As anyone who’s ever visited Rome can tell you, there are a lot of churches here. For that reason, foot-weary tourists tend to pass by all but the best known among them. And that’s a shame, because you can inadvertently miss a genuine treasure like this one!
Right in the center of the city is a good-sized parish church with a side chapel containing this image of Our Lord. Records show that in 1681, it was “rescued from the hands of the infidels in Morocco.” Christ is shown wearing the badge of the Trinitarians, with their distinctive red-and-blue cross; and since the Trinitarians were founded to rescue Christian captives from their non-Christian (generally Muslim) captors, it seems safe to assume that there was some sort of Trinitarian church in this region of northern Africa back then … and it had been plundered.
Subsequently the picture was brought to Rome and housed in this church, where for a long while it was merely one of many lovely works of sacred art. Its significance abruptly changed, however, back in 1854, when an amazing event was witnessed by the parishioners: the eyes of Christ suddenly opened, and were seen looking around!
An investigation was conducted by the Vatican, to make sure that this claim was not simply the result of overactive imaginations among the faithful–and the official conclusion was that the event was entirely legit. Note that in the mid-1800’s, a different sort of anti-Christian struggle was taking place right here on the Italian peninsula: godless revolutionaries, openly hostile to religion in general and the Catholic Church in particular, were busily invading the various kingdoms, duchies, and other small independent nations that were eventually all sucked into the new Republic of Italy, which seized land, buildings, works of art, and other possessions of the Church in the name of the secular government. It seems reasonable to conclude that God was, during this difficult period for the ordinary Roman faithful, showing them that He was looking out for them–literally.
Nowadays, you’d have quite a hard time finding this miraculous image on your own. Unless you happen to ask someone from the neighborhood, you’ll find that the Romans themselves have largely forgotten about it! And since it’s located on a small side-street, the church itself is all too frequently overlooked. But rest assured, we know exactly where it is, and we’ll be happy to take you to see this marvellous image, and fill you in on the full story.