Devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus

It’s nearly impossible to not stop and pause when viewing images of St. Veronica’s Veil and the Shroud of Turin – pieces of cloth attributed as fabric that touched the suffering and dead Jesus.  While many might wonder about their authenticity, the images of the face imprinted on these pieces of fabric often prompt one to recall … to feel for a brief moment … the agony of Christ’s last hours.

Sr. Marie de Saint-Pierre
In the mid-1800s, a Carmelite nun from Tours, France, Sr. Marie de Saint-Pierre, reported having had revelations from Christ – that she was to start a new devotion, a devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus.  This devotion was professed as designed to encourage prayer - especially on behalf of those who had embraced sinful lives; that they would instead grow closer to the Lord.  At first, a few took St. Marie de Saint-Pierre’s announcements as authentic and tried praying in honor of the Holy Face of Jesus.  Miracles began to happen and the devotion grew.  In 1885 Pope Leo XIII recognized the revelations, and in 1958 Pope Pius XII declared a special feast day for the devotion:  the day before Ash Wednesday, also known as Shrove Tuesday, or Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday).

Prayers in Honor of the Holy Face of Jesus
Many prayers in honor of the Holy Face of Jesus can be found in a variety of resources, however, whether you use a pre-prepared prayer, or a personal one that comes from your heart, the main point of the devotion is to pray for sinners, and to ask for help for personal problems.  The following are just a handful of prayers connected to the devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus: 

  • May the most holy, most sacred, most adorable, most incomprehensible and unutterable Name of God be always praised, blessed, loved, adored and glorified, in Heaven, on earth, and under the earth, by all the creatures of God, and by the Sacred Heart of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar.      Amen.   (Golden Arrow Prayer)

  • Eternal Father, I offer You the adorable Face of Your Beloved Son for the honor and glory of Your Name, for the conversion of sinners and the salvation of the dying.        Amen.    

  • Adorable Face of Jesus, my only love, my light, and my life, grant that I may know You, love You, and serve You alone, that I may live with You, of You, by You, and for You.     Amen.     (From a novena to the Holy Face.)

  • May the light of Your Face, O Lord, shine upon us.     (From a Holy Face Scapular.)
St. Veronica and the Holy Face
Saint Veronica is deeply connected to the devotion of the Holy Face due to the kindness she showed the Lord on His way to Calvary, consequently receiving a miraculous image of the suffering face of Christ on the veil she used to clean his face – a beautiful relic now kept at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.  Saints Joseph of Arimathea, Nicodemus, and the Holy Women of Galilee can also be considered forerunners of the devotion of the Holy Face for their participation in Jesus’ burial.

St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus and Holy Face
St. Thérèse and the Holy Face of Jesus
St. Thérèse the Little Flower, another French Carmelite nun from the 19th century, felt deeply drawn to this devotion to the Holy Face; it resonated with one of her favorite Bible verses:

He was spurned and avoided by men, 
a man of suffering, accustomed to infirmity,
One of those from whom men hide their faces, spurned,
and we held him in no esteem.
~ Isaiah 53:3
On the day St. Thérèse received the Carmelite Habit, she incorporated this special devotion into her religious name:  Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face. 

Ways to Participate in the Devotion to the Holy Face
If you feel drawn to the Holy Face of Jesus and would like to try to deepen your faith through this devotion, there are many ways to do so.  Below are just a few suggestions: 

 ·        Keep a copy of an image of Holy Face of Jesus in your home.  Many images can be purchased online inexpensively, or some public domain online images can be printed.  Use the picture to help remind you to pray, to remember the suffering Jesus endured for you, and to give you hope during your own times of personal suffering. 

·        Some traditions have counted Tuesday as a special day for this devotion.  Consider visiting an Adoration Chapel each Tuesday for a time of prayer and meditation on the Holy Face of Jesus.  

·        Say a prayer in honor of the Holy Face of Jesus.  Think of someone you know who is far from God and devote your Holy Face prayer to soul of this person, and for a special need of your own.

·        Be a St. Veronica to someone.  If you are aware of someone who is suffering, imitate this kind saint by gently offering a small bit of relief. 

·        Send a letter to the Archconfraternity of the Holy Face in Tours, France, requesting that your name be added to its list of  members:

Centre Spiritual De La Sainte Face
8 Rue Bernard-Palissy
F 37000
Tours, France

·        Do something special on the Feast of the Holy Face – the day before Ash Wednesday.  If you like to pass out Mardi Gras beads or treats, maybe pass put out Holy Face medals or holy cards as well. 

There is no obligation for Catholics to embrace and participate in this devotion; it is simply an optional way to spend a bit of extra time with the Lord. 

 They spat upon Him and took the reed
and kept striking Him on the head.  
~ Matthew 27:30

The Face of Christ
by Jonathan Byrne

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Holy Face.  About the Devotion.  Retrieved May 15, 2012 from  
Holy Face Devotion.  Holy Face History and Timeline.  Retrieved May 15, 2012 from

 Immaculate Heart of Mary Apostolate.  Holy Face Devotion.  Propagating the Holy Face Devotion on your own.  Retrieved May 15 from

 Martin, Thérèse.  Story of a Soul.  Washington, D.C.: ICS Publications, 1976.

 Our Lady of the Rosary Library.  Devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus.  Retrieved May 15, 2012 from

 Trigilio, Rev. John  Jr. and Kenneth Brighenti, Rev.  Catholicism for Dummies.  Hoboken, NJ: Wiley Publishing, Inc., 2003.