God only knows if these relics are truly what they claim to be

imageNot an unhealthy way to look at relics. Relics and Reflections posted by someone named Sprott, a traveling blogger or is it a blogging traveler:

We headed down the street to Santa Croce in Gerusalemme where a wedding was just wrapping up.  The church itself is pretty, but it’s whats in the Chapel of the Holy Relics that’s the main attraction.  It has quite the treasure trove of relics including a piece of the good thief’s cross, three fragments of the true cross, doubting Tom’s finger, pieces of the scourging pillar and Christ’s tomb, one of the nails that Jesus was crucified with, two thorns from the crown of thorns and the INRI King of the Jews sign, and a fragment of the scourging instrument used to beat Jesus.  Plus, in another room is displayed an official copy of the Shroud of Turin.  These relics didn’t move my soul the way others had and God only knows if they are truly what they claim to be, but it was really helpful in reminding me that Jesus was a real person.  Sometimes, I feel kind of removed from Jesus by all the time that has passed. It becomes easy to regard him as this kind of mythical figure or a story in a book. The relics though, bring home that he was a real person, with a real life, who suffered…a lot. So seeing the relics was pretty interesting. Of course there were no pics allowed. So you’ll just have to see it for yourself. . . .

One thought on “God only knows if these relics are truly what they claim to be”

  1. I’ve mentioned some of these relics earlier this year on this site. Quite a good source to read is “The Quest For The True Cross”: Carsten Peter Thiede and Matthew D’Ancona; Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2000, though now a little dated. At the time of publishing, the University of Arizona had yet to do its carbon dating of the titulus in 2002. You can of course Google to Wikipedia on “Titulus Crucis” for a summary.

    Santa Croce in Gerusalemme was built by St Helena on the site of her former palace in 325 AD, and after scavenging the Holy Land for relics of Christ’s Passion and Crucifixion, she relocated several of them here, although she distributed some to other locations as well. Many of the original authentic relics definitely existed. At the time of Egeria’s visit the “title” was shown as one of the relics at Jerusalem in 383: “A silver-gilt casket is brought in which is the holy wood of the Cross. The casket is opened and (the wood) is taken out, and both the wood of the Cross and the title are placed upon the table.”

    Fragments of the True Cross were dispersed throughout Christendom, the main portion of the Vera Crux was held in the custody of the Bishop of Jerusalem whence it was captured and recaptured. Eventually the Crusader kings took up the practice of carrying it into battle as a talismanic weapon. It finally disappeared in 1187 on the field of Hattin in Galilee in the Frankish battle with the sultan Saladin. It was last seen tied to the tail of Saladin’s horse as he dragged it through the streets of Damascus as a trophy of his triumph.

    In view of the imperial court’s seizure of all these relics, as part of an exercise in enhancing its own authority and reputation, it is hardly surprising that such a relic as the Shroud, in whatever form it may then have been kept, remained hidden from them. This acquisitive imperial streak of course continued with the Byzantine general John Curcuas, when he took under threat of force, the Image of Edessa, whatever that may have been.

    The original Titulus Crucis was hidden around 452 during an attack on Rome by Visigoths and forgotten until 1492, when it was said to have been rediscovered by workmen restoring a mosaic, and was found behind a brick inscribed with “Titulus Crucis”. In view of these dates, it is curious that the Arizona carbon dating asserted that the present artifact was made between 980 AD and 1146 AD. If the dating is correct, the only explanation must be that it was intended as a replica of the original, but then why wait until 1492 to announce its rediscovery? Possibly it was some kind of closely guarded secret know only to a select few sacristans??

    Despite the Arizona dating, D’Ancona and Thiede seem to make a very plausible case for the relic, and if it is indeed a replica, then very likely it is a close imitation of the original.

    I would guess that the flagrum viewed by Sprott during his visit, is very likely some artifact recovered during an archaeological dig, possibly at Herculaneum (buried at the same time as Pompeii), or else is a reconstruction from Paul Vignon’s analysis of the scourge marks on the Shroud image.

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