The Power of a Veil

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.


4 thoughts on “The Power of a Veil

  1. Once again good Sir Gawain, I must commend you. This time it is your Discretion and Knowledge that I must laud as so worthy of your sizable esteem. As I have uttered on several such occasions before, it is only through my Good Deeds and my heartfelt Confession that I was allowed entry into the beauty of the kingdom of Heaven. This was worthy for celebration, but I fear Vespasian and his cohorts will have no such joy.

    I judge Vespasian as I judge all others, even as I myself was judged before Death. In order for his Christian soul to bask in the glory of Heaven, his Good Deeds must amount to something significant indeed if they are to overcome his violent nature and warlike urges. Vespasian was given a gift by God, given through the power of the veil of Veronica. Through the holy energy left even in a cloth long since separated from the face of God’s own son, Vespasian was healed of his awful affliction. Such a miraculous recovery should have been a cause of celebration and love within Vespasian AND his people. Instead, Vespasian chose to rejoice over his newfound health by laying siege to a city, by killing countless citizens and ending countless lives, both his own peoples’ and the Jews. Whether or not these Jews should be considered guilty for the death of Christ is a choice only God should hold accountable. Divine justice reaches all before Death, as I have so fully discovered. To choose to kill enemies of God is not Man’s place. In so choosing, Vespasian rendered himself unworthy of the gift he received from our Lord.

  2. Oh, Gawain! Still ashamed over your keeping of the green girdle, I see! I truly think that you should think nothing of it! Equipping oneself for battle is but one of many duties of a knight, and I see no need for you to suffer such shame for merely cherishing your own life. You proved yourself to be a man of greater honor than all the others in Arthur’s court; do not continue to trouble yourself, for I greatly enjoyed our games!
    Now, this Veronica of which you speak does seem to possess some remarkable abilities. Now, I would not put her on the same level as Morgan le Fay, mind you, but her healing is quite impressive. However, Gawain, as you surely know, men are often prone to giving into temptation, and these men were no different. They saw an opportunity to obtain power and took it, beginning their siege with no regard for morality or honor. Now, I know how hard on yourself you are, and it is true that you, too, seized on the opportunity to keep the green girdle to aid you in your own quest. However, you did so out of a desire for protection and not at the expense of others. These men, you may even call them savages, have abandoned their humanity in order to further their own selfish goals with no remorse. THESE are men who should truly be ashamed of themselves. You, Gawain, forget the girdle, for you have truly done nothing wrong in comparison to dishonorable wretches like these “soldiers.”

  3. Let me be very clear when I say that it was no act of heaven, no miracle, that Vespasian was healed. He and Titus, and their whole vengeful, warring lot find no sympathy for their maladies in my heart. No, in fact, I feel sympathetic only for their lack of good judgment, and appalling interpretation of my message. Their sins are grievous, and they must be atoned for. War and vengeance are among man’s worst features. The Gospel teaches forgiveness to those whom you have been wronged by. Vespasian and Titus must have forgotten this.

    Furthermore, one might review my word and history and find that it was in fact the Romans themselves most responsible for my death. How misguided, now, for two Romans to take it upon themselves to avenge me, by bringing horrific pain and death to my people and homeland.

    Shame on Vespasian and Titus, and all of those who follow in their act of misguided vengeance.

  4. Honorable Sire Gawain, you are a proud man indeed. The girdle incident is in your past and you should let it rest so. But I would rather speak on something you said: “People succumb to their worst natures whenever powerful objects are involved.” This is true, I agree wholeheartedly. But it is not the powerful objects themselves that put wickedness into men’s hearts but the Wicked One, who uses sly words, a deft tongue, and trickery to sway the hearts of men.

    To you, Sire, I say look to the chirche and to the blessing of Christ for your past transgressions. The path of righteousness is narrow but, oh, it’s the most honorable and rewarding path there is. Bask in the healing light of the firmaments that graces each and every one of us if we only open our hearts to it. Goodbye, Good Sire.

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