Friday, 17 April 2015

The Holy Face of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Part 2.

As to the question of knowing if the name Veronica (which is said to be composed of the Latin word Vera, true, and a Greek word Latinized icon, an image, i.e. true image,) is a name predestined or symbolical, as those of Christopher Columbus, 1 and Mezzofanti, 2 or rather if the name be one by inheritance to the saint, from the designation of the towel, it is not repugnant to believe that this belly woman, chosen by Almighty God for so exalted an action, had likewise received from Providence a prophetic name. Moreover, it must be kept in mind that the name Berenice, which she is generally called, and which the Greeks have adopted, is the same in meaning as Veronica, which the Latins employ. The Latins change the Greek consonant B into V, so of Berenicia they easily make Veronica.3 In the meantime we are inclined to believe, with a great number of authors, that Veronica was the name first given to the holy towel on which was impressed the real likeness of our Saviour, and that by degrees the faithful gave this name to the holy woman who is represented in pictures or paintings holding the holy towel in her hands. It is likewise true that authors call the holy Face itself Veronica, and that in the time of Innocent III. medals were cast with the image of the holy Face on them, which were called Veronicas, and those who sold them were called vendors of Veronicas, and likewise in the old Missals of some of the dioceses in Germany, especially those of the church of Augsburg, (Augusta Vindelicorum) printed in 1555, is to be seen the rubric, " Missa de Vultu sanc-to seu Veronica"—" Mass of the Holy Face or Veronica," Giacomo Gretsero 4 says that in Germany they have a custom to paint iu the churches, at the right of, the high altar, the image of Veronica, and that the people have a devotion, as they approach it, to make the sign of the cross on it, and afterwards on themselves. The practice of this devotion is so frequent that it becomes necessary to renew and refresh these paintings which, by the continuous contact of the hands, lose their colour and become effaced.
Be the name and identity as it may, of this pious woman, who had the happiness of consoling our dear Lord in the midst of His sorrows, we know that she brought to Borne this precious treasure which had been confided to her. It is said that in going to the Eternal City she landed at the isle of Zante, where she planted the faith of Christ. It is for this reason the inhabitants of this island, who received from Veronica the first precepts of the Christian religion honour her memory with a peculiar devotion.
Many important and authentic documents attest the arrival of St. Veronica in the city of Rome. Peter the Deacon, who flourished about the year 515, says: " The towel with which Christ wiped His face, and which some call Veronica, was brought to Home in the time of Tiberius Cæsar." 5

It is said that Tiberius was cured of a leprosy by the presence alone of the holy Face, which Veronica exposed in his palace, and that he was anxious to load her with favours; but she had received from our Lord a treasure in comparison with which all other things were as nothing, and she piously guarded it till her death. Of the two cases of shrines in which the holy relic was brought to Home, the larger one is venerated in the church of St. Mary of Martyrs, and the other in the church of S. Eligio de' Ferrari. Al-vieri gives us the inscription which was on the case at St. Mary of the Martyrs, as it was in his time : "In this case the towel of the Passion of our Saviour Jesus Christ was brought from Jerusalem in the time of Tiberius Augustus." 6
St. Veronica died at Rome, and the sacred treasure remained in the possession of Clement I. (fourth successor to St. Peter) who governed the Church from the year 91 to 100. Pietro Galesino makes mention of it in his Martyrology, in these words: Romæ, S. Veronicæ quæ vultum Domini ad cam Urbem a Hierosolymis attulit." It is thought that her body lies buried in the Vatican Basilica, not far from the Holy Image, which is an invincible labarum placed over the City, to defend it against the assaults of the enemy, and an object of the veneration of the faithful in .every age, and worthy of the veneration of the whole world.
During the persecutions of the first three centuries which beat so terribly against the vessel of the infant Church, Clement and his successors secretly preserved the holy relic in the depths of the catacombs; but when-God caused the aurora of a new era of tranquillity and peace to rise on His Church, she came forth with these treasures from these dark dwellings and shone in full day. Constantino was desirous to build a temple at the base of the Vatican hill, where St. Peter was buried. We then behold the hands of Cæsar, which were formerly employed in raising temples to idols, now sanctified in building in that part of Borne, which was most sullied by Pagan superstitions, and on the very site of the Temple of Apollo, the magnificent church of the Fisherman of Galilee, where future generations should come to consult the infallible oracles of Truth. This august sanctuary, embellished by the munificence of Constantine and his mother St. Helen, was consecrated by Pope St. Sylvester, on the 18th November, 824. It is in this Basilica, so often enlarged, restored, and completely reconstructed, that the Holy Face was preserved and venerated from time immemorial. If we find it deposited in other churches of Rome as in the Rotunda, Holy Ghost, and in the Castle of St. Angelo, it is only for a time, St. Peter's being situated outside the city, it was more exposed than these already named, and the Roman Pontiffs wishing to have the Holy Relic secure, sent it to them.

1 The name Christophorus Columbus recalls to our mind the dove going from the ark and bringing back to Noe the olive branch, the symbol of peace, as also the cross which the great navigator planted in the New World, which he went to discover to sow the faith of Jesus Christ.

The name is composed of the Italian " mezzo" and Latin "fans" (part, of fari) speaking. It is known that the illustrious cardinal spoke more than fifty languages.

3 The Macedonians explain Pheronica at ferens victoriam bearing away the victory. The Latins employed F in place of the consonant V, from the time of the Emperor Claudius, who, to distinguish the consonant V from the vowel V, introduced the Eolian digamma, a letter or figure composed of two Greek gammas, superposed, and forming our capital F; so for Servus or civis they wrote SerFus and ciFis. Pliny, lib. 7, c. 41, calls Pheronica what Valerius Mazimus lib. 8, calls Berenicia: " cui soli ex mulieribus, quod filia, mater et soror esset Olympionicarum concessum est ut gymnicos ludos posset spectare, faeminis omnibus interdiclos.
The circumstances which accompany the gift of this holy .image by our Saviour, as well as the considerations above, fully justify the natural etymology of the name Veronica which is from the words Vero (abl. de verum, i ) by the truth, and Nica, be a conqueror. Jesus is the truth, and died to destroy the empire Of the devil, that He might leave to His Church, in the person of His faithful servant, this .pledge of His eternal love, which the name (Sola vainqueur par la Verite) as a glorious device opposed to the war-cry of His enemies in every age: "Montez,montez, toujours." Jesus is the Word made flesh, and at the same time the truth; and if we have recourse to anagrams, the name Veronica represents to us the divinity by .the vowels A E I O V, which compose the name JEOVA, and His humanity by the consonants R. N. C, which are the initials of the three titles given to Him as man; Rex, Nazarenus, Christus. King, Nazarean, Christ. " In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God; and the Word was made flesh, and dwelt amongst us."—St. John. And as the true .cross was distinguished from the others by the miracles it -wrought, so the Veronica daily proves its authenticity by the graces of every kind which it pours on those who wish to implore the mercy of Him whom it represents.

4 Tract de Imaginibus non manufactis, cap. 7.

5 Sudarium cum quo Christus faciem suam extersit. quod ob aliis Veronica dicitur tempore Tiberii Cæsaris Romanis delatum est, et

6.In ista capaa fuit portatum Sudarium Passionis Domini Nostri Jesu-Christi a Hierosolymis Tiberio Auguste