VanitasFrom the Latin: vanity. Vanitas is used of a special kind of still lifes that refer to the transience of life. The vanitas symbols are typically flowers, fruit or other comestibles about to putrefy, i.e. objects that are fleeting, perishable or fragile.
The Veil of St Veronica
The story of the Veil of St Veronica is not related in the New Testament but in the Apocrypha and tells of a devout woman, Veronica, who, as Jesus passed her on his way to the cross, offered him a cloth to wipe the blood and sweat from his face. When Christ gave her back the cloth it had miraculously received an imprint of his face.
In the Orthodox version it is a different story. Here King Abgar of Edessa sent for Jesus. The envoy reached Jesus on Good Friday when he was carrying the cross. Jesus read the letter but could not accommodate the invitation so instead pressed his face on the cloth which the courier could bring back to his king. In the night on his journey home he placed the cloth between two tiles, and the following morning the face of Christ appeared on one of the tiles. The king was cured and the country Christianised.
The Veil of St Veronica is one of the group of Christian images referred to as vernicles or archeiropoieta. The name Veronica is believed to be a variation of 'vera icon': the true image, untouched by human hand.
Representations of the Veil of St Veronica are found from the Middle Ages and throughout art history.