July 12, 2016

Saint Veronica the Bleeder

St. Veronica the Bleeder (Feast Day - July 12)


You entirely perceived at that moment O Word,
The grasping of your hem before it was grasped.

The woman with the issue of blood that was healed by the Lord and is recorded in the Gospels, has by tradition (Acts of Pilate) come to be known as Veronica the Haimorrhousa (Bleeder). Though many doubtful medieval traditions surround her life (such as Veronica's Veil), what we know from ancient sources are the following.

In the Gospels (Mark 5:21–43, Matthew 9:18–26, Luke 8:40–56) we read of her encounter with Christ:

A large crowd followed and pressed around Him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind Him in the crowd and touched His cloak, because she thought, “If I just touch His clothes, I will be healed.” Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.

At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from Him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched My clothes?”

“You see the people crowding against you,” His disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched Me?’ ”

But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

In Eusebius' Ecclesiastical History (Bk. 7, Ch. 18) we also read of this woman who commemorated her healing with a statue of the event in her hometown:

Since I have mentioned this city {Caesarea Philippi, which the Phoenicians call Paneas] I do not think it proper to omit an account which is worthy of record for posterity. For they say that the woman with an issue of blood, who, as we learn from the sacred Gospel, received from our Savior deliverance from her affliction, came from this place, and that her house is shown in the city, and that remarkable memorials of the kindness of the Savior to her remain there.

For there stands upon an elevated stone, by the gates of her house, a brazen image of a woman kneeling, with her hands stretched out, as if she were praying. Opposite this is another upright image of a man, made of the same material, clothed decently in a double cloak, and extending his hand toward the woman. At his feet, beside the statue itself, is a certain strange plant, which climbs up to the hem of the brazen cloak, and is a remedy for all kinds of diseases.

They say that this statue is an image of Jesus. It has remained to our day, so that we ourselves also saw it when we were staying in the city.

Nor is it strange that those of the Gentiles who, of old, were benefited by our Savior, should have done such things, since we have learned also that the likenesses of his apostles Paul and Peter, and of Christ himself, are preserved in paintings, the ancients being accustomed, as it is likely, according to a habit of the Gentiles, to pay this kind of honor indiscriminately to those regarded by them as deliverers.

Sozomen, in his Ecclesiastical History, tells us of the fate of this statue during the reign of Julian the Apostate:

Among so many remarkable events which occurred during the reign of Julian, I must not omit to mention one which affords a sign of the power of Christ, and proof of the Divine wrath against the emperor.

Having heard that at Caesarea Philippi, otherwise called Paneas, a city of Phoenicia, there was a celebrated statue of Christ which had been erected by a woman whom the Lord had cured of a flow of blood, Julian commanded it to be taken down and a statue of himself erected in its place; but a violent fire from heaven fell upon it and broke off the parts contiguous to the breast; the head and neck were thrown prostrate, and it was transfixed to the ground with the face downwards at the point where the fracture of the bust was; and it has stood in that fashion from that day until now, full of the rust of the lightning. The statue of Christ was dragged around the city and mutilated by the pagans; but the Christians recovered the fragments, and deposited the statue in the church in which it is still preserved. Eusebius relates, that at the base of this statue grew an herb which was unknown to the physicians and empirics, but was efficacious in the cure of all disorders. It does not appear a matter of astonishment to me, that, after God had vouchsafed to dwell with men, he should condescend to bestow benefits upon them.

According to the Synaxarion of Saint Veronica, she reposed in peace after living a life pleasing to God.

St. Nikolai Velimirovich summarizes her life in his Prologue as follows:

Veronica is the woman with the issue of blood whom the Lord healed. "And, behold, a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind Him, and touched the hem of His garment" (Matt. 9:20). Out of gratitude to the Lord her Healer, Veronica ordered a statue of the Lord Jesus be made for her before which she prayed to God. According to tradition, this statue was preserved until the reign of Emperor Julian the Apostate who altered the statue into an idol of Zeus. This is one of the rarest instances that statues of saints were used in the Eastern Church. As is known, the latter became a common practice in the Western Church. Saint Veronica remained faithful to the Faith of Christ until death and died peacefully.