Ever seen the True Cross?

Inspired by this thread.

Anyway, to answer my own question, I have indeed seen a bit of the True Cross. (Well, you know what I mean, that’s how it was presented to me.)

I did my junior year of college in Jerusalem, and on Easter Sunday, my friend J. and I went down to the Old City to see what was going on at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The CotHS is a really bizarre place, one of my most favorite churches. It has weird rooms going off in odd directions, the altars of several different denominations next to each other, ancient graffiti carved into the walls, and odd relics. It’s dark and dank and smells of incense.

Anyway, J. and I wanderd in in the middle of a Roman Catholic service. We watched respectfully for a while, and were about to go exploring around the church when a Greek Orthodox monk approached us and asked us if we’d like to see something. We agreed and followed him into what was apparently the Greek Orthodox Monk Coffee Room Addition to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. He produced a framed piece of wood carved in the shape of a cross.

“This is a piece of the True Cross!” he told us. “The cross Jesus died on!”

We made appropriate noises of awe. The monk was pleased. We had a good story. We did not tell him we were Jews. Everyone was happy.

From Mark Twain, I have an idea that loads of churches have pieces of the True Cross, but despite having been to a few European cathedrals, that’s the only bit I’ve ever seen. Anyone else have a different story?

I would really like to make a joke, but out of respect of other’s religious beliefs I’ll just read the responses.


While I became actively Christian as an Evangelical Protestant (C’tian & Missionary Alliance), I was raised C’mas & Easter Catholic, and I always had a
fascination with Our Lady of Fatima (because of the 1950s movie).

FF to Indiana State University at Terre Haute, 1986- a Catholic church there (St. Benedict’s I think) had a speaker from the Blue Army of Fatima (a Catholic order of lay people dedicated to the Fatima message) along with one of the traveling “Pilgrim Statues” of OLoF, which had a splinter of The True Cross ™ in a pendant around its neck. Everyone was invited to have an object blessed on it. I had my Oxford Annotated RSV BIble so blessed. I really didn’t see anything other than the pendant, so my story’s not as cool as Kyla’s.

‘Blue Army of Fatima’ Would be a great Doper name.

There was a splinter of it at the church we were required to go to from time to time while going to the catholic high school I went to. I was always a bit :dubious:

The trade and veneration (I’m a very lapsed Catholic so please correct me if I used the wrong term) of relics has always fascinated me. Most don’t exactly have a reliable pedigree. I visited the cathedral in Köln, Germany two weeks ago and saw the treasury where they have a monstrance with a thorn from the crown of thorns. Arguably less panache than the vera cruz but a thorn is a coniserably bigger portion of the whole than a splinter of the cross.

At the expense of being repetitious, and some readers having missed it in the linked thread, I will impose on the good nature of readers of this thread:

It is my firm belief that if Jehovah God wanted for man to have the true cross and/or the fragments of it in the hands of men today He would have made sure that they would have more than adequate authentication.

Since there is no such authentication, such parts are nothing more nor less than peices of wood. Even the location of the tomb is in doubt for the same reason.

A very good reson for no authentication of the cross, holy grail, the ark, etc. is that men would worship that which they can see and touch than the Infinite God which must be worshiped in faith.

Such items are distractions, diversions, and delusions to detract from the message of the Holy Bible instead of enhancing it.

Now that the so-called Turin shroud has been dated to around 1300 AD, it cannot be the burial shroud of Christ. Is it still considerd to be a relic? What is the status of formely revered stuff that turns out to be fake?
Of course, there is no way to authenticate a relic…Geoffry Chaucer talks about the trade in “pigges bones”…was the trade in holy relics a big industry in Medieval Europe? :smack:

Oh yes. Lots of relics back then. I don’t think that the Shroud has been officially considered real for quite some time, if ever. But I’m not Catholic, so what do I know?

I’ve seen a thorn and a piece from the robe that was divided between the soldiers, but I don’t think I’ve seen any splinter from the cross. There may have been one with the thorn, but I don’t recall. Even back then, the more savvy people were pointing out that there were enough splinters to build a ship, but most people didn’t have the ability to find out about much more than their own local area.

I’m pretty fascinated with the history of these things and all the folklore that was passed down. I just read a nice little book about saints’ folklore that detailed all the different stories attached to certain saints and how they developed (or may have done). Usually we know next to nothing about the real history of the saint in question, but there are some wonderful stories. It’s interesting to me to see how saints were essentially super-heroes to people back then; it’s kind of like their version of Spiderman.

Yes. There’s a relic at one of the Catholic churches here in Sydney. I’ve been at the Good Friday Passion service and the mass on 14 September (the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross) several times.


If there’d been eBay in the Middle Ages, ‘relics’ would have been a huge category – actually come to think of it, you can buy relics off eBay.

You might like to look at Patrick Geary’s Furta Sacra which means ‘stolen relics’ and is all about the trade and theft and proliferation of relics in Europe during the Middle Ages. At one point three separate cathedral’s claimed to have St Peter’s skull.

I’d have to get it from mum’s house, but she has a book on modern day churches what claim to have all sorts of things like samples of Mary’s breast milk, Christ’s foreskin (and more than one church claims to have one), Mary’s parents’ house (which flew from the Holy Land to its present location – nightmare fodder for me as a kid, imagining this wee hut silently gliding over the ground :eek: ) All sorts of strange and nutty things.

I’ve not seen any splinters of the True Cross that I know of, but St Jakobskirche in Rothenburg ob der Tauber has an altar called the Altar of the Holy Blood which has a reliquarly containing a piece of rock crystal stained with three drops of Christ’s blood.

In 1988, the Vatican allowed the shroud to be dated by three independent sources–Oxford University, the University of Arizona, and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology–and each of them dated the cloth as originating in medieval times, around 1350.


Um…everybody realizes these relics are all fake, right?

While I (and I’d be surprised if I were alone here) have heard the joke about there being enough pieces of the true cross still remaining to make [something much larger], I coulda sworn I’d seen a non-religious documentary (though I could just be at the mercy of some well-meaning but stupid documentarist who sold a fluff piece to the History Channel) examining what appeared to my younger, Catholic self, to be strong evidence for the existence of the Shroud pre-14th century. Turning up an unbiased cite on that would probably be more trouble than it’s worth, though:)