In several regions of Christendom there is honored under this name a pious matron of Jerusalem who, during the Passion of Christ, as one of the holy women who accompanied Him to Calvary, offered Him a towel on which he left the imprint of His face. She went to Rome, bringing with her this image of Christ, which was long exposed to public veneration. To her likewise are traced other relics of the Blessed Virgin venerated in several churches of the West. The belief in the existence of authentic images of Christ is connected with the old legend of Abgar of Edessa and the apocryphal writing known as the “Mors Pilati”. To distinguish at Rome the oldest and best known of these images it was called vera icon (true image), which ordinary language soon made 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”), and Matthew of Westminster speaks of the imprint of the image of the Savior which is called Veronica: “Effigies Domenici vultus quae Veronica nuncupatur”. By degrees, popular imagination mistook this word for the name of a person and attached thereto several legends which vary according to the country.
In Italy Veronica comes to Rome at the summons of the Emperor Tiberius, whom she cures by making him touch the sacred image. She thenceforth remains in the capitol of the empire, living there at the same time as Sts. Peter and Paul, and at her death bequeaths the precious image to Pope Clement and his successors.
In France she is given in marriage to Zacheus, the convert of the Gospel, accompanies him to Rome, and then to Quiercy, where her husband becomes a hermit, under the name of Amadour, in the region now called Rocamadour. Meanwhile Veronica joins Martial, whom she assists in his apostolic preaching.
In the region of Bordeaux Veronica, shortly after the Ascension of Christ, lands at Soulac at the mouth of the Gironde, bringing relics of the Blessed Virgin; there she preaches, dies, and is buried in the tomb which was long venerated either at Soulac or in the Church of St. Seurin at Bordeaux. Sometimes she has even been confounded with a pious woman who, according to Gregory of Tours, brought to the neighboring town of Bazas some drops of the blood of John the Baptist, at whose beheading she was present.
In many places she is identified with the Haemorrhissa who was cured in the Gospel.
These pious traditions cannot be documented, but there is no reason why the belief that such an act of compassion did occur should not find expression in the veneration paid to one called Veronica, even though the name has found no place in the Hieronymian Martyrology or the oldest historical Martyrologies, and St. Charles Borromeo excluded the Office of St. Veronica from the Milan Missal where it had been introduced. The Roman Martyrology also records at Milan St. Veronica de Binasco, the Order of St. Augustine, on 13 January, and St. Veronica Giuliani on 9 July.
Acta SS. Bolland., Feb. I (Paris, 1863); Maury, Lettres sur l’etymologie du nom de Veronique, apotre de l’Aquitaine (Toulouse, 1877); Bourrieres, Saint Amadour et Sainte Veronique (Cahors, 1894); Palme, Die deutchen Veronicalegenden des XII Jahrh. (Prague, 1892)
APA citation. Dégert, A. (1912). St. Veronica. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
MLA citation. Dégert, Antoine. “St. Veronica.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 15. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912.
Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. October 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.