How did part of the cross reach the church in Demayatta?
How did part of the cross reach the church in Demayatta?
On the 17th of Tut, the Copts and the Ethiopians celebrate the feast of the glorious cross and the Latin Church celebrates it on the 3rd of May. It recalls the day when the cross of the Lord Christ was found, on which Jesus was crucified at the age of 33 or 34 of His incarnation and birth from the Virgin Mary. that cross was concealed by the Jews who ordered their people to throw their rubbish on that place so that no one could find it intending to conceal the site of the cross and the Holy sepulcher where many miracles took place as many sick people were healed, which upset the Jews. By time, the place turned into a hill of garbage.
Historians mentioned that the Roman Emperor Hadrian 117-138 built on this hill a temple for goddess Venus (goddess protecting the city of Rome). Among those who mentioned this incident are Prof. Dr. Jackson in one of his books, as well as Hans Litsman in his book (History of the old church) part III and part V.
The Holy Cross was discovered by Queen Hilana, the saint, mother of Constantine the emperor, in the year 326 AC. which is equivalent to the year 42 of martyrs.
Queen Hilana (247-327) desired to find out what became of the Holy Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. It was said that she had a dream informing her that is the one who will discover the Lord’s cross. Her son, Constantine, the emperor, encouraged her to travel to the Holy Lands.
He gave orders to three thousand soldier to accompany her and be at her service. In Jerusalem, she met St. Makarious, the bishop of the city who was 80 years old. She expressed her desire to look for the cross. The bishop led her to meet and aged honorable Jew named Judas who was well read in history and an expert in events places and persons. Queen Hilana asked him about the place of the Lord’s cross. At first he denied knowledge about it but when the queen threatened him, he was obliged to guide her to the place of the cross, the Golgotha hill where now is erected the church of resurrection in Old Jerusalem. Queen Hilana immediately gave orders to remove this hill and the cave was discovered. The found three crosses.
They understood that one of them belonged to Christ Jesus and the second belonged to the criminal who was crucified on His right-hand side while the third belonged to the criminal who was crucified on His left-hand side. They also found the nails and the tools used for crucifixion. They even found the tablet that was hanging on top of the Lord’s cross, on which was written “Jesus of Nazareth King of the Jews”. So it seemed that the three crosses were the same size, shape and very similar to one another, to the extent that the Queen together with those accompanying her, failed to identify the cross of Christ Jesus.
The Historian Zosimous and the historian Roffinos in his book “History of the church”, that the Queen, after consulting bishop Makarious and following his advice was able to identify the cross of the Christ. On putting the three crosses, one after another, on a dead body, a miracle took place, the dead man rose from the dead when the cross of the Lord Christ touched the body. The Queen immediately bowed in awe and respect to the Holy cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. The she enveloped it with gold, wrapped it up with silk cloth, and treasured in a silver treasury safe in Jerusalem. Archbishop of Milan, Ambrosious (340-397) AC. as well as St. John Chrysostom and other priests were witness to this incident.
The Queen Hilana built the church of resurrection on the cave of the cross and the Holy Sepulcher and placed the Holy Cross in it. then she called upon St. Athanasious to consecrate the church which took place in a great celebration in the year 328 AC. the cave of the cross is still there in the church of resurrection till this day, where all visitor of the holy places may see it.
The distribution of the wood of the Holy Cross all over the world
King Constantine gave orders that the wood of the Holy Cross be distributed among churches all over the world. The church in Constantinople retained the remaining part of it, while the Church of Rome received a big part of it.
St. Kyrellos Patriarch of Jerusalem, mentioned in his book (Preaching Christian doctrine) that the bishops of Jerusalem used to distribute parts of the wood of the Holy Cross among the reverend visitors, so the whole world was blessed by a part of the Holy Cross in a very short time.
Despite all this the Holy Cross remained whole as it is, as if nothing was taken away from it, as a result of continual growth due to the power than it received from the divine body of the Lord Jesus Christ, which was nailed to it.
1. Taken by the Persians
the Holy Cross remained in the church of resurrection until Jerusalem was taken over by the Persian King Chosrots II (590-628 AC) in the year 614 AC. Historians say that the Persians buried the Holy Cross in a pit in a garden in the King’s palace after killing the two deacons who were ordered by the King to carry the Holy cross to be buried in the palace’s garden, in order to get rid of the cross. But God meant for a young girl, who was the daughter of a priest to witness what happened. This girl was taken as a captive by the King who took her to live in his palace.
in the days of Heraclius, Emperor of Rome (610-641 AC) the romans restored their power and regained their properties which was usurped by the Persians, among which was the Holy Cross (622-630 AC) which they digged out from the pit, guided by the little girl, in the garden where it stayed for 14 years. This took place in the year 629 AC.
Historians say that Heraclius wanted to restore the Holy Cross to the church of resurrection and took it himself. So, he put on his royal garment, put his golden crown on his head and then carried the cross on his shoulder. When he reached up to the door of the church of resurrection the cross became suddenly berry heavy to a great extent that he could not step unto the church. He was perplexed. At that moment, one of the priests approached him and said,” Remember that your Lord stepped unto this place carrying the cross and his Holy head was crowned with a crown of thorns not a crown of gold. Therefore, you must take off your crown of gold and royal garment, to be allowed into that place. The King obeyed and followed the priest’s advice. Only then was he able to enter very easily into the church as if carrying a light burden. This day was considered a feast of the cross.
