A painting with what is thought to be the true likeness of Jesus Christ has been discovered in Madisonville Tenn, after being stolen by a woman who attempted to sell it to a church.
Kelly Ghormley stole the painting from the mobile home of a 73-year-old man who had no idea that he owned a “Veil of Veronica” painting for over 15 years, according to Huffington Post.
The painting, said to be inspired by a cloth used to wipe sweat off of Jesus’ face before he was crucified, was reportedly blessed by Pope Leo XIII.
The owner of the religious artifact, who chose to keep his name anonymous, preserved the painting in a cloth bag inside a cabinet.
“I’ve lived here for 17 years,” he told volunteertv.com. “It’s been in there...or in my bedroom ever since.”
Frosty reported the painting missing on Monday, Monroe County Seriff Bill Bivens told WTSP.
"We got a call from a resident saying a painting was stolen from his house on Monday," Monroe County Sheriff Bill Bivens told WTSP News 10. "Shortly thereafter, a worker at the local Catholic church called and said someone was trying to sell them a painting."
Investigators told the Saint Joseph the Worker Catholic Church to schedule a meeting to purchase the painting for $3,000, according to WTSP. When Ghormley arrived on the scene, authorities apprehended her.
However, Bivens told WTSP that the painting was invaluable.
"This is a unique thing that is hard to put a dollar figure on, but could be potentially priceless in terms of history. It is a portrait of Jesus from the Veil of Veronica that was blessed by the Pope in the 19th century," the sheriff said.
Father David Boettner from the Diocese of Knoxville told WTSP that the cloth was authentic, showing what is believed to be a painting inspired by the imprint of Jesus’ face that formed when Veronica wiped his sweat on her cloth.
"There is not a lot specifically about Veronica in the scriptures, but tradition tells the story of how she wiped the face of Jesus with a cloth while he was carrying the cross," Boettner said. "His image, the image of the face of Jesus, appeared in that cloth."
Boettner explained the origin of the painting, thought to be commissioned and blessed by Pope Leo XIII.
"More than likely, the art dates back to somewhere between 1860 and the late 1890s.That wax seal is a seal of authentication that the artwork was part of a devotion attributed to the burial cloth that touched the face of Jesus," Boettner said."The custom was to touch an original veil to these other works of art that were in the spirit of the actual cloth."