After meeting up with Mary at her office in the Vatican, she still had quite a bit of work ahead of her, so she plopped me into the Basilica of St. Peter's by the back door, thereby bypassing the mile long entrance line. I walked about doe eyed, as I am wont to do, seeing and not seeing, unable to process that this was actually me, Rebekah of Rebekah's Web Log, walking about unattended in the most famous Church on Planet Earth.
Really, you are not supposed to take pictures, although everyone does. And I stopped myself from snapping pictures of the statue of St. Peter, with his toes worn completely away by the centuries pilgrims' kisses, or the Pieta, or even of the morning light streaming through the stained glass, filling the air with Heaven.
But then I saw Veronica. My patron, my confirmation name. Quiet Veronica, as I think of her. And there she stood, 5 meters tall, in flowing marble.
There are only four statues in St. Peter's of this height, and they stand in the niches of the columns that hold up the actual Dome of the Basilica. Pretty Impressive.
At the time this statue was designed, it created great controversy simply because of the dramatic movement expressed in the stone, the heightened sense of action, the look of active longing to pursue chiseled eternally in her expression.
Which is just why I love it.
We know very little about Veronica, actually nothing, considering she is not even in the Gospels. Some Apocryphal writings link her with the hemorrhaging woman who was healed through touching the hem of Jesus' cloak. But again, that is nothing.
Had she heard that Jesus of Nazareth, the merciful preacher, was being crucified and purposely made her way to His path? Had she been about her daily duties when the thronging spectators engaged her curiosity? We don't know. But we know that she saw a Man, actually in His agony, covered with blood, tears, dirty sweat, carrying the very medium of his death across His back, making His way to the hill where He would die. And she had a veil, her own veil. And she wiped His brutalized face with it, because she was there, because she was overcome with compassion.
This action so honored Our Lord that He would preserve this simple, tender, gesture with a miraculous gift that would last throughout the ages as a symbol of a specific moment in time when One Child of God looked upon Another and gave what she had to give, which is all that is ever asked of us.
This is why I chose Veronica as my patron, she was a witness to the Vocation of Availability, she was there, and she acted, as the statue in St. Peter's attests, in swift, dramatic movement, but with an undercurrent of quiet giving.
As a mother to many, and leaning heavily on the shy side, I am often not able to live out my Christian calling to serve, serve in all the public venues like schools, churches, and the homeless shelter. But at all times, I want to be able to be there, like Veronica was, and to be able to act, like she did. To be available.
Okay, enough o'that. Go check out Cari and all the other statues for Theme Thursday!