The True Cross Of Christ Found By St. Helena

The True Cross Of Christ Found By St. Helena

The true Cross found by St. Helena.

Following the victory at the Battle of Milvian Bridge against tyrant Maxentius, Emperor Constantine seized power in 312, and in the following year, he legalized Christianity with the Edict of Milan. About this time, Constantine’s mother, St. Helena, converted to Catholic Christianity. (She died in the year 330 at about the age of 80). 

According to the early great Church historian Eusebius, she was about 63 at the time of her conversion. With the authority of her son, St. Helena went to Palestine in search of the sacred sites about the year 326.

According to post – Nicene historians such as Socrates of Constantinople, Empress Helena, mother of Emperor Constantine the Great, the first Christian emperor of Rome, travelled to the Holy Land in 326–328, founding churches and establishing relief agencies for the poor. Historians Gelasius of Caesarea (died 395) and Rufinus (344/45-411) claimed that she discovered the hiding place of three crosses that were believed to have been used at the crucifixion of Jesus and of the two thieves, St. Dismas and Gestas, executed with him. To one cross was affixed the titulus bearing Jesus’ name, but Helena was not sure until a miracle revealed that, that cross was the True Cross.

In addition to this, the Emperor Constantine himself wrote to St. Macarius, Bishop of Jerusalem, ordering him to make a search for the Cross on Mount Calvary. A learned Jew named Judas seemed to have some knowledge of the whereabouts, and was pressed into service. Just east of the site, three Crosses were found in a rock-cistern as well as the titulus (the wood plaque inscribed with Jesus Nazaranus Rex Iudaeorum). The question then arose, “Which was the Cross of Christ?”

According to the details provided by St. John Chrysostom, St. Ambrose, Rufinus, and Socrates (not the philosopher): The three crosses and the titulus were removed from the cistern. 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 cured, thereby identifying the true cross. St. Ambrose preached that when St. Helena found the true cross, “She worshiped not the wood, but the King, Him who hung on the wood. She burned with an earnest desire of touching the guarantee of immortality”.

St. Cyril of Jerusalem wrote a letter to the Emperor Constantius (Constantine’s son and successor), he stated, “The saving wood of the Cross was found at Jerusalem in the time of Constantine”. In his fourth Catechetical Lecture , he wrote, “He was truly crucified for our sins. For if you would deny it, the place refutes you visibly, this blessed Golgotha, in which we are now assembled for the sake of Him who was here crucified; and the whole world has since been filled with pieces of the wood of the Cross. 

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