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Veronica, St

VERONICA, ST. According to the most recent version of the legend, Veronica was a. pious woman of Jerusalem, who, moved with pity by the spectacle of Jesus carrying His cross to Golgotha, gave Him her kerchief in order that He might wipe the drops of agony from His brow. The Lord accepted the offering, and after using the napkin handed it back to her with the image of His face miraculously impressed upon it. This, however, is not the primitive form of the legend, which a close examination shows to be derived from the following story related by Eusebius in his Historia Ecclesiastica (vii. 18). At Caesarea Philippi dwelt the woman whom the Lord healed of an issue of blood (Matt. ix. 20), and at the door of her house stood, on one side a statue of a woman in an attitude of supplication, and on the other side that of a man stretching forth his hand to the woman. It was said that the male figure represented Christ, and that the group had been set up in recognition of the miraculous -cure. Legend was not long in providing the woman of the Gospel with a name. In the West she was identified with Martha of Bethany; in the East she was called Berenike, or Beronike, the name appearing in as early a work as the Ada Pilati, the most ancient form of which goes back to the 4th century. Towards the 6th century the legend of the woman with the issue of blood became merged in the legend of Pilate, as is shown in the writings known in the middle ages as Cura sanitatis Tiberii and Vindicta Sahatoris. According to the former of these accounts Veronica, in memory of her cure, caused a portrait of the Saviour to be painted. The emperor Tiberius, when afflicted with a grievous sickness, commanded the woman to bring the portrait to him, worshipped Christ before her eyes, and was cured. The legend continued to gather accretions, and a miraculous origin came to be assigned to the image. It io 3 8 appears that in the 12th century the image began to be identified with one preserved at Rome, and in the popular speech the image, too, was called Veronica. It is interesting to note that the fanciful derivation of the same Veronica from the words Vera icon (euooi') " true image " is not, as has been thought, of modern origin, since it occurs in the Otia Imperialia (iii. 25) of Gervase of Tilbury (fl. 1211), who says: " Est ergo Veronica pictura Domini vera." In several churches the office of St Veronica, matron, is observed on various dates.

See Acta Sanctorum, February, i. 449-57; L. F. C. Tischendorf, Evangelia apocrypha (2nd ed., Leipzig, 1877), p. 239; E. von Dobschiitz, Christus'bilder (Leipzig, 1899); H. Thurston, The Stations of the Cross (London, 1906). (H. DE.)

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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