Thursday, July 25, 2013

Saint Veronica – Woman of Pity

Orthodox Icon depicting Saint Veronica. – Икона Святая Вероника.

Since I love the old legends and Orthodox icons, I want to share the following story with all of you.

According to an old Christian tradition, there lived a woman named Veronica in Jerusalem in the first century AD. The legend tells that she was the same woman whom Jesus healed of an issue of blood (bleeding). The Gospel of Matthew tells about this case:

"Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. She said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.” Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed at that moment." (Matthew 9:20-22)

Later Veronica saw Jesus carrying his cross to Golgotha. She was moved with pity and gave him her veil or towel so that he might wipe his forehead. Jesus accepted the offer, held the cloth to his face, and then handed it back to her, the image of his face miraculously impressed upon it.

This piece of cloth became known as the Veil of Veronica. It was like a photograph of Jesus' face (compare to the Turin Shroud). That's why Saint Veronica is today the patron saint of photographers! (^—^) In addition to this, St. Veronica is the patron saint of washerwomen or laundry workers.

The name Veronica means "victory" or "she who brings victory". Folk etymology claims that name comes from the Latin words vera, meaning "true", and icon, meaning "image". Vera icon – true image! How appropriate name, if the old legend is true (and I believe it is). In any case, I find this story very touching and beautiful.

Saint Veronica (Russian: Святая Вероника) is honored in the Eastern Orthodox Church as well as in the Roman Catholic Church. Her feast day is July 12th. A plant called Veronica is named in honour of Saint Veronica by Leonard Fuchs in 1542. Veronica is the largest genus in the flowering plant family Plantaginaceae.

I've been looking for Saint Veronica icon, but I can not find it from my country (I asked from the monasteries and Christian stores). I hope to find it someday. In the meantime, I can admire these images I found from the web. They may not be "true images", but I love to watch them anyway. Without words, they preach to me of mercy and compassion. Our Heavenly Father, let us all be the men and women of pity. Amen.

Blessings from my "monk's cell",


A later addition: The Hymn of Saint Veronica

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!


Another Icon of Saint Veronica.

Saint Veronica on stained glass window.

A summary in the Russian language
(not exactly the same as the original text, but almost)

Святая Вероника и «подлинный образ»

Святая Вероника, с памятью которой связан Нерукотворный образ страждущего Спасителя, стала одной из популярнейших народных святых, несмотря на то, что некоторые церковные инстанции и критические исследователи высказывались против исторической достоверности Вероники и ее легенды.

Преданный и осужденный на мученическую смерть Иисус Христос шел на гору Голгофу, неся Свой крест на распятие. Шествие окружала толпа, сопровождавшая Спасителя на крестные страдания. Вероника слилась с людским морем и следовала за Христом. Икона святой Вероники Икона святой Вероники Изнеможденный, Иисус пал под тяжестью креста, и Вероника, сжалившись над Ним, подбежала к Нему, напоила Его водой и дала Ему свой плат, утереть пот с лица.

Вернувшись домой, Вероника обнаружила, что на ткани запечатлелся святой лик Спасителя. Этот плат святой Вероники со временем попал в Рим и стал здесь известным под именем Нерукотворного образа. Дополнительно к этому общему для христианства преданию, Православная церковь считает Веронику той кровоточивой женщиной, которая получила исцеление от прикосновения к краю одежд Христа (Мф.9:20-22).

В мистериях Средневековья Вероника также заняла прочное место и поныне является главной фигурой шестой остановки Крестного пути. Предполагают, что имя Вероники представляет собой искаженное от латинского vera icon («подлинный образ») — так называли «плат Вероники», отличая его от других образов Христа. Образ и деяния святой Вероники послужили тому, что ее почитают как покровительницу фотографов и фотографии. Поэтому этот день любители и профессионалы фотодела отмечают как день фотографа.

Память совершается в Православной церкви 12 июля (по юлианскому календарю). Немецкий ботаник Леонарт Фукс назвал в 1542 году в честь святой Вероники род растений Veronica (Вероника). Многие виды этого рода, например вероника длиннолистная, вероника дубровная и вероника лекарственная, хорошо известны.


  1. Hi Teisuka,
    Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful Christian story. I knew the story of Jesus healing a woman who suffered from bleeding, but I didn't know about the story "Veil of Veronica," which is really touching. The healing of the woman's illness shows the importance of faith. This story is a great encouragement to those people whose faith in Jesus is not strong enough. And I agree with you that "true image" is a very appropriate name for Veronica. We all should learn from her mercy and compassion.

