The First See is judged by no one

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Regarding the latest effort of the prideful malcontents in the universal Church (termed ‘signatories’), the Pied Pipers who have released their so-called Open Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church during Easter Week, one thing needs to be crystal clear in the minds of the faithful. It is this:

The First See is judged by no one

(#1404, The Code of Canon Law of the Catholic Church, 1983).

Like the Master, the servant. May God have mercy on the souls of these 21st century ‘Sanhedrin’ who, in reality, under the excuse of the “primacy of salvation of souls,” desire nothing else than to glorify themselves and elect their own (anti-)pope – a desire right out of the heart of Satan disguised as an angel of light. These individuals are now subject to censure and interdict as per #1372 / #1373 of The Code of Canon Law.

Relics of the Passion – 9 – The Stone of the Anointing and the Holy Sepulcher

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From the Stone of the Anointing and the Holy Sepulcher

The Stone of the Anointing

The Stone of the Anointing can be found inside the main entrance to the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher,[1] Jerusalem. It was placed there after the reconstruction of the church had been finished in 1810 (Murphy-O’Connor, 1998).

According to tradition, the slab of reddish Stone is located in commemoration on the spot where Saint Joseph of Arimathea had prepared the Body of Jesus Christ for burial (See the Holy Land, 2017). It belongs conjointly to the Armenian Orthodox,[2] the Roman Catholics[3] and the Greek Orthodox[4] that are at the Sepulcher, all of whom were indicated as primary custodians of the church in the firman[5] of the Ottoman Sultan, Osman III, in 1863[6] (ibid.; Morio, 2014). Above is a photograph of a relic from the Stone of the Anointing in a sealed hand-carved, gilt-bronze reliquary that comes from the Custodian Franciscans serving the Holy Land.

The Holy Sepulcher

The Holy Sepulcher is the tomb where Christ was buried for three days before His Resurrection. It is located 295 feet (90 meters) northwest of Golgotha.[7] The tomb had been provided for the burial of Christ by Saint Joseph of Arimathea, a member of the Sanhedrin who had quietly disagreed with their condemnation of the Savior.

The tomb, which has a bed of limestone (Romey, 2016; Pells, 2016) upon which the Body of Christ had been placed, is enclosed inside the Kouvouklion, a small chapel that is located in the Aedicule of the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher. The bed had been covered for centuries by a marble slab with a cross on it, which had been reportedly engraved by the Crusaders. Above is a photograph of a small stone from the Holy Sepulcher in the same sealed bronze reliquary that comes from the Custodian Franciscans in Jerusalem.

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[1] Also known as the Church of the Resurrection.

[2] The Armenian (Saint James Brotherhood; 2011).

[3] The Franciscans of the Order of Friars Minor (Custodia Terrae Sanctae, 2019). Known locally as ‘Latins.’

[4] The Jerusalem Patriarchate (Brotherhood of the All-Holy Sepulcher; 2012).

[5] A firman was a royal decree issued during the time of the Ottoman empire. The 1863 firman confirmed that which had been decreed in the firman of 1749.

[6] The Status Quo (United Nations Conciliation Commission, 1949).

[7] The place of the skull.

Relics of the Passion – 8 – The Shroud

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From the Burial Shroud

The Burial Shroud is a linen cloth of 14 feet 5 inches long by 3 feet 7 inches wide (4.4 x 1.1 meters). Imprinted on it is the negative image of the Body of Jesus Christ (Adler, 2002), which had resulted after the Savior was wrapped in it for His entombment after the Crucifixion.

The Shroud is known to have been in the possession of the Byzantine emperors until the Sack of Constantinople, which occurred in April 1204[1] (Poulle, 2009). Boniface I[2] and his chief counselor, Othon de la Roche,[3] took the Shroud from the Church of Saint Mary of Blachernae together with other relics and kept them in Athens (Anon., n. d.; Legrand, 1982; Piana, 2014; Rinaldi, 1983; Villehardouin, 2007). But after that no mention of it has been reliably documented for another two centuries.

