Veil of Veronica

Veronica holding her veil, Hans Memling, c. 1470

The Veil of Veronica, or Sudarium (Latin for sweat-cloth), often called simply "The Veronica" and known in Italian as the Volto Santo or Holy Face (but not to be confused with the carved crucifix Volto Santo of Lucca), 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 (i.e. an acheiropoieton). Various existing images have been claimed to be the "original" relic, or early copies of it.

The final form of the Western tradition recounts that Saint Veronica from Jerusalem encountered Jesus along the Via Dolorosa on the way to Calvary. When she paused to wipe the blood and sweat (Latin sudor) off his face with her veil, his image was imprinted on the cloth. The event is commemorated by the Sixth Station of the Cross. According to some versions, St. Veronica later traveled to Rome to present the cloth to the Roman Emperor Tiberius, and the veil, possessing the Grace of God, was able to quench thirst, cure blindness, and even raise the dead.

The story is not recorded in its present form until the Middle Ages. During the fourteenth century it became a central icon in the Western Church; in the words of art historian Neil Macgregor: "From [the 14th Century] on, wherever the Roman Church went, the Veronica would go with it."[1] The act of Saint Veronica wiping the face of Jesus with her veil is celebrated in the sixth Station of the Cross in many Anglican, Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist and Western Orthodox churches.[2][3][4]

"Christ carrying the cross", attributed to Hieronymus Bosch; in the lower-left corner: Veronica with the veil

The story

19th-century group of St Veronica offering Jesus the veil, from a series of Stations of the Cross.

There is no reference to the story of Veronica and her veil in the canonical Gospels. The closest written reference is the miracle of Jesus healing the bleeding woman by touching the hem of Jesus' garment (Luke 8:43–48); her name is later identified as Veronica by the apocryphal "Acts of Pilate". 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 Tiberius. The linking of this with the bearing of the cross in the Passion, and the miraculous appearance of the image was made by Roger d'Argenteuil's Bible in French in the 13th century,[5] and gained further popularity following the internationally popular work Meditations on the Life of Christ of about 1300. It is also at this point that other depictions of the image change to include a crown of thorns, blood, and the expression of a man in pain,[6] and the image became very common throughout Catholic Europe, forming part of the Arma Christi, and with the meeting of Jesus and Veronica becoming one of the Stations of the Cross.

On the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem there is a small chapel, known as the Chapel of the Holy Face.[7] Traditionally, this is regarded as the home of St Veronica and site of the miracle.[8]

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, the name "Veronica" is a colloquial portmanteau of the Latin word vera, meaning truth, and Greek icon (eikon), meaning "image"; the Veil of Veronica was therefore largely regarded in medieval times as "the true image", and the truthful representation of Jesus, preceding the Shroud of Turin.[9]

Other Languages
català: Santa Faç
español: Santa Faz
hrvatski: Veronikin rubac
polski: Veraicon
português: Véu de Verônica
slovenčina: Veronikina šatka
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Veronikin rubac