Looking for plant lore which linked Germander Speedwell with the Devil for last month’s post, I came across the decidedly unsatanic legend that the Speedwell’s flowers resembled an image of Christ’s face (or at least his eyes) which had been imprinted on to St Veronica’s handkerchief, or veil. As someone fascinated by the lives of the early saints, this story intrigued me, so here is a brief addendum to that post.
St Veronica witnessed Jesus being taken to Calvary to be crucified. She offered him her veil to wipe the sweat from his face. His image became imprinted on the fabric. Legend has it that she later travelled to Rome taking the veil with her where it became a venerated object akin to the Turin Shroud.
In other legends, Veronica is believed to have travelled to France instead of Italy. For example, “The Catholic Encyclopedia” cites a legend that Veronica brought relics of the Virgin Mary to Bordeaux, where she preached until her death. She is believed to be buried either at Soulac or in the Church of St Seurin in Bordeaux.
It is unlikely whether Veronica was the woman’s name who showed Christ compassion and there is no reference to her in the canonical Bible. However, the Cambridge Dominicans website states that at times she has been associated with the woman who Jesus cured during an earlier part of his ministry – an event reported in Matthew, Mark and Luke’s gospels:
“There was a woman who had suffered terribly from severe bleeding for twelve years, even though she had been treated by many doctors…. She had heard about Jesus so she came in the crowd behind him, saying to herself, ‘If I can touch his clothes, I will get well’. She touched his cloak and the bleeding stopped at once, and she had the feeling inside herself that she was healed of her trouble“ (The Gospel of St Mark, 5: 25- 30)
Next time… back on track for Guinea weed’s protective properties.
Sources (in order of appearance in the text)
“The Catholic Encyclopaedia” – http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15362a.htm
As well as information about the story of St Veronica, this web page also looks at the significance for Veronica for today’s Christians – http://cambridgedominicans.wixsite.com/stcatherines/single-post/2015/03/25/Veronica-Wipes-the-Face-of-Jesus
Good News Bible: Today’s English Version (London: Collins/Fontana, 1976), p. 52.
Image credits: Germander Speedwell by Simon Noel (private collection)
19th century Stations of the Cross image of Verona offering her veil to Christ by Andreas Praefcke – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:B%C3%BCrgersaal_Kreuzweg_07.jpg