Saint Veronica is featured in the Parroquia in a large mural as an indigenous woman with her infamous veil featuring Jesus’ face. Veronica is my favorite person in the Crucifixion story as no one knew who she was.
She is called Veronica for the Latin word veil and I often think how brave she was to enter a crowd that hated Jesus at that point and makes him more comfortable by wiping his face with her veil.
Veronica is the polar opposite of folks that simply watch the Crucifixion and do nothing so their legendary punishment is to show up at events of mass death, knowing death is coming, and, again, do nothing. They are known in urban legends as The Watchers.
The Watchers legend is an off-shot of the legend of a man that worked for Pontius Pilate, the official that condemned Jesus to death. At one point Jesus pauses to catch his breath while carrying the cross and the man egged Jesus on. Jesus, in turn, tells the man he’ll get his rest that afternoon (after death) but the man is condemned to walk forever making him the immortal Wandering Jew, whom we name the plant for that spreads so much.
I like telling this story on tours and lectures as it is a nice mixture of female empowerment and botany.
On a recent tour guests told me that California mandated the Wandering Jew plant was to only be called the Wandering Dude so as to not be possibly offensive.
I didn’t mention that everyone, as far as I know, in the Crucifixion story was Jewish or Roman. So I’d assume Veronica was Jewish too but I didn’t want to get tied down in logistics.
Now, I grew up in Catholic schools so my knowledge of the bible is scant, but if I had to pick a moment in Crucifixion story that puts Jews in a bad light it wasn’t Veronica.
I purged the source of all information, the internet, to see if my silly plant story offended Jews. I learned according to various rabbi-written sites the term Wandering Jew refers to everything from a plant to a bird to a card game, none with conscious anti-Semitic origins.
I also found zero collaboration Californians calls the Wandering Jew plant Wandering Dude.
Meanwhile, my Wandering Jew plants that line my front courtyard in their purple majesty have adapted to my calling them Wandering Dudes and Dudettes. That plant is so hardy here it would probably thrive being called the Spawn of Satan.
I haven’t decided whether to tell St. Veronica’s story again or not. Previous feedback has always been positive but I could never enjoy telling a story if I thought I could offend anyone of any, or no, faith. It defeats the entire point of what I do, explaining how the unique mixture of the Catholic faith and indigenous beliefs affects what we foreigners see and experience in San Miguel de Allende.
by Joseph Toone
- TripAdvisor’s top tour guide in San Miguel de Allende with History and Culture Walking Tours and Joseph Toone Tours.
- Amazon’s best selling author of the San Miguel de Allende’s Secrets book series on making your adventures around town unique.
- Creator of the Maria Dolls coloring book helping indigenous doll makers.