Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Procession with the Veronica

The following english translation is that of an article which appeared in the July 2013 edition of Il Volto Santo di Manoppello, the official publication of the Shrine of the Holy Face of Manoppello

The true founder of the cult of the Veronica was Pope Innocent III (1198-1216), under whose pontificate there took place the conquest of Constantinople by the Crusaders. It is due to him that the Veronica was transformed into a universal symbol of the Church, unlike the image of the Savior in the Sancta Sanctorum sketched by St. Luke and painted by the angels, whose veneration remained a phenomenon limited to Rome and towns in the region of Lazio. In 1208 the Pope instituted a procession with the Veronica, which traveled from St. Peter's to the Santo Spirito Hospital which Innocent had founded. In addition, the Pope transferred the status of "station church" assigned to the second Sunday after Epiphany from the church of Sant'Eustachio to that of the church of Santa Maria in Sassia, situated close to the Santo Spirito Hospital. As explained by the Bull and the preaching of Pope Innocent upon its institution, the procession was intended to be a liturgical commemoration of the Wedding of Cana in the course of the festivity of Epiphany. On that occasion donations were made to the poor and the pontiff preached each year on works of charity (which according to the exegesis were symbolized by the stone water jars of Cana). Although there is included also an image of Mary, the Wedding of Cana was accomplished between the image of Christ and the observer, a salvific anticipation of that marriage between the human soul and the heavenly grace that will take place at the end of time. Pope Innocent established that, during the celebration of the feast the image of Christ should be exposed in an exquisite capsa (case)of gold and silver decorated with precious stones. The transmission of salvation happened through the remission of sins provided for through taking part in the procession. In 1216, a year of great difficulty for Innocent, the following miracle was verified: the face of Christ on the cloth turned upside down so that the beard was shown on top and the forehead down below. As related by the english historian Matthew Paris, monk of St. Alban's, in his chronica maiora of 1240, we also learn that, following this event, the pope composed an elegant prayer that provided to whoever recited it an indulgence of ten days. This text speaks of the sudarium of Veronica which God had left to mankind as a memento (equal to a reminder)and alludes at the same time to the face to face encounter with Christ at the end of time. The Veronica thus was considered on the one hand retrospectively, in as much a testimony of the earthly events of Christ, on the other hand in a future perspective as a guarantee and anticipation of the intimate vision of God (the visio beatifica)

No comments: