The Passionists, the community I belong to, were founded by St. Paul of the Cross (+1874) to keep alive the memory of the Passion of Jesus Christ. For 86 years, from 1915-2001, people from Saints Joseph and Michael’s parish in Union City, NJ, a parish nearby where the Passionists served for many years, presented a Passion play, “Veronica’s Veil,” during Lent. Two Passionists , Father Bernardine Dusch, CP, and Father Conrad Eiben, CP, were the play’s creators.
Patrick Allen, a Union City native and the last stage manager of the play in 2001, has begun to bring the play “back into service,” he says. Last Lent, on Good Friday, the Veronica Veil players processed through the streets of New York’s Little Italy near Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral, reenacting the Lord’s journey to Calvary, and ended up in the church itself.
Patrick hopes to present the play again in Union City and New York City this coming Lent. This Thursday, June 25th, he’s accompanying Archbishop Timothy Dolan, the new archbishop of New York, to Rome where the archbishop will receive the pallium from Pope Benedict XIV.
At the Mass, Allen will bring a service banner from Veronica’s Veil as part of the offertory gifts. Afterwards, the banner will be placed with the original relic of the veil presently enclosed in one of the great pillars in St. Peter’s Basilica next to the main altar.
For centuries, Passion plays have told the story of the Passion of Jesus. The banner to be blessed by the pope this Saturday explains why they are created. “May the Passion of Jesus Christ be always in our hearts.”
Here’s Patrick talking about Veronica’s Veil.