    Whenever I read your blog articles, I can always learn something new. Thank you for sharing these wonderful knowledge. Please keep up the good work.

    Thanks again and have a great and relaxing weekend! -:)

    1. Hi Bao,

      Thank you very much for your wonderful comment and compliment. Always glad to see you here, my friend. :)

      I agree with you, this story of the woman whom Jesus healed is a great encouragement to them whose faith is not strong enough (like me, hehe). And yes, we can learn from Veronica's mercy and compassion. She was a good-hearted woman, indeed.

      The whole chapter Matthew 9 is just amazing and perfect – there is "everything"! For example, this verse is very touching: "When he [Jesus] saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd." (Matthew 9:36)

      Aiya! Such a beautiful scene. Jesus the Good Shepherd is full of compassion and pity, and he is our great ideal. Just like you, I feel I learn new things all the time. The Bible, church history and tradition - so rich, interesting, and inexhaustible... :)

      Have a wonderful and relaxing weekend, Bao. Blessings to you and your loved ones! :)


  2. Just for information to all, I made some additions to the article, like these sentences: "A plant called Veronica is named in honour of Saint Veronica by Leonard Fuchs in 1542. Veronica is the largest genus in the flowering plant family Plantaginaceae."

    I also found 'The Hymn of Saint Veronica' from OrthodoxWiki, and I added it to my article. Besides, there is now also a summary in Russian language available (not exactly same as the original, but almost). Вот, пожалуйста! Благословений. ^^


  3. Hi Teisuka,
    Thank You for this story! I haven't heard about the Veil of Veronica befor. But I know another story of not made by human hand icon of Chisus. It coonnects the origin of this icon with King Abgar of Edessa:
    Wikipedia states that story about the Veil of Veronica belongs to western tradition:

    And here is interesting text about both traditions:

    1. Greetings from rainy Moscow ;)

    2. Hi Victor,

      I guess it's Victor but you forgot your name from the comment? :)

      Many thanks for your comment and interesting links. I liked especially the article titled "Icon featured during Triumph of Orthodoxy, February 21st, 2010", and what St. John of Damascus writes about the Icons:

      "The icon is to eyesight, what the word is to the ear. It is a divine phenomenon and its symbolic essence gives us the idea of the divine. I go to church, which is the oasis of the soul, I gaze upon the holy icons and my soul is enlightened. When people worship the Cross, it is irrelevant what material it is made of. One does not worship the wood, nor the metal, but Christ the Savior, who was crucified upon it. Similarly with holy icons, one worships the likeness of the Lord.”

      To my mind, this is excellent, perfect definition of the Icons. In 2011, I read this book of Saint John of Damascus: "An exact exposition of the Orthodox faith". Wonderful book, indeed!

      Yes, you are right, Veil of Veronika belongs more to Western tradition. But since it was also one of the first real icons ("Icons made without hands"), it also belongs to the whole undivided, universal church. Veronica's day belongs also to the Eastern church calendar, and there are numerous Orthodox icons of St. Veronica.

      I see that these two traditions (Veil of Veronika and Image of Edessa) complement each other and form a complete picture of Christ: He was suffering Christ (for us) and the resurrected Christ (for us). Both sides belongs to the Christianity. St. Veronica's story should be better known among the Eastern Orthodox church. This is how I see the things. :)

      Moscow is still rainy? This week is also rainy in the Wester Finland. Blessings to you, my friend. :)


    3. I agree with You. We should know much better lives and deeds of our saints. Today weather in Moscow is much better too :)


    4. Hi Victor,

      Thanks for coming back. Always glad to see you in my blog. :) Yes, we have a lot of learning from the saints and their lives.

      Recently, I borrowed two books from the library, "Dictionary of Saints" written by Alison Jones and "Pyhät ystäväni" (English: My saint friends) by Jaakko Heinimäki. Both very interesting books. I even found the patron saint of alcoholics (of course, against the alcoholism, haha). This patron saint is a Portuguese-born John of God aka Saint Juan de Dios (1495-1550). I did not know him before, but he is honored only in the Roman Catholic Church. :)

      Glad to hear there is better weather in Moscow now. We have partly cloudy and 19°C in Western Finland at the moment. Have a nice weekend to you, my friend. :)



  4. Nika sent me a message by other means, and I want to add her feedback here. She writes, "I saw your article about St. Veronika. Very good article, I like it."

    Thank you very much, Nika. Большое спасибо! You made my day. ^^ I wish you a wonderful vacation among the flowers. Be always blessed, my dear friend and angel. ^^



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