Saint Veronica

Last updated
Saint Veronica
Hans Memling 026.jpg
Saint Veronica, by Hans Memling, c. 1470.
Born1st century AD
Caesarea Philippi or Jerusalem, Judea
Venerated in
Canonized Pre-Congregation
Feast July 12 [1]
Attributes Cloth that bears the image of Christ's face
Patronage images; laundry workers, pictures, photos, photographers,; [2] Santa Veronica, San Pablo City, Laguna

Saint Veronica was a woman of Jerusalem in the first century AD, according to extra-biblical Christian Sacred tradition. [3] A celebrated saint in many pious Christian countries, the 17th-century Acta Sanctorum published by the Bollandists listed her feast under July 12, [4] but the German Jesuit scholar Joseph Braun cited her commemoration in Festi Marianni on 13 January.

Jerusalem City in the Middle East

Jerusalem is a city in the Middle East, located on a plateau in the Judaean Mountains between the Mediterranean and the Dead Sea. It is one of the oldest cities in the world, and is considered holy to the three major Abrahamic religions—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Both Israel and the Palestinian Authority claim Jerusalem as their capital, as Israel maintains its primary governmental institutions there and the State of Palestine ultimately foresees it as its seat of power; however, neither claim is widely recognized internationally.

Sacred tradition, or holy tradition, is a theological term used in some Christian traditions, primarily those claiming apostolic succession, such as the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Assyrian, and Anglican traditions, to refer to the foundation of the doctrinal and spiritual authority of the Christian Church and of the Bible.

Christianity by country

As of the year 2015, Christianity has more than 2.3 billion adherents, out of about 7.5 billion people. The faith represents one-third of the world's population and is the largest religion in the world, with the three largest groups of Christians being the Catholic Church, Protestantism, and the Eastern Orthodox Church. The largest Christian denomination is the Catholic Church, with 1.2 billion adherents. The second largest Christian branch is either Protestantism, or the Eastern Orthodox Church.


According to Church tradition, Veronica was moved with sympathy when she saw Jesus carrying his cross to Golgotha and gave him her veil that he might wipe his forehead. Jesus accepted the offering, held it to his face, and then handed it back to her—the image of his face miraculously impressed upon it. This piece of cloth became known as the Veil of Veronica. [5] [6] [7]

Jesus Central figure of Christianity

Jesus, also referred to as Jesus of Nazareth and Jesus Christ, was a first-century Jewish preacher and religious leader. He is the central figure of Christianity, and is widely described as the most influential person in history. Most Christians believe he is the incarnation of God the Son and the awaited Messiah (Christ) prophesied in the Old Testament.

Veil of Veronica sweat cloth relic of St. Veronica

The Veil of Veronica, or Sudarium, often called simply "The Veronica" and known in Italian as the Volto Santo or Holy Face, is a Christian relic of a piece of cloth which, according to tradition, bears the likeness of the face of Jesus not made by human hand. Various existing images have been claimed to be the "original" relic, or early copies of it.

The story of Veronica is celebrated in the sixth Station of the Cross in many Anglican, Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist and Western Orthodox churches. [3] [8] [9]

Stations of the Cross series of artistic representations, depicting Christ Carrying the Cross to his crucifixion

The Stations of the Cross or the Way of the Cross, also known as the Way of Sorrows or the Via Crucis, refers to a series of images depicting Jesus Christ on the day of his crucifixion and accompanying prayers. The stations grew out of imitations of Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem which is believed to be the actual path Jesus walked to Mount Calvary. The object of the stations is to help the Christian faithful to make a spiritual pilgrimage through contemplation of the Passion of Christ. It has become one of the most popular devotions and the stations can be found in many Western Christian churches, including Anglican, Lutheran, Methodist, and Roman Catholic ones.

Catholic Church Christian church led by the Bishop of Rome

The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with approximately 1.3 billion baptised Catholics worldwide as of 2017. As the world's "oldest continuously functioning international institution", it has played a prominent role in the history and development of Western civilisation. The church is headed by the Bishop of Rome, known as the Pope. Its central administration, the Holy See, is in the Vatican City, an enclave within the city of Rome in Italy.


