The Sixth Station of the Cross
Is there Where a Woman Wiped Jesus' Face with Her Veil?
Location – The Via Dolorosa
Map Coordinates - 31.779412, 35.231606
If this station is open, our Octagon Tour groups will see the site of the traditional home of Saint Veronica.
This station of the cross commemorates the act of an unknown Jewish woman, who, according to tradition, wiped the face of Jesus with her veil. When she drew the veil away, the fabric bore the imprint of Jesus’ face. Inside this station are two chapels – one that dates to the 12th century, and one that goes all the way back to the 6th century.
The Pillar Outside the Chapel.
The pillar just below the metal disk on the wall marking this station identifies the traditional spot where the encounter occurred between Jesus and this woman.
The 6th Station Pillar.
The Upper Chapel.
The Upper Chapel at the Sixth Station of the Cross.
The upper chapel of the Sixth Station is a church built here about 900 years ago. There is a group of Catholic nuns, called The Little Sisters of Jesus, and they live upstairs. They call this place The Church of the Holy Face and Saint Veronica.
Who was Saint Veronica?
The story of Saint Veronica is not mentioned in the Bible. The earliest manuscript that we have about this woman is dated 1011 AD, which is about a thousand years after she lived. It is believed that her original veil has been in the possession of the Catholic Church since the eighth century, and that it is currently housed in Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
The Veil of Veronica in Saint Peter’s Basilica
The word Veronica is a combination of two Latin words: vera, meaning true, and icon, meaning image. Hence, “The True Image”.
Since the word Veronica is of Latin origin, we know that this was not her real name. In fact, the word Veronica, was originally not the name given to this woman, but rather the name given to her veil. And even today people still call this veil The Veronica. Then, sometime during the middle ages, people started referring to this woman herself as Saint Veronica.
Once again, the credibility of this story stems from the reality that there were hundreds, perhaps thousands of people on the street who could testify to literally everything that Jesus did during his march to Calvary, including the events traditionally ascribed to the Sixth Station of the Cross.
The Lower Chapel.
The chapel downstairs is much older; one that was uncovered only recently, in the 20th century. When the archeologists found this chapel they noticed a Greek inscription down here that mentioned the names of two twin brothers who lived during the third century. Their names were Saint Cosmas and Saint Damian. This chapel may have been dedicated to these two men.
Who were Cosmas and Damian?
Saints Cosmas and Damian
Both of these men were doctors in Syria, and they would treat patients, both poor and rich, totally free of charge. Why did they do this? They were also evangelists, and by not charging anything for their services, they were able to bring many people to a faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. However, because of their devotion to Jesus, they were tortured and martyred along with three of their younger brothers.
Many churches in the sixth century were dedicated in honor of Cosmas and Damian, so we can be fairly sure that this lower chapel was built sometime around then.
While this room may have been dedicated to Cosmas and Damian, its location is believed by many to be the traditional site of the home of Saint Veronica.
If this woman’s veil was in the possession of Rome by the eighth century, and the earliest manuscript about her dates back to the 11th century, which seems rather late, then why was there a church built here in the sixth century? It’s probably because Christians in Jerusalem knew about Veronica at least by the sixth century, and, most likely, earlier than that.
It was an ancient story about the mercy that was bestowed upon Jesus by a woman whose real name will be forever veiled from our eyes.
The Mosaic Floor.
In the first picture in this chapter there is an old mosaic floor in this lower chapel that is about 2 meters or about 7 feet lower than the street outside, which is the current Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem.
In the back of this photograph (center right) you can see an ancient staircase that rises to a height of about four feet. Archeologists believe that the top stair was probably at the level of the Via Dolorosa when this chapel was built almost fourteen hundred years ago.