Updated: Jul 13
First let me begin by saying, after several requests for me to tell this story and with much deliberation, I have finally decided to write it down. For me it began in the 1990s, my first trip to Italy, precisely to Rome in 1995. My dear spiritual father, Monsignor Stephen Hrynuck was a very holy priest known and loved by many, who passed away in 2014, gave me a list of churches to see while in Rome which I went in search of. I felt an immediate connection which I could not explain at the time. As I walked the streets of Rome viewing some of the most precious relics connected to our Lord Jesus Christ and his saints I often asked, "Why don't we know of this?" or "Why does no one ever talk about this?". My answer would come several years later after so many "coincidences". I learned from my Monsignor Hrynuck since that time as he had said, "There are no such things as a coincidence!" Believe me if he ever corrected you, one did not ever forget it, and he was correct in saying so.
As my son Joseph was very young, I would share with him the pictures and the stories of our Lord's passion, the relics left behind and the saints who stood strong in their faith, suffering and with courage. To me, I wanted to bring the Bible to life for him. Excited, Joseph would ask me over and over to take him one day so he could see everything in the pictures. So in 2006, I took my young son on his first plane ride - to Italy. I must say, and not because I am his mother, he handled the long flight amazingly, better than I did. Part of the itinerary was a visit to the Sanctuary of the Volto Santo in Manoppello, Italy. We arrived there one month after the visit of Pope Benedict XVI.
After viewing the Volto Santo known also as the Holy Face of Jesus, a relic that has been in the care of the Capuchins since the 1600s, we were given the explanation of this most holy relic. Afterwards, it was at that time that I had acquired a prayer card in honor of the Volto Santo, it was precisely that prayer card which would change my life forever.
As a devotee of St. Pio of Pietrelcina, I was once again on a pilgrimage to Italy in 2016. That particular event was not only the Year of Mercy, but on that pilgrimage I walked behind the bodies of St. Pio and St. Leopold in procession to St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, followed by a visit to the Sanctuary of the Volto Santo. (Each time I went to the Basilica I carried with me the prayer card from 2006, never noticing the bottom print on the last section.)
In 2018, I found myself being asked to go to Italy, by a priest who was leading a group of approximately 45 pilgrims - to assist during the visits while in Rome, Manoppello and especially in San Giovanni Rotondo. Meanwhile during that summer I had EWTN on the television while I was doing housework. The program mentioned a "Padre Domenico"; while listening, I was still going about my work, then I heard "Manoppello" so I started to look at it more, but continued what I was doing, and then Padre Pio was mentioned, so I stopped everything and had to watch. The show was entitled, "The Long Road of Padre Domenico From Cese to Turin". During the show, video was shown of the bilocation of Padre Domenico during the funeral procession of Padre Pio caught on film! How can that be?! Was it true?!!! That became my question.
Before the pilgrimage of October 2018, when this all began for me, I had given the priest my prayer card in honor of the Volto Santo to have copies made to hand out to the other pilgrims for use during their visit to the now Basilica of the Volto Santo. Well it turned out that he actually forgot to bring the copies, so after having said my prayer, I loaned it to him. Then I went to the gift shop (which in 2006 did not yet exist) to find out if it was true, "Did Padre Domenico bilocate during Padre Pio's funeral procession?" I had to find out.
The young woman at the shop showed me the book written by Sr. Petra-Maria Steiner, Vita Communis (Mary, Mother of the Holy Family) entitled: "Servant of God Padre Domenico da Cese, O.F.M. Capuchin an Illustrated Biography". It was written in German and there was also a translated version into Italian. Since years ago I studied Spanish and my desire to learn Italian was increasing I purchased the Italian version, even though I hardly knew the language. She also told me that Sr. Petra-Maria was actually in the Basilica, so I went in search of her, upon finding her I simply asked was this story of the bilocation true, it was our first meeting, she said yes and I quickly returned to the bus. Little did I know, Sr. Petra-Maria caught sight of my little prayer leaflet in the priest's hands and quickly asked, "Where did you get that?" he told her it belonged to me and soon after I was summoned off of the bus, I had no idea why. As I saw Sr. Petra-Maria outside, a pilgrim on the bus who I showed the book to told me to ask her to sign it. Sister then asked me if she could have that prayer leaflet, I immediately said yes and she gave me her contact information. After returning, in November I finally contacted her saying I was the American she met in October. She soon sent me the preface of her book now slowly being translated into English. I decided why not simply translate the whole book. So I began using my phone and a dictionary while writing everything down into several notebooks. Each day before and after work, I had a goal in mind, I wanted to finish it for Epiphany; shortly after I sent her the finished translation. In February of 2019, Sr. Petra-Maria then asked me how could we have that printed in English, so I told her I would take care of it and I did, I quickly was thrown into the publishing and printing world, as her representative I understood the importance for what I was about to do. With her approval, I had changed the size, the cover picture and made it into a paperback with a denser cover.
The books were printed in late April 2019, then the prayer leaflets were to be printed also, they were finished in September 2019. October 2019, I went to Manoppello to offer the new copies of the prayers, which included the prayer to obtain the intercession of Padre Domenico and the prayer that he wrote for the Volto Santo entitled, "Blessing From Jesus". At that time I met not only Sr. Petra-Maria but also Padre Carmine Cucinelli the Rector for the Basilica of the Volto Santo. In which I received his blessing and approval to continue this work in the United States. Suddenly my life was changing, the next day I was interviewed by Professor Antonio Bini, and in January of 2020, instead of simply using my idea for a story, "Inside the Vatican" magazine published the article that I wrote entitled, "Servant of God, Padre Domenico da Cese - The Holy Face, Bilocation, and Saint Padre Pio".
In October 2020, Padre Antonio Gentili the new Rector at the Basilica of the Volto Santo also gave me his blessing and approval for this work in which I am most grateful.
Due to the covid restrictions in 2020, my work now extended to social media: Facebook: Padre Domenico da Cese - Volto Santo as well as www.padredomenico.org and later to various speaking engagements on the subjects of Padre Domenico and the Volto Santo in churches and in March 2021 at the Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio.
Currently, this English book version on the life of Padre Domenico is now throughout North America including Canada, various countries within Europe, Uganda, India, Taiwan, the Philippines and Australia.
Please help in the cause of this humble Capuchin priest who not only was a friend of St. Pio's but also shared many similar spiritual gifts including bilocation, reading the souls, stigmata and many miraculous healings through his intercession to our Lord. If anyone knew Padre Domenico or received any graces through his intercession, please write using this website or to:
Padre Domenico da Cese - Volto Santo
P.O. Box 471
Clarks Summit, PA 18411
Should anyone wish to donate to the cause for Padre Domenico da Cese an account has been set up in Italy by the Capuchins.
To conclude this story: I once asked Sr. Petra-Maria, "Why did you choose me to assist you, when you have met so many countless pilgrims over the years?" Her answer was simple, for you see on the back of my old worn prayer leaflet, which had gone unnoticed, was the name:
"P. Domenico Cappuccino"!
As a surprise, and only in the English version of her book on page 110, can you see a copy of this prayer leaflet which began my mission and all because of a little child's request.
May our Lord bless all of you through the intercession of Padre Domenico da Cese and also especially for you - Joseph.
16 views0 comments