I received the 'almost' final version of the cover for my mystery BLEEDER today, in two forms: one uses a beard, one doesn't. I preferred the beard image (the publisher wondered if it was distracting). But the story mentions a beard on the cleric and stigmatics usually have a beard as another way of identifying with Christ who had one, too. There is a dramatic reference to this in one of the Servant Songs of Isaiah, long understood by Christians as pointing to Jesus' passion:
"I gave my back to those who beat me,
my cheeks to those who plucked my beard;
My face I did not shield
from buffets and spitting."
(Isaiah 50:6, italics mine)
So I hope the publisher will keep the beard image. It's his call, though.