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Sixth Station of the Cross
Veronica wipes
the face of Jesus

with Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger
Good Friday 2005, at the Colosseum in Rome

From the Book of the Prophet Isaiah (53: 2-3)
He had no form or comeliness that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

From the Book of Psalms (27: 8-9)
You have said, “Seek my face”. My heart says to you, “Your face, Lord, do I seek”. Hide not your face from me. Turn not your servant away in anger, you who have been my help. Cast me not off, forsake me not, O God of my salvation.

“Your face, Lord, do I seek. Hide not your face from me” (Ps 27:8-9). Veronica – Bernice, in the Greek tradition – embodies the universal yearning of the devout men and women of the Old Testament, the yearning of all believers to see the face of God. On Jesus’ Way of the Cross, though, she at first did nothing more than perform an act of womanly kindness: she held out a facecloth to Jesus. She did not let herself be deterred by the brutality of the soldiers or the fear which gripped the disciples. She is the image of that good woman, who, amid turmoil and dismay, shows the courage born of goodness and does not allow her heart to be bewildered. “Blessed are the pure in heart”, the Lord had said in his Sermon on the Mount, “for they shall see God” (Mt 5:8). At first, Veronica saw only a buffeted and pain-filled face. Yet her act of love impressed the true image of Jesus on her heart: on his human face, bloodied and bruised, she saw the face of God and his goodness, which accompanies us even in our deepest sorrows. Only with the heart can we see Jesus. Only love purifies us and gives us the ability to see. Only love enables us to recognize the God who is love itself.

Lord, grant us restless hearts, hearts which seek your face. Keep us from the blindness of heart which sees only the surface of things. Give us the simplicity and purity which allow us to recognize your presence in the world. When we are not able to accomplish great things, grant us the courage which is born of humility and goodness. Impress your face on our hearts. May we encounter you along the way and show your image to the world.

Our Father ... Can the human heart refrain from partaking in her pain, in that Mother’s untold pain?

6ª estación - La Verónica enjuga el rostro de Jesús 
Meditaciones y Oraciones del Cardenal Joseph Ratzinger (Papa Benedicto XVI)

6ème station - Véronique essuie le visage de Jésus
Méditations et prières du Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (Pape Benoît XVI) au Colisée

Music: from 'Triduum - Contemporary Sacred Music' by David Bevan & Neil Wright.
To download the free mp3 audio recordings individually, right/double click on the blue play buttons.
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with Julian of Norwich      

We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you.
Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

He had no form or comeliness that we should look at him, no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and neglected, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces. (Isaiah 53: ;2-3)

And I saw in the face of the crucifix that hung before me a part of his passion, and it made me think of the holy veil of Veronica which is at Rome, which he portrayed with his own blessed face when he bore his hard passion. Of the brownness and blackness and ruefulness of this image many have marvelled how it may be, since he portrayed it with his own blessed face, who is the fairness of heaven and the flower of earth and the fruit of the Maiden's womb. But it was shown me that it is the image and likeness of our foul black deeds' shame in which our fair bright blessed Lord God was hid. Blessed may he be. (Julian of Norwich - II Revelation, Ch 10)

I love you Jesus, my love, above all things; I repent with my whole heart for having offended you.
Never permit me to separate myself from you again.
Grant that I may love you always, then do with me as you will.

Our Father ... Hail Mary ... Glory be.

with St John Paul II in the Jubilee Year
Good Friday, 21 April 2000, at the Colosseum in Rome
- also in French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

Veronica does not appear in the Gospels. Her name is not mentioned, even though the names of other women who accompanied Jesus do appear.
It is possible, therefore, that the name refers more to what the woman did. In fact, according to tradition, on the road to Calvary a woman pushed her way through the soldiers escorting Jesus and with a veil wiped the sweat and blood from the Lord’s face. That face remained imprinted on the veil, a faithful reflection, a “true icon”. This would be the reason for the name Veronica.
If this is so, the name which evokes the memory of what this woman did carries with it the deepest truth about her.