Statue of Saint Veronica by Francesco Mochi in a niche of the pier supporting the main dome of Saint Peter's Basilica. Saint veronica.jpg
Statue of Saint Veronica by Francesco Mochi in a niche of the pier supporting the main dome of Saint Peter's Basilica.
Albrecht Durer's 1513 Veronica Veronica.jpg
Albrecht Dürer's 1513 Veronica

There is no reference to the story of St Veronica and her veil in the canonical Gospels. The closest is the miracle of the unnamed woman who was healed by touching the hem of Jesus’s garment (Luke 8:43–48). The apocryphal "Acts of Pilate" gives her name as Berenikē or Beronike (Greek : Βερενίκη). The name "Veronica" is a Latinisation of this Macedonian name. The story was later elaborated in the 11th century by adding that Christ gave her a portrait of himself on a cloth, with which she later cured the Emperor Tiberius. The linking of this with the bearing of the cross in the Passion only occurs around 1380, in the internationally popular book Meditations on the life of Christ. [10]

Apocrypha literature and art

Apocrypha are works, usually written, of unknown authorship or of doubtful origin. Biblical apocrypha is a set of texts included in the Latin Vulgate and Septuagint but not in the Hebrew Bible. While Catholic tradition considers some of these texts to be deuterocanonical, Protestants consider them apocryphal. Thus, Protestant bibles do not include the books within the Old Testament but have often included them in a separate section, usually called the Apocrypha. Other non-canonical apocryphal texts are generally called pseudepigrapha, a term that means "false attribution".

Greek language language spoken in Greece, Cyprus and Southern Albania

Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages, native to Greece, Cyprus and other parts of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea. It has the longest documented history of any living Indo-European language, spanning more than 3000 years of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the major part of its history; other systems, such as Linear B and the Cypriot syllabary, were used previously. The alphabet arose from the Phoenician script and was in turn the basis of the Latin, Cyrillic, Armenian, Coptic, Gothic, and many other writing systems.

Ancient Macedonian, the language of the ancient Macedonians, either a dialect of Ancient Greek or a separate Hellenic language, was spoken in the kingdom of Macedonia during the 1st millennium BC and belongs to the Indo-European language family. It gradually fell out of use during the 4th century BC, marginalized by the use of Attic Greek by the Macedonian aristocracy, the Ancient Greek dialect that became the basis of Koine Greek, the lingua franca of the Hellenistic period.

Some academic sources suggest a different origin for the legend of St. Veronica: that the cloth bearing an image of Jesus' face was known in Latin as the vera icon ("true image"), and that this name for the relic was misinterpreted as the name of a saint. The Catholic Encyclopaedia of 1913 writes: [11]

The belief in the existence of authentic images of Christ is connected with the old legend of King Abgar of Edessa and the apocryphal writing known as the "Mors Pilati" ("the Death of Pilate"). To distinguish at Rome the oldest and best known of these images it was called the vera icon (true image), which in the common tongue soon became "Veronica." It is thus designated in several medieval texts mentioned by the Bollandists (e.g. an old Missal of Augsburg has a Mass "De S. Veronica seu Vultus Domini" - "Saint Veronica, or the Face of the Lord"), and Matthew of Westminster speaks of the imprint of the image of the Savior which is called Veronica: "Effigies Domenici vultus quae Veronica nuncupatur" - "effigy of the face of the Lord which is called a Veronica". By degrees, popular imagination mistook this word for the name of a person and attached thereto several legends which vary according to the country. [translations in italics added]

Pontius Pilate was the fifth Prefect of the Roman province of Judaea, from AD 26–36

Pontius Pilate was the fifth prefect of the Roman province of Judaea, serving under Emperor Tiberius from AD 26/27 to 36/37. He is known for adjudicating on the trial and crucifixion of Jesus.

Bollandist group of humans

The Bollandists or Bollandist Society are an association of scholars, philologists, and historians who since the early seventeenth century have studied hagiography and the cult of the saints in Christianity. Their most important publication has been the Acta Sanctorum. They are named after Jean Bolland or Bollandus (1596–1665).

