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(entered heaven in the first century)
Thank you for trying so hard to send me that beef jerky (funny how you remembered my immense like for that low-regarded delicacy). Unfortunately, the guards gleefully waved it over the edge of my cubicle and then fed it to a rather unimpressive canine companion that they enjoy abusing. I am certain it was heartily enjoyed. The amazing thing, of course, is that the package got here at all; such a sketchy address: “Uncle Eddy – Imprisoned somewhere near Moravia or Muhurtsia.” I can only chalk it up to a miracle, born of your sincere love for our Lord and heartfelt compassion for his poor unworthy disciples like myself. It is positively uncanny that such a miracle would have happened today, of all days, your birthday and your saint’s day. It was just such a miracle that made your namesake famous.
To be completely honest, many people doubt that the incident ever even occurred, but I’m not one of them. In fact, a curious and little known association lends credence to the story that has come down to us through the ages. You are familiar with the sixth Station of the Way of the Cross, where the holy woman Veronica wipes Jesus’ bloody, sweaty, dirty, battered, and hardly recognizable face with a cloth, and she later discovers that he had rewarded her by imprinting on it the image of his sacred visage. Now, in some dubious histories of the early Church published in the fourth and fifth centuries, this Veronica is identified with the woman whom Jesus cured from a hemorrhage (she was the one that touched the hem of his garment; if you don’t remember go back to Mark’s Gospel, Chapter 5). In the East, this woman with a hemorrhage was called “Berenike,” independently of any associations with the image of the Holy Face. The name “Berenike” bears a remarkable auditory resemblance to the name “Veronica,” doesn’t it? And would it be hard to believe that someone who received so much from the Lord would not want to be close to him and comfort him during his own sufferings? And would it be inappropriate for our Lord to teach Christians for all time to come (by the reward of a holy image) how greatly he appreciates the slightest service rendered him out of love? And to top it all off, Veronica’s cloth (the one that lays claim to being Veronica’s at any rate) has long been kept as a relic in the Basilica of St Peter in Rome (now it is reputed to be in a Church in northern Italy) …
It’s not a dogma of faith or anything, and it doesn’t really matter too much if the facts are really facts (though I like to think they are). The important thing is that you have learned your namesake’s lesson – you have learned to recognize and serve Christ even when he appears under the most shocking of guises, like that of a distant relative (me) wasting away because of imprudence and miscalculation. Keep on keeping the faith, my beloved niece, and he will bless many souls by your hands.
Love, Uncle Eddy