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Friday, September 1, 2006


VATICAN CITY, SEP 1, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Tacna y Moquegua, Peru, presented by Bishop Jose Hugo Garaycoa Hawkins, upon having reached the age limit. He is succeeded by Coadjutor Bishop Marco Antonio Cortez Lara.

 - Appointed Pier Carlo Cuscianna, vice-director of Technical Services of the Governorate of Vatican City State, as director of the same office and as "ad interim" director of the Department of Telecommunications of Vatican City State, for a five-year period.
RE:NA/.../GARAYCOA:CORTEZ:CUSCIANNA                VIS 20060901 (100)


VATICAN CITY, SEP 1, 2006 (VIS) - This morning, Benedict XVI travelled by helicopter from his summer residence of Castelgandolfo to the Shrine of the Holy Face at Manoppello in the Italian region of Abruzzi.

  In the year 1506, exactly 500 years ago, an unknown pilgrim brought the Face to Manoppello and gave it to one of the town notables who kept it in his family home. Years later it passed to another family who, in 1638, donated it to the shrine of the Friars Minor Capuchins where it is displayed in an ostensory over the main altar.

  The Holy Face is a cloth veil protected between two sheets of glass. It measures 17 x 24 cm and bears the effigy of a long-haired man. His cheeks are dissimilar: one, rounder than the other, appears considerably swollen. His eyes look very intensely upward so the whites are visible under the iris. The pupils are completely open, but in an irregular way, and the gaze is at once questioning and loving.

  The Holy Father entered the shrine in the company of Archbishop Bruno Forte of Chieti-Vasto. Following a moment of adoration before the Most Holy Sacrament and a prayer before the relic of the Holy Face, the Pope addressed some words to those present.

  "Those who meet Jesus," he said, "those who let themselves be attracted by Him and are ready to follow Him even unto the sacrifice of their lives, personally experience, as He did on the cross, how only the 'grain of wheat' that falls to earth and dies brings 'much fruit'."

  "This is the way of Christ, the way of total love that triumphs over death," said Pope Benedict, adding: "This is the experience enjoyed by those true friends of God, the saints, who have recognized and loved in their brethren, especially in the poorest and most needy, the face of God long contemplated with love and prayer. They are encouraging examples for us to follow."

  "In order to enter into communion with Christ and contemplate His face," the Pope went on, our lives must be "illuminated by the truth of love which overcomes indifference, doubt, lies and egoism."

  Turning to address priests, the Pope said that if the saintliness of Christ's face remains impressed within them "the faithful entrusted to your care will be affected and transformed." He asked seminarians not to allow themselves to be attracted "by anything other than Jesus and the desire to serve His Church." Finally, the Pope exhorted male and female religious to ensure that all their activities become "a reflection of divine goodness and mercy. ... Searching for the face of Christ must be the desire of all Christians."

  May the Virgin Mary, said Benedict XVI, "in whose face more than in any other creature the features of the incarnate Word are visible, watch over families and parishes, over cities and nations of the whole world. May the Mother of the Creator also help us to respect nature, that great gift of God. ... A gift which, nonetheless, is ever more exposed to risk of degradation, and must therefore be protected and secured."

  Following a brief visit to the religious community of the convent of Friars Minor Capuchins, the Holy Father returned to Castelgandolfo.
BXVI-VISIT/SHRINE MANOPPELLO/FORTE                VIS 20060901 (550)

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