The Face of the Other: The Veronica and the Spread of its Cult in Europe

 

Panel 1303 at

International Medieval Congress

Leeds, 3-6 July 2017

Moderator:  Brenda M. Bolton (University of London)

Raffaella Zardoni, Felicita Mornata, Amanda Murphy, Our Veronica: Identifying Iconographic Sources and Paths of Diffusion in Europe through “Veronica Route” Using Statistical Methods

Etienne Doublier, Sui pretiossisimi vultus Imago: Veronica and the Practice of Indulgences in the 13th and Early 14th Centuries

Hanneke van Asperen, Relic, Ostension, and Vision: Small Parchment Images of the Veronica

Abstract

Issues surrounding the cult of the Veronica, the cloth imprinted with the face of Christ, have been the object of numerous works of research. Reflecting on recent findings (please see the Convivium Supplement 2018, edited by A. Murphy, H.L. Kessler, M. Petoletti, E. Duffy and G. Milanese ), and undertaking new research paths, the Panel proposes to tackle various issues posed by the material and spiritual history of the Veronica.

The interweaving of competences from different fields may help to solve some of the questions that the holy cloth provokes. The Panel considers the case of the European Fortune of the Veronica in the Middle Ages according to different artistic and historical perspectives. The start of the cult of the Veronica can be traced back to the pontificate of Innocent III who, in 1208, initiated the tradition of an annual procession for the Sunday following the Octave of the Epiphany: at that time, the Holy Veil, kept in St Peter’s, was carried in procession from the old Basilica to the Hospital of Santo Spirito in Saxia. The Pope’s initiative signalled the start of an overwhelming success of the Veronica throughout Europe. The Panel deals with the following issues:

  1. On the historical plane, the birth of the cult of the Veronica from the time of Innocent III and its development until the first Jubilee of Boniface VIII, with particular attention to the issue of indulgences linked to the Veronica. This theme is dealt with by Etienne Doublier.
  2. On the artistic plane, the evolution of the fundamental iconographic features of the Veronica (the relic, the woman, gesture) in the Middle Ages; the extraordinary spread of reproductions, as frescoes, paintings, illuminated codices, on parchment, as a source for identifying the iconographic models and reconstructing the paths of the Veronica through Europe, in geographic, devotional and iconographic terms. These themes are dealt with by Hanneke Van Asperen and by Raffaella Zardoni, Felicita Mornata and Amanda Murphy.