The legend of the one of the Catholic Church’s relics is the “Veil of Veronica” or simply known, “Veronica’s Veil”. This piece of cloth is believed to be the actual face of Jesus Christ before He was crucified on His way to the cross. According to legend a woman had given a cloth to the Christ so that he could wipe His face on the cloth creating an impression of His face on the cloth. But does this cloth display the real face of Jesus?
The Bible never refers to such an event, nor any woman named “Veronica” meaning “True Icon” supposedly in Latin. Also, this cloth shows no sign of blood that Jesus would have been impressed against His face. However, there is a cloth, that was folded aside Christ’s shroud, which is referred to in the Book of John 20:6-7:
“Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie, And the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself.” (KJV).
The Vulgate Bible refers to the “napkin” as the “sudarium” which literally means “sweat cloth” in Latin. According to ancient Hebrew law, if a person dies and the face appears beyond recognition, it must be covered by a cloth on the way to the tomb.
Christ’s need for wearing a sweat cloth began when Roman soldiers beat Him, and pushed down a thick wreath of sharp thorns which became firmly attached all around His head. His face would have been covered with blood due to the thorns that deeply punctured the head’s skin. Blood would have streamed down His face from his head in great quantities which had already made Him unrecognizable.
Many hours later, while He hung on the cross, his body gave up much more blood. His arms were stretched out and up on the cross. Also, His feet were nailed, so He could not pull himself up in order to breathe without feeling a great deal of pain. As a result, His lungs filled up with edema which caused asphyxiation. After He drew His last breath, He was taken down from the cross. Then, blood mixed with edema exited His nose and the sudarium was used to catch both fluids as evidently somebody tried to staunch it. As a result, two large spots of blood appeared on the cloth. Also, the sudarium soaked blood that had already covered His face due to the crown of thorns pushed against the head by Roman soldiers which caused pin pricks of blood to appear from the top of his head.
According to historical documents, the sudarium had been in Jerusalem before 600 A.D. It was brought to Spain where it was housed in several towns. During the 9th century A.D., it arrived at the Cathedral in Oviedo and has remained there ever since.
It should be abundantly clear that the “Sudarium of Oviedo”, not Veronica’s veil is the “other” cloth that was found in Christ’s tomb after He was resurrected from death.
The “Veil” offered to Christ to clean His face while He walked to the cross, by a woman named Veronica, is highly unlikely the “cloth” found at the tomb. Nowhere in the Bible is this story of Veronica mentioned. As a matter of fact, it looks like a poor drawing of Christ’s face. Besides, Jesus would have bleed on the veil, but there is no blood to be accounted for. On the other hand, since the Sudarium is noted in the Book of John, it is a real biblical artifact. Clearly, blood, edema and sweat stains it from the body of the crucified Jesus. Plus, the blood has been forensically tested with the Shroud of Turin and found that they come from the same body – the body of Jesus.