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THE JEWISH WAR
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Veronica's Veil

(or The Avenging of the Saviour)

This is a version of the legend of Veronica, written in barbarous Latin, probably of the seventh or eighth century. The wording of the translation below is doubtless smoother than the original. An Anglo-Saxon version, which Tischendorf reckoned to be derived from the Latin, was edited and translated for the Cambridge Antiquarian Society, by C. W. Goodwin, in 1851. That Anglo-Saxon text is from a manuscript in the Cambridge Library, one of a number presented to the Cathedral of Exeter by bishop Leofric in the beginning of the eleventh century.

The document contains two distinct legends, somewhat clumsily joined together - that of Nathan's embassy, and that of Veronica. It is also notable for its crudely outspoken anti-Jewish flavour - much fierce than anything in the New Testament - and for its anachronisms (e.g. placing Titus and Vespasian as contemporaries of the emperor Tiberius) and its inaccuracies regarding the length of the Jewish war with the Romans.


In the days of the emperor Tiberius Caesar, when Herod was tetrarch, Christ was delivered under Pontius Pilate by the Jews, and revealed by Tiberius.

In those days Titus was a prince under Tiberius in the region of Equitania, in a city of Libya named Burgidalla. And Titus had a sore in his right nostril, on account of a cancer, and he his face was torn even to the eye. Then a certain man came from Judaea, by name Nathan the son of Nahum; he was an Ishmaelite who went from land to land, and from sea to sea, and in all the ends of the earth. Now Nathan was sent from Judaea to the emperor Tiberius, to carry their treaty to the city of Rome. And Tiberius was ill, and full of ulcers and fevers, and had nine kinds of leprosy. And Nathan wished to go to the city of Rome. But the north wind blew and hindered his sailing, and carried him down to the harbor of a city of Libya.

When Titus saw the ship coming, knew that it was from Judaea; and all were surprised, and said that they had never seen any vessel coming from that quarter. And Titus ordered the captain to come to him, and asked him who he was. And he said: "I am Nathan the son of Nahum, of the race of the Ishmaelites, and I am a subject of Pontius Pilate in Judaea. I have been sent to go to Tiberius the Roman emperor, to carry a treaty from Judaea, but a strong wind came down on the sea, and has brought me to a country that I do not know." And Titus said: "If you could at any time find any kind of cosmetic or herb which could cure the wound that I have in my face, as you see, to make me whole and regain my former health, I should bestow on you many good things."

Nathan told him: "I do not know, nor have I ever known, of such things as you speak to me about. But for all that, if you had been in Jerusalem some time ago, there you would have found an amazing prophet, whose name was Emmanuel, for he will save his people from their sins. And He, as his first miracle in Cana of Galilee, made wine from water; and by his word he cleansed lepers, he enlightened the eyes of one born blind, he healed paralytics, he made demons flee, he raised up three dead; a woman caught in adultery, and condemned by the Jews to be stoned, he set free; and another woman named Veronica, who suffered twelve years from an issue of blood, and came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, he healed; and with five loaves and two fishes he satisfied five thousand men, to say nothing of little ones and women, and there remained of the fragments twelve baskets. All these things, and many others, were accomplished before his passion. After his resurrection we saw him in the flesh as he had been before."

And Titus asked him: "How did he rise again from the dead, seeing that he was dead?" And Nathan replied: "He was manifestly dead, and hung up on the cross, and again taken down from the cross, and for three days he lay in the tomb; but afterwards he rose again from the dead, and went down to Hades, and freed the patriarchs and the prophets, and the whole human race. After this he appeared to his disciples, and ate with them; later they saw him going up into heaven. It is the truth, all that I tell you, for I saw it with my own eyes, as did all the house of Israel."

Titus then said in his own words: "Woe to you, O emperor Tiberius, full of ulcers, and covered in leprosy, because such a scandal has been committed in your kingdom; because you have made such laws in Judaea, in the land of the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, and they have seized the King, and put to death the Ruler of the peoples; and they have not made him come here to cure you of your leprosy, and cleanse me from my weakness: on which account, if they had been before my face, with my own hands I should have slain the carcasses of those Jews, and hung them up on the cruel tree, because they have destroyed my Lord, and my eyes have not been worthy to see his face."

