History has it that the Cross on which Christ Jesus was crucified was thrown into a ditch/well and covered over with stones and earth so that the followers of the crucified redeemer might not find it. 300 years later, Emperor Constantine prayed and a cross was shown him: ‘In this sign thou wilt conquer’. He later triumphed in victory over Maxentius at the Milvian Bridge on October 28, 312.
Then came the finding of the True Cross at Jerusalem by St Helena (the Emperor’s mother).
Helena was almost 80, however, when, in 327-8, she made her pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Jerusalem had been desecrated in 130 by the Emperor Hadrian, who had built a pagan temple on the supposed site of Jesus’s tomb near Calvary.
Helena ordered its demolition, and then selected a spot close by to start digging for relics.
Three crosses were found, a special miracle worked by touching a cripple to each of the 3 crosses in turn, helped identify The True Cross. Nails and a tunic were also discovered.
While in the Holy Land, Helena supervised work on the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, and on the Church of the Mount of Olives.
She died soon after her return to Rome, and was buried on the Via Labicana. Her remains are now in the Vatican Museum.
In the year 614 AD, Chosroes II, King of Persia invaded Jerusalem carrying off the great relic of The True Cross. God helped the Emperor Heraclius of Constantinople with a large army who fought and rescued and restored the Sacred Cross back to Jerusalem in 629 AD to its place in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.
The Cross theology is the epicenter of the Christian faith. It is one area where Catholics and Protestants agree. The feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross is celebrated by both Greek and Russian Orthodox Churches, the Church of England, the Episcopal Church in the United States and the Evangelical Church in America.
“Christians cannot afford to neglect the Cross and what it symbolizes and keep saying in the face of temptations : ‘It is not my portion’. The cross is our own portion of divine allotted suffering, Lk 9 :23. Let’s learn to receive it with joy” says a Priest.
The largest piece of The True Cross On which Jesus Christ was crucified can be found in the Holy Monastery of Xeropotamou, Mount Athos. At the lower section of it, one of the holes that was created by the nails that pierced Christ’s holy Body can be seen.
It has the shape of a cross and is encased in a pure gold inner casing which has been designed in order to display the entire piece of the True Cross. It has a length of 31 cm and at its widest part it is 16 cm wide. The entire piece weighs 320 grams.
This piece of the True Cross never leaves the Monastery and is only displayed on feast days of the monastery and during the feast days of the Holy Cross.