Matthew Paris, Veronica, miniatura, Chronica maiora, ms 16II, II, f. 53v, 1240-1250 ca., Abbazia benedettina, St. Albans, Regno Unito. Corpus Christi College, Cambridge.
The image on framed parchment, specially made for this page, accompanies the chronicle of 1216, with the episode that took place during the procession from San Pietro to Santa Maria:
“… While an uncertain situation was shaking the kingdom of Anglia with similar storms, Pope Innocent, moved by concern for the vacillating Church, devoutly carried in procession the image of the Lord’s face, which is called Veronica – as is the custom – from the church of San Pietro to the hospital of Santo Spirito. At the end of the procession, the image, while it was placed in its place, turned on itself, so that it was in an inverted position: the forehead was down and the beard up. The Pope, horrified by this, believed that it had happened to him as a sad omen and, in order to be fully reconciled with God, on the advice of his brothers he composed a beautiful prayer in honor of the image that is called Veronica, to which he added a psalm with some verses and granted the indulgence of 10 days to those who recited them, so that, whenever it was repeated, whoever said it was granted an indulgence of as many days. Many therefore memorized this prayer and all the verses, and to make them more devotional, they made copies of the image. It takes the name of Veronica from a certain woman so called, at whose request Christ left this imprint. “
This is believed to be the oldest news about the establishment of the Veronica Office which is placed in the year 1216, the written copy dates back to the first half of the 13th century and is written by Matthew Paris himself. The introduction of Veronica ‘s office was also described by Matthew of Westminster in his Flores Historiarum (collected in the year 1307 and appeared in print in 1570) book II, page 104. It is possible that the two authors draw on the same source which has not been identified so far.
The half-length Christ of Matthew Paris, abbot of St Albans, is found in other English manuscripts of the thirteenth century and seems to be attributable to the Lateran Acheropita, but all these manuscripts expressly mention the shroud called Veronica.
«Dum vero fortunalis alea statum Regni Angliae talibus turbinibus exagitaret, dominus Papa Innocentius, quem vacillantis Ecclesiae cura sollicitabat, effigicm vultus Domini, quae Veronica dicitur, ut moris est, de ecclesia sancti Petri versus hospitale sancti Spiritus reverenter cum processione baiulabat. Qua peracta, ipsa effigies, dum in locum suum apportaretur, se per se gyrabat, ut verso staret order, ita scilicet, ut frons inferius, barba superius locaretur. Quod nimis abhorrens dominus Papa, credidit illud in triste sibi praesagium evenisse, et ut plenius Deo reconciliaretur, Consilio fratrum, in honorem ipsius effigii, quae Veronica dicitur, quandam orationem composuit Elegantem, cui adiecit quondam Psalmicum, cum quibusdam; et eadem dicentibus, decem dierum concessit indulgentiam, ita scilicet, ut quotiescumque repetatur toties dicenti tantundem indulgentiae concedatur. “
Mathew Paris, monk of St Albans, Chronica Majora (edition of Luard, volume III, p. 7).
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