I was a bit disappointed that the rain continued coming down upon the City of Peace; the beauty of the city is somewhat masked and hidden when not exposed to the full light of the sun. Nonetheless, there was a moment of grace in a short pilgrimage, for when we visited the chapel of the Crucifix of San Damiano, I looked upon it as if for the first time.
As I stood in the back of the chapel, to better to take in the entire crucifix, I was repeatedly drawn to the face of Jesus (each time I look upon the image, something else captures my attention). As I looked upon it yesterday, I suddenly realized, "I know that face!"
Take a moment to look at the face of Jesus as depicted on the crucifix that was moved from the church of San Damiano to the Basilica of Santa Chiara in 1257:
The quality of the image is as not as good as I should like it, but since photographs are not allowed in the chapel I wasn't able to take a detail shot of the original.
Notice, first of all the eyes; they are open, searching, and deep. Notice, too, the straight mouth that hints at a smile. Notice the thin beard and the long hair. Notice the shape of the nose and the broad forehead. Notice, especially, the slight wisp of hair touching the forehead where the hair parts on the top of the head.
With the above image in mind, now take a look at the Volto Santo (the Holy Face) as it appears on the veil enshrined at Manoppello and that once covered the face of Jesus in the tomb:
|PHOTO: Paul Badde|
When I e-mailed Paul Badde to tell him of what I discovered - a discovery he had already made - he sent another image of the face of Christ in Assisi:
|PHOTO: Paul Badde|
Once again, the similarities between this image and the other two are quite striking. How did I miss this one?!
This is something into which I need to delve deeper, but it seems the book describing the history of the face of Jesus in art through the centuries has not yet been written.