The loving woman who wipes Our Lord’s face in the sixth Station of the Cross is extra-biblical, or so most people think. But the saint, whose feast is on July 12, is thought by some to be the Haemorrhissa (woman with an issue of blood) mentioned in the Gospels (Mt. 9:20-22; Mk. 5:25-34; Lk. 8:43-48). According to the apocryphal Gospel of Nicodemus, at Our Lord’s trial before Pilate, a woman named Veronica testified, “Twelve years I was in an issue of blood, and I only touched the edge of his garment, and directly I was cured.” Apparently, the tradition of St. Veronica being the Haemorrhissa is more popular in the East than in the West.
The fourth-century historian, Eusebius, relates: “For they say that the woman with an issue of blood, who, as we learn from the sacred Gospel, received from our Saviour deliverance from her affliction, came from this place [Caesarea Philippi], and that her house is shown in the city, and that remarkable memorials of the kindness of the Saviour to her remain there. For there stands upon an elevated stone, by the gates of her house, a brazen image of a woman kneeling, with her hands stretched out, as if she were praying. Opposite this is another upright image of a man, made of the same material, clothed decently in a double cloak, and extending his hand toward the woman. At his feet, beside the statue itself, is a certain strange plant, which climbs up to the hem of the brazen cloak, and is a remedy for all kinds of diseases. They say that this statue is an image of Jesus. It has remained to our day, so that we ourselves also saw it when we were staying in the city.”
St. Veronica is the patroness of laundry workers and photographers.