Holy Face Part IV: A Work for the Whole Church11-min read (inc. footnotes)

This is a series on the Holy Face.

Part I Prayers of the devotion, history and ecclesiastical approvals.
Part II Sr Marie of St Peter’s revelations, blasphemy, communism, revolution and reparation.
Part III The object of this reparation – the Holy face.
Part IV The relevance of the revelations to the universal Church.
Part V The Holy Face and the defeat of Communism.

Announcement of the Third Rosary Crusade against our current tyranny, in reparation to the Holy Face for blasphemy

This is the fourth part of our series on the revelations of Our Lord Jesus Christ to Sister Marie of St Peter, a Carmelite nun of the Carmel of Tours, between 1843 and her death in 1848. These revelations, calling for a “work of reparation to the Holy Face”, were regarded as authentic by the Archbishop of Tours, Mgr Morlot, who personally interviewed Sister Marie on a number of occasions. They were formally approved in 1875 by a successor, Archbishop Charles Colet, after a thorough investigation by the archdiocese. The work of reparation was extended to the Universal Church by His Holiness Pope Leo XIII, by a papal brief dated 1 October 1885. The Roman Pontiffs continued to support the devotion, until finally, shortly before his death in 1958, Pope Pius XII established that the feast of the Holy Face would be celebrated universally each Shrove Tuesday.

In this fourth part, we explore further some of the key revelations made to Sister Marie of St Peter by Our Lord on the work of reparation to the Holy Face. We recommend that the earlier parts of this series are read before reading this instalment.

The revelation of the Vigil of Epiphany, 5 January 1846

The editor of the English translation of the papers relating to the devotion referred to the revelation of 5 January 1846 as “the loftiest of all His revelations of His Holy Face” as it was in this revelation that Our Lord held out the promise of salvation to even the most hardened blasphemers and enemies of the Church – specifically through the work of reparation to His Holy Face.

The revelation opened with Our Lord showing Sister Marie of St Peter a piece of land that the convent had recently bought with money, which he said was a symbol of that which the nuns “must buy for a large number of souls with the divine and mysterious coin of his adorable face.”[1]

“The Divine Shepherd”, said Sister Marie, “made me to understand that these, his poor sheep, had been bitten by the serpent who had infected them with the madness of blasphemy.” Our Lord appointed Sister Marie, as a shepherdess who through the prayers of reparation and the promotion of the work was to lead these sheep to “shelter… in the adorable wounds of His Sacred Heart” and to “brand them with the picture of the His Holy Face.”

Our Lord warned her that the role that he was giving would cause her much suffering because the herd of blasphemers “was in a special manner under the leadership of the prince of the demons, that is Lucifer himself.” He told her that other sinners were left to lesser demons but that “blasphemers are Lucifer’s own particular herd.”

Our Lord declared: 

“It is he who makes this work of reparation so difficult for you. But do not fear him. St Michael and the other holy angels will protect you. I give you my cross to use as a shepherd’s crook, and through this weapon you will become formidable to the demon.”

As he unfolded to her the special mission he had for her, she began to be fearful lest this was a deceitful revelation, but he commanded her:

“Be calm! Satan has too great a fear of the cross to mark any of his works with it!”

Sister Marie notes here that on another occasion Our Lord had rebuked her for listening to demonic temptations and mistrusting his mercy:

“Did I not myself give you the example of praying for blasphemers while I was on the cross?”

Sister Marie continues:

“After that our Saviour told me that he had great plans of showing mercy to this particular class of sinners, and He desired to use me as an instrument for the accomplishment of these plans, in spite of my unworthiness, through the inauguration of the work of reparation. He further explained to me that this work included not only reparation for what is generally called blasphemy, that is abusing the Holy Name of God, but that it also embraced reparation for all attacks against religion and against Holy Church, since these also constitute a form of blasphemy.”

The Holy Face devotion is therefore truly a devotion for our times, for the Church has never been attacked, desecrated, and degraded more than today.

The Holy Face devotion is for the whole Church and is a work of the whole Church

Close examination of the next series of revelations reveals a certain pattern in their sequence. First Our Lord emphasises the role of Sister Marie of St Peter, then a mission is extended to the rest of her community and to the Carmelite order as a whole. This is then extended to all priests and religious, and finally Our Lord speaks of the adoption of the devotion throughout the universal Church.

23 January 1846 – Our Lord confirms His mission to Sister Marie

After the reception of Holy Communion on 23 January 1846, the Feast of the Espousals of the Blessed Virgin, Our Lord gave Sister Marie a “terrifying” message that left her in tears. He said:

“The face of this nation has become unsightly in the eyes of my Father. The people are provoking the arm of His justice. To obtain mercy, offer therefore to the Eternal Father the face of His Son in which He takes His delights. Unless this be done, the nation will experience His just punishments. Yet the country’s deliverance lies in the Face of the Saviour. Behold here another proof of my goodness towards this nation which repays me with ingratitude!”

In her terror Sister Marie asked if it were really Our Lord speaking to her:

“Saviour, is it really you who gives me these revelations?”

He replied:

“Were you able to obtain them yourself at the time of your last Communion? I purposely abandoned you to profound darkness during the last eight days to help you realise that it is I who reveal myself to you.”

She was then moved to pray as follows:

“Eternal Father, we offer you the adorable face of your well-beloved son, for the honour and glory of your Holy Name, and for the salvation of our country. Amen.”

8 March 1846 – The work of reparation is extended to the Carmel of Tours

On the morning of 8 March 1846, Our Lord showed Sister Marie:

“His precious head crowned with thorns and His adorable face as a target at which are flung outrageous insults by the enemies of God and of the Church.”

