DETAILS ON SISTER PIERINA DE MICHELI


The Holy Face of Jesus from the image of Veronica's veil
(The veil is kept in St. Peters Basilica, Rome.)
 

Details on Sister Pierina and How She Impacts the Holy Face Devotion


Introduction

The Holy Face of Jesus devotion became very well known in the mid-to-late 1800s with the revelations of Sister Mary of St. Peter, the associated miracles in front of the Holy Face in the home of Leo Dupont, and the resulting establishment of the Archconfraternity of the Holy Face by Pope Leo XIII via Papal Brief in 1885. Today there is some confusion among Catholics as to how the life of Sister Pierina in the 1930s and 1940s further impacts the devotion. Below are some facts gathered on the subject.

 

A Brief Timeline of Sources Pertaining to the Holy Face Devotion 

1843-48 Detailed revelations of Sister Mary of St. Peter occur (see the books on our Articles and Books page, "The Life of Sister Mary of St. Peter" (1884) and "Sister St. Pierre - Work of Reparation" (1885), and the most common "The Golden Arrow" (1954), where the revelations are detailed in over 100 pages)

1848 Sister Mary of St. Peter passes away in France

1849 Miracle with the original veil of Veronica occurs in the Vatican (see the book "The Holy Face in the Documents of the Church" (by Pedica), which has a detailed account of the miracle. It was also recorded in the Vatican daybook in 1849)

1851-81 Miracles occur in the home of Leo Dupont for 30 years in front of a Holy Face relic using the prayers from the revelations of Sister Mary of St. Peter. The miracles confirm the authenticity of the revelations of Sister Mary of St. Peter (see the books on our Articles and Books page, "The Life of Leo Dupont" (1882), and "The Holy Man of Tours" (1882), and the more current "The Holy Man of Tours” (1952), among other books on the subject)

1876 The home of Leo Dupont in Tours, France is converted to the Oratory of the Holy Face after his death

1885 Papal Bull issued by Pope Leo XIII canonically establishes the Archconfraternity of the Holy Face in Tours, France, for the entire world.  The Archconfraternity establishes indulgences for the Holy Face prayers from Sister Mary of St. Peter, as well as indulgences for visiting the Oratory of the Holy Face in Tours, France, and for partaking in activities of the Archconfraternity , etc. (Papal Bull and related papal briefs available in the Manual of the Archconfraternity of the Holy Face on our Articles and Books page, and also on our homepage)

1885 Article in the Dublin Review on the Holy Face devotion mentions Sister Mary of St. Peter, Leo Dupont, and an existing Feast of the Holy Face on Shrove Tuesday (article available on Google books and on our Articles and Books page)

1887 The Manual of the Archconfraternity of the Holy Face is published which has an approved Holy Face novena as well as Holy Face cross, scapular, chaplet, and medal, which are made available through the Oratory of the Holy Face in Tours, France. (The Archconfraternity manual is available on our Articles and Books page)

1936 Sister Pierina De Micheli is believed to have had some revelations regarding the Holy Face (more information below)

1936 The first edition of a book called, "The Little Manual of the Confraternity of the Holy Face" is printed by the Confraternity of the Holy Face in Detroit, Michigan. The book mentions Sister Mary of St. Peter and Leo Dupont, but there is no mention of Sister Pierina

1945 Sister Pierina passes away in Italy

1952 A book called, "The Message of Sister Mary of St. Peter" is published by Louis Van Den Bossche, Secretary of State to Pope Pius XII. The book mentions the revelations of Sister Mary St. Peter, but does not mention Sister Pierina

1958 A short book on the life of Sister Pierina is published called, “Missionary or Messenger of the Holy Face”. In this book there are brief revelations from Sister Pierina mentioning that our Lord's Face should be more honored and venerated, a request for a Holy Face scapular, and a request for a Feast day on Shrove Tuesday, preceded by a novena. The book also mentions some accounts of personal healings through the intercession of Sister Pierina after her death, and some invocations to the Holy Face composed by Sister Pierina. Lastly, there is mention of Sister Pierina obtaining permission from the Curia to have a Holy Face medal created (using the image from the shroud of Turin). Strangely, the book makes no mention of Sister Mary of St. Peter, Leo Dupont, or the Archconfraternity of the Holy Face

