The Place of Finding the True Cross


One of the deepest parts of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem is the Chapel of the Finding of the Cross. According to Christian tradition, this is the place where Empress Helena found the holy cross on which Jesus was crucified, when she visited Jerusalem in the 4th century AD. The entrance to the chapel is via a staircase descending from the Armenian Chapel of Saint Helena.

According to the New Testament, Jesus was crucified together with two criminals. In the corner of the chapel there is a marking on the floor where Helena found the three crosses, including the cross of Jesus. On the wall of the chapel stands a bronze statue depicting Helena holding the True Cross. The statue was funded by Maximilian I, Emperor of Mexico, after his visit to the church in 1855. Some of the walls of the chapel have remnants of fresco paintings dating to the 12th century, which are protected by glass panels.

The space where the chapel is located was used as a stone quarry during the Second Temple period, and perhaps even during the First Temple. Signs of stone quarrying are still clearly visible today on the ceiling. Afterwards, during the Byzantine and Crusader periods, the chapel was used as a water cistern.

Although the chapel was sanctified as the location where the True Cross was found only after the Crusader period, since it was a deep and hidden ancient quarry it is quite possible that it was used as a meeting and worship place for early Christian believers who were looking for a hidden place to practice their rituals during the first centuries AD, while Christianity was a persecuted religion.

(Anecdote authored by: עמיר)

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