Our Lord told her that he:

“[W]as seeking in our convent souls who would heal the wounds inflicted on His Face by pouring over them the wine of compassion and the oil of love, which is Reparation. Then Our Lord promised that if the community embraced this exercise of Reparation, He would give it a kiss of love which would be the pledge of the eternal kiss.”

Fearing once again that these were illusions, she “told Our Lord that it was my desire never to utter anything which might be only the simple effect of my imagination.” 

In response:

“The Divine Saviour urged me by every means to plead His cause, and to beg some relief to be given Him in His cruel sufferings. This day was for me, therefore, one full of anguish yet I considered myself favoured to be able to suffer, for Our Lord made known to me that sharing His pains, dividing them between us two, as it were, he felt greatly relieved.

“I therefore beg that the Prayers of Reparation be spread among our convents since they are so pleasing to Our Lord that they actually assuage His fearful grief.”

12 March 1846 – Our Lord calls on priests and religious to undertake the work of reparation

In the revelation on the morning of 12 March, Our Lord drew attention to two saints:

“The first of these was the pious Veronica […] who honoured His Sacred Humanity by wiping His adorable Face on the road to Calvary. The second was the Good Thief, who, from the cross as from a pulpit, openly defended the Saviour’s cause, confessing His Divinity, and glorifying Him while He was being blasphemed by the other thief and by the mob.”

Our Lord made Sister Marie to understand that he was presenting these two saints as models of the work of reparation: St Veronica as a model for female religious and St Dismas as a model for priests. She further explains:

“St Veronica is the model for persons of her own sex who are called to serve Him, not be preaching sermons, but by wiping His Holy Face in a spirit of reparation for blasphemies through their prayers, their praises and adoration.”

On the other hand:

“The Good Thief who so openly and boldly defended the Saviour’s cause on Calvary, is held up more especially as a model to priests who must now imitate him, and through their public preaching defend the cause of Reparation.”

Our Lord specifically drew Sister Marie’s attention to “the magnificent rewards He had immediately bestowed on these two persons for their services in His behalf.” These were as follows:

“To the first, that is to St Veronica, He gave a picture of Himself, by impressing the divine features of His Sacred Face on her veil. As for the other, that is the Good Thief, Our Lord conferred upon him that very day the gift of eternal blessedness, admitting him into the Kingdom of Heaven.”

Our Lord then extended promises to all who would promote the work of reparation:

“Our Lord promised me that all who defended His cause in the Work of Reparation, whether by their words or deeds, or by their prayers or by their writings, He would Himself defend before His Eternal Father, and that he would give them His Kingdom. Then it seemed to me that Our Lord urged me to extend this promise in His name to His priests, who through a crusade of preaching would advance the cause of reparation.

“As for His spouses who would strive to honor and wipe His Holy Face in a spirit of atoning for blasphemies, Our Lord promised that at their deaths He would purify the face of their souls by effacing the stains of sin, and that He would restore them to their original beauty.”

After that Our Lord said to her:

“Write down these promises for they will make a greater impression on souls than all you have already said regarding this Work, because these promises which speak of eternal rewards will greatly stimulate the interest of the faithful, which interest I do not condemn since I have given my life to merit the Kingdom of Heaven for sinners.”

And then he added:

“You will be guilty of an act of injustice if you do not make known these revelations!”

23 March 1846 – Our Lord calls for reparation to made by the whole Church

On 23 March 1846 Our Lord revealed further wonderful promises to Sister Marie regarding the work of reparation to His Holy Face:

“Those who embrace this Work with true piety will not be lost, for I myself will defend them before my Father and I will give them the Kingdom of Heaven. I will grant them the grace of final perseverance.”

And he added:

“Do not be astonished at these promises which I make in favour of those who devote themselves to repairing for blasphemies against God’s Holy Name through the devotion to my Sacred Face because this work of reparation is the very essence of charity, and those who possess charity possess life.”

Our Lord made clear that this devotion was for the whole Church and must be approved and promoted by the authority of the Church:

“He then made it clear that it was He Himself, and His Spouse, Holy Church, who had given birth to this work of reparation. But in order that this newly-born devotion should live and be properly received by the faithful, it must be established by the divine authority of our Holy Church, He told me, because without this the work would have no success. For this reason Our Lord desires to see this work of reparation built upon a solid foundation, and He said that its purpose, as well as all its precious advantages, must be made known far and wide.”

And thus, a sequence of revelations was concluded in which, beginning with Sister Marie herself, we can see Our Lord extending the scope of the work to the Carmel of Tours, the Carmelite order, priests and religious, and to the universal Church. It was in 1885 that Our Lord’s vicar on earth, the great pontiff Leo XIII, fulfilled the divine request and extended the work of reparation to the Universal Church.

So far in this series we have examined Our Lord’s revelation of the work of reparation for blasphemy and his revelation of the Holy Face as the “exterior object” of reparation. We have seen that this is a devotion intended for the whole Church, and that extraordinary promises are attached to it. In Part V we will discuss the final phase of Our Lord’s revelations: the providential role of His Holy Face in the combat and defeat of Communism.

This is a series on the Holy Face.

Part I Prayers of the devotion, history and ecclesiastical approvals.
Part II Sr Marie of St Peter’s revelations, blasphemy, communism, revolution and reparation.
Part III The object of this reparation – the Holy face.
Part IV The relevance of the revelations to the universal Church.
Part V The Holy Face and the defeat of Communism.

Announcement of the Third Rosary Crusade against our current tyranny, in reparation to the Holy Face for blasphemy


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[1] All quotations from the revelations are taken from The Golden Arrow: The Autobiography and Revelations of Sister Mary of St Peter on Devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus, ed. Dorothy Scallan, (New York, 1954), pp 165-174. This book was published with Nihil Obstatand Imprimatur.

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