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THE HOLY CROSS OF CHRIST has much history and lore behind it -- many amazing truths, and many surprising misconceptions.
"The stone which the builders rejected"
Archeological excavations begun in 1960 revealed that the Mount of Golgotha was part of an ancient quarry, in use as early as the 7th century B.C. Within the quarry, the Rock of Golgotha was a section of rocky ground that was not used, probably because of the mediocre durability and quality of the chalky rock, thus fulfilling the Psalmist's prophetic words: "The stone the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone".
“And the rocks were split apart”
In the Gospel of Matthew it tells how when Jesus gave up his spirit, “the earth shook and the rocks were split apart.” If you visit the Shrine of Golgotha in the Church of the Resurrection in Jerusalem, you will see huge boulders, with large splits in them, displayed in glass cases on either side of the altar marking the site of the Crucifixion. Modern archeologists discovered that the rupture caused by the earthquake at this sacred moment went through the entire Rock of Golgotha, from the top to the bottom.
Beneath the cross, the most ancient chapel
In 1977 a double-cave tomb was discovered only three meters directly below the present shrine of the Crucifixion. The cave tomb had been turned into a place of worship by Christ's followers, possibly even his disciples, which showed evidence of being plastered and decorated with mosaics sometime in the first century. This is the most ancient chapel in Christian history.
An pagan emperor marks the spot
Seeing the ruins of Jerusalem wrought by the Roman armies in the year 70 A.D., the Roman Emperor Hadrian ordered the gardens and cemeteries around Golgotha, and Christ's Holy Tomb itself, to be filled in with dirt, and a great platform erected over the spot, which later was the site of a temple to the goddess Venus. Ironically this served to safeguard the memory of the site of Christ's death and burial. Ancient histories testify that the Rock of Golgotha actually protruded through the pagan platform, visible to all. Saint Jerome writes that on the peak of Golgotha was a pedestal with a stone statue of Aphrodite. This made it very easy for Saint Macarius the bishop of Jerusalem to easily point out the spot to Saint Helen and her excavators when they sought for the tomb of Christ.
Three crosses are found
Commissioned and funded by her son Saint Constantine, the emperor of Byzantium, Saint Helen embarked on a mission to the Holy Land in 326 to restore the Christian holy places and recover the important relics of Christianity. At the time of Saint Helen's excavations around the site of Golgotha, three crosses were found in a rock cistern, along with the titlulus (the wood plaque inscribed with Jesus Nazaranus Rex Iudaeorum), Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews. This cistern can be visited today, in the deepest levels of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem off of the Armenian chapel. The excavation is a large dark cavern holding a large quantity of water, a minor miracle of ancient laborers.
Which is the Lord's?
he three crosses and the titulus were removed from the cistern. But how could Saint Helen tell which of the three crosses was the one on which Christ was crucified? A woman dying from a terminal disease was brought to the spot. She touched the crosses, one by one. After she touched the third cross, she was immediately cured, thereby identifying the true Cross.
More in the video:
Lost again, found again
A shipload of relics of the Cross?
Where are they now?