Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Chapel of the Invention of the Cross

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Today and yesterday, Sept. 13-14, are special days for many Christians, marking the dedication of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Feast of the Exultation of the Lifegiving Cross.

Roman Emperor Constantine the Great, after his conversion to Christianity, sent his mother, Queen Helena, to the Holy Land to find and consecrate the birthplace of Jesus, the site of his preaching on the Mount of Olives, and the place of his crucifixion and of his tomb.

According to legends that spread widely throughout Western Europe, the True Cross was discovered in 326 by
Saint Helena during a pilgrimage she made to Jerusalem.
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre was then built at the site of the discovery, by order of Helena and Constantine.
The church was dedicated nine years later, with a portion of the cross placed inside it.

One Christian legend says that Helena came and assembled the Jews of Jerusalem and learned that one of them, a man named Judah, knew where Jesus had been crucified.
He refused to reveal the site so Helena had him imprisoned and threatened to starve him to death.
After a week the frightened and exhausted Judah agreed to take her to the site.
When she excavated, she found the three crosses of Golgotha.

Today, if you enter the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and go down a big staircase, you come to the Chapel of St. Helena, owned by the Armenians.

Descend more steps and you will stand in the dark
Chapel of the Invention (meaning Finding) of the Cross.
The Greeks have the right side of the chapel.
The left side belongs to the Catholics; their
altar (seen in my photo above) features a life-sized bronze statue of St. Helena holding a cross.
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10 comments:

crystal said...

I've never liked Helena and the story of her looking for the cross because I'd read she tortured people to find out where it was - yikes! Sometimes it can be chilling to look closely into the lives of some saints.

Nice photo :)

Dina said...

Crystal, Really?? And I was thinking it was just a legend about Helene. Oi!

ρομπερτ said...

Thank you for teaching me this interesting piece of history. Over here all pharmacies were closed to 'celebrate' the 'Day of the Cross', people called Stavros (Greek for Cross) were celebrating their NamesDay.

Please have a good Thursday.

James said...

Great photo! I love the mood!

Ann said...

Wonderful shadows, very atmospheric.

Cloudia said...

Torturing Jews is an ancient pastime!

Aloha from Waikiki;


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VP said...

Much more invention than discovery, one could say...

RuneE said...

I must admit that this was news to me (or I have forgotten). The cellar looked scary though ...

PS Thank you for the kind comment! The fire is more or less over, but the ship is taking in water ...

Pietro said...

I like this fascinating picture!

katney said...

A visit to your blog is always enlightening.