A Gift of the Holy Face

by Sister Hilda Kleiman, OSB

This spring I finished a small icon of the Holy Face for one of my students, Frank Villanueva, a college seminarian studying for the Diocese of Honolulu.  The icon marks his graduation from Mount Angel Seminary.

In the West, the Holy Face is identified with the veil Veronica used to wipe the face of Jesus on his way to his Crucifixion.

In the Eastern Christian tradition, the Holy Face is identified with a cloth on which Jesus wiped his face and sent to Edessa to cure King Abgar.  This cloth was found in 545; in 944 it was taken to Constantinople.  It was in the church of Hagia Sophia until 1204 and went missing during the Fourth Crusade.  Due to this connection, the cloth sent to King Abgar may be the Shroud of Turin.

This explanation of the Holy Face is drawn from Icons and Saints of the Eastern Orthodox Church (public library).