Vignettes from Nature, a book written by Grant Allen and published from London in 1881 has this interesting note: the piece of cloth with which Jesus' face is believed to have been wiped on his way to Calvary was originally known in Latin as 'Vera Icon' meaning 'True Image' which was adapted to name the woman saint who had done the act of compassion.Hence the name St. Veronica. There is no reference of the incident in the Gospels. But, it is mentioned in the 'Via Sacra' or Way of the Cross , a Catholic devotion commemorating the Passion of Christ. Can someone substantiate how St. Veronica got her Name?

PS: There is a question on CSE involving the subject, but does not answer my question. Where did the account of Veronica originate?

1 Answer 1


How did St. Veronica get her name?

The most probable way St. Veronica got her name was in honour of the feat of charity she had shown towards Jesus while on his route to being crucified.

Most historians would easily admit that her actual name is lost to history. Nothing is known about St. Veronica, although the apocryphal Acts of Pilate identify her with the woman mentioned in the Gospel of Matthew who suffered from an issue of blood. Her name is probably derived from Veronica, the woman of the veil, after her act of compassion.

There are no legends from the period which speak of St. Veronica either before or after her act of compassion. We do not know when she was born or when she died. She is literally lost to history. However, the cloth may still exist today, kept safe at St. Peter's in Rome.

Some legends give her the name of Berenike or Seraphia.

Here is how Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich explains how she got her name.

Her name was Seraphia, taken from the Seraphim, the angels on fire with love. It suited her well. She was the niece of the old Temple prophet, Simeon. She was cousin of John the Baptist through his father Zachary. Yet she is known to the world only as Veronica, the woman of the veil.

She was tall and stately, a woman of about fifty, still showing the beauty she was once known for in her youth. She stood, waiting on the steps leading to her house, listening to the cursing, jeering, and yelling of the crowd as the slow pitiful procession approached.

Frightened, yet deep in sorrow, Seraphia waited, her veil wrapped about her head, holding the hand of her little adopted daughter. Then she saw Him coming, the One she knew was the Messiah, bloodied from the terrible scourging, a crown of sharp thorns upon His head, barely able to walk while carrying the cross of His crucifixion. How had it come to this? Only a few days ago people stood cheering Him on the roadway leading into Jerusalem, as Jesus entered the city on a donkey. They laid their coats and palm branches before Him crying, “Hosanna, Hosanna.”

She had been there. She had removed the long veil from her head and spread it out before Him as He rode by, giving her a loving, and knowing glance.

Now everything was turned upside down. The slow procession was just before her. Taking all the courage she could gather, Seraphia forced her way through the jeering crowd and ran in front of Jesus, causing the long line of boisterous soldiers carrying chains and whips, executioners, and Pharisees on horseback to halt. She knelt on one knee, quickly removed her veil, and handed it to Jesus.

“Master, wipe your face so that you may better see your way.”

Jesus gratefully took the scarf and wiped the blood, sweat, and spit from His face and eyes.

Stunned, then enraged, Caiaphas and the other Pharisees, already impatient with the slow pace, screamed, “Get that woman out of here! How dare she interfere and give homage to a criminal!”

One of the soldiers roughly pulled her away. Clutching her veil to her, she pushed through the crowd and rushed up the steps to her house. She flung the veil onto a table and collapsed onto the floor. A few minutes later a friend burst into the room, saw her and roused her, exclaiming “Seraphia, that was such a brave thing you did.”

Looking at the veil lying on the table her friend cried, “Look at your veil”. Looking at the veil, Seraphia saw the bloody imprint of the face of Jesus. She was filled with both grief and consolation. On her knees before the image she declared, “Now will I leave all, for the Lord has given me a memento.”

She held the veil to her heart and followed Mary, the mother of Jesus, Mary Klopas, her niece, Johanna, and the other holy women to the place of the crucifixion. After Joseph of Arimathea and the others had taken Jesus down from the cross, they all formed a small procession to the tomb where Jesus was laid.

In a few days, word of Seraphia’s miraculous veil spread all over the little community of the faithful. Everyone flocked to her to see and marvel at the wonderful cloth. Soon they were calling her Veronica, from veri icon, the “true image.” This remained her name ever after.

Seraphia: The Real Veronica (Based on the Visions of Anne Catherine Emmerich)

The cloth is believed to exist today in the Vatican and is considered one of the most treasured relics of the Church. The Vatican's relic is displayed, although briefly, on the 5th Sunday of Lent each year.

Her name has never been inserted into the Roman Martyrology.

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