I suppose one could say that I am rather familiar with objects containing miraculous powers. Granted, in my case perhaps it is more accurate to say objects I thought to have miraculous powers. Thus, this veil of Veronica is rather interesting to me since it seems to actually have all the power that it is claimed to. In my case, I was led to believe that a girdle of bright green had the power protect me. It was claimed that “[f]or whoever is buckled into this green belt,/ As long as it is tightly fastened about him/ There is no man on earth who can strike him down,/ For he cannot be killed by any trick in the world” (1851-4). With this in mind, along with a dangerous task that I had to undergo, one I believed would lead me to my doom, I engaged in some behavior that haunts me to this day. I, one of Arthur’s knights, and a man of his own blood, was seized by “cowardice and covetousness” (2508), and broke a bargain, lying in the process. Such conduct is truly embarrassing to me to this day. Of course, I did survive, but I think that had less to do with the belt and far more to do with the complexity of the situation. While I do wear the belt to this day, it is not because I believe it will make me invincible. Rather, I wear it as a reminder of how far I can fall if I do not live up to the standards that one of Arthur’s knights ought to. Thus, though it is an important belt, it is not so because of any magical powers.
Of course, this veil of Veronica does in truth seem to have real, and very strong powers for healing. I was fascinated by the description of it healing the man called Vespian. When the kerchief was rubbed across him, “[t]he wasps went away—all sorrow went with them— And what was leprous before was now unencumbered” (255-256). Unlike my girdle, this cloth really did work in the way that it was hailed to. Of course, no matter how real its healing abilities, it, too, seemed to usher in poor behavior just as my girdle did. Following this amazing healing, an army was gathered up and sent to lay siege to Jerusalem. The soldiers “set upon every section of Syria, Despoiling and scorching all left behind. Naught but smoke and lamenting endured in fine towns” (305-307). Such a miraculous article should lead to celebration, harmony, and healing, not rampant destruction. By comparison, my own cowardice seems relatively minor, not that I am trying to excuse my poor behavior in the least, of course, it was deplorable in its own way, if slightly different from raising an army.
From these instances, I can conclude that people succumb to their worst natures whenever powerful objects are involved. Something about them seems to bring out the most negative traits in people. This is deeply unfortunate, of course, especially when the power within them could be used for the benefit of all, not for inspiring violence and bloodshed.