Catholics are lucky. They always seem to have some new “gee-whiz” thing or event to enliven their religious lives. Images of their clone of Jesus or Mary keep popping up in the strangest places. I've read reports of these “holy” images appearing as oil stains, burn patterns on toast or tortillas, reflections on dirty storefront windows, etc. For some reason, if one is to believe the reports, Catholic Jesus especially likes to show up as a knot on a tree trunk. I have personally checked three such miraculous images and found them to be nothing more than totally unremarkable knots or scars where limbs or branches had been cut from the trees at some time in the past.
Perhaps my favorite “miraculous” likeness of Catholic Jesus was his mobile apparition on a garage door right here in San Antonio. This image only appeared at night, which was convenient for the numbers of Catholic faithful who had daytime jobs.
I arrived at the image location shortly after dark, to find a number of people staring at a dark image on a white garage door. Some were on their knees, mumbling prayers and making the sign of the cross over and over again. Priests from the nearby Catholic church were on hand and distributing “holy water” to those who had thought to bring bottles or jars.
The image on the garage door resembled the head of a man standing sideways to a bright light. Actually, it was the shadow of a tree that stood between the garage and a bright street lamp.
Veronica's Veil is another of those wonderful images so dear to Catholicism. Supposedly, it was a “dew rag,” or cloth that a bystander used to wipe the sweat and blood from Christ's face as He made His painful walk to Calvary. Nice story; but it true? I think not.
Catholic sources that I have encountered generally concede that the fable of Veronica's veil is not to be found in the Scriptures. Nevertheless, the tale has fueled Catholic religious fervor for centuries.
What good would such a relic be if it couldn't do wonderful things? Veronica's magic veil has a pretty impressive track record when it comes to miracles:
After traveling around a bit, the little dew rag – it's only about 6.5 x 9.5 inches – ended up in the Vatican, where it became a favored relic and tourist attraction. What happened next is unclear. Some reports claim it was destroyed by Charles V's troops when they sacked Rome in 1527. Other stories tell us that it was stolen and given as a dowry, that it was passed around Rome's taverns or that it simply disappeared. It is also claimed that the veil ended up in an Alpine monastery, where it languished under glass for four centuries until re-discovered by a German Jesuit.
Though the priest who rediscovered the cloth, Jesuit Heinrich Pfeiffer, believes it is the fabled rag that wiped Jesus' face, not everyone is convinced, as the article discloses.
So what's the big deal? Some might say that this is just a little bit of cloth and of no particular importance. For the Roman Catholic Church, it is so significant that there is a special blessing for the holy dew rag.
What does the thing look like? A painting in the National Gallery of Art that supposedly shows us. Some claim that the artist, Domenico Fetti, actually saw the bit of fabric when it was on public view. The painting likely was made to cash in on the indulgence granted for praying before the actual cloth or images of it.
I find it fascinating that gullible Catholics are willing to accept stories that the image of Mary or Jesus appeared to someone in the burn pattern on a flour tortilla, or in a puddle of water or an oil stain and travel hundreds, even thousands of miles to pray to the image. Yet these same Catholics will not accept God's truth as presented to them in the Holy Scriptures. The power of darkness is great indeed, but the Light will overcome.
Come quickly, Lord.