The knight, Geoffroy I de Charny,[4] and his wife, Jeanne de Vergy,[5] were noted as the new owners of the Shroud in the 14th century, where it was preserved from 1360 to 1389 at Monfort-en-Auxois. Their great-granddaughter, Marguerite de Charny,[6] gave the Shroud to Louis I of the Casa di Savoia[7] in 1453 (Chevalier, 1900; Dubarle, 1993), in exchange for the castle of Varambon and monetary assets. The Savoyards in turn presented it to the Holy See in 1983.

The Shroud is woven in a 3-to-1 herringbone twill pattern made of flax fibrils. The negative image imprinted on it has been described as that of

A front and back view of a naked man with his hands folded across his groin. The two views are aligned along the midplane of the body and point in opposite directions. The front and back views of the head nearly meet at the middle of the cloth (ibid.).

The burial cloth of Christ can be found enclosed in a bullet-proof glass case at the Cappella della Sacra Sindone in Turin, Italy. This chapel had been built in the 17th century by Carlo Emmanuele II[8] to house the sacred relic.

Above is a photograph of a single thread from the Shroud in a sealed reliquary that comes from the Augustinians. A limited number of relics of the Shroud had been distributed to Catholic bishops around the world after a drop of molten silver from a fire had damaged a small part of it in 1532, while at the Sainte Chapelle in Chambéry,[9] France (Cruz, 1984).

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[1] The culmination of the Fourth Crusade, which is considered a major victory and turning point in medieval history.

[2] Marchese di Monferrato and King of Thessaloniki. Boniface was one of the knight-commanders of the Fourth Crusade.

[3] Baron of Ray-sur-Saõne and the first Frankish Lord of Athens.

[4] Lord of Lirey and Savoisy.

[5] A fifth-generation descendant of Othon de la Roche.

[6] de Charny became Madame de la Roche in 1418 after having married Humbert of Villersexel, Count de la Roche.

[7] The House of Savoy, a royal family that was established in 1003 at the historical region of the northwest Alps northwest of Italy. The Savoyards ruled Italy from 1861 to 1946 (Ginsborg, 2003).

[8] The Duke of Savoy.

[9] Chambéry was the capital of the Savoy region at the time. After the fire, Emmanuele Filiberto, the current Duke of Savoy, ordered that the Shroud be translated to Turin where it has remained since 1578. The coffer in which it traveled can also be seen (Piana, 2014).

Relics of the Passion – 7 – The True Effigy of the Holy Face

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The True Effigy of the Holy Face

Relics of the true effigy of the Holy Face originate with the 19th century miracle that had occurred with the Veil of Veronica[1] kept at the Basilica di San Pietro, Vatican City (Cruz, 2015). The Veil, which the pious woman[2] had given to Jesus Christ at the top of the steep hill located between al-Wad Road and the Souq Khan al-Zeit (Sacred Destinations, 2019), so that He could wipe away the Blood and sweat pouring down His Face while carrying the Cross, had been taken to Rome by Saint Veronica herself during the reign of the Emperor Tiberius.[3]

In 1849, during the revolution that had occurred at the time of Saint Pius IX, the Veil of Veronica was on display for veneration after Vespers on the 5th Sunday in Lent[4] (Cruz, 2015). All of a sudden, it was transfigured in front of everyone present. The Face of Christ appeared as though it was lifelike. It was also surrounded with a halo of soft golden light, while the Veil itself glowed with the divine light in front of everyone present.

The miracle lasted for three hours and one the Canons of Saint Peter was ordered by the Pope to draw the Holy Face as it had appeared transfigured in order to preserve it for posterity (For All the Saints, 2009). Saint Pius IX also ordered that the Canon’s drawing of the Holy Face be engraved as an effigy onto linen cloths that would be touched to the original Veil of Veronica, a relic of the True Cross and the tip of the spear of Longinus,[5] making them precious relics in themselves, not just devotional images (Archconfraternity of the Holy Face, 1887). These effigies were to bear the official wax seal of a Cardinal of the Catholic Church and imprinted with the textual description:

VERA EFFIGIES SACRI VULTUS DOMINI NOSTRI JESU CHRISTI[6]

The true effigies of the Holy Face are known to have been distributed for a period of about 75 years. Above is a photograph of the effigy of the Holy Face that comes from Rome.