When he had said this, immediately the wound fell from the face of Titus, and his flesh and his face were restored to health. And all the sick who were in the same place were made whole in that hour. And Titus, and all the rest with him, cried out in a loud voice, "My King and my God, because I have never seen you, and you have made me whole, bid me go with the ship over the waters to the land of your birth, to take vengeance on your enemies; and help me, O Lord, to destroy them and avenge your death may you, Lord, deliver them into my hand." And having said this, he gave orders that he should be baptised. He called Nathan to him, and ask him, "How have you seen those who believe in Christ being baptised? Come to me, and baptise me in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. For I also firmly believe in the Lord Jesus Christ with all my heart, and with all my soul, since nowhere in the whole world is there another who has created me, and made me whole from my wounds."

And having said this, he sent messengers to Vespasian to come with all haste with his bravest men, prepared as if for war. Then Vespasian brought with him five thousand armed men, and they went to meet Titus. And when they reached the city of Libya, he said to Titus, "Why have you made me come here?" And he said: "Know that Jesus has come into this world, and has been born in Judaea, in a place named Bethlehem. He was given up by the Jews, and scourged, and crucified on Mount Calvary, and has risen again from the dead on the third day. And his disciples have seen him in the same flesh in which he was born, and he has shown himself to his disciples, and they have believed in him. And we indeed wish to become his disciples. Now, let us go and destroy his enemies from the earth, that they may now know that there is none like the Lord our God on the face of the earth."

With this plan, they set off from the city of Libya named Burgidalla, and boarded a ship, and proceeded to Jerusalem, and surrounded the kingdom of the Jews and began to send them to destruction. And when the rulers of the Jews heard of their doings, and the wasting of their land, fear came on them, and they were in great perplexity. Then Archelaus was perplexed in his words, and said to his son: my son, take my kingdom and judge it; and take counsel with the other rulers in the land of Judah, to find an escape from our enemies. After saying this, he unsheathed his sword and leant on it; and turning his sword, which was very sharp, he thrust it into his breast, and died. And his son allied himself with the other rulers under him, and they took counsel among themselves, and went into Jerusalem with their chief men who were in their counsel, and remained there seven years.

Then Titus and Vespasian planned to lay siege to their city, and they did so. And when seven years had passed, there was a terrible famine, and for want of bread they began to eat earth. Then all the soldiers on the side of the four rulers took counsel among themselves, and said: "Now we are sure to die: what will God do to us? or of what good is our life to us, because the Romans have come to take our place and nation? It is better for us to kill each other, than that the Romans should say that they have slain us and defeated us."

At this they drew their swords and struck themselves, and died, to the number of twelve thousand men. Then there was a great stench in that city from the corpses of those dead men. And their rulers feared with a very great fear even to death; and they could not bear the stench of them, nor bury them, nor throw them out of the city. And they said to each other: "What shall we do? We indeed gave up Christ to death, and now we are given up to death ourselves. Let us bow our heads, and give up the keys of the city to the Romans, because God has already given us up to death. "

Immediately they went up on the walls of the city, and all cried out with a loud voice, saying, "Titus and Vespasian, take the keys of the city, which have been given to you by Messiah, who is called Christ." Then they gave themselves up to Titus and Vespasian, and said: "Judge us, seeing that we ought to die, because we judged Christ; and he was handed over without cause." Titus and Vespasian seized them, and some they stoned, and some they hanged on a tree, feet up and head down, and struck them through with lances; and others they handed over handed over to be sold, and others they divided among themselves, and made four parts of them, just as they had done of the garments of the Lord. And they said: "They sold Christ for thirty pieces of silver, and we shall sell thirty of them for one denarius; and so they did."

And after doing so, they seized all the lands of Judaea and Jerusalem. Then they made a search about the face or portrait of Jesus, how they might find it. And they found a woman named Veronica who had it. Then they seized Pilate, and sent him to prison, to be guarded by four quaternions of soldiers at the door of the prison. Then they immediately sent messengers to Tiberius, the emperor of the city of Rome, asking that he send Velosianus to them. And he said to him: "Take all that is necessary for you in the sea, and go down to Judaea, and seek out one of the disciples of him who is called Christ and Lord, that he may come to me, and in the name of his God cure me of the leprosy and the sickness which burdens me daily, and of my wounds, because I am ill at ease. And send your forces and engines of war against the rulers of the Jews, who are subject to my authority, because they have put to death Jesus Christ our Lord, and condemn them to death. And if you find there a man such as may have power to free me from this weakness of mine, I will believe in Christ the Son of God, and will baptise myself in his name."

