March 2024 Print

Rediscovering Devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus

By Sarah Damm

Many Catholics have a beautiful and strong devotion to special attributes of Our Lord: the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Precious Blood of Jesus, the Holy Name of Jesus. Catholics observe holy days and pray litanies in honor of these beloved characteristics of Our Lord. After every Low Mass, we implore the most Sacred Heart of Jesus to have mercy on our souls. Yes, among Catholic devotions, these are some of the most revered ones because through them we call to mind the most tender heart of God, burning with love for us; we contemplate His precious Blood poured out for our salvation; and we cannot help but bow in reverence upon hearing the very Holy Name of Jesus.

Yet, how many in the world turn away from the love poured out of His Sacred Heart? How many sins were the cause of His bloodshed? How many souls, created in the imago Dei, curse His name instead of praise it?

The Holy Face Devotion

At one point in Catholic history, another devotion was as well-known and beloved as that of the Sacred Heart of Jesus—the Holy Face devotion.

This devotion was given to the Church by Our Lord Himself, who said it is “the most beautiful work under the sun.”1 As with many devotions, the process of official Church approval was slow. But unlike devotions that have maintained a steadfast adherence over the centuries, this devotion encountered too many disturbances, causing it to nearly disappear and go unknown among most devout Catholics. Why?

Jesus warned “about the fury of Satan against this holy devotion” … He said that “Satan will do all in his power to crush this Work at its roots.”2 But recently, it is once again gaining traction. Perhaps this devotion has been hidden “for such a time as this,”3 when our society needs saving like never before.

According to Blessed Pope Pius IX, “reparation is destined to save society.”4 And the primary purpose of the Holy Face devotion is to make reparation for sins against the first three commandments, which are sins against God Himself and therefore most offensive to Him:

  • Denial of God (atheism/communism)
  • Blasphemy
  • Profanation of Sundays and Holy Days

The sin of blasphemy “wounds His divine Heart more grievously than all other sins … by blasphemy the sinner curses Him to His Face …”5 In addition, the Holy Face devotion makes reparation for the evils of communism. Christ promises that this devotion will save the Church and the world, not from natural consequences like flood or famine, but from revolutionary men who want to destroy what is good, true, and beautiful. “Sometimes God punishes with the elements. Think of the flood, locusts, and the ground opening up. But sometimes God punishes with revolutionary men as is seen in Leviticus 26.”6

In Leviticus 26, God clearly states that He blesses those who follow His commandments:

I will look on you, and make you increase: you shall be multiplied, and I will establish my covenant with you … I will walk among you, and will be your God, and you shall be my people.7

But God also gives a warning:

But if you will not hear me, nor do all my commandments … I will set my face against you, and you shall fall down before your enemies, and shall be made subject to them that hate you, you shall flee when no man pursueth you.8

The Face of God

The word “face” is mentioned 840 times in Scripture. When God faces us and we face God, it is a sign of blessing. But when God turns His face from us, it is a sign of punishment.

In Psalm 83:10, King David prays, “Behold, O God our protector: and look on the face of thy Christ.”

During the Passion, after Peter denied Jesus three times, He turned and looked at Peter. Peter wept bitterly, but that encounter—face to face with the Lord—was a moment of conversion for him.

The Holy Face devotion invites us to look upon the face of Christ that we, too, may experience a deeper conversion of faith. “Lord God of hosts, convert us; shew us thy face and we shall be saved.” (Psalm 79:20)

And through our own devotion to the Holy Face, we learn that reparation for the offenses and blasphemies against the first three commandments is vital, but we also must make reparation for the evils of communism. “God is angry with idolatry, irreverence, and blasphemy, and He is punishing the world chiefly because of sins against the first three commandments”9

Therefore, if we do not make reparation for the sins that most offend God, first, the world will continue to be overrun by revolutionary men and systems of power.

People have been fighting abortion among nations for about half a century to no avail. Why has man failed in fighting the abortion industry? Nations have committed sins against the first three commandments—the ones that deal with God: idolatry, blasphemy, and irreverence. If we cannot get these three right, how can we get the other seven that concern our neighbor?10

Who is meant to make reparation? Those who discover the Holy Face devotion are the ones invited to make reparation, out of love for Christ and His Church. And by doing so, they comfort Christ and atone for the disgraceful ways Jesus was (and continues to be) treated.

History of the Holy Face Devotion

The Holy Face devotion was founded in the mid-1800s in Tours, France. In her cloistered Carmelite convent, Sister Mary of St. Peter experienced a series of revelations from Our Lord. He told her about a powerful devotion He wished to establish worldwide: Devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus.