One day, Jesus drew the criticism of onlookers when he defended a sinful woman who had poured perfumed oil on his feet and dried them with her hair. To those who objected, he replied: “Why do you trouble this woman? For she has done a beautiful thing to me . . . In pouring this ointment on my body she has done it to prepare me for burial” (Mt 26:10, 12). These words could likewise be applied to Veronica. Thus we see the profound eloquence of this event.
The Redeemer of the world presents Veronica with an authentic image of his face. The veil upon which the face of Christ remains imprinted becomes a message for us. In a certain sense it says: This is how every act of goodness, every gesture of true love towards one’s neighbour, strengthens the likeness of the Redeemer of the world in the one who acts that way.
Acts of love do not pass away. Every act of goodness, of understanding, of service leaves on people’s hearts an indelible imprint and makes us ever more like the One who “emptied himself, taking the form of a servant” (Phil 2:7).
This is what shapes our identity and gives us our true name.

Lord Jesus Christ,
you accepted a woman’s selfless gesture of love,
and in exchange ordained that future generations should remember her
by the name of your face.
Grant that our works and the works of all who will come after us
will make us like unto you and will leave in the world
the reflection of your infinite love.
To you, O Jesus, splendour of the Father’s glory,
be praise and glory for ever. Amen.

with Papa San Giovanni Paolo II in 2003
- also in French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

From the Book of the Prophet Isaiah (53:2-3)
He had no form or comeliness that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Tradition has bequeathed us Veronica. Perhaps she is a counterpart to the story of the Cyrenian. As a woman, she could not physically carry the Cross or even be called upon to do so, yet in fact she did carry the Cross with Jesus: she carried it in the only way possible to her at the moment and in obedience to the dictates of her heart: she wiped his Face.
Tradition has it that an imprint of Christ's features remained on the cloth she used. This detail seems fairly easy to explain: since the cloth was covered with blood and sweat, it would preserve traces and outlines.
Yet this detail can have a different meaning if it is considered in the light of Christ's words about the last days. Many will then ask: "Lord, when did we ever do these things for you?". And Jesus will reply: "Truly I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me." In fact the Saviour leaves his imprint on every single act of charity, as he did on Veronica's cloth.

Face of the Lord Jesus, disfigured by pain, resplendent with God's glory.
R. Kyrie, eleison.
O Holy Face, imprinted on every act of love.
R. Kyrie, eleison.

with St John Henry Newman

V. We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you.
R. Because by your holy Cross you have redeemed the world.

AS Jesus toils along up the hill, covered with the sweat of death, a woman makes her way through the crowd, and wipes His face with a napkin. In reward of her piety the cloth retains the impression of the Sacred Countenance upon it.

The relief which a Mother's tenderness secured is not yet all she did. Her prayers sent Veronica as well as Simon — Simon to do a man's work, Veronica to do the part of a woman. The devout servant of Jesus did what she could. As Magdalen had poured the ointment at the Feast, so Veronica now offered Him this napkin in His passion. "Ah," she said, "would I could do more! Why have I not the strength of Simon, to take part in the burden of the Cross? But men only can serve the Great High Priest, now that He is celebrating the solemn act of sacrifice." O Jesus! let us one and all minister to Thee according to our places and powers. And as Thou didst accept from Thy followers refreshment in Thy hour of trial, so give to us the support of Thy grace when we are hard pressed by our Foe. I feel I cannot bear up against temptations, weariness, despondency, and sin. I say to myself, what is the good of being religious? I shall fall, O my dear Saviour, I shall certainly fall, unless Thou dost renew for me my vigour like the eagle's, and breathe life into me by the soothing application and the touch of the Holy Sacraments which Thou hast appointed.

Pater, Ave, Gloria ...
V. Have mercy on us, O Lord.
R. Have mercy on us.

May the souls of the faithful, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.