Author: Samantha Lisek
|Painting by Guido Reni of St. Veronica and her veil, imprinted with Jesus’s image|
St. Veronica was a devout Christian who desired a painting of Jesus. According to the Bloomsbury Guide to Art, the legend says that Veronica passed by Jesus when he was carrying the cross to Calvary in Jerusalem in order to be crucified. When she saw Jesus struggling, Veronica wiped His face with a cloth, formally known as her “veil”. Afterwards, the image of Jesus’s face mysteriously appeared on Veronica’s cloth. The Catholic Encyclopedia suggests that there are small differences of the legend of St. Veronica that various countries developed throughout history. To Italians, Veronica is known to have cured an Emperor named Tiberius of a particular disease by touching him with the veil. In France, Veronica is known to have married Zacheus, and later she married a man named Martial and helped him preach. In the region of Bordeaux, the story is that Veronica brought the veil, that she wiped Jesus’s face with, to Soulac. She preached and later died and was buried in a tomb in the area. As the legend grew more popular around the world, St. Veronica’s veil became known as vera icon which means “true image.”
Veronica and her veil are significant to Christians and are revered by the Catholic Church. Veronica’s veil is known as one of the most valued Christian relics. The cloth is also known by Roman Catholics as the “sudarium”, “volto santo”, or “vernicle”. The Catholics remember the story of St. Veronica and her veil by making it a part of the Stations of the Cross, a Catholic tradition which tells the story of Jesus’s crucifixion. The Catholic Church honored Veronica by naming her a saint. They also celebrate her memory on the feast day of St. Veronica. Catholics and other Christians relate Veronica to a woman in the Bible named Haemorrhissa, who was cured by Jesus.
According to the Bible Prob web blog post on the history of the religious relic, Pope Boniface VIII had the relic brought to St. Peter's Basilica in Rome in 1297. It was first displayed on the first Holy Year in 1300. During the remodeling of St. Peter’s Basilica, the relic was stolen. In 1616, Pope Paul V prohibited copies of the veil to be made. Pope Urban
VII had all
copies of the veil destroyed in 1623. Four centuries after the original relic was
stolen from the Basilica, Father Pfeiffer, professor of Christian Art History
at the Pontifical Gregorian University claims to have found the orginal veil
that was stolen in a monastery located in Italy. Today, the only representation
of Veronica’s veil remains at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, in an old, fragile frame with cracked glass. It is located
next to a marble statue of St. Veronica in the Basilica.
Badde, Paul. “Veronica’s Veil Found.” CatholicCulture.org. Trinity Communications, n.d. Web. 16 October 2012.
Dégert, Antoine. "St. Veronica." Newadvent.org. Robert Appleton Company, 1912. Web. 14 October 2012.
Giuliani, Fr. Giovanni. “Guide to Saint Peter's Basilica.” St.PetersBasilica.org. Web. 16 October 2012.
Reni, Guido. St. Veronica. 1700. Pushkin Museum, Moscow. Credo Reference. Web. 15 October 2012
“Veil of Veronica-history of” BibleProbe. N.p., 3 Sept 2006. Web. 16 October 2012.
“Veronica.” Bloomsbury Guide to Art Credo Reference. Web. 13 October 2012.
Links for further research:
Bible Probe Blog Post: “Veil of Veronica-history of”
A post containing information on the history of St. Veronica’s veil.
Catholic Culture Article: “St. Veronica’s Veil Found” By Paul Badde
An original article by Paul Badde about the former and current location of the religious relic.
St. Peter’s Basilica: St. Veronica’s Statue
This webpage contains pictures of St. Veronica’s statue in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome and gives background information on the legend of the veil and its symbolism in the church.
The Vatican: Sixth Station of the Cross
Shows a picture of the Catholic Church’s sixth station of the cross as St. Veronica wiping the face of Jesus while He is crucified on the cross.