Matthew of Westminster, long regarded as the author of the Flores Historiarum, is now thought never to have existed.

The reference to Abgar is related to a similar legend in the Eastern Church, the Image of Edessa or Mandylion.

The Encyclopædia Britannica says this about the legend:

Eusebius in his Historia Ecclesiastica (vii 18) tells how at Caesarea Philippi lived the woman whom Christ healed of an issue of blood (Matthew 9:20-22). Legend was not long in providing the woman of the Gospel with a name. In the West she was identified with Martha of Bethany; in the East she was called Berenike, or Beronike, the name appearing in as early a work as the "Acta Pilati", the most ancient form of which goes back to the fourth century. The fanciful derivation of the name Veronica from the words Vera Icon (eikon) "true image" dates back to the "Otia Imperialia" (iii 25) of Gervase of Tilbury (fl. 1211), who says: "Est ergo Veronica pictura Domini vera" (translated: "The Veronica is, therefore, a true picture of the Lord.")

Saint Veronica was mentioned in the reported visions of Jesus by Sister Marie of St Peter, a Carmelite nun who lived in Tours, France, and started the devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus. In 1844, Sister Marie reported that in a vision, she saw Saint Veronica wiping away the spit and mud from the face of Jesus with her veil on the way to Calvary. She said that sacrilegious and blasphemous acts today are adding to the spit and mud that Saint Veronica wiped away that day. According to Sr Marie of St Peter, in her visions Jesus told her that he desired devotion to His Holy Face in reparation for sacrilege and blasphemy. Acts of Reparation to Jesus Christ are thus compared to Saint Veronica wiping the face of Jesus. [12] [13]

The Devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus was eventually approved by Pope Leo XIII in 1885. St Veronica is commemorated on 12 July.

Official Patronage

Saint Veronica is the patron of the French mulquiniers whose representations they celebrated biannually (summer and winter) as in many pious Christian countries.

Statue of Veronica, used during the Good Friday procession in Zejtun, Malta. Veronicazejtun.jpg
Statue of Veronica, used during the Good Friday procession in Zejtun, Malta.

In Volume 5 of her work, The Poem of the Man God , Italian writer and alleged mystic Maria Valtorta depicts Veronica as Nike, who offered the linen cloth to Christ. It is also stated earlier in the same volume that "The one we call Veronica and whom Jesus called Nike..." suggesting that Nike has been mistakenly referred to as Veronica throughout history. [14]

Selma Lagerlöf in Christ Legends [15] expands the legend by making Veronica a former servant of Emperor Tiberius, named Faustina, who travels to Jerusalem in search of the Prophet of Nazareth, after learning that he once cured a young woman of leprosy. She travels on behalf of Tiberius, now himself stricken, hoping to bring him a cure and redemption from his evil ways. Faustina arrives on the day of the Crucifixion, and the rest is legend.

Mel Gibson's film The Passion of the Christ (2004) included an episode of Veronica wiping Jesus's face, although she is not referred to by name in the film (she is credited in the film as "Seraphia"). Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich, one of the inspirational sources to the cited movie, depicts a long and touching description of the St Veronica episode and she identifies the true name of St Veronica also as "Seraphia". [16]

The most common pass with the cape in bullfighting is called a verónica, as the torero holds the cape in the same way as Saint Veronica is usually depicted holding the cloth.

The song "Climb" by Tori Amos on her 2017 album Native Invader contains repeated references to Saint Veronica.

See also

Related Research Articles

Gospel of Nicodemus apocryphal gospel

The Gospel of Nicodemus, also known as the Acts of Pilate, is an apocryphal gospel claimed to have been derived from an original Hebrew work written by Nicodemus, who appears in the Gospel of John as an associate of Jesus. The title "Gospel of Nicodemus" is medieval in origin. The dates of its accreted sections are uncertain, but according to the 1907 edition of the Catholic Encyclopedia scholars agree in assigning the resulting work to the middle of the fourth century AD.

