The iconography of the Veronica: an assessment of chronologically and geographically ordered data

Raffaella Zardoni – Emanuela Bossi – Amanda Murphy



Evidence for the presence of the veronica in Europe between the 13th and 16th centuries is quite exceptional. From the 14th century onwards, “wherever the Roman Church went, the Veronica would go with it” (MacGregor, 2000).

The existence of “innumerable copies” of the relic (Sturgis, 2000) has encouraged research, one of the ensuing results being an online catalogue which documents the spread of the veronica on the European continent. To date, about 2,500 artworks have been gathered, classified in chronological order and geographically placed, providing ground for a statistical comparison between the hypotheses of the most accredited past and present scholars (e.g., Pearson 1897, Dobschütz 1899, Chastel 1978, Wolf 2000 and Morello 2011, and the relevant bibliography) regarding what the Roman Veronica might have looked like.

On the basis of the evidence collected, this paper provides a chronological examination of the individual iconographic features of the Roman Veronica as they emerge through the 13th to the 16th century. As a means of supporting this examination and in search of mutual dependencies, the paper also examines the emergence of the veronica’s typical features in descriptions of the relic found in all types of verbal texts.

The European Fortune of the Roman Veronica ​in the Middle Ages