The true cross phenomenon begins with Emperor Constantine, the very first Roman emperor to convert to Christianity.

Could pieces of a tree survive millennia? Or are they fragments of forgery that speak come our must believe?

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Science and also archaeology offer insights into old artifacts that could be attached to Jesus Christ. “Finding Jesus: Fact. Faith. Forgery,” broadcasts Sundays in ~ 9 p.m. ET/PT on

In July the 2013, the earliest of Jesus relics stories increased again once Turkish archaeologists discovered a stone chest in a 1,350-year-old church that showed up to save a item of Jesus’ cross.

“We have found a divine thing in a chest. It is a item of a cross,” claimed excavation team leader Gülgün Köroğlu, an arts historian and archaeologist. At the time, she thought the chest served as a symbolic coffin because that a holy person’s relics – ones associated to Jesus’ crucifixion.

and also then, silence.

The latest relic of the cross on i m sorry Jesus had died stalled out because, together Köroğlu later on said, the box that had included allegedly divine objects was currently – mysteriously – empty.

The recent episode that the “true cross,” a powerful identifier for the belief of more than 2 billion people, is symbolic that the pitfalls in the hunt because that Jesus relics.

come say something smacks the the “true cross” deserve to mean that a issue of magnificent certainty or of utter fraud. Might fragments of the true cross of Jesus really be among us today? might fragments the a tree make it through millennia? Or room they fragments of forgery the speak to our should believe?

The true cross phenomenon begins with Emperor Constantine, the an initial Roman emperor to transform to Christianity. He sent out his mom Saint Helena (c. 246-330 CE) to uncover Jesus objects in the holy Land.

once Helena traveled to Jerusalem in 326 CE the city was still suffering the destruction caused by the last Jewish battle in 132-35 CE. After defeating Israel, roman inn Emperor Hadrian developed a pagan holy place over Jesus’s tomb close to Calvary – a grave humiliation to the new religion.

Helena bespeak this pagan temple torn down and also began to destruction beneath it to uncover relics regarded Jesus. Her workers found three various crosses – a discovery straight relating to the Gospels, which tell united state that Jesus to be crucified along with two criminals.


The historian Rufinus (c. 340-410) reveals that in order come discern i beg your pardon cross was Jesus’, Helena had actually a dying regional woman lugged to the site. The ill mrs touched two of the crosses, yet nothing happened. Then she touched the third – and she recovered. The true cross of Jesus had actually been revealed.

Helena sculpted it up, leaving several of it in Jerusalem and transporting a chunk come Europe whereby it watch multiplied, so lot so the Protestant reformer john Calvin said: “… if every the pieces that can be discovered were gathered together, they would make a big ship-load. However the Gospel testifies the a solitary man to be able to lug it.”

but was Calvin exaggerating to support his very own reforms come Catholicism? How could we ever know what the true cross to be made of, or looked like, because neither the Gospels – no one the Romans – bothered come tell us?

enter science.

In 1870, French architect Charles Rohault de Fleury catalogued all known pieces of the true cross. He established the Jesus cross weighed 165 pounds, was three or four meters high, v a overcome beam two meters wide.

If all these bits the the cross were cobbled together, that reckoned, they wouldn’t amount to a third of the cross on which Jesus died. And based top top the pieces he was allowed to research by microscope, de Fleury concluded the true cross to be made of jaw wood.

Later, four cross corpuscle were additionally microscopically check – part of ten pieces of the true cross, accompanied by documentary proofs from oriental emperors. These pieces came from cool European churches: Santa Croce in Rome, Notre Dame in Paris, and the sanctuaries of Pisa and Florence. However scientists discovered that they were every made of olive wood.

So currently the question became: was the cross of Jesus do of olive lumber or pine?

one of the perplexing realities for excavators is a lack of residual wood from the substantial record of roman inn crucifixion. Despite the reality the Romans eliminated tens that thousands of people through crucifixion – and also as many as 500 a day throughout the siege that Jerusalem from 66-70 CE – the just piece the evidence associated to this damaging punishment was uncovered in 1968, when archaeologists found the hoe bone the a crucified guy with the pond still intact.

In the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, Israel Hershkovitz, who teaches anatomy and archaeology at Tel Aviv University, said that the heel bone the the crucified male was found in a Jewish interment tomb in a north suburb that Jerusalem, close to Golgotha – the hill where the Romans crucified people.

The man, who ossuary, or burial box, figured out him together Yehohanan, remained in his mid 20s when he passed away on the cross. His great teeth and also lack of hefty musculature supposed that he most most likely came from a well-off family, for most crucifixion victim were much too humble to wind increase in burial places –save because that Jesus, that was put in one by the well-off Joseph of Arimathea. Others buried in the exact same tomb together Yehohanan had actually connections come the Temple, so it’s feasible that he was eliminated by the Romans for some political transgression.

Yehohanan was cut down native the cross through a 4.5-inch pond still in his appropriate heel bone, and with part of a plank still attached come the head the the nail. Hershkovitz believes that the relative shortness that the length of the pond reveals much around Roman crucifixion methods. “The pond was too brief (to walk through) two heel bones, so sure enough each foot was hammered separately to the cross.”

Hershkovitz is persuaded that crosses were not made native olive trees since the human being depended on the olive tree because that food and wouldn’t be slashing them down to do crosses.

an ext importantly, for the objective at hand, they i will not ~ be perfect because the the framework of the tree itself.

Olive tree don’t flourish tall and also straight, that branches everywhere, and there are a lot of holes in the wood, making it challenging to support the nails versus the load of the victim.

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“The olive tree is the least suitable tree. We have different type of neighborhood oaks that far better serve the purpose.”

today there space even more “true cross” fragments on display roughly the world: on mount Athos, in Rome, in Brussels, in Venice, in Ghent, in Paris, in Spain, in Serbia – and even in Boalsburg, Pennsylvania, where a fragment of the true cross come along as part of the family chapel imported there and rebuilt by Theodore Boal because that his French bride.

If you want your own sliver that the cross on i m sorry Jesus died, eBay uses several choices – v some having original wax seals keeping “integrity” and some having records attesting to your authenticity.

note Goodacre, a professor at duke University’s department of Religion, says that this ongoing emphasis top top the genuineness of true cross fragments is often at the cost of the cross’s meaning.

“The thing about the overcome is you’ve always got come remember the it’s around the human who hung there, the hardwood itself in the finish is simply the instrument of torture.”