Friday, April 18, 2014

Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, Rome

Santa Croce in Gerusalemme is a church founded by St. Helena in AD 320. She was the mother of Emperor Constantine (the first Christian emperor) and had just returned from the Holy Land. While there, she discovered relics from Christ's crucifixion. She built the church in her private palace (which was then on the outskirts of town). It soon became a place of pilgrimage.

Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, Rome

The relics include some of the wood from the cross (croce means cross), one of the nails, two thorns from the crown of thorns, and Pontius Pilate's sign declaring Jesus's crime, "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews." The sign is often abbreviated on crosses and crucifixes as INRI, which are the initials of the Latin version, Iesus Nazarensus, Rex Iudaeorum). Photography is not allowed in the church but they did have this holy card showing the reliquary of the piece of the True Cross.

Reliquary of the fragment of the True Cross

I guess I should have checked the back and found one in English!

One chapel has a photographic, life-size reproduction of the Shroud of Turin on the wall. In the corner is a crucifix showing the wounded body of Christ as He appears on the shroud. At first, we were reluctant to let either J or L see it since it might have been disturbing for them. J asked insistently to see it, so we let him. He was fine. L was not interested and was probably too young (four and a half to J's six years old). J kept chatting about it and how L might have had nightmares if she had seen it.

In the crypt is a statue of St. Helena, which was originally a statue of the Roman goddess Juno. The second artist replaced the head and arms and added a cross to make Constantine's mom.

In the vestibule outside they had a Christmas tree (along with their "no photography" sign).

Christmas tree!

Too bad this sign wasn't in English

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