The Orthodox Church therefore celebrates two feats for the cross, one to be celebrated on 17th Tut and the second on 10th Baramhat. The first one celebrates the placement of the church of the cross, while the second celebrates the discovery of the cross.
2. Carrying the cross to Constantinople:
some scientific sources mention that the Holy Cross was carried to Constantinople and was put in the church named after St. Sophia which later was turned into a mosque (Agia Sophia) in Istanbul during the reign of Mohamed II known as El fateh (1429-1481 AC).
3. The disappearance of the parts of the Holy Cross since the war of Icons
There broke-out a war in the 8th century that lasted for more than one century in the days of Philip Bardan (711-713 AC) who erased the icon paintings of the church Agia Sophia among which was the wood of the Holy Cross, which disappeared.
In the year, 1400 AC two parts of the Holy Cross were found in a church in the present Coptic parish in France. One part of them was handed in to His Holiness Pope Shenouda III to be kept in the patriarchal residence in Cairo.
As for the second part, hence the story:
- How did a part of the Holy Cross of the Christ reach Demayatta?
The archbishop of Venus Joans Maria, has arrived in Cairo, with his assistant Monsieur Iginus on the 26th of March 1974 AC. pope Shenouda accompanied them to St. Bishoy monastery where they were ordained orthodox monks after they had abandoned their previous and clerical ranks. The first one was named monk Mark and the second monk Athanasius. After that, they visited some perished.
- their visit to Demayatta and their promise to get them part of the Holy Cross:
During their visit to Demayatta accompanied by one of the bishops, they visited many churches in the city and were blessed by visiting the shrine of St. Sidhom Beshay where they met the priest in charge of the service in the church. on knowing that they were fond of the ancient icons he gave them 3 icons as a gift, one icon was of his own and another presented by Mrs. Margarette Kassis, while the third one was from the remnants of St. Mary’s old church. They wished to present gifts in return, they were given a choice, either the
- Hair of John the Baptist in a wooden tube.
- Or part of the Holy Cross of the Christ in a woven stand.
They chose the 2nd one, but someone had to travel to receive this gift.
On Sunday June 2nd 1974 AC. Anba Mark was ordained bishop of France and Marseille, while Anba Athansius Khouri Ebiscobos in the city of Paris. By the end of September 1974 AC, they both travelled to be enthroned.
- their arrival in Cairo received by bishop Anba Bishoy:
They were expected to arrive to Egypt on the feat of the Holy Cross on 27/09/1975 in fulfillment to their promise.
Saturday evening 26/09/1975 they arrived to pay a visit to their mother church. Bishop Anba Bishoy received them and accompanied them to visit H. H. Pope Shenouda III. So, they handed to him the gift, which is part of the Holy Cross with its official documents. Then they presented a small part of the Holy cross to Bishop Anba Bishoy.
- visiting Demayatta:
Later bishop Anba Bishoy accompanied them to Demayatta on Thursday 6/11/1975 AC. he set a great celebration in the church and consecrated the cabinet prepared to hold the holy part of the Holy Cross. The following day they joined His grace Anba Bishoy in liturgy together with the priests of the church. This celebration recalled old memories since the martyrdom of St. Sidhom Beshay who loved the cross and during his persecution; the evil ones put a wooden cross on his body. Also after his martyrdom, a cross of light appeared upon his grave and lasted for a long time.
Orders were issued by the Ottoman Sultan to raise the cross up high during the celebration of his burial. Christians went around the whole city with the cross. Later the cross was held up high in the whole country. And, hence, on that day part of the Holy Cross was received to be placed near him in St. Mary’s church.
- the story of this part of the Holy Cross:
His Grace Anba Mark related:
“this part of the Holy cross was carried by the sailor Captain Melkhio Trinzan to Venicia and was treasured at a noble family who handed it on 29 April 1513 to patriarch Antoine pontarofy of Venicia, then it reached Cardinal Jack Moniko of Venicia, then was given to Cardinal Jan Peter Patriarch of Venicia until on April 2nd in 1912 reached Patriarch Birontony bishop of Girasse who handed it to the Spanish bishop Joseph Marie Garissa La Grera, bishop of Valns in Spain.
Anba Mark then said: “Due to the strong relation between us he gave it to me as a gift on 17th October 1970. Now, I, in turn present it as gift to Demayatta.
- a great discovery: this part of the Holy Cross is located just beneath the stab of the spear in the Holy Body of Christ Jesus:
So, it happened that one of the blessed Christians came to Demayatta accompanying relatives and friends to visit the place. Among them was woman, she was a widow and she was obsessed by daemons. The priest held out the part of the Holy Cross for the group to take blessings. all of a sudden the widow screamed and fell to the ground saying:” we are choked, take away this part of the cross, it is light and fire, this part is very dangerous for us because it is the part just beneath the stab of the spear … the widow kept on saying these words until she came back home in peace thanking God.
- See the official site of Coptic orthodox bishopric Virgin Mary and St. Sidhom Beshay the martyr cathedral. Demayatta - Egypt.
- Copied from encyclopedia of the history of the Copts in Egypt.