Sixth station: Veronica wipes the face of Jesus

Today I reach the station of the cross based on legend rather than the story in the gospels. Although both Popes John Paul and Benedict removed this from their revised biblical set, it seems to me to be one of those stories with real resonance for mediation, and one of the reasons I stick with the traditional stations. The idea that the new set is biblical is also misleading: it is simply a particular harmony of different gospel accounts that is not quite any of the actual narratives.

VI. Veronica wipes the face of Jesus.

It really is too sad for words. Poor love,
once so attractive, long-limbed and fresh-faced,
now bowed down, beaten up, as soldiers shove
you forward, to Golgotha’s tree disgraced.

Once I delighted in your honey-tongued
wisdom, your stories bringing faith to light.
When you talked of God as Father, I longed
to learn, to speak with you as a man might.

Being but woman, I stayed back. But though
the men deserted, I remain, though weak,
to serve, and with my cloth to wipe the flow
of bloodied sweat from your bruised brow and cheek.

So marred and masked a face, yet still I see
God’s image: and it leaves love’s print with me.

Previously in this series

I. Jesus is condemned to death (Pilate’s story)
II. Jesus takes up his cross (The centurion’s lot, part 1)
III. Jesus falls for the first time (The centurion’s lot, part 2).
IV. Jesus meets his mother – Mary’s misery
V. Simon of Cyrene’s story

By Doug

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