Veronica is one of the most gorgeous names ever, in my opinion, and a great Catholic name. According to tradition, it’s the name of the woman who wiped the face of Jesus while He was carrying His cross to Calvary; the image of His face was left on her cloth. Though Scripture doesn’t name her, “Veronica” comes from the Latin vera icon, meaning “true image.”
What makes Veronica a particularly Catholic name? Surely non-Catholics use it? Surely they do, but I contend non-Catholics would choose the name Veronica in ignorance of its meaning, or in spite of it. It’s not mentioned in the Bible and it refers to an image, both of which, in my experience with the non-Catholic Christian world, take away from any religious importance that might have been given it. And non-Christians would have no reason to choose a name that specifically refers to the image of Christ’s face on a cloth, and to the woman who wiped His face, except that they like it for other reasons.
Not only do Catholics love tradition and images of holy people, but we remember Veronica and her act of love toward Jesus every Lent in the Sixth Station of the Cross: Veronica wipes the face of Jesus. And names that are heavily used by Catholics tend to travel well — most languages will have a form of a very Catholic name. Some of Veronica’s variants are beautiful, like Véronique (French), the Russian spelling Veronika, and Berenice/Bernice is related as well (Greek).
One potential downfall of the name Veronica, in my opinion, is the lack of good traditional nicknames, but I think that’s easily remedied with some research and creativity. There’s Ronnie and Vera, maybe Nicky or Nica, maybe even Vicky, but for this namer, none of those are appealing. Reading the comments for the Veronica entry on Behind the Name reveals some other intriguing possibilities: Ronja (pronounced RON-yah), which is said to be the Russian short form of Veronica; just “V” (I think I’d prefer the spelling Vee. Although, signing one’s name with one letter is so romantic and intriguing); Evie (a stretch but doable); and Nona (sweet).
Another potential point against Veronica is the Archie comments. That’s my husband’s first and overwhelming thought every time I mention the name. Sigh.
What do you think of Veronica? Do you have any other nicknames for it to offer? What do you think of the Archie association?
Edited to add: Ha! Funny enough, when I was writing this last night I almost included a bit about St. Veronica Giuliani, just as an example of a saint with the name. I decided not to, but then this morning (July 10) I saw on Facebook that today is the feast of St. Veronica Giuliani! You can read more about her here.
Edited to add (2): I think Via and Vica/Vicka could work as nicknames as well.