Wiping His Holy Face:
A Tribute to My Patron Saint Veronika
My given name is Lynne. No, there is no St. Lynne; my mom always told me that it was up to me to become the first one. Oh, Mom...(shaking my head)...anyway...
I have always regretted that I had no patron saint and searched for years to find one who would claim me. Many years ago I began formation at Holy Annunciation Byzantine Catholic Monastery as a secular Carmelite. This was back when my youngest girls were about 18 months old and the monastery was still a Carmelite one. There were about 20 or so ladies in the group, primarily Latin, but a few of us were Byzantine. The formation went along well and it came time for me to make temporary promises at a ceremony in which I would pledge to remain in the order for three years, living the charisms of the Carmelites according to my state in life. (After these three years, I could discern whether final, permanent promises were in order. I never made my final promises...God had other plans for me and the monastery, but that's a story for another time.
As part of this ceremony, I was given the option of choosing a patron saint after which I would be named, along with a spiritual title. Now was the time for me to become adopted by a patron saint! I had always loved the story of the brave Veronika who had rushed out to greet the suffering Lord Jesus and wipe his Holy Face, despite the presence of the Roman guards. I had a profound experience along the Via Dolorosa while visiting Jerusalem on our honeymoon at the very spot where she had wiped Christ's face and since then, I've had a longing to get to know her.
I knew her name meant "true image" and the concepts of living in truth and of transforming my personal image into the one God has designed for me, have always been important personal goals. I also knew from my childhood that I wished to imitate the Lord's Blessed Mother in every way and so the name Veronika of the Theotokos, meaning "true image of the God-bearer" was especially meaningful to me, and so I chose it as my name in Carmel. As I began to study the life of St. Veronika and the traditions surrounding her miraculous veil upon which Christ imposed the image of his Holy Face, I was stunned to learn that she was the niece of Zachariah, the father of John the Forerunner, who has always played a role in my married life. She was one of the women who attended to the needs of the disciples as they preached, and according to the visionary Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich, had actually provided the table setting for the Last Supper. She was the adopted mother of all the orphans and unwanted children in Jerusalem as well. She could bear no children of her own since, as I came to learn, she was considered by tradition to have been the woman who was healed of the 12 year hemorrhage by simply touching the hem of Christ's garment.
It seemed so beautiful how it came to be that she had reached out to touch His garment, hoping to find relief from the blood she was shedding, and then years later she would reach out and touch her garment to Him, hoping to provide relief to Him Who was shedding His own blood for her. How brave she was to risk her safety, with children in tow according to the mystic, Anne Katherine Emmerich. Passing through the angry crowd and the pagan soldiers who surrounded her and her God, she approached Him boldly. She could not offer him safety, nor freedom from pain, nor even a protest to HIs situation, but she offered Him what she could and provided a wonderful example of compassion for her children, both then and now. It's what we mothers do. Garments and blood became somewhat of a theme in my life when I became a medical technologist and began to study blood as a profession, then later on when I began to make scapulars. These are miniature woolen garments, symbolic pieces of the garment of the Theotokos, which are worn by those who love her to unite us to her, and in turn to her Holy Child, to remind us of her protecting veil.
Some people tell me that this is merely a Latin custom, but after realizing this connection, as well as learning the story behind the feast of Pokrov, I have no difficulty as an Eastern Christian in taking the scapular as a personal devotion and promoting it to other believers, regardless of their Church. The prologue of Ochrid tells that Veronika lived on to old age, touching the beautiful veil to all those who needed healing, and that many miracles were attributed to her actions. The garment carried Christ's healing power to all who came in contact with it. May God grace me to follow in her footsteps and do the same. I want to be covered with and healed by her garment, and wipe Christ's neglected face with it as often as I can. What a mission! What a patron I have found! I absolutely love her.
Now, some 15 years later, the monastery is no longer Carmelite, and therefore neither am I, yet the name, patronage, and devotion to this wonderful saint remains. Each year, on July 12, I celebrate her feast day, (and my name's day!) along with my family. We celebrate the feast of each of our patrons with a special dinner, chosen by the celebrated family member, and of course, a dessert. But now, especially as my children are older, we like to try and think of a way we can bring to life the message or gift of our particular patron by doing something meaningful in their honor. Perhaps a good deed for an elderly family member, or neighbor; perhaps bringing food to someone in need; perhaps donating to a charity. What shall I do this year in honor of Veronika?
From the Vespers Service (St. Veronica, July 12)
By humbly and courageously touching the hem of Christ’s garment with faith/
Holy Mother Veronica/
your issue of blood of twelve years was healed by the Master/
who then endowed you with the gift of healing/
and as rivers of spiritual waters overflowing their banks//
you water those sick and suffering, with the healing grace of God.
Your name means true image, /
For with true compassion, you used your veil to gently wipe Christ’s face as he carried His Cross./
His image remained on your veil,/
and you carried His wonderworking icon and the gospel to those in need./
Holy Mother Veronica, //
Teach us to seek healing through the One True God and Savior of our souls.
Who would not wonder at and glorify faithfully the unseen miracles of humble Veronica?
O the wonder and glory of God given grace! /
Teach us by thy example to turn with faith to God for the healing of our souls and bodies.
Glory to the +Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit...
Your holy feast has become a bright heaven of salvation, /
O Holy Mother Veronica, /
that shines like the sun with the action of divine healings;/
your miracles of salvation shine like stars.//
Teach us to pray with faith to Christ for the healing of our souls and bodies.
...Now and ever and forever, Amen.
The image of God was preserved in you Holy Mother Veronica,
For taking up your cross you followed after Christ.
Teaching us to disregard the flesh for it passes away,
but rather to nurture the soul, for it is immortal.
Therefore, your spirit is rejoicing with the Angels Oh Holy Mother Veronica