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On this date in 335 two churches and a shrine erected by Constantine over the empty grave of Jesus and over the place of the crucifixion were dedicated. After these were destroyed by the Persians in 614, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, which still stands, was erected by the Crusaders in 1149. Today also commemorates the event that led to the building of the churches dedicated in 335: the discovery of the “true cross” by St. Helena, Constantine’s mother, in 326.

According to one legend, St. Helena traveled to Jerusalem on pilgrimage, in search of the true cross. Workers she hired dug through a pagan temple that had been erected on the site of the Crucifixion by Hadrian and found three crosses. A dying woman was brought in, and touched by each cross in succession, the last of which healed her. Helena ordered that this cross be divided in three parts, one to be kept in Jerusalem and the other two to be sent to Constantinople and Rome. The pieces in Jerusalem and Constantinople were ultimately lost. Slivers were taken from the portion that went to Rome until eventually it was scattered around the world.

Of course, the significance of the true cross lies not in the wood itself but in the burden that it bore. As a faithful Christian, what crosses do you accept in your life today?

—Rev. James Field, Copyright © J. S. Paluch Co.