The 150-year-old painting, a Catholic relic based on the “Veil of Veronica,” had been stolen and dumped in a closet for years by a thief, identified as Kelly Ghormley, before she approached a church in Madisonville to sell it, Daily Mail reported Friday.
According to legend, when a follower named Veronica from Jerusalem encountered Jesus on the way to Calvary and wiped sweat off His face with her veil, Christ’s image was imprinted on the cloth.
The artifact the police recovered from Ghormley is one of the very few paintings which were based on the image of Christ as it supposedly appeared on Veronica’s veil. It remains a mystery how the rare painting, which had even been blessed by Pope Leo XIII, landed in Tennessee.
According to volunteertv.com, the painting was owned by a 73-year-old man who got it as a gift 20 years ago. “Ha ha, I’ve lived here for 17 years. It’s been in there... or in my bedroom ever since,” the man, identified only as Frosty, was quoted as saying.
Three years later Ghormley broke into Frosty’s motor home, stole the painting, put it in a cloth bank bag, and then threw it in a closet. Recently, she tried to sell it to Saint Joseph the Worker Church in Madisonville. But the church realized the significance of the painting and alerted police who then arrested Ghormley, Daily Mail said.
Interestingly, Frosty had no idea that it was so valuable, but he says that he will keep, rather than sell it, according to Huffington Post.
Some believe Veronica later traveled to Rome to present the cloth to the Roman Emperor Tiberius.
The event of Veronica’s encounter with Jesus is commemorated as the sixth Station of the Cross. It is believed that the veil possesses miraculous properties, being able to quench thirst, cure blindness, and sometimes even raise the dead.