1959 A book called, "The Holy Face in the Documents of the Church" (by Pedica) is published detailing the complete history of the Holy Face devotion in the Church, including a chronological list of all ecclesiastical documents pertaining to the Holy Face. The book mentions Sister Mary of St. Peter and Leo Dupont, but there is no mention of Sister Pierina. A Feast of the Holy Face is also mentioned to have been approved by Pope St. Pius X for a diocese in France in 1910, but not in 1958 as websites today state

1973 A revised edition of the "Little Manual of the Confraternity of the Holy Face" is printed by the Confraternity of the Holy Face in Detroit, Michigan. The book mentions Sister Mary of St. Peter and Leo Dupont, but there is no mention of Sister Pierina. There is also no mention of a Feast of the Holy Face approved in 1958 as websites today state

1975 The third edition of "The Holy Face in the Documents of the Church" is published. The book mentions Sister Mary of St. Peter and Leo Dupont, but there is no mention of Sister Pierina. Nor is there mention of Pope Pius XII declaring a Feast of the Holy Face in 1958 as websites today state

1975-1995 A detailed search in Google Books and elsewhere on the Internet for any books mentioning Sister Pierina during these 20 years could not be found

~1996 Sister Pierina begins to be mentioned on a few Italian websites (in Italian) as the Internet begins to emerge

1997-2000s Sister Pierina begins to be mentioned more commonly on Internet websites

2010 Sister Pierina is beatified and for some reason now seems to replace Sister Mary of St. Peter and Leo Dupont on most websites mentioning the Holy Face devotion, or she is often incorrectly mentioned as the primary source of the devotion. In reading her beatification announcement on the Vatican website on May 30, 2010, it only briefly mentions, "The Lord endowed her with an extraordinary devotion to his Holy Face which always sustained her in trials and in illness”. Nothing else is mentioned on the Vatican website about Sister Pierina

TODAY: Searching Internet websites for the Holy Face devotion now primarily turns up mention of Sister Pierina, with very few websites giving attention to Sister Mary of St. Peter, Leo Dupont, and the Archconfraternity of the Holy Face established by Pope Leo XIII

 

Some observations

Generally unknown and not found in books on the Holy Face - Sister Pierina does not appear in any of the books approved by the Church that we've located which summarize the Holy Face devotion, and she appears to have been generally unknown to the world in general until the mid-1990s, when the Internet began to expand

No Mention of the Archconfraternity of the Holy Face - Surprisingly, Sister Pierina's book and revelations make no mention of Sister Mary of St. Peter, Leo Dupont, or the Archconfraternity of the Holy Face established by Pope Leo XIII, while she at the same time was known for having a strong devotion to the Holy Face. Also, as of this writing, no documentation has been found showing that Sister Pierina's revelations were in any way added to the Archconfraternity, or that she is in any way associated with it

Revelations - Sister Pierina's revelations are very brief (a few pages in total), provide nothing new over the revelations of Sister Mary of St. Peter (over 100 pages in total), and are not nearly as astounding and detailed. Also as of this writing, no explicit approval of Sister Pierina's revelations have been located from the Church

Holy Face scapular and medal - Another question remains as to why one of Sister Pierina’s revelations mentions a request for a Holy Face scapular and later approval of a medal, when a Holy Face scapular and medal already existed in the Archconfraternity of the Holy Face. The book on the life of Sister Pierina mentions the Curia (not Pope Pius XII) approved that she could have a Holy Face medal cast. This was not the first Holy Face medal created (as websites today suggest) as there was already a Holy Face medal, cross, scapular and chaplet approved by the Archconfraternity of the Holy Face in 1885, mentioned in the "Manual of the Archconfraternity of the Holy Face" in 1887, and sold by the Oratory of the Holy Face on page 301 of that manual. It is also worth noting that many other Holy Face medals have been in circulation since the 1800s, and no special permission is required for people to create them. Sister Pierina would certainly have required permission to have a medal created given that she was a religious nun. However, it appears God still wanted these medals cast since the exact funds were miraculously provided to Sister Pierina to have them created. The difference between the Holy Face medals from the Archconfraternity of the Holy Face and the medal that Sister Pierina had created is that the Archconfraternity medals use the image of the Holy Face from the veil of Veronica, while Sister Pierina chose the image from the shroud of Turin

