“We adore Thee, O Christ, and bless Thee. Because by Thy holy cross Thou hast redeemed the world.”
The Walk on the Via Dolorosa Begins and Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus
So he then handed Him over to them to be crucified.
They took Jesus, therefore, and He went out, bearing His own cross, to the place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha. ~John 19:16–17~ There is a belief that, as Jesus walked the road to Calvary, there was a woman who was greatly sorrowed and in an attempt to comfort Our Lord, offered Him her veil so that He may wipe His forehead. He accepted the veil, held it to His face and returned it to her. When she took it, she saw that the Face of Jesus was miraculously imprinted upon it. The woman was Veronica and her veil is known as the Holy Face or the Veil of Veronica.
Not in Scripture But….
This event is not recorded in Scripture but it is recorded in the visions of Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich, a mystic, visionary, stigmatist and prophet who is considered by many to be the greatest visionary in the history of the Church. In The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, she recorded, “Jesus took the veil in His hand, wiped His bleeding face, and returned it with thanks. Veronica kissed it, and placed it under her cloak.” Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus is The Sixth Station of the Cross.
Who was Veronica?
It has been said that, since there is no absolute evidence that Veronica actually existed, this account must be accepted entirely on faith. The earliest known reference to Veronica dates back to the middle of the fourth century where it is found in The Gospel of Nicodemus, also known as the Acts of Pilate. Here, she is identified as the woman Jesus cured in Matthew 9:20-22. (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.) There were other theories, as well. Some thought the woman may have been Martha, the sister of Lazarus. Others say she is the wife of Zacchaeus or a Roman legionary. None of this really matters, though, because there was never a lack of belief or trust to those of us who have faith, as Saint Augustine said, “Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe.”
A Precious Treasure and a Prayer
Professor Antonio Paolucci, former director of the Vatican Museums, wrote that the veil was held as a precious treasure of the popes and kept in Saint Peter’s Basilica from the year 706 through 1527. In 1208, Pope Innocent III, wanting to bring attention to devotion of the Holy Face, wrote this prayer;
~ God, who didst wish to leave as a memorial of Thee to us, who are marked with the light of Thy countenance, an image impressed upon a cloth at the urging of Veronica: Through Thy passion and Cross grant us, we beseech Thee, that we may now upon the earth be so able to venerate and adore it through a glass darkly, that in safety may we see Thee face to face when Thou comest to judge. ~
In 1216 Pope Innocent III authorized a Mass and Office of the Holy Face.
The True Veil
Since the early 1600s, some have claimed to have seen the veil. Many versions of the Holy Face Veil emerged over time and about six were claimed to be the “true” veil. The veil that was kept in Saint Peter’s Basilica was removed in the Middle Ages but has been returned and is now kept in the chapel behind the balcony of the southwest pier upholding the dome. Each year, it is brought out for display on the Fifth Sunday of Lent, with a blessing occurring after Vespers, followed by a procession inside the basilica.
Devotion to the Holy Face
In the 19th Century, Jesus came to Sister Mary of Saint Peter, a Carmelite nun in Tours, France. He conveyed to her that He wanted a devotion to His Holy Face. He wanted this devotion in reparation for blasphemies against Him and His Holy Name and for the sacrilege of Sundays when people choose to work and do chores unnecessarily on the day that is intended for rest and reflection. In August of 1843, Jesus dictated to Sister Mary the Golden Arrow Prayer and gave her promises to those who honor His Holy Face.
1. All those who honor My Face in a spirit of reparation will by so doing perform the office of the pious Veronica. According to the care they take in making reparation to My Face, disfigured by blasphemers, so will I take care of their souls which have been disfigured by sin. My Face is the seal of the Divinity, which has the virtue of reproducing in souls the image of God .
2. Those who by words, prayers or writing defend My cause in this Work of Reparation I will defend before My Father, and will give them My Kingdom.
3. By offering My Face to My Eternal Father, nothing will be refused, and the conversion of many sinners will be obtained.
4. By My Holy Face, they will work wonders, appease the anger of God, and draw down mercy on sinners.
5. As in a kingdom they can procure all that is desired with a coin stamped with the King’s effigy, so in the Kingdom of Heaven they will obtain all they desire with the precious coin of My Holy Face.
6. Those who on earth contemplate the wounds of My Face shall in Heaven behold it radiant with glory.
7. They will receive in their souls a bright and constant irradiation of My Divinity, that by their likeness to My Face they shall shine with particular splendor in Heaven.
8. I will defend them, I will preserve them and I assure them of Final Perseverance.
The Golden Arrow Prayer
May the most holy, most sacred, most adorable, most incomprehensible and unutterable Name of God be always praised, blessed, loved, adored and glorified in Heaven, on earth, and under the earth, by all the creatures of God, and by the Sacred Heart of Our Lord Jesus Christ, in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. Amen
In 1885 Pope Leo XIII gave ecclesiastical approval to devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus and established an Archconfraternity for it.