Throughout history, there have been reports of miraculous images of Christ that were believed to have been created without human intervention, dating back as far as the 6th century. These icons are attributed to a circle of legends surrounding King Abgar, also referred to as “the Dark One,” who ruled over Edessa (modern-day Turkey). Legend has it that Abgar was gravely ill and wrote a letter to Jesus Christ, pleading for his help. Christ, still fulfilling his destiny on Earth, responded that he would send one of his disciples with a letter after his ascension to heaven. The apostle Thomas then sent a man named Thaddeus, who not only delivered the letter but also a miraculous image of Christ that was not painted by human hands, known as the “acheiropoietos.”
The image was produced by Christ pressing his face into a towel, known in Greek as “mandylion,” a word that originated from Persian. An icon on Mount Sinai, made after 944, depicts King Abgar receiving the Mandylion with the head of Christ from a messenger. This icon is celebrated for its representation of the basic tenets of image worship.
Another legendary story surrounds a woman named Veronica, also known as Saint Veronica. As the story goes, she gave her cloth to Jesus Christ on his way to Calvary to wipe sweat and blood from his face. Miraculously, the face of Jesus was imprinted on the cloth, creating a revered and religious object known as the “Sudarium,” also referred to as the “image of Veronica.”
These stories and the miraculous images associated with them have been present throughout history and continue to hold significance for many people today. While the stories themselves may be subject to interpretation and speculation, they serve as a reminder of the profound impact that faith, belief, and the images associated with them can have on individuals and communities.