Prayer to the Holy Face
Composed by Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face
As she herself tells in The Story of a Soul, St. Thérèse had a fervent devotion to the Holy Face, where she found unfathomable “depths of treasures hidden”. She wrote:
“Ah, I desired that, like the face of Jesus, my face be truly hidden that no one on earth would know me.”
On August 5, 1899, just a few weeks before her death, to celebrate the Feast of the Transfiguration her sisters brought to the infirmary from the choir the “picture of the holy face she so much loved and hung it where she could see it”. Looking at the picture, she said, “Oh, how much good that holy face has done me in my life!”
“O adorable face of Jesus,
sole beauty which ravishes my heart,
vouchsafe to impress on my soul
Your divine likeness
so that it may not be possible
for You to look at Your spouse
without beholding Yourself!
O my Beloved,
for love of You I am content
not to see here on earth
the sweetness of Your glance,
nor to feel the ineffable kiss
of Your sacred lips,
but I beg of You
to inflame me with Your love
so that it may consume me quickly
and that soon I (name) may behold
Your glorious countenance in heaven.
“O Jesus, who in Thy bitter Passion didst become “the most abject of men, a man of sorrows”, I venerate Thy Sacred Face whereon there once did shine the beauty and sweetness of the Godhead; but now it has become for me as if it were the face of a leper! Nevertheless, under those disfigured features, I recognize Thy infinite Love and I am consumed with the desire to love Thee and make Thee loved by all men.
The tears which well up abundantly in Thy sacred eyes appear to me as so many precious pearls that I love to gather up, in order to purchase the souls of poor sinners by means of their infinite value. O Jesus, whose adorable face ravishes my heart, I implore Thee to fix deep within me Thy divine image and to set me on fire with Thy Love, that I may be found worthy to come to the contemplation of Thy glorious Face in Heaven.
Thérèse’s sister Celine wrote about her:
“Devotion to the Holy Face was, for Therese, the crown and complement of her love for the Sacred Humanity of Our Lord. The Blessed Face was the mirror wherein she beheld the Heart and Soul of her Well-Beloved. Just as the picture of a loved one serves to bring the whole person before us, so in the Holy Face of Christ Therese beheld the entire Humanity of Jesus. We can say unequivocally that this devotion was the burning inspiration of the Saint’s life. …Her devotion to the Holy Face transcended, or more accurately, embraced, all the other attractions of her spiritual life.”