Saint Veronica
Hans Memling 026.jpg
Saint Veronica, by Hans Memling.
Born 1st century AD, Caesarea Philippi or Jerusalem, Palaestina
Died 1st century AD
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church
Feast July 12
Attributes woman holding a cloth that bears the image of Christ's face
Patronage laundry workers; photographers,[1] Brgy. Sta. Veronica, San Pablo City

Saint Veronica or Berenice, according to the "Acta Sanctorum" published by the Bollandists (under February 4),[2] was a pious woman of Jerusalem who, moved with pity as Jesus carried his cross to Golgotha, gave him her veil that he might wipe his forehead. Jesus accepted the offering and after using it handed it back to her, the image of his face miraculously impressed upon it.[3][4][5]

The name "Veronica" itself is a latinization of Berenice, a Macedonian name, meaning "bearer of victory" (corresponding to Greek: phere-nikē). Folk etymology has attributed its origin to the words for true (Latin: vera) and image (Greek: eikon). The Encyclopaedia Britannica says this about the legend:

Eusebius in his Historia Ecclesiastica (vii 18) tells how at Caesarea Philippi lived the woman whom Christ healed of an issue of blood (Matt ix 20). 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 "Acta Pilati," the most ancient form of which goes back to the fourth century. It is interesting to note that the fanciful derivation of the name Veronica from the words Vera Icon (eikon) "true image" dates back to the "Otia Imperialia" (iii 25) of Gervase of Tilbury (fl 1211), who says: "Est ergo Veronica pictura Domini vera."

The Catholic Encyclopaedia of 1913 had this to say about the growth of the legend (translations in italics added):[6]

The belief in the existence of authentic images of Christ is connected with the old legend of King Abgar of Edessa and the apocryphal writing known as the "Mors Pilati" ("the Death of Pilate"). To distinguish at Rome the oldest and best known of these images it was called the vera icon (true image), which in the common tongue soon became "Veronica." It is thus designated in several medieval texts mentioned by the Bollandists (e.g. an old Missal of Augsburg has a Mass "De S. Veronica seu Vultus Domini") of ("Saint Veronica, or the Face of the Lord"), and Matthew of Westminster speaks of the imprint of the image of the Savior which is called Veronica: "Effigies Domenici vultus quae Veronica nuncupatur" ("effigy of the face of the Lord which is called a Veronica"). By degrees, popular imagination mistook this word for the name of a person and attached thereto several legends which vary according to the country.

Veronica legends

Saint veronica

The shrine of Saint Veronica in the Basilica di San Pietro

There is no reference to the story of St Veronica and her veil in the canonical Gospels. The closest is the miracle of the woman who was healed by touching the hem of Jesus’ garment (Luke 8:43–48); her name is later identified as Veronica by the apocryphal "Acts of Pilate". The story was later elaborated in the 11th century by adding that Christ gave her a portrait of himself on a cloth, with which she later cured the Emperor Tiberius. The linking of this with the bearing of the cross in the Passion, and the miraculous appearance of the image only occurs around 1380, in the internationally popular book Meditations on the life of Christ.[7] The story of Veronica is celebrated in the sixth Station of the Cross.[8]

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, the name "Veronica" comes from the Latin vera, meaning "true" or "truthful", and the Greek eikon, meaning "image"; the Veil of Veronica was therefore largely regarded in medieval times as the "true image", the truthful representation of Jesus, preceding the Shroud of Turin.[6]


Albrecht Dürer's 1513 Veronica (as he called it in his diary); its heraldic presentation with matched angelic supporters emphasizes the startling realism of the image.

Saint Veronica was mentioned in the reported visions of Jesus by Sister Marie of St Peter, a Carmelite nun who lived in Tours, France, and started the devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus. In 1844, Sister Marie reported that in a vision, she saw Saint Veronica wiping away the spit and mud from the face of Jesus with her veil on the way to Calvary. She said that sacrilegious and blasphemous acts today are adding to the spit and mud that Saint Veronica wiped away that day. According to Sr Marie of St Peter, in her visions Jesus told her that He desired devotion to His Holy Face in reparation for sacrilege and blasphemy. Acts of Reparation to Jesus Christ are thus compared to Saint Veronica wiping the face of Jesus.[9][10]

The Devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus was eventually approved by Pope Leo XIII in 1885. St Veronica is commemorated on Shrove Tuesday, the same day as the feast day for the devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus.

Veronica in popular culture


Mel Gibson's film The Passion of the Christ (2004) included an episode of Veronica wiping Jesus' face, although she is not referred to by name in the film (she is credited in the film as "Seraphia"). Venerable Anne Catherine Emmerich, one of the inspirational sources to the cited movie, depicts a long and touching description of the St Veronica episode.


  1. Patron Saints Index: Saint Veronica
  2. Harper, Douglas (November 2001). "Veronica". Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved 2007-08-24. 
  3. Notes and Queries, Volume 6 July-December 1852, London, page 252
  4. The Archaeological journal (UK), Volume 7, 1850 page 413
  5. Alban Butler, 2000 Lives of the Saints ISBN 0860122565 page 84
  6. 6.0 6.1 "St. Veronica". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913. 
  7. Wilson, Ian (1991). Holy Faces, Secret Places. Garden City: Doubleday. pp. 175. ISBN 9780385261050. 
  8. Vatican Website Sixth Station
  9. Dorothy Scallan, Emeric B Scallan, "The Life & Revelations of Sr. Mary of St. Peter," 1994, ISBN 0895553899
  10. Joan Carroll Cruz, OCDS. "Saintly Men of Modern Times," 2003, ISBN 1931709777

See also

Churches and parishes named in her honor

External links

hy:Վերոնիկա, Սուրբja:ヴェロニカ (聖人) no:St. Veronikaru:Святая Вероника simple:Saint Veronica sv:Veronica