A number of relics are claimed to be associated with Jesus and have been displayed throughout the history of Christianity. While some individuals believe in the authenticity of Jesus relics, others doubt their validity. For instance, the sixteenth-century philosopher Erasmus wrote about the proliferation of relics, and the number of buildings that could be constructed from wooden relics claimed to be from the crucifixion cross of Jesus. Similarly, at least thirty Holy Nails were venerated as relics across Europe in the early 20th century. Part of the relics are included in the so-called Arma Christi, or the Instruments of the Passion.

Image of Edessa relic consisting of a square or rectangle of cloth upon which a miraculous image of the face of Jesus had been imprinted

According to Christian tradition, the Image of Edessa was a holy relic consisting of a square or rectangle of cloth upon which a miraculous image of the face of Jesus had been imprinted—the first icon ("image"). In the Orthodox Churches, including English-speaking Orthodoxy, the image is generally known as the Mandylion.

<i>Via Dolorosa</i> thoroughfare in Jerusalem

The Via Dolorosa is a processional route in the Old City of Jerusalem, believed to be the path that Jesus walked on the way to his crucifixion. The winding route from the Antonia Fortress west to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre—a distance of about 600 metres —is a celebrated place of Christian pilgrimage. The current route has been established since the 18th century, replacing various earlier versions. It is today marked by nine Stations of the Cross; there have been fourteen stations since the late 15th century, with the remaining five stations being inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

Thaddeus of Edessa Patriarch of the Church of the East

According to some Eastern Christian traditions, Thaddeus,, was one of the seventy disciples of Christ, possibly identical with Thaddeus of the Twelve Apostles.

Our Lady of Perpetual Help title of Maria

Our Lady of Perpetual Help is a Roman Catholic title of the Blessed Virgin Mary as represented in a celebrated 15th-century Byzantine icon also associated with the same Marian apparition.

The Golden Arrow prayer

The Golden Arrow prayer is based on reports of visions of Jesus by Sr. Marie of St Peter, a Carmelite nun of Tours, in 1843. It is a prayer of Reparation in praise of the holy name of God. It is also a reparation for the profanation of Sunday and the Holy Days of Obligation.

Acheiropoieta Christian icon said to have come into existence miraculously

Acheiropoieta — also called Icons Made Without Hands — are Christian icons which are said to have come into existence miraculously; not created by a human. Invariably these are images of Jesus or the Virgin Mary. The most notable examples that are credited by tradition among the faithful are, in the Eastern church the Mandylion, also known as the Image of Edessa, and the Hodegetria, and several Russian icons, and in the West the Shroud of Turin, Veil of Veronica, Our Lady of Guadalupe, and Manoppello Image. The term is also used of icons that are only regarded as normal human copies of a miraculously created original archetype.

Montreuil Abbey, or Montreuil-les-Dames, was a Cistercian nunnery in the Diocese of Laon, France, located at first at Montreuil-en-Thiérache until the 17th century and afterwards in Laon, where it was known as Montreuil-sous-Laon.

Holy Face of Jesus

The Holy Face of Jesus is a title for specific images which some Catholics believe to have been miraculously formed representations of the face of Jesus Christ. The image obtained from the Shroud of Turin is associated with a specific medal worn by some Roman Catholics and is also one of the Catholic Devotions to Christ.

Marie of St Peter French nun

Marie of Saint Peter, O.C.D. (1816–1848) was a Discalced Carmelite nun who lived in Tours, France. She is best known for starting the devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus which is now one of the approved Catholic devotions and for the Golden Arrow Prayer. She also introduced the Little Sachet sacramental.

Maria Pierina Roman Catholic religious Sister

Blessed Maria Pierina De Micheli (1890–1945) was a Roman Catholic religious Sister who was born near Milan in Italy. She is best known for her association with the Holy Face of Jesus and for introducing a medal bearing an image from the Shroud of Turin as part of this devotion.

Leo Dupont 19th-century French Catholic religious order founder

Venerable Leo Dupont, also known as "The Holy Man of Tours," or the "Apostle of the Holy Face", was a Catholic who helped spread various Catholic devotions such as that of the Holy Face of Jesus and nightly Eucharistic Adoration. He was declared Venerable by the Holy See during Pope Pius XII's Pontificate and currently awaits Beatification.

