Veronica was a disciple of Jesus. She was born in the first century after Christ and died in Israel around the year 70. Her name actually means ‘the one who brings victory’. In this particular case it means ‘the true image’ from the Latin ‘vera icon’.
There are several versions of the story surrounding the scarf of Veronica.
The original legend says that Veronica told the messenger of the sick Emperor Tiberius that in order to always have an image of Jesus Christ with her, she asked him for an image. She had a cloth with her, handed it to him and received it back with his face pressed in.
Veronica went with the messenger to Rome, where the cloth showed its healing power: Tiberius, who had a wasps’ nest in his head, became healthy.
Saint Veronika in Saint Peter’s Basilica (Rome)
Saint Veronica offering her veil to Christ in Santa Prassede (Rome)
Around 1300, extended versions of the legend were created, which assign Veronica to the Passion of Christ: According to this, Veronica stood as one of the many women at the Way of the Cross; when the Saviour collapsed, she handed him her sweatshroud, on which the imprint of his face with the crown of thorns was preserved.
Byzantine legend has it that Jesus, while still alive, sent to King Abgar V of Edessa a miraculous cloth with the image of his face, which he had placed at the Edessa city gate, where the image was preserved in brick.
Recent versions of this legend report that it was not Abgar but his daughter Berenice who received the cloth. The name Veronika is a Latinisation of this old Macedonian name.
Until today it is still disputed which of the cloth in question is the original. On the ways of the cross the legend of St. Veronica is depicted as the sixth station.
Even today, during the Passion, a Veronica shawl is shown on the relic balcony in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
Veronica’s bones are said to rest in the church of St-Seurin in Bordeaux.
She is the patron saint of photographers, parish housekeepers, laundresses, whitewashers, linen weavers and merchants. Her assistance is also requested in case of serious injuries, against blood flow and for a good death.