Shrove Tuesday: Feast of the Holy Face of Jesus

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In Rome and in other places, Shrove Tuesday is observed as the Feast of the Holy Face of Jesus. In 2007 I had the privilege of concelebrating a Solemn Mass in honour of the Holy Face of Jesus at the Roman Church of Santo Spirito in Sassia with His Eminence, Fiorenzo Cardinal Angelini.

Masses in honour of the Holy Face appeared as early as the fourteenth century. In 1958 Pope Pius XII approved the observance of a feast of the Holy Face of Jesus on Shrove Tuesday. At Manoppello, the feast of the Holy Face is celebrated on August 6th, the Transfiguration of the Lord. The Benedictines of Jesus Crucified honoured the Holy Face with the Litanies sung in procession on the Sunday After Ascension.

The present Mass of the Holy Face of Jesus for Shrove Tuesday was approved by the Holy See in 1986. A flash of paschal glory before beginning Lent! Here are the Proper Mass texts of the Mass in English. The translation is my own.

Entrance Antiphon

Of you my heart has spoken: “Seek his face.” It is your face, O Lord, that I seek; hide not your face (Ps 26:8-9).
(Cf., Tibi dixit, GR 88)


O God, who willed that your only-begotten Son
should become man,
and show us in his human nature a perfect image of your divinity,
grant, we beseech you,
that by venerating the image of his Holy Face
we may be united with him
in the mysteries of his Passion and Death,
and so come to contemplate forever his glorious Face
in the joy of the resurrection.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, forever and ever.

Proper Readings

First Reading

Isaiah 52:13 --53:12.
(Lectionary, Votive Mass of The Mystery of the Holy Cross, 4)

Responsorial Psalm

R. I long to see your face, O Lord.
Ps 27:1, 4, 5, 8-9abc, 11
(Lectionary, Mass for the Consecration of Virgins and Religious Profession, 2)

Alleluia Verse

He is the brightness of eternal light, the unspotted mirror,
and the image of his goodness (Wis 7:26)


God of hosts, bring us back;
let your face shine on us and we shall be saved (Ps 79:8).


Mt 17:1-19
(Lectionary, August 6, Feast of the Transfiguration, Gospel A).

General Intercessions

That the Church,
as she prepares to enter the Great Fast of Forty Days,
may direct the gaze of all believers
to the Face of the Crucified and Risen One,
the proclamation and pledge of our glory,
to the Lord we pray, Christ, hear us. R. Christ, graciously hear us.

That the leaders of nations
may turn aside from every project of destruction and war,
and, in the light of the Face of Christ,
seek to build up “the civilization of love,”
to the Lord we pray, Christ, hear us. R. Christ, graciously hear us.

That all who know weariness, humiliation, or suffering
may lift their eyes to the holy Face of Christ;
and that those despised by the powerful of this world
may recognize in the Face of Christ one like themselves,
to the Lord we pray, Christ, hear us. R. Christ, graciously hear us.

That the sick and the dying
may see on the Face of Christ all glory, all sorrow, and all love,
in the greatest peace,
to the Lord we pray, Christ, hear us. R. Christ, graciously hear us.

That we may keep the Holy Face of Jesus ever present before our eyes
and discover there the revelation of the secrets of his Heart,
to the Lord we pray, Christ, hear us. R. Christ, graciously hear us.

Collect at the General Intercessions

Almighty and ever-living God,
whose splendour on Sinai was such
that Moses was obliged to veil his face
made radiant by the brightness of your holiness;
remove the veil from our faces,
and open our eyes to the knowledge of your glory
shining in the face of Christ,
that we, with the gaze of our hearts fixed on him,
may, by the power of the Holy Spirit,
be changed into his likeness
and so praise you forever
in the company of the saints in light.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.


O Lord Jesus Christ,
beauty of the heavenly Father and light of souls,
we beseech you with confidence that,
as we advance in the darkness of this world,
the splendour of your Face may shine upon us
and that, in the light of your Countenance,
we may one day merit to contemplate the eternal light
in which you live and reign with God the Father
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
forever and ever.

Prayer Over the Offerings

O God, the Father of lights,
look upon us, we beseech you,
and beholding the Face of Christ your Son
who offered himself for us as a victim of reconciliation,
grant that we, like him, may offer ourselves to you
as a spiritual sacrifice to the praise of your glory.
Through Christ our Lord.

Preface of the Transfiguration

Truly it is right and just, our duty and our salvation,
always and everywhere to give you thanks,
Lord, holy Father, almighty and eternal God,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Christ revealed his glory before chosen witnesses,
and filled with splendour
that human form in which he is one with us.

In this way he prepared the disciples
to bear the scandal of the Cross
and he, being the head of his body.
showed that in the Church
that same glory would be fulfilled
that shone upon his Face on the holy mountain.

And so, with all the choirs of angels,
we praise your glory, now and forever,
as with one voice we sing:

Communion Antiphon

We have beheld his glory,
glory as of the only Son from the Father,
full of grace and truth (Jn 1:14).


Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted (Is 53:4).

Prayer After Communion

Let your Face, O Lord, shine graciously upon us,
so that illumined by your word
and nourished by the Bread of Life,
we may walk in your presence
until we reach the wonderful life of your kingdom.
Through Christ our Lord.

Solemn Blessing

May the Lord bless you and keep you.
R. Amen.

May his Face shine upon you,
and show your mercy.
R. Amen.

May he turn his Face toward you,
and give you his peace.
R. Amen.

May the blessing of Almighty God,
the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
descend upon you and remain with you forever.
R. Amen.


I think we are fortunate to have all these wonderful Feast Days. They help us to grow in Holiness and what a wonderful way to begin Lent with the Holy Face of Jesus.


Happy Feast Day!!

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About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

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