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[1] One of the few images of the Holy Face not made by human hands (Cannuli, 2014).

[2] Originally named Seraphia (Doyle, 2000) and commonly known as the pious woman, she became identified as Veronica in the apocryphal Gospel of Nicodemus (Reid, 1913), because of the imprint of His Face that Christ had left on her Veil in gratitude for her merciful gesture.

[3] Tiberius was the Roman Emperor from 14 AD to 37 AD.

[4] Previously known as Passion Sunday.

[5] Longinus had pierced Christ’s side with the spear after His death. This relic is also housed at the Basilica di San Pietro, Vatican City.

[6] True Image of the Holy Face of Our Lord, Jesus Christ.

Relics of the Passion – 6 – The Crown of Thorns

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From the Crown of Thorns

UPDATE: The Crown of Thorns that was held at Notre Dame, together with other precious relics, is presently being held at the Louvre after the conflagration that occurred on April 16, 2019 at the Cathedral.

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The ring of canes that makes up the base of the Crown of Thorns worn by Jesus Christ during the Passion can now be found at the Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris (2010). Its diameter is 8.5 inches (21cm). The Crown was carried to France from Venice by two Dominican friars in August 1239 and eventually placed in the Sainte-Chapelle,[1] after Saint Louis IX had redeemed it for 13,134 gold ducats from Baldwin II, the Emperor of Constantinople.

Baldwin had pawned the Crown of Thorns as security with a Venetian bank for the money he needed to borrow, to support his crumbling empire. The Crown had been housed in the Basilica of Hagia Zion in Jerusalem since 409, until it was translated to Constantinople during the Crusades. The Crown had been braided from the rushes of the Juncus balticus,[2] while the thorns attached to it by the Roman soldiers were from the Ziziphus spina-christi.[3]

Numerous thorns have been splintered off from the Crown throughout the centuries and distributed widely around the world. More notable are those held at Saint Michael’s Church, in Ghent, Belgium; the Cathedral of Saint Vitus in Prague, Czech Republic; the Cathedral of Trier, Germany; the Basilica della Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, Rome, Italy; the Cathedral of Oviedo, Spain; the British Museum, England; and Saint Anthony’s Chapel in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States of America (Gazetteer of Relics and Miraculous Images, 2009). Above is a photograph of a relic from the Crown of Thorns in a sealed reliquary that comes from the Augustinians.

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[1] The Sainte-Chapelle was built specifically by Saint Louis IX to house the Crown of Thorns and 28 other relics he had received from Baldwin II.

[2] Baltic rush taken from the Jucaceae perennial flowering plant native to Northern Britain, the Baltic and Scandinavia.

[3] Christ’s thorn jujube, an evergreen plant native to Africa, the Middle East, Southern and Western Asia.

Relics of the Passion – 5 – The Purple Robe

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From the Purple Robe

Before crowning Him with thorns after the Scourging at the Pillar, at the order of Herod Antipas, the Roman soldiers at the court forced Jesus Christ to wear a purple[1] robe in mockery of His kingship of the Jews (Lk 23:6-12). The soldiers then stripped Christ of this robe after Pontius Pilate had presented Him to the mob (Jn 19:5) and made Him put back on His seamless garment[2] to carry the Cross. Above is a photograph of a very rare relic of the Purple Robe in a sealed reliquary that comes from the Augustinians.

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[1] Purple was at the time considered to be the color worn by kings.

[2] The seamless garment had been woven for Christ by the Virgin Mary.

