- Uncovering of the Precious Cross and the Precious Nails by the Empress St Helena in Jerusalem (326)
- Finding the True Cross
According to the 1955 Roman Catholic Marian Missal: St. Helen, the first Christian Empress, went to Jerusalem to search for the True Cross and found it September 14, 320. In the eighth century, the feast of the Finding was transferred to May 3, and September 14th became the celebration of the “Exaltation of the Cross“, the commemoration of a victory over the Persians by Heraclius, as a result of which the relic was returned to Jerusalem.
In the Latin-speaking traditions of Western Europe, the story of the pre-Christian origins of the True Cross was well established by the 13th century when, in 1260, it was recorded, by Jacopo de Voragine, Bishop of Genoa, in the Golden Legend.
The Golden Legend contains several versions of the origin of the True Cross. In The Life of Adam, Voragine writes that the True Cross came from three trees which grew from three seeds from the “Tree of Mercy” which Seth collected and planted in the mouth of Adam‘s corpse. In another account contained in Of the invention of the Holy Cross, and first of this word invention, Voragine writes that the True Cross came from a tree that grew from part of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, or “the tree that Adam ate of”, that Seth planted on Adam’s grave where it “endured there unto the time of Solomon”.
After many centuries, the tree was cut down and the wood used to build a bridge over which the Queen of Sheba passed, on her journey to meet King Solomon. So struck was she by the portent contained in the timber of the bridge that she fell on her knees and revered it. On her visit to Solomon, she told him that a piece of wood from the bridge would bring about the replacement of God’s Covenant with the Jewish people, by a new order. Solomon, fearing the eventual destruction of his people, had the timber buried. But after fourteen generations, the wood taken from the bridge was fashioned into the Cross used to crucify Christ. Voragine then goes on to describe its finding by Helena, mother of the Emperor Constantine. Source True Cross