On 1 September Pope Benedict XVI is to make a whistle-stop helicopter tour to the small town of Manoppello in the Abruzzi region in order to pay homage to what many Catholic faithful believe to be the true veil of St Veronica, the cloth or kerchief with which St Veronica wiped the face of Jesus on the way to Calvary and on which his features were miraculously impressed. The Veronica, which refers both to the saint and to the kerchief, was much venerated in Rome during Holy Week processions during the 14th and 15th centuries. The veil is still supposed to be housed in St Peters but there are those who believe that the real veil is in Manoppello.
The image on the Manoppello kerchief has long been studied, and according to the Jesuit iconologist, Heinrich Pfeiffer, lecturer in iconology and Christian art at the Gregorian University, matches perfectly the face of Jesus to be seen on Turins famous Shroud.
There are records of its presence in Manoppello dating back to 1506 and Pope Benedicts visit is to mark the fifth centenary of the first appearance of the veil in the Abbruzzo town where it is venerated in a Capuchin monastery.
The pope will be received by the bishop of Chieti, Bruno Forte. He is due to land at 9.45, to visit to the sanctuary at 10.00 and to leave at 11.30, having delivered a brief speech.