Relics of the Passion – 4 – The Column of Flagellation

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From the Column of Flagellation

The column of flagellation to which Christ had been tied during the Scourging at the Pillar was made of marble (McNeely, 2015). Part of the column remained at the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher and resides in the Franciscan Chapel (Mason, 2017). Another part of it was given to Giovanni, Cardinal di Colonna the Younger, by the king of Jerusalem during the Fourth Crusade.[1] Colonna took it back with him to Rome, Italy, and placed it in the Basilica di Santa Prassede, his cardinalate church (McNeely, 2015). This part of the Column is housed in a bronze reliquary and can be found at the San Zeno Chapel.

Fragments of the column of flagellation have been distributed around the world throughout the centuries in ways similar to the True Cross. Above is a photograph of a small piece of the column in a sealed reliquary that comes from Rome.

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[1] The Crusades were a series of nine religious wars that started in 1095 by order of Pope Urban II (Mills, 1820). These wars were carried out to recover the Holy Land and other sacred sites for Christianity from under Muslim rule, which had been in place since the 7th century. It was common practice during the Crusades to translate relics from the Holy Land to Rome and other places in the West for their ‘preservation’ (Andrea & Rachlin, 1992; McNeely, 2015).

Relics of the Passion – 3 – The Ropes

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From the Ropes of the Flagellation

Many of the ropes of the flagellation of Jesus Christ that took place during the Scourging at the Pillar can be found at the Basilica di Santa Prassede in Rome, Italy, to where they were translated during the Fourth Crusade. Above is a photograph of a few strands from one of the ropes in a sealed reliquary that comes from Rome.

Relics of the Passion – 2 – The True Cross

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Relics of the True Cross

After the death of Jesus Christ, the very last thing the leaders of the Jews wanted at the time was any mention of Christ being able to rise from the dead (Mayo, 2018). They had heard enough of that in the preceding years and wanted no more of it. For them it was blasphemy. Thus, to prevent such a thing from happening, after Christ died, the Jews proceeded to dump the wood of the Cross into a ditch and covered it over with several boulders to prevent it from ever being found. But in 320, the aged Saint Helena[1] visited Jerusalem in the hope of learning more about Christ’s life and the places where He had been (Socrates Scholasticus, 1984).

With the support of both her son and Saint Macarius of Jerusalem,[2] Helena ordered that the 2nd century temple to Venus,[3] which had been built upon what was suspected to be the tomb of Christ, be destroyed and replaced by what is today known as the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher (ibid.; Eusebius of Caesarea, 4th cent.). But as workers were carrying out the demolition and excavation works in compliance with Helena’s request, under the religio-jurisdictional supervision of Macarius, three crosses were found buried among the rubble on September 14:[4] the Cross of Christ, with the titular inscription I. N. B. I.[5] still attached to it; and the crosses of Saint Dismas, the good thief, and Gesmas, the bad thief (da Varagine,[6] 1260).

Macarius ordered that the three crosses be placed alternatively upon a woman who was so ill that she was considered to be on her deathbed (Socrates Scholasticus, 1984). The woman is said to have recovered when touched by the third cross, which was the Cross of Christ with its inscription.

A large part of the True Cross of Christ was then placed in a silver casket and has remained at the Basilica of Holy Sepulcher, Jerusalem (Marucchi, 1908; McClure, 1919). A second large part was later taken to Rome, Italy, and placed for veneration at the Basilica della Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, which was also built by Helena. A third large part was taken by the queen to the palace in Constantinople (now Istanbul, Turkey), where Constantine proceeded to declare the city impregnable to enemy attacks. Smaller parts of the Cross were broken up into fragments and widely distributed to the faithful throughout the world.

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From the wood of the True Cross

Saint Cyril of Jerusalem (c. 350) declared that

The holy wood of the Cross bears witness, seen among us to this day, and from this place now almost filling the whole world, by means of those who in faith take portions of it.

Significant parts of the Cross can, among others, also be found at the Monastery of Koutloumousiou on Mount Athos, Greece; the Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris, France; the Metropolitan Cathedral of the Assumption in Pisa, Italy; the Monastery of Santo Toribio de Liébana, Spain; and at the Monasterio de Tarlac in San Jose, Philippines.

