Who carried Jesus cross from Jerusalem

The cross of Jesus

The most sacred relic of Christianity is certainly the cross on which Jesus died.

The cross on which Jesus died

In 325 AD, Helena, mother of Emperor Constantine, discovered the remains of this cross.

Chroniclers believe that Jesus was crucified in AD 30. He had been accused by the Jewish high priests and sentenced to death by the Roman prefect Pontius Pilate. The place of execution was the hill of Golgotha, which is northwest of Jerusalem. If you look at the biblical texts of the different languages, you can read that Jesus was hanged from a wooden pole, as in the Greek text, which speaks of stauros, or sometimes also of xylon, which means wood, stick or tree. In Deuteronomy, Chapter 21, 22 ff, one can read that someone hanged on the wood is someone who has been cursed by God.

In the Gospels there is also a plaque attached to the cross with the name and offense of the condemned man. The inscription reads according to Mark 15:26 and Luke 23:38 "King of the Jews" and according to John 19:19 "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews. All of course in the three languages ​​spoken in the Holy Land at the time, Latin, Hebrew and Greek .

Jesus was not crucified on Calvary alone, but together with two criminals. So a total of three crosses were set up that day. The whereabouts of these crosses are not reported in the historical sources.

The Jesus Cross under Emperor Constantine

At first the cross was not a symbol of the Christian faith either. On the contrary, the first Christians had to hide their faith and were not allowed to betray themselves with symbols.

However, under the Roman emperor Constantine, Christianity was upgraded. In the writings of his biographer, Bishop Eusebius of Caesarea, one can read that Constantine, who was emperor from 306 to 337, had a vision: he saw a cross in the sun with the inscription "Victory in this sign". As a result, it is said, Constantine had a flag embroidered with the Christ monogram. And he won the next battle in the power struggle for Rome. In 312 he defeated his brother-in-law Maxentius in Rome at the Milvian Bridge. As a consequence of his conviction, Constantine did not make a victory sacrifice for the Roman god Jupiter on the following day, which would have been customary in itself. From then on he fought under the sign of the Christian cross. In 325, Constantine convened the Council of Nicaea, which paved the way for Christianity to become the state religion. At the council, Constantine met the bishop of Jerusalem, Makarius. He brought him closer to the places of Jesus' suffering through stories. Constantine was so impressed and ordered that the tomb of Jesus be uncovered and a basilica built there. He saw the chance to unite a fragmented Roman Empire through a uniform religion. He was not a staunch Christian and was only baptized shortly before his death.

The Jesus cross in Jerusalem

Constantine sent his mother Helena to Jerusalem to oversee the work. She was co-empress and had been baptized as a Christian a long time ago. Her goal had long been to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. It is also narrated that she dreamed of finding the true cross of Christ. The Legenda Aurea, a medieval legend, speaks of Helena having to force the Jewish inhabitants of Jerusalem to betray the hiding place of the cross. However, this is very doubtful, because Emperor Hadrian had the Jews murdered or expelled in Jerusalem during his reign from 117 to 138 AD. So there were hardly any Jewish people left in Jerusalem. Church historians from the 4th and 5th centuries report that Helena searched specifically for the hiding place of the cross. Not far from the site of the skull, the excavators found three pieces of wood, the tablet with the inscription and four nails. The true cross was marked by the table of guilt, the titulus - at least that is how Ambrosius reports.

What exactly the cross that was found at the time looked like is not known. It is believed that it was a pile about three meters high. A transom was attached to it. A crossbar of the cross from the good thief has been preserved. This is 1.78 meters long and 0.13 meters wide. The Titulus tablet still exists, but only half of it. However, one does not know whether it is real. It was made of walnut and is, as it is, 25 centimeters long, 14 centimeters wide and 2.6 centimeters thick. The cross pieces that have been studied so far were made from cypress or pine wood. It is not unlikely that three different types of wood were used for the cross trunk, crossbeam and titulus. All of these types of wood are found in Jerusalem.

The cross was found in an old cistern. Today it is located under the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Today it is known as the Cross Finding Grotto. Constantine had the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and the Martyrion Basilica built here.

Helena thought carefully what to do with the cross. She divided it into three parts. She took a third with her to Rome, a third she sent her son to Constantinople and the last third she left in Jerusalem. So Helena was not so much concerned with archaeological completeness, but with the divine effect of the relic in the foreground.