Velosianus said: "My Lord emperor, if I find such a man as may be able to help and free us, what reward shall I promise him?" Tiberius said to him: "The half of my kingdom, without fail, shall be subject to him." Then Velosianus immediately set off and boarded the ship, and hoisted the sail in the vessel, and went sailing through the sea. After sailing a year and seven days, he arrived at Jerusalem and immediately he ordered some of the Jews to come to his camp, and began carefully to ask what had been the acts of Christ.

Then Joseph, of the city of Arimathaea, and Nicodemus, arrived at the same time and Nicodemus said: "I saw him, and I know indeed that he is the Saviour of the world. And Joseph said to him: I took him down from the cross, and laid him in a new tomb, which had been cut out of the rock; but the Jews kept me shut up on the day of the preparation, at evening; and while I was standing in prayer on the Sabbath-day, the house was hung up by the four corners, and I saw the Lord Jesus Christ like a gleam of light, and for fear I fell to the ground. And he said to me, Look on me, for I am Jesus, whose body you buried in your tomb. And I said to him, 'Show me the tomb where I laid you.' And Jesus, holding my hand in his right hand, led me to the place where I buried him. And there came also the woman named Veronica, who said to him: 'And in the crowd I touched the fringe of his garment, because for twelve years I had suffered from an issue of blood; and immediately he healed me.'"

Then Velosianus said to Pilate: "You, Pilate, impious and cruel, why have you slain the Son of God?" And Pilate answered: "His own nation, and the chief priests Annas and Caiaphas, gave him to me." Velosianus said: "Impious and cruel, you are worthy of death and cruel punishment." And he sent him back to prison.

Finally Velosianus sought for the face or countenance of the Lord and all who were in that place said: "It is the woman called Veronica who has the portrait of the Lord in her house." And immediately he ordered her to be brought before his authority. And he said to her: "Have you the portrait of the Lord in your house?" But she said, "No." Then Velosianus ordered her to be put to the torture, until she should give up the portrait of the Lord. Then she was forced to say: "I have it upon clean linen, my Lord, and I daily adore it."

Velosianus said: "Show it to me" and then she showed the portrait of the Lord. When Velosianus saw it, he prostrated himself on the ground; and with a ready heart and true faith he took it, and wrapped it in cloth of gold, and placed it in a casket, and sealed it with his ring. And he swore with an oath, "As the Lord God lives, and by the health of Caesar, no man shall see it again, until I see the face of my Lord Tiberius." When he had said this, the princes and chief men of Judaea seized Pilate to take him to a seaport. And he took the portrait of the Lord, with all his disciples, and all in his pay, and they went on board the ship the same day.

Then the woman Veronica, for the love of Christ, left all that she owned, and followed Velosianus. And Velosianus asked her: "What do you wish, woman, or what do you seek?" And she answered: "I am seeking the portrait of our Lord Jesus Christ, who enlightened me, not for my own merits, but through his own holy affection. Give back to me the portrait of my Lord Jesus Christ; for because of this I am dying with a righteous longing. But if you do not give it back to me, I will not leave it until I see where you will put it, because I, miserable wretch that I am, will serve him all the days of my life, for I believe that He, my Redeemer, lives for everlasting." Then Velosianus ordered the woman Veronica to be taken with him into the ship, and hoisting the sails they set off in the vessel in the name of the Lord, and they sailed through the sea.

Meanwhile Titus, along with Vespasian, went up into Judaea, avenging all nations on their land. After a year Velosianus came to the city of Rome and brought his vessel into the river named Tiberis, or Tiber, and entered the city named Rome. And he sent his messenger to his Lord Tiberius the emperor in the Lateran about his prosperous arrival. When he heard the message of Velosianus, the emperor Tiberius rejoiced greatly, and ordered him to come into his presence. And when he arrived, he asked him, "Velosianus, how have you come, and what have you seen in the region of Judaea of Christ the Lord and his disciples? Tell me, I beseech you, that he is going to cure me of my weakness, that I may be at once cleansed from the leprosy which I have over my body, and I give up my whole kingdom into your power and his."