Presented above are photographs of two small relics of the True Cross in a sealed brass reliquary, together with their detail. They are placed one upon the other to form of a cross. These fragments of the Cross of Christ come from that part of the True Cross that can be found in Istanbul. Their provenance was certified in 2004 by Paul Karatas, then Archbishop of the Chaldean Eparchy of Diarbekir, Turkey.

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[1] Mother of the Emperor Constantine.

[2] Macarius was the bishop of Jerusalem from 312 to 335.

[3] The goddess of love, beauty, sex, fertility, prostitution, and victory (Garcia, 2013). Venus was the mother of Hermaphroditos who epitomized androgyny.

[4] In 335, this day was proclaimed thenceforth in the Church as the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (or Triumph of the Holy Cross), with the first feast being held on the dedication of the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher (Holy Sepulcher, n. d.).

[5] Iησος Ναζωραος Bασιλες τν ουδαίων [Jesus the Nazarene, King of the Judeans] as had been ordered to be written by Pontius Pilate despite the objections raised by the Jewish leaders: “O γέγραφα γέγραφα” [What I have written, I have written] (Brown, 1988; cf. Ps 56, 57).

[6] Blessed Jacobus da Varagine was the archbishop of Genova from 1288 until his death 10 years later. According to da Varagine, the Cross of Christ was made from the different types of wood of three trees, the seeds of which had been planted by Seth in the mouth of Adam’s corpse during his father’s burial. These trees of cedar, cypress and pine (Roman, 2005; cf. Is 60:13) were said to have sprouted in one spot from the seeds of the Tree of Mercy in the Garden of Eden. The wood from the three trees had been used to build Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem.

Relics of the Passion and their history

At this time of Passiontide, posts over the coming days will address nine holy relics of the Passion and Death of our Lord, Jesus Christ, together with their history and provenance. These posts are intended specifically for your edification. Relics addressed will be the following:

  1. Two relics of the True Cross;
  2. A few strands from one of the Ropes with which Christ was flogged during the Scourging at the Pillar;
  3. A small piece of the Column of Flagellation;
  4. A piece of the Purple Robe that Christ was forced to wear during the Crowning with Thorns;
  5. A sliver from the Crown of Thorns;
  6. A true effigy of the Holy Face according to the Veil of Veronica;
  7. One thread from the Burial Shroud;
  8. A fragment from the Stone of the Anointing; and
  9. A stone from the Holy Sepulcher.

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References

Continue reading “Relics of the Passion and their history”

On the standing of Luisa Piccarreta in the Catholic Church

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Many American ‘sources’ have once again raised their heads in an attempt to condemn as heretical the writings of the Servant of God, Luisa Piccarreta, whose cause for beatification is underway at the Vatican. To clear up any unwitting or malicious falsehoods about Luisa, here is the official status and timeline with regard to her present standing in the Catholic Church:

  1. The cause of her beatification is proceeding uninterrupted;
  2. The diocesan process was concluded in 2005 and her cause passed to Rome, which opened their investigation in 2006;
  3. Two priest-censors librorum appointed by the Holy See to read Luisa’s writings concluded their examinations in mid-2010 and declared their approval of her writings. They additionally declared that no errors had been found in relation to faith and morals.

For those who wish to learn more about Luisa Piccarreta and the Gift of Living in the Divine Will, please be referred to the over 700-page critical dissertation with the same name written by the Rev. Joseph Iannuzzi, S. T. D. The dissertation was approved and released by the Pontifical Gregorian University (Gregoriana) in Rome, Italy.

On the misunderstanding of private vows in the Catholic Church

Recently there arose the question of whether a lay person making private vows becomes a religious when they make those vows, whether privately or in conjunction with the sacred liturgy. The answer is no. The lay person remains a common lay person in terms of their canonical standing in the Catholic Church like all the rest of the vast multitude of common lay people who have not made such vows. They do not become a “type” of religious brother or sister. To claim otherwise, therefore, is outright falsehood and reflects neither the mind nor the official teachings of the Church.