde takes readers on an engrossing journey through Europe and the Holy Land as he traces the rich history of the Shroud of Turin. The book is rich in photographs depicting icons and cathedrals dating from ancient times.
Rich in true life-characters Badde met along the way during his long dedicated search, it was one of them in The Face of God who proved that when the image on the Veil of Manoppello is laid over the image of the face on the Shroud of Turin, the two images match perfectly. Spine-tinglingly, it is the same face.
No one better better describes both books than Paul MacLeod, a retired journalist living in Belmont, Geelong, Australia, who describes them as “a gripping read”.
“They almost read like detective stories, and have been described as “cultural thrillers”,” MacLeod wrote. “It was after reading the first of these books that Pope Benedict XVI decided, at the beginning of his pontificate, to visit the shrine of the Holy Face at Manoppello, in the Abruzzi region of Italy. Since then, the Pope has increasingly spoken of “the face of Christ”.
“Even the current Year of Grace in Australia has a theme ‘Contemplate the face of Christ’’”.
It is not just the humble McLeod in Canada and the celebrated and esteemed MacLeod in Australia who term Badde’s work, heroic.
“The German theologian Klaus Berger, a friend of the Pope, has said of the historian and journalist, Paul Badde: “Nobody has ever dared to go deeper into the Holy Sepulchre than Paul Badde.” (Paul MacLeod, Inside the Vatican, Aug-Sept., 2012).
In a troubled world where so many yearn for answers, nothing is searched for more earnestly than the “Face of God”:
“If we truly want to know the Face of God, all we have to do is contemplate the Face of Jesus! In his Face we truly see who God is and what he looks like!” - Pope Benedict XVI, September 6, 2006, Rome.
Meanwhile, nothing speaks more poignantly to me of the true meaning of Christmas than the photograph of the Christ Child painting sent to me this morning.
It is here for all to see with a wish to one and all reading Canada Free Press for a Blessed, Meaningful Merry Christmas!
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Judi McLeod is an award-winning journalist with 30 years’ experience in the print media. A former Toronto Sun columnist, she also worked for the Kingston Whig Standard. Her work has appeared on Rush Limbaugh, Newsmax.com, Drudge Report, Foxnews.com, and Glenn Beck.
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