The true picture: creative writing and critical thinking on Saint Veronica's Cloth

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The True Picture is a new novel based on the myth of Saint Veronica, who isn’t mentioned in the bible but appears at the sixth Station of the Cross in Catholic churches as the woman of Jerusalem who wipes Christ’s face with her cloth. I chose to make her Roman, not Jewish, partly because of her name: Vera Icon is Latin for true image. Roman women didn’t cover their elaborate hairstyles with veils but did carry luxury linen handkerchiefs called sudarium. In this article, I discuss the creative process behind my fictional character of Veronica, conceived as a rich businesswoman working in the purple dye trade in ancient Tyre, who gives up her possessions to follow Jesus. In reconstructing her journey through Galilee to Judaea, around 33 AD, I discovered fascinating research into the different shades of royal purple and biblical blue produced by the same murex sea snails, and the different techniques of dyeing in Phoenician and Jewish traditions. Here, I describe how this background reading informed my novel’s plotline, imagery and historical authenticity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)284-295
JournalTextile: The Journal of Cloth and Culture
Issue number3
Early online date19 Aug 2015
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2015


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