Mel Gibson’s Passion movie

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Backstory: the story of Veronica


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 A woman from the crowd helps Jesus

The story of Jesus meeting Veronica on his way to the cross is not included in the New Testament, but is one of the many legends recorded about him.

Ever since the time of the Turin Shroud – and before even that – people have been trying to picture what Jesus really looked like.

The story of a woman named Veronica, who was so moved by pity that she broke from the crowd to wipe Jesus' face with her veil, has its origins in one of the many early stories about Jesus that weren't included in the New Testament. Whatever you make of this tale (or its rather incredible outcome, that Jesus' face was perfectly printed on the cloth), it is a story that carries two important reminders.

The first is that for a long time there was no official, definitive account of Jesus' life, and that anyone wanting to get a clearer, more reliable picture of who he was could only do it by listening to the many voices of the early Church community.The same remains true today. If we want to more about Jesus, then it's best to go back to the original stories about him in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John – and to talk to people who still try to follow him today.

The second reminder is that the story of Veronica has come to symbolise the quest for a true picture of Jesus. The name "Veronica" actually comes from two Latin words, "vera" and "icona", meaning "true image". People want to know what Jesus actually looked like. To see some of the ways Jesus has been pictured over the past 2,000 years, click here.

The "miracle" of the face of Christ being perfectly imprinted on the veil that wiped blood from his brow is nothing compared to the mind-boggling idea that God should have a human face at all – let alone that he should bleed.

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About this module

Find out the back story and what happens next in Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ movie. What impact did it have on you?

‘The Passion’, for all its intensity, marks only a few hours in the life Jesus. Each of the flashbacks in the movie are windows onto some of the context, that made the execution of one man an event which continues to shape history.

This module was written by Mark Stafford.

Categories: Creativity, Reviews, Sound & vision,

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Module contents

arrow The Passion of the Christ

arrow Backstory: caught in adultery

arrow Backstory: the story of Veronica

arrow Backstory: Herod wants a miracle

arrow Backstory: the last supper

arrow Backstory: the humanity of Jesus

arrow Backstory: Jesus and the Devil

arrow What happened next

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