The part that remained in Jerusalem was exhibited with half of the titulus in a silver shrine. But it didn't stay there forever. In May 614 AD Jerusalem was taken by the Persians under General Sharbaraz. The Byzantine soldiers guarding the city were defeated. The priests were killed and the churches looted. The shrine with the cross was also captured by the Persians and brought to Ctesiphon. This city was near Baghdad today.

At that time, Emperor Heraclius ruled Constantinople. He was induced by Patriarch Sergios to take to the field against the Persians. In the year 627 the Persians and their king Chosrau II were defeated. As a result of the defeat, there was a struggle for power in Persia. King Chosrau II was killed in the process. His successor concluded a peace treaty with Emperor Heraclius in which he undertook to vacate all occupied territories, release the prisoners and return all relics, including the true cross. Herakles personally brought it back to the now rebuilt Church of the Holy Sepulcher on May 3rd, 629. To do this, he and the Patriarch Zacharias went barefoot from Golgotha. September 14th is a religious holiday in commemoration of this and the discovery of the true cross by Helena, the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross.

But the cross was soon in danger again. In 638 Jerusalem was occupied by Arabs of Muslim faith. The Christians initially left them alone in their practice of faith. In 1009, however, the Fatimid caliph al-Hakim set out to persecute Christians and Jews. HE destroyed the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

Crusades - Crusaders

In 1098 it was Pope Urban II who called the Western knights to the first crusade and liberation of Jerusalem. On July 15, 1099, Jerusalem was retaken by the Crusaders in a bloody battle. As the new ruler, Godfrey of Bouillon ordered that the Church of the Holy Sepulcher be rebuilt. He also researched the whereabouts of the cross. The part of the true cross that Helena left in Jerusalem was cut into 19 pieces by the Patriarch of Jerusalem in 638. These had been sent to Constantinople, Antioch, Crete, Cyprus, Georgia, Alexandria, Edessa, Damascus and Ascalon. Only four parts of the cross remained in Jerusalem.

The crusaders then took the largest splinter of these four parts with them on all their campaigns and revered it as the true cross. But the division of the parts of the cross continued. The crusaders brought them to Europe and partly sold them to finance their campaigns.

At the Battle of Hattin, on July 4th 1187, the true cross is carried by the Bishop of Bethlehem as protection from the crusaders. The crusaders are defeated by the Muslims, the cross falls into the hands of the enemy and has not been found since then.

Only the Armenian Christians in Jerusalem still have three parts of the cross today. They are kept in the Jacob's Cathedral. The titulus, i.e. the part that received it, has been lost since the 7th century.

What happened to that part of the cross that Helena sent her son to Constantinople?

Emperor Constantine had given these relics a very special place. He had revived the old Byzantium with many buildings and then renamed it Constantinople. The Milion was built in the center of the new Constantinople. It was a milestone that represented the measure of all distances in the empire. The Milion was surrounded by four triumphal arches that supported a dome. And on top of the dome was a reliquary that contained a large part of the true cross. Constantine and his followers saw themselves as Christ's representatives on earth. Constantine had already had a monument reached for this reason: his head on the body of the Greek god Apollo. That symbolized the divine part in him. The statue carried the imperial orb in its hand. This also contained a cross relic.

In the centuries that followed, parts of the cross were given away to allies of the Byzantine imperial family, such as the monastery of Poitiers or the Vatican. The cross holder, the Eszertgom storage library, also comes from the relic from Constantinople.

The Byzantine emperors took the true cross as a symbol of divine power. They derived their ability to conquer and rule from it.

On April 13, 1204, however, that was all over. Then that day the Crusaders conquered Constantinople. The cross relics fell into their hands. One of them is now home to Cologne Cathedral. In 1453 the Muslims took Constantinople. The reliquary treasure of the Byzantine rulers was completely lost.

What happened to the part of the cross and half of the cross inscription that Helena brought to her palace in Rome?

Helena had a room in her palace converted into her private chapel. There earth from the Calvary of Jerusalem was distributed. Here the cross relic was placed and worshiped by Helena. It was in a gold shrine set with precious stones.

When Helena died, her son Constantine donated the palace to the church. The church later converted it into a basilica. Today it is called Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, From the Holy Cross in Jerusalem. Initially, the fragment of the cross remained in Helen's chapel. In 1570 they were moved to a room on the upper floor because the moisture in the chapel had attacked the wood.