The Pontifical Congregation of the Benedictine Sisters of the Reparation of the Holy Face is a Roman Catholic order whose focus is providing Acts of Reparation to Jesus Christ.

Catholic devotions to Jesus

The Roman Catholic tradition includes a number of devotions to Jesus Christ. Like all Catholic devotions, these prayer forms are not part of the official public liturgy of the Church but are based on the popular spiritual practices of Roman Catholics. Many are officially approved by the Holy See as suitable for spiritual growth but not necessary for salvation.

The Oratory of the Holy Face is a Roman Catholic prayer oratory in Tours France. It is the site where devotions to the Holy Face of Jesus started in Tours by Venerable Leo Dupont based on messages reported by Sister Marie of St. Peter. It receives many Catholic pilgrims every year.

Manoppello Image religious image stored in a church in the village of Manoppello, Italy

The Manoppello Image is an image of a face, often supposed to be Jesus, on a cloth that is stored in a church in the village of Manoppello, Italy. The church, known as Santuario del Volto Santo, is part of a monastery belonging to Capuchin friars. There have been claims that the cloth is the Veil of Veronica.

Camuliana, Camulia or Kamoulia was an ancient town or perhaps a village in Cappadocia, located northwest of Caesarea, today Kayseri in Turkey. It is mostly mentioned in connection with the Image of Camuliana, an acheiropoieton or "icon not made by hands" of the face of Christ, which was one of the earliest of this class of miraculously created icons to be recorded; this is also sometimes referred to simply as the "Camouliana".

<i>Ecce Homo and Mater Dolorosa Diptych</i> covered diptych by Aelbert Bout (painting) and unknown (construction ensemble)

The Ecce Homo and Mater Dolorosa Diptych consisted of two small oil-on-panel paintings usually attributed to the Early Netherlandish artist Aelbrecht Bouts produced between 1491 – 1520. For many years they formed the wings of a hinged devotional diptych, but are now broken apart. Although their exact dating is unknown, the Ecce Homo panel, portraying Jesus bound and crowned with thorns, is though to have been painted after 1491, while the Mater Dolorosa panel presents the Virgin Mary as Our Lady of Sorrows, and was painted after 1517. Both panels measure 45.5 x 31 cm, although the Mater Dolorosa is slightly larger at 31.1 cm wide. They are in the collection of the Suermondt-Ludwig-Museum, Aachen, Germany, where they are hung alongside each other.


  1. Catholic Online
  2. Patron Saints Index: Saint Veronica Archived 2008-05-12 at the Wayback Machine
  3. 1 2 "Stations of the Cross". Trinity UMC. 24 March 2013. Archived from the original on 17 April 2015. Retrieved 17 April 2015. This tradition began most prominently with St. Francis of Assisi (1182 – 1226) and spread to other churches in the medieval period. It is also observed by a growing number of Anglicans, Methodists, and Lutherans. It is most commonly done during Lent, especially on Good Friday.
  4. Harper, Douglas (November 2001). "Veronica". Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved 2007-08-24.
  5. Notes and Queries , Volume 6 July–December 1852, London, page 252
  6. The Archaeological journal (UK), Volume 7, 1850 page 413
  7. Alban Butler, 2000 Lives of the Saints ISBN   0-86012-256-5 page 84
  8. Vatican Website Sixth Station
  9. Religious Literacy (Stephen Prothero), HarperCollins Publishers, page 284
  10. Wilson, Ian (1991). Holy Faces, Secret Places. Garden City: Doubleday. p. 175. ISBN   978-0-385-26105-0.
  11. PD-icon.svg Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "St. Veronica". Catholic Encyclopedia . New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  12. Dorothy Scallan, Emeric B Scallan, "The Life & Revelations of Sr. Mary of St. Peter," 1994, ISBN   0-89555-389-9
  13. Joan Carroll Cruz, OCDS. "Saintly Men of Modern Times," 2003, ISBN   1-931709-77-7
  14. Valtorta, Maria (1956). Poem of the Man-God. 5. Italy: Centro Editoriale Valtortiano. pp. 305–316. ISBN   9788386092772.
  15. Lagerlöf, Selma. Christ Legends.
  16. Emerich, Anne Catherine. Dolorious Passion.