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Brugel, Veronica
My Chaplet
Fresco, 10th century
The Mandylion
The Veronica
The Holy face of Jesus
from Veronica's Veil
in the Basilica of
St. Peter in the Vatican
St. Veronica
Feast Day 12th July

There is no biblical record of Veronica, but a tradition developed in the Church surrounding a woman whose name, Veronica, is made up from the Latin word 'vera' and the Greek word 'icon', meaning together 'true likeness'. The story of Veronica is immortalised in the 6th Station of the Cross.

Veronica and her veil

The story of Veronica
As Our Lord struggled along the road out of Jerusalem to Calvary, bearing the heavy burden of the cross, his face was covered in sweat, his eyes filled with blood streaming down from the crown of thorns.
A woman, who we call Veronica, was moved to pity for this poor, wretched man, and pressed forward out of the crowd - probably at great risk to herself, for Roman soldiers were a rough and intolerant lot - and held out her veil to Jesus for him to wipe his face.

As an everlasting memorial of this kind act, the Saviour imprinted the image of his Holy Face on her Veil. This Veil has been treasured by Christians ever since, and has been found to have mysterious, miraculous powers to heal sickness and to convert unbelievers.

The Veil itself became known as 'the Veronica', and a physical object called 'the Veronica' is kept in Vatican. It was first seen in Rome in the eighth century, and was installed in the Vatican in 1297.
However, this veil may well be a 'copy' of a previously known 'true likeness' of the Holy Face called the 'Mandylion'.

There are 'copies' and 'copies'...!
When I say a 'copy', it is important to know that it is not 'just' a copy. When it comes to holy relics, there is a scheme of things in the Church. An object can gain holiness and power from being in contact with another holy object.
For example, something which had had direct contact with, say, Saint Francis, would be a 'first class' relic; but something which had direct contact not with St Francis but with this first relic, would be a 'second class' relic. Other objects, which had direct contact with the second relic, would be 'third class' relics, and so on - each one retaining some of the holiness and power of the first relic. The Veronica may be a second-class relic; in other words, it may have had direct contact with the Mandylion, which was the actual cloth which directly contacted Jesus.

A further possibility, however, is that the image on the Veronica was itself mysteriously transferred to the 'veil' whilst that cloth was in the presence of the Mandylion. The Mandylion image was apparently capable of transferring itself in this mystical way to clay tiles, wooden panels, cloth, etc., which were placed or remained near it.
Confusion surrounding the Veronica
It is known that in the early centuries of Christianity there were several holy images purporting to be the 'true likeness' doing the rounds, and this confuses the issue.

The official line of the Catholic church is that the Veil in the Vatican is the original image of the Holy Face imprinted on the veil Veronica offered to Jesus. Catholic Online web site gives the following account of Veronica and the veil:

St Veronica: "The woman of Jerusalem who wiped the face of Christ with a veil while he was on the way to Calvary. According to tradition, the cloth was imprinted with the image of Christ's face…
Veronica bore the relic away from the Holy Land, and used it to cure Emperor Tiberius of some illness. The veil was subsequently seen in Rome in the eighth century, and was translated to St. Peter's in 1297 by command of Pope Boniface VIII...
The term ('Veronica') was a convenient appellation to denote the genuine relic of Veronica's veil and so differentiate it from the other similar relics, such as those kept in Milan. The relic is still preserved in St. Peter's, and the memory of Veronica's act of charity is commemorated in the Stations of the Cross."

Stations of the Cross
In Catholic churches you will find 14 paintings or icons around the walls, depicting various events which took place on the road to Calvary as Jesus went to his crucifixion. These events are called 'Stations of the Cross'. back

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