April 7, 2001
volume 12, no. 97


  On Good Friday in 2000, the Holy Father led the Via Crucis meditations with his own words while leading the faithful on the traditional Papal Way of the Cross. His deep spirituality, renewed by a spontaneous visit to Mount Calvary, within the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre during his "Jubilee Journey" to the Holy Land last year is an inspiration we want to share with our readers.

A Plenary Indulgence is attached to this devotion according to article 194 of the Raccolta.

      Stabat Mater:

        At the Cross her station keeping
        stood the mournful Mother weeping,
        close to Jesus to the last.

6. Veronica wipes the Holy Face of Jesus

    We adore you, O Lord, and we praise You. Because by Your holy cross, You have redeemed the world.
    (genuflect or make the sign of the cross)

        MEDITATION: Lord Jesus, at times I am afraid to reach out to others. I do nothing when I should act; I say nothing when I should speak out. Give me a deeper and more courageous faith. Help me to trust that You are with me.

        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" (Matthew 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 neighbor, 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" (Philippians 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, splendor of the Father's glory, be praise and glory for ever.

    R. Amen.

    Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be
MONDAY: Station Seven: Jesus falls for the Second Time.

For the shorter meditative group of lessons on the full Stations of the Cross, see WAY OF THE CROSS

For previous meditative Stations composed by the Holy Father, see:
1. Jesus is condemned to death
2. Jesus willingly takes up His Cross
3. Jesus falls the First Time
4. Jesus meets His Blessed Mother
5. Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus carry His Cross

April 6, 2001
volume 12, no. 96
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