While delving into the days before Our Lady's death, St. Anne saw her giving directives on what should happen to her few worldly possessions. One cloth, in particular, drew Bl. Anne's attention. This cloth had a supreme light about it, was woven of the finest materials and stark white where there wasn't large amounts of dried blood.
She was given to understand that this cloth was used by Our Lady as she cradled her Son in her arms after He was taken from the Cross. She tenderly wiped at His Blood stained Body, using her tears as cleansing salve. She lovingly removed the spittle, the sweat, and the dirt away from His Face with this cloth, which she then safeguarded as a precious relic.
Our Lady made known to Bl. Anne Catherine that this cloth was the original purificator. All cloths used since to wipe chalices are used in a similar manner. I wonder how many priests realize this! As they wipe the Chalice of Christ's Blood, they take on the role of Our Lady as she accepted the Body of her Beloved Son from the Cross. Just as they wipe away the traces of Blood and spittle, Our Lady did first as she caressed His Face and Body, allowing her tears to fall as rain over Him.
At Mass today, I could have wept as I saw our pastor using the purificator. I never realized just what that action meant until seeing it through Bl. Anne's eyes... through Our Lady's eyes.
The thought is so humbling, so moving, so heart-breaking that I could think of nothing else as I knelt after receiving. I'm so glad I found the above artwork (by Jason Jenicke, an incredible artist I found by absolute accident!). It is simply the perfect summation of my feelings - I think I'll see this image every time I see purificators now.