Over the course of four years (1843-1847), Jesus spoke to Sister Mary about the numerous blasphemies and profanities taking place throughout the world. And how these offenses not only aroused the anger of God but also pained and disfigured the face of Christ. Jesus informed Sister Mary how “these sins have reached to the very throne of Almighty God.”11 To avoid the wrath of God, He revealed a way to make reparation for these grievous offenses.

The Golden Arrow

The first revelation concerning the sins of blasphemy occurred on August 26, 1843. Jesus said to Sister Mary: “My Name is everywhere blasphemed! There are even children who blaspheme!”12 According to Sister Mary, Jesus made her aware of how much “this frightful sin wounds His divine Heart more grievously than all other sins, showing me how by blasphemy the sinner curses Him to His Face, attacks Him publicly, nullifies his redemption, and pronounces his own judgment and condemnation.”13

Our Lord went on to help Sister Mary “visualize the act of blasphemy as a poisoned arrow continually wounding His divine heart.” Then, Jesus gave her a “Golden Arrow,” which would “heal those other wounds inflicted by the malice of sinners.”14

The “Golden Arrow” Jesus gave Sister Mary is the prayer that is central to the Holy Face devotion:

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.

In addition, Jesus inspired Sister Mary to

compose certain prayers of reparation in the form of a Chaplet … This Chaplet is made up of thirty-three small beads, on which is recited thirty-three times the prayer “Arise, Oh, Lord, and let Your enemies be scattered, and let those that hate You flee before Your Face,” and also six large beads on which are recited the ejaculation, “My Jesus, mercy,” followed by the doxology …15

St. Veronica and the Holy Face of Jesus

Two years into her private revelations, Sister Mary of St. Peter was not making much progress in the work of sharing this devotion with the Church at large. She ran into several obstacles with her superiors as well as with the archbishop.

The Lord told Sister Mary “that the more glorious something is in the sight of God, so much the more does the rage of the devil oppose it … the evil spirit would do everything in his power to impede and to crush this Work.”16

Then, on October 11, 1845, Jesus revealed further insight into His desire for devotion to His Holy Face. Jesus made it known that “His Holy Face is to be the exterior object of adoration in this Work of repairing for blasphemies.”17

In a time of prayer, Jesus led Sister Mary

to the road leading up to Calvary, and there, He vividly showed me the pious deed of charity which St. Veronica performed towards Him when with her veil she wiped His Most Holy Face covered with spittle, dust, sweat and blood.18

Jesus told Sister Mary that she “must imitate the courage of St. Veronica, who bravely broke through the mob of His enemies to reach Him.”19 Thus, when making reparation for blasphemy, we offer Him the same service as St. Veronica and He regards this with affection and kindness, as He did for her.20 “I seek Veronicas to wipe and venerate My Divine Face which has but few adorers!” Jesus shared with Sister Mary.21

Jesus continued by telling Sister Mary that “next to the Sacraments, [His Holy Face is] the greatest gift He could bestow on men.”22

The Church Militant’s Role

Four years after the revelations began, Sister Mary of St. Peter continued to implore her superiors and the archbishop for this devotion to be made known publicly by a decree from Rome. This was the Lord’s desire, and He chose her as His instrument. As with other devotions now popular in the Church, the process was extremely slow, clearly revealing a spiritual battle raging on in the background.

While Sister Mary often grew discouraged, Jesus comforted her with promises of the intercession of His Blessed Mother, St. Michael the Archangel, and other patron saints of the Holy Face devotion, such as St. Martin of Tours and St. Louis.

The Blessed Mother plays a key role in the Holy Face devotion. In the very first revelation Sister Mary received, Jesus urged her to “apply yourself diligently to honor My Sacred Heart and also the Heart of My Mother. Never separate these two hearts.”23

It makes sense, then, that Catholics who are devoted to the Rosary naturally find the Holy Face devotion.

