You may know that I like to write short stories that expand on the Gospels in order to fill in the blanks surrounding the various events in the life of Christ. For example, who was Simon of Cyrene, why was he in Jerusalem on the day of the crucifixion, and why did the soldiers choose him to help Jesus carry his cross? My stories are completely fictional, but I try to make them interesting and credible. A non-Catholic friend of mine suggested to me once that I shouldn’t do this because it may mislead people away from the truth. My stories are not going to be best-sellers by any means, and if someone is familiar with Scripture, they will know that they are fictional.
Today, I’m thinking of the Stations of the Cross. In my research, I found that five of the fourteen stations have no basis in Scripture. Yet, the stations have become popular in both Catholic and non-Catholic churches. The five stations are Jesus falling the first, second, and third times, Veronica wiping the face of Jesus, and Jesus meeting his mother.
While there is no Scriptural mention of Jesus ever falling on the way to Golgotha, it is not hard to imagine that He did fall. The beating that he took and the loss of blood during the scourging likely made him very weak. Also, considering the probable fact that the cross was very heavy and that the soldiers’ constant pushing and shoving, trying to hurry Him along, would have made falling a distinct possibility. As far as meeting his mother, it is very likely that Mary was alongside for every step of the way and, perhaps after a fall, would run to him to give him support and to show her love and encouragement.
But the one that is the most difficult to believe is Veronica wiping His face with her veil or a towel. Veronica in not mentioned by name anywhere in Scripture. Was this show of love totally made up, or was it part of Sacred Tradition in the Catholic Church, meaning that it was something passed down orally through the centuries? It is not a stretch to think that, in a burst of courage while surrounded by the Roman soldiers, a devoted fan of Jesus would have such compassion for Him that she would break ranks and run up to Him to help comfort Him in this way. But the tradition says that an imprint of Christ’s face was left on the cloth! So we are in the miraculous realm with this station.
If the story is true, one might ask what happened to Veronica’s veil in the span of time beginning back in the time of Christ and continuing throughout the centuries. It does not seem to get as much attention nowadays as the Shroud of Turin. The reason, I think, is that the “facts” have been clouded throughout history because of copies that were made and various claims brought forward. There are various interesting stories given in Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veil_of_Veronica and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Veronica relating to St. Veronica and the veil which include references to statements in the Catholic Encyclopedia. See also https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Relics_associated_with_Jesus.
Some credence is given to St. Veronica’s existence by the Catholic Church despite references to her story as a “legend” or “tradition.” She is a saint of the Catholic Church. There is a shrine complete with a statue as well as a likeness of the veil dating to the middle ages in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. There is also a chapel constructed in her honor in Jerusalem. St. Veronica, pray for us! Amen.