Holy Face novena - Another question remains as to why Sister Pierina’s revelations mention a request for a Holy Face novena, when one already existed in the Archconfraternity of the Holy Face. A Holy Face novena was already approved for members of the Archconfraternity of the Holy Face in 1885 (see the manual, page 108), along with a thorough number of other Holy Face prayers. Sister Pierina’s book mentions that she created her own novena, which the nuns in her community would pray together. However, as of this writing, approval from the Church to use this novena elsewhere has not been located. Regardless, as of this writing, no documentation has been found showing Sister Pierina's novena has anything to do with the Archconfraternity of the Holy Face, so it would certainly not replace the novena already provided by the Archconfraternity

Feast of the Holy Face - One revelation in Sister Pierina's book mentions the request for a Feast of the Holy Face on Shrove Tuesday, though it is unclear why this request would have been made when there was already mention of an existing Feast of the Holy Face on Shrove Tuesday in 1885 (Dublin review article) and again in 1910 (The Holy Face in the Documents of the Church). Sister Pierina apparently asked Pope Pius XII in private audience about a Feast of the Holy Face, but as of this writing nothing can be found from the Church showing an establishment of a Feast of the Holy Face in 1958 by Pope Pius XII, as websites today suggest

Holy Face on the veil of Saint Veronica vs the shroud of Turin - Throughout the book, "the Golden Arrow" (the life and revelations of Sister Mary of St. Peter), our Lord makes very clear to Sister Mary of St. Peter that His Face from St. Veronica's veil was most pleasing to Him for use with the Work of Reparation (see revelations on pages 151-159). This image of our Lord’s Face is more personal and inspirational as it is an extremely vivid copy of Our Lord's Face while He was still alive during His Passion, most clearly showing the bruises, wounds, tears and expression, etc. The miracle in the Vatican in 1849 relating to the original veil of Veronica also confirms the attention God wants to this particular image when it comes to making reparation through the Holy Face devotion. The Manual of the Archconfraternity of the Holy Face, under Statutes and Rules, page 52, confirms this where it states, "The chief object of this Archconfraternity is: 1. To offer to the adorable and suffering Face of our Lord Jesus Christ, imprinted on Saint Veronica's veil, the homage of worship and love which is its due." It also elaborates further on this on page 80: "Christian art, it is well known, takes pleasure in representing the divine Face of the Saviour under several different aspects; sometimes it is the face of the Ecce Homo, otherwise called the "Christ of the Reed", wearing on his brow the crown of thorns, and sometimes the veil with which the soldiers blindfolded him; sometimes it is the face of the Orante, or the Saviour in the attitude of prayer, as it is seen in the catacombs; at other times, it is the head of Christ on the Cross, or, yet again, the Face of the Man God radiant with glory and majesty as on Tabor, or lastly the face of the Infant Jesus in his cradle, or in the arms of his mother. Expressive and touching as are these different representations, the Archconfraternity, in view of the object which it proposes to itself, prefers to them the facsimile of the veil of Veronica."