I have seen how the Rosary and Total Consecration have led more souls to ask, What can I do next? What can I do? I believe Our Lady is pointing her children to the Holy Face of Jesus.24

While Sister Mary continued to receive revelations, experienced setbacks in making this devotion known, and received the comfort of Our Lady and the saints, the country of France, and the entire world, continued to offend God, according to Jesus Himself. Communism was on the rise, and Jesus warned Sister Mary of its “diabolical plots and anti-Christian principles.”25

Jesus proceeded to explain how devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus wages war against communism, against those who declare themselves enemies of God. He reminded her that the Church Militant has a special role to play through prayer and reparation: “Our Lord made known to me that in sharing His pains, dividing them between us two, as it were, He felt greatly relieved.”26

The Devotion Continues

Four months prior to Sister Mary’s death, the archbishop denied the establishment of a work of reparation in Tours. He placed a restriction on her writings, and that ban was in place for thirty years. While Sister Mary was permitted to continue praying to God for reparation, she was not allowed to make “further requests to establish the Work of Reparation.”27

This was devastating to Sister Mary, yet Our Lord comforted her sorrow by telling her “that His Work of Reparation will only become the more flourishing in the future, for it will grow the stronger and more vigorous in the midst of storms, and that like a ship refused harbor at one port, it will happily land at another.”28

Sister Mary of St. Peter died in 1848, in the 33rd year of her life.

In 1849, Blessed Pope Pius IX had the relic of St. Veronica’s veil displayed for public veneration in Rome. A friend of Sister Mary and devotee of the Holy Face, Leo Dupont, now a Blessed, had an image of Jesus’ Holy Face touched to the relic. He hung it in a prominent place in his home and kept a candle burning near it in veneration. Leo’s home became a place of private pilgrimage for the growing number of Catholics devoted to the Holy Face of Jesus, and thousands of miracles were reported to happen in Blessed Leo’s home, in the presence of the Holy Face image.

Just prior to Leo’s passing, in 1876, the new Archbishop of Tours lifted the ban on the revelations of our Lord to Sister Mary.

Finally, in 1885, Pope Leo XIII established the devotion as an arch-confraternity for the whole world. The Martin family of Lisieux enrolled in the arch-confraternity, and this devotion inspired Thérèse to take the title: Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face.

To Grow in Devotion

Devotion to the Holy Face flourished for a while; however, it slowly grew more and more obscure. Today, devotion to the Holy Face seems to be gaining momentum, especially because of the times in which we live. There are many ways to grow in devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus:

  • Consider joining the Archconfraternity of the Holy Face by visiting
  • Read more about the history and promises of the Holy Face devotion in the following books:
    • The Golden Arrow by Dorothy Scallan
    • The Secret of the Holy Face by Fr. Lawrence Daniel Carney III
    • God Demands Reparation: The Holy Man of Tours: The Life of Leo Dupont by Dorothy Scallan
  • Wear the Holy Face medal, shown to Mother Maria Pierina de Michelli in 1936 in a series of visions. Venerable Pope Pius XII approved the medal in 1958.
  • Observe the feast of the Holy Face of Jesus on the day before Ash Wednesday (Shrove Tuesday), as declared by Pope Pius XII.

O Jesus! Cast upon us a look of mercy; turn Thy Face towards each of us as Thou didst to Veronica; not that we may see it with our bodily eyes, for this we do not deserve, but turn it towards our hearts, so that, remembering Thee, we may ever draw from this fountain of strength the vigor necessary to sustain the combats of life. Amen.Blessed Pope Pius IX


1 Rev. Janvier, Life of Sister Mary St. Peter, Carmelite of Tours, (1884), 311.

2 Scallan, Dorothy, The Golden Arrow, 125.

3 Esther 4:14

4 Scallan, Dorothy. The Holy Man of Tours, (Charlotte, NC: TAN Books, 1990), 136.

5 Scallan, Dorothy, The Golden Arrow: The Revelations of Sr. Mary of St. Peter, (Charlotte, NC: TAN Books, June 1, 2010), 113.

6 Carney III, Fr. Lawrence Daniel, The Secret of the Holy Face: The Devotion Destined to Save Society, (Charlotte, NC: TAN Books, June 21, 2022), xxii.

7 Lev. 26:9-12.

8 Lev. 26:14-17.

9 Carney, The Secret of the Holy Face, xxii.

10 Ibid., xxv-xxvi.

11 Scallan, The Golden Arrow, 129.

12 Ibid., 113.

13 Ibid.

14 Ibid.

15 Ibid., 124.

16 Ibid., 102.

17 Ibid., 151.

18 Ibid., 153.

19 Ibid.

20 Ibid.

21 Ibid., 157.

22 Ibid., 158.

23 Ibid., 110.

24 Carney, The Secret of the Holy Face, xx.

25 Scallan, The Golden Arrow, 198.

26 Ibid., 169.

27 Ibid., 217

28 Ibid., 218.