Blog Archives

Devotion to the Holy Face

This year the Feast of the Holy Face falls on the 13th February.  The novena starts tomorrow.  You should be able to get daily reminders by subscribing to Patricia Enk’s blog

If you watch the video, please say a prayer for the priest giving the sermon, and also for the person (people?) behind the excellent Catholic YouTube channel called “Sensus Fidelium“.


Approved Version

This version of my Holy Face design has been approved by the person who requested it.  I’m happy with it overall but I think that the face itself and the lettering might need tweaking.


Almost Done

Just some spiral patterns left to do, and a bit of tweaking here and there.

(The pencil underdrawing won’t be in the final version.)


Facing Reality

Well, I thought I was going to be able to finish this project before Christmas but that doesn’t look very likely now. Somebody asked me to do a standalone (as opposed to tile-able), digital version of my Holy Face design.  Here, below, is the work-in-progress.  I’ve adapted the border from my Tree of Life design.  The spiral background will be modified so that it fits the new border and joins with it at top and bottom.  (You’ll see what I mean when I’m finished.)  I’m experimenting with the colours.  Believe it or not, the colour scheme below is based on the colour scheme on a halo in the Book of Kells.  It looks very carnival to me.  I had a lot of trouble adding colour and shading to the face without straying off a very fine line between bad manga and bad realism.  It might still need some tweaking.  I’ve taken the opportunity to make the central trinity spiral a bit more circular.  My pencilled spiral was quite triangular.


Back to the Art

Given that my blog has a new flavour, I wanted to draw a new background for it.  I produced a Celtic version of images that are important to me.  The Holy Face is represented with a consecrated host, i.e. the Blessed Sacrament in which Jesus Christ is present under the appearance of bread.  These two images appear on a Catholic medal associated with devotion to the Holy Face.

There is a link between the Holy Face and consecrated bread that goes all the way back through Old Testament times.  The Bread of the Presence, or the Bread of the Face, is first mentioned in the Bible when, during the exodus from Egypt, God instructs Moses on how He is to be worshipped.  In the time of Jesus it was the custom for Jewish men to visit the temple in Jerusalem three times a year for the feasts of Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles.  On these occasions the Temple priests would bring out the Bread of the Presence and raise it up for the men to see it.  In this way they fulfilled the instructions in the Book of Exodus: “three times a year shall all your males see the face of the Lord”.  For more on this see Chapter 5 of Brant Pitre’s book called “Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist”.


The letters “IHS” are a Christogram.  I used to think they stood for “In His Service” but they are actually the English versions of the first three letters of Jesus’ name in Greek.  The bar over the ‘h’ is meant to indicate an abbreviation.

The spiral designs were inspired by George Bain‘s book on “Celtic Art – The Methods of Construction”.  The book was first published in 1951 but it is still in print and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in this art form.  My copy was given to me by a dear old neighbour of mine in Wales, on a trip back home a few years ago.  I was admiring the love spoons my neighbour had carved for his wife, now sadly deceased, and we began discussing our mutual interest in Celtic art.  Unfortunately, he is losing his eyesight so he is not able to do any more carving, and he passed the book on to me so that I could make use of it.  I’m very grateful, it is a beautiful book.