St. Veronica is the True Image of Compassion

St. Veronica is honored on July 12.

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A large crowd of people followed Jesus, including many women who mourned and lamented him. ―Luke 23:27

The name Veronica actually never appears in Scripture, nor is this Veronica included in the Roman Martyrology. However, Luke’s Gospel shares that many women grieved for Jesus as he carried his cross to Golgotha, and it is claimed that one of these women had a piece of cloth with her and used it to clean the distressed face of the suffering Christ. In Catholic churches around the world, this belief can be found within the Sixth Station of the Cross—one of a series of depictions outlining the Passion of Jesus.

The name Veronica is derived from the Latin vera (true) and icon (image) and was likely given to this woman due to the credence that as she tried to absorb the sweat, dirt, and blood from the face of Jesus, a miraculous image of his face was left on the fabric. St. Veronica's cloth bearing the imprint of Jesus' face is claimed to be in a variety of places, including St. Peter's in Rome and a monastery in Manoppello, Italy.

Some have also claimed that Veronica is the same as the biblical woman who suffered from 12 years of hemorrhages. This story can be found in three of the Gospels: Matthew, Mark, and Luke, tucked within the story of Jesus going to raise Jairus’s daughter from the dead. It shares an account of a timid yet believing woman who had suffered for many years; she saw Jesus in a crowd and discreetly reached out to touch the hem of His cloak, hoping for relief. Jesus felt some power leave him and so asked who had touched his cloak. The reticent woman (Veronica?) admitted that it had been she. Jesus was impressed with her faith, and she was healed.

While these traditions and assertions cannot be proven, we do know that a bleeding woman displayed great faith in the Lord and was healed. And we know that there were pious women present along the Via Dolorosa, mournful over Christ’s agony. We don’t know the names of any of them with certainty; however, they all had the reflection―or true image―of Jesus in their hearts, and so the name of Veronica could symbolize at least one if not several of these holy women.

 

Pondering St. Veronica through Scripture

St. Veronica is honored on July 12. She could be a perfect saint to turn to for caregivers, face wounds, or hemorrhaging problems. The verses below might help to contemplate the life of St. Veronica and offer inspiration to become like a Veronica to someone in your life.

  • Matthew 9:20–22
  • Mark 5:25–34
  • Luke 8:43–48
  • Luke 23:27