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Veronica

VERONICA

The Greek name Βερνίκη, Βερονίκη Beronica, given from antiquity to a woman, variously identified in legend with persons mentioned in the New Testament, who was associated with an image of the face of Christ that was said to have been brought to Rome. This name was later applied by metonymy to the image itself, which in medieval times was sometimes referred to as a veronica. This provided some plausibility for the suggestion of giraldus cambrensis in his Speculum ecclesiae that the word was derived from vera icon (true image), which in popular use became veronica and was appropriated as the proper name of the woman whom legend connected with the image.

There is evidence that a cloth with the image of the face of Christ was venerated at St. Peter's in Rome as early as the end of the 10th or the beginning of the 11th century, and there was a great devotion to it during the Middle Ages. It is still preserved among the major relics at St. Peter's, although what was depicted upon it has faded away or become indiscernible, or at any rate cannot be inspected or studied. Indications of its style, gathered from copies made in earlier times, suggest that the image was of a kind that had its prototy pe in the pe in the pe in the pe in the pe in the pe in the pe in the pe in the μανδύλιον of Edessa, brought to Constantinople in 944.

Various stories to account for the origin of the picture have been told. One of the earliest is an account given in the Mors Pilati, according to which a matron called Veronica, who desired to have a picture of Jesus to comfort her when He was away preaching, was taking a linen cloth to a painter to have a picture put upon it, when she happened to meet Jesus. He, upon hearing what she wished, took the cloth from her and caused his features to appear upon it [see M. R. James, tr., The Apocryphal New Testament (Oxford 1926)]. In later versions the image was caused by direct impression upon the face of Christ. At one time it was popularly believed that this occurred during the bloody sweat in the Garden. In the 14th century the story of a compassionate woman wiping the face of Christ on His way to Calvary began to find favor. There is no evidence that this event was a part of a popular belief in earlier times, and it was not pictured in art, so far as is known, before the 14th century. The woman, of course, was identified with the Veronica of earlier legend. She was venerated in various places as a saint and in some localities Mass and the Office were celebrated in her honor. St. Charles Borromeo suppressed these liturgical honors accorded to her in the Ambrosian Rite at Milan. The name Veronica is to be found in none of the early martyrologies, nor does it appear in the present Roman Martyrology in connection with this legendary woman. Veronica was venerated also under a number of variants of the nameBerenice, Bernice, Venice, Venisse, Vernice, Veronce, Verone, etc.

Bibliography: There is a very extensive Veronica literature, a guide to which can be found in the following sources. a. degert, The Catholic Encyclopedia, ed. c. g. herbermann, 16 v. (New York 190714; suppl. 1922) 15:362366. Acta Sanctorum (Paris 1863), February 1:454463. h. leclercq, Dictionnaire d'archéologie chrétienneet de liturgie, ed. f. cabrol, h. leclercq and h. i. marrou, 15 v. (Paris 190753) 15.2:296266. a. butler, The Lives of the Saints, ed. h. thurston and d. attwater, 4 v. (New York 1956) 3:8283. l. rÉau, Iconographie de l'art chrétien, 6 v. (Paris 195559) 3.3:131417.

[p. k. meagher]

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