The relic was now used to bless the faithful from the balcony on Good Friday and September 14, the day of the Exaltation of the Cross. In 1575, Pope Gregory XIII declared the basilica one of the seven churches pilgrims should visit during the Holy Years.

Pope Urban VII had the relic of the cross moved into the new building of St. Peter's Basilica in 1629. Her own chapel was consecrated there. The cross fragments remained in Santa Croce and were kept there in a reliquary. Today the titulus is also shown there, although the scientists disagree as to whether it is real or not. This is contradicted by the fact that looting by the Vandals, Goths, Normans and Saracens took place over the centuries. It was also only discovered in 1143 during renovation work in the basilica, but then walled up again. Only then did daylight see him again in 1492. That year the Moors had been driven out of Spain. In any case, Pope Alexander VI had confirmed its authenticity.

The part of the good thief's cross, which is embedded in a wall, can also be visited in Santa Croce.

The cross under Charlemagne

Parts of the true cross were distributed across Europe, to allies, to monasteries and churches. Emperor Charlemagne also collected a considerable number of relics. According to one hypothesis, he got part of the true cross from the Pope. Another says that he received the splinter from the Patriarch of Jerusalem. In gratitude for the fact that the emperor had taken the Holy City under his protection.

The cross particle was later set in a cross-shaped reliquary. This was fitted into the holy lance with which the Roman soldier Longinus is said to have inflicted the wound on the side of the crucified Jesus.

It was Emperor Konrad II who had the lance with the cross particle incorporated into the shaft of the imperial cross. Konrad II ruled from 1027 to 1039. The imperial cross was the standard of the Holy Roman Empire. She accompanied the emperor and his successors on all their travels.

Under Emperor Karl IV, the Imperial Cross was brought to Karlstein Castle near Prague in the 14th century, as he considered carrying the Imperial Standard to be too dangerous. In 1796 the Longinus lance came to Vienna. Today it is exhibited in the Vienna Hofburg.

Number of cross fragments

The number of cross pieces that have been distributed across Europe and the world is great. The cross parts were not only increased by division, but also by touch. It is believed that normal wood would absorb its properties through contact with the true cross. These so-called touch relics were then considered to be just as sacred. And soon one could no longer distinguish many of the true cross relics from the touch relics. In the 19th century, the architect Charles Rohaust de Fleury made a list of all the larger cross fragments in Europe and calculated the total to be about 4,000 cubic centimeters. A calculation by Michael Hesemann resulted in 4500 cubic centimeters. The complete original cross should have had a volume of approx. 36,000 cubic centimeters.

The cross as a Christian symbol

The cross as a symbol already existed in Stone Age cave drawings. There it forms the intersection of above and below and right and left. The cross was also a symbol for the cosmic axis of the world, as a mediator between heaven and earth. An isosceles cross within a circle symbolized the four seasons and eternity. In the shape of the swastika or swastika it was a symbol for the sun and the four cardinal points north, south, west, east.

The cross is a symbol for creation and life.

In ancient Egypt, the cross was a hieroglyph called an ankh. This cross symbolized life and rebirth. The Ankh is considered to be the connection between the male cross and the female circle. Today this cross is still used by the Coptic Church.

The Christians first used the fish as a symbol, as a sign of identification. The Greek word Ichthys, which means fish, contains all the first letters of the creed, Jesus Christ, God's Son, Savior.

The first Christians also use the staurogram as a symbol. It consists of the superimposed Greek letters Tau and Rho, T and P. They occur in the Greek Staurus, which means cross. Another symbol was the Christ monogram XP, Chi-Rho.

An inscription with a cross on a Christian monument in Palmyra from the year 134 is believed to be the first depiction of the cross as a Christian symbol. Tertullian, a writer who lived from around 150 to 235, described Christianity as the religion of the cross.

The Council of Ephesus officially introduced the Latin cross, the high cross still used today, as a symbol of Christianity in 431. It stands for the sacrificial death of Jesus and the bond between people. The horizontal bar stands for the earthly, the vertical one for the divine. The connection between the two is symbolized. Through his death, Jesus reestablished the connection between God and man, which had not existed since the fall of man. The cross is thus also a symbol of hope and peace.

The inverted cross used to represent the apostle Peter crucified upside down. Today it is used by Satanists and those who want to mock Christianity.