Saint Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face - While Sister Pierina's book doesn't mention Sister Mary of St. Peter, Leo Dupont, or the Archconfraternity of the Holy Face as one would expect, it does mention Saint Therese as having had a devotion to the Holy Face. It is worth noting here that Saint Therese had a devotion to the Holy Face because of Sister Mary of St. Peter. The book, "The Message of Sister Mary of St. Peter" by the Secretary of State to Pope Pius XII mentions that Saint Therese kept a photo of Sister Mary of St. Peter with her at all times, in addition to a lock of her hair! Saint Therese also kept a picture of our Lord's Face from the veil of Veronica attached to her bed curtain, and her entire family were members of the Archconfraternity of the Holy Face. So it is puzzling why there is no mention of Sister Mary of St. Peter in Sister Pierina's book

Miracles - It is through 30 years of continuous and astounding miracles in the home of Leo Dupont, utilizing the prayers from Sister Mary of St. Peter, that the revelations of Sister Mary of St. Peter were confirmed as authentic and approved by the Church in 1885. These are detailed in the books on the life of Leo Dupont where it was stated that Pope Pius IX claimed Leo Dupont to be perhaps one of the greatest miracle workers in the Church. A few miracles are mentioned in the book on Sister Pierina's life, but these were recorded to have occurred to those praying to Sister Pierina to ask her intercession after her death, and are not the same as the miracles in the life of Leo Dupont, which all occurred to those praying directly in front of the relic of the Holy Face. Overall, the few miracles mentioned in Sister Pierina's book do not compare to those documented in the life of Leo Dupont

 

Conclusions (so far) 

Overall, Sister Pierina appeared to be a good and holy nun according to the short book on her life. It is also good to see that she had a strong devotion to the Holy Face. While her beatification announcement in 2010 mentions she had an extraordinary devotion to the Holy Face, as of this writing, no books on the Holy Face devotion have been located that mention her (aside from the one biography on her life in 1958), and no other documentation from the Church has been located approving of her revelations, or associating her with the Archconfraternity of the Holy Face.

It is also important to note that Sister Pierina's Holy Face medals, while certainly good in and of themselves, do not have the correct image of the Holy Face (from the veil of Veronica) for use with the Work of Reparation, as specified in the rules of the Archconfraternity of the Holy Face. Devotion to the Holy Face on the shroud of Turin is certainly commendable, but it is unrelated to the Archconfraternity of the Holy Face.

Considering the above and the numerous other questions that remain about Sister Pierina's revelations as mentioned above, and the lack of Holy Face-specific miracles which were so plentiful in the life of Leo Dupont, more information is needed from the Church confirming whether her revelations were authentic.

Some visitors to our website have concluded that Sister Pierina's message supersedes or replaces that of Sister Mary of St. Peter, Leo Dupont, and the Archconfraternity of the Holy Face. Nothing could be further from the truth. The new revelations from Sister Pierina are very brief and do not provide anything new beyond the original revelations, and certainly cannot replace the original revelations from Sister Mary of St. Peter and the Archconfraternity of the Holy Face, given what is documented in the book, "The Golden Arrow". In this book, our Lord clearly stated to Sister Mary of St. Peter that the Work of Reparation He was establishing through her was "the most beautiful work under the sun", that it surpassed other devotions, and would never perish. So it is certainly impossible to think that any revelations coming from Sister Pierina could possibly supersede the revelations from Sister Mary of St. Peter. Unfortunately due to the Internet, many people have completely forgotten about the true source of the Holy Face devotion from Sister Mary St. Peter, Leo Dupont, and the establishment of the Archconfraternity by Pope Leo XIII.

It should also be noted that numerous times throughout the book, "The Golden Arrow", our Lord specifically mentioned to Sister Mary of St. Peter that the devil would do everything in his power to crush the Work of Reparation (which is performed through the guidelines established by the Archconfraternity of the Holy Face). What could be a more clever way for the devil to distract people from this Work then to draw their attention to other prayers that, while good in themselves, are not part of the canonically established Archconfraternity supported by 30 years of miracles? Catholics looking to practice the Holy Face devotion and Work of Reparation, and who want to be associated with the Archconfraternity of the Holy Face, should focus on the message of Sister Mary of St. Peter and Leo Dupont, as that has been explicitly approved by the Church.

 

Our research on Sister Pierina is still ongoing. If you believe you have more accurate or updated information on this subject, and have proof from approved Church resources, please contact us.