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Hidden many times and then rediscovered, chopped into pieces and dispersed, the precious relic has taken many journeys
It is difficult to retrace with accuracy the path the True Cross of Jesus — now found around the globe in a multitude of fragments — has taken since its discovery by St. Helena during a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 326. At the time of the pilgrimage the Church was rapidly evolving. Christians, after a long period of persecution, could freely practice their religion and were able to go on a quest for their revered relics. Through divine inspiration, Helena joined Christ’s faithful, alongside her son, the Roman Emperor Constantine I, and at the age of 80, went off in search of the most sought-after relic: the Cross of Jesus.
After the death of Jesus, the Jews, who were afraid that his disciples would want to retrieve the relics, hastened to make any of the objects involved in the crucifixion disappear. At Golgotha, the cross was thrown into a hole in the ground, along with those the two thieves were crucified on. Arriving at the Holy Land 300 years later, the Empress ended up finding the three crosses, but which one belonged to the Lord? To find out, the bishop of Jerusalem had an idea: he made a sick woman, previously incurable, touch the wood, and upon touching one of the three she was healed straight away. Helena had no doubt at all: she found Jesus’ cross immediately and promptly ordered the building of a church where it was discovered – which she called the Church of the Resurrection – and she then set off for Rome. According to Christian tradition, the relic was well preserved until 614 and visited by a multitude of Christians.