Saint Veronica (also Berenice) is known as the woman who wiped Christ’s face as He carried His cross towards Golgotha and as the woman who Christ cured of the issue of blood, who is also traditionally identified as Herod the Great’s niece. The Church celebrates her feast day on July 12.
Few concrete details are known of the life of Saint Veronica, though much folklore has arisen, especially in Western Christendom, concerning her miraculous cloth, or veil, which touched the face of Christ.
Traditionally, Veronica came to believe in Christ when He healed her of an ailment that had afflicted her for twelve years:
- And, behold, a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind him, and
- touched the hem of his garment:
- For she said within herself, If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole.
- But Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole.
- And the woman was made whole from that hour. (Matthew 9)
The next episode that we hear of in her life is the famous cloth incident during Christ’s crucifixion. When Christ paused in exhaustion, Veronica was able to give the Lord her handkerchief. When she looked at the cloth again, she realized that an image of Christ’s face had appeared on it; this is often called the first icon. Veronica’s name itself is said to be derived from the Latin words meaning true (verus) image/icon .
No one is certain of what happened to Veronica in her later years, though one story has it that she cured the Roman Emperor Tiberius of some kind of sickness using her iconic cloth. Some sources say that she and her husband, named Zacchaeus, travelled all the way to Southern France confessing the Gospel.
Troparion (Tone 8)
- The image of God was truly preserved in you, O Mother,
- For you took up the Cross and followed Christ.
- By so doing, you taught us to disregard the flesh, for it passes away,
- But to care instead for the soul, since it is immortal.
- Therefore your spirit, O Holy Mother Veronica, rejoices with the Angels!