Evidence has emerged in Turkey that may be a fragment of the True Cross. Found within a stone chest on the site of a church built during the 7th century AD in Sinop, tests are being conducted to determine the authenticity of what could be a piece of the cross on which Jesus Christ was crucified.
According to tradition, pieces of the True Cross were sent to various religious leaders following its discovery in Jerusalem in 325 AD during excavations ordered by Helena, the mother of the Emperor Constantine. The pious queen mother was later canonized as a saint, and is still revered by both Catholic and Orthodox Christians. Saint Helena travelled to the Holy Land in the 4th century AD in order to find the True Cross. Fragments of the instrument of Christ’s torture and death remained in Jerusalem, while others were sent to bishops and other clerics in Rome and Constantinople – the latter-day Istanbul. The first written records of the story of Helena discovery of the True Cross appear by the end of the fourth century.
The leader of the modern investigation, Professor Gülgün Koroglu, told Hurriyet Daily News, “We have found a holy thing in a chest. It is a piece of a cross, and we think it was [part of the cross on which Jesus was crucified]. This stone chest is very important to us. It has a history and is the most important artifact we have unearthed so far.” The small fragment was discovered in a stone chest carved with crosses, but has not yet been photographed because it is being tested.
Professor Koroglu asserts that the relics found inside the chest are holy because crosses were carved into the sides. She started excavations at the Balatlar church with her team in 2009. The church was built in 660 AD. Digging there has uncovered the remains of more than 1,000 individuals.
Relics that are purportedly parts of the True Cross, nails used in the crucifixion, and the lance used by a Roman soldier to pierce the side of Jesus on the Cross, are found in churches throughout Europe and the Mideast.
A number of relics purported to be parts of the True Cross, or nails used during the crucifixion have been found by churches, including a 2,000-year-old chest discovered in 1981.