Then Velosianus said: "My Lord emperor, I found your God-fearing servants Titus and Vespasian in Judaea, and they were cleansed from all their ulcers and sufferings. And I found that all the rulers and rulers of Judaea have been hanged by Titus; Annas and Caiaphas have been stoned, Archelaus has killed himself with his own lance; and I have sent Pilate to Damascus in bonds, and kept him in prison under safe keeping. But I have also found out about Jesus, whom the Jews most wickedly attacked with swords, and staves, and weapons; and they crucified him who ought to have freed and enlightened us, and to have come to us, and they hanged him on a tree. And Joseph came from Arimathaea, and Nicodemus with him, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds, to anoint the body of Jesus; and they took him down from the cross, and laid him in a new tomb. And on the third day he most assuredly rose again from the dead, and showed himself to his disciples in the same flesh in which he had been born. At length, after forty days, they saw him going up into heaven. And indeed, Jesus did many other miracles before his passion and after. First, he made water into wine; he raised the dead, he cleansed lepers, he enlightened the blind, he cured paralytics, he put demons to flight; he made the deaf hear, the dumb speak; Lazarus, when four days dead, he raised from the tomb; the woman Veronica, who suffered from an issue of blood twelve years, and who touched the fringe of his garment, he made whole. Then it pleased the Lord in the heavens, that the Son of God, who, sent into this world as the first-created, had died on earth, should send his angel to guide Titus and Vespasian, whom I knew in that place where your throne is. And it pleased God Almighty that they went into Judaea and Jerusalem, and seized your subjects, and put them under sentence in the same manner, so to speak, as they did when your subjects seized Jesus and bound him. And Vespasian afterwards said: 'What shall we do about those who shall remain?' Titus answered: 'They hanged our Lord on a green tree, and struck him with a lance; now let us hang them on a dry tree, and pierce their bodies through and through with the lance.' And they did so. And Vespasian said: 'What about those who are left?' Titus answered: 'They seized the tunic of our Lord Jesus Christ, and of it made four parts; now let us seize them, and divide them into four parts, - to you one, to me one, to your men another, and to my servants the fourth part.' And they did so. And Vespasian said: 'But what shall we do about those who are left?' Titus answered him: 'The Jews sold our Lord for thirty pieces of silver: now let us sell thirty of them for one piece of silver.' And they did so. And they seized Pilate, and gave him up to me, and I put him in prison, to be guarded by four quaternions of soldiers in Damascus. Then they made a search with great diligence to seek the portrait of the Lord; and they found a woman named Veronica who had the portrait."

Then the emperor Tiberius asked Velosianus: "How have you got it?" And he answered: "I have it in clean cloth of gold, rolled up in a shawl." And the emperor Tiberius said: "Bring it to me, and spread it before my face, that I, falling to the ground and bending my knees, may adore it." Then Velosianus spread out on the ground his shawl with the cloth of gold on which the portrait of the Lord had been imprinted; and the emperor Tiberius saw it and he immediately adored the image of the Lord with a pure heart, and his flesh was cleansed as the flesh of a little child. And all the blind, the lepers, the lame, the dumb, the deaf, and those possessed by various diseases, who were there present, were healed, and cured, and cleansed. And the emperor Tiberius bowed his head and bent his knees, considering that saying, "Blessed is the womb which bore you, and the breasts which you have sucked;" and he groaned to the Lord, saying with tears: "God of heaven and earth, do not permit me to sin, but confirm my soul and my body, and place me in your kingdom, because in your name do I trust always: free me from all evils, as you did free the three children from the furnace of blazing fire."

Then emperor Tiberius asked Velosianus: "Have you seen any of those men who saw Christ?" Velosianus answered: "I have." He said: "Did you ask how they baptise those who believed in Christ?" Velosianus said: "Here, my Lord, we have one of the disciples of Christ himself." Then he ordered Nathan to be summoned; and Nathan therefore came and baptised him in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Immediately the emperor Tiberius, made whole from all his diseases, ascended his throne and said: "Blessed are you, O Lord God Almighty, and worthy to be praised, who have freed me from the snare of death, and cleansed me from all my iniquities; because I have greatly sinned before you, O Lord my God, and I am not worthy to see your face." And then the emperor Tiberius was instructed in all the articles of the faith, fully, and with strong faith.

May that same God Almighty, who is King of rulers and Lord of lords, himself shield us in his faith, and defend us, and deliver us from all danger and evil, and deign to bring us to life everlasting, when this life, which is temporary, shall fail; who is blessed for ever and ever. Amen.