Authentic reproduction of Veronica’s Veil will be displayed March 17 in Belleville

Many are familiar with the story of the Shroud of Turin, claimed by some to be the burial cloth of Christ. The shroud surfaced in Europe in the 14th century but has never been recognized by the Catholic Church as being authentic.

On the other hand, very few people are aware that one of the Vatican’s most sacred relics, the veil with which St. Veronica wiped the face of Jesus as he carried His cross, is kept in St. Peter’s Basilica.

The veil has been recognized by the church and popes as authentic and thousands of miracles have been attributed to the treasured relic. During an exhibition of the veil in St. Peter’s Basilica in 1849, the faded 2,000 year old cloth appeared to take on fresh and life-like features for three hours.

Pope Pius IX authorized copies of the image to be made and touched to the original and were distributed to churches, monasteries and convents worldwide. This practice continued for more than 50 years during the reign of Pope Leo XIII and Pope St. Pius X and was discontinued shortly after the the Great War in 1918.

The veil is only brought out once a year and for only two minutes to bless the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s from high above the balcony of the St. Veronica Chapel. This takes place on the traditional Passion Sunday, which is the Sunday before Palm Sunday. St. Veronica’s Chapel is built into one of the four columns which surround the altar and support the dome of the basilica.

The other three columns have chapels which house the other three most sacred relics of the Vatican, the Spear which pierced the side of Christ, a section of the Wood of the Cross and the relics of St. Andrew, the first Apostle.

Five years ago, St. Peter’s Church in Belleville was the recipient of one of the original authorized reproductions of Veronica’s Veil, created and touched to the original veil in 1855. The veil will be on exhibit during all Masses Sunday March 17 and at 9:30 a.m., a 20 minute presentation on the history of the veil will be made by Michael Perrone, president of the Belleville Historical Society and a longtime student of the veil’s history.

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Michael Perrone | Belleville Historical Society