- The wooden cross on which Christ was crucified, which Helena, mother of Constantine I the Great (qq.v.), allegedly discovered in Jerusalem (q.v.). She sent part of it to Constantinople (q.v.), but already in the fourth century smaller fragments were soon in circulation as relics (q.v.), each encased in a reliquary (q.v.). In 614 the relic of the True Cross in Jerusalem was carried off by the Persians (q.v.), but in 631 Herakleios (q.v.) returned it to the city. In 635 Herakleios transferred it to Constantinople when the Arabs (q.v.) threatened Jerusalem. In 1204 most of these relics were stolen by knights of the Fourth Crusade (q.v.).
Historical Dictionary of Byzantium . John H. Rosser .
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