Christian Pilgrim's Token of the True Cross

(Holy Land, circa 630 A.D.)

Socrates Scholasticus (born c. 380 A.D.), in his Ecclesiastical History, gives a full description of the discovery of the True Cross of Christ. In it, he describes how Empress Helena (later Saint Helena), mother of Constantine the Great, the first Christian Emperor of Rome, travelled to the Holy Land, dated by modern historians in 326-28, on a quest to find the True Cross of Christ.

It is reported that she discovered the hiding place of three crosses, believed to be used at the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and the two thieves. In Socrates's version of the story, the Romans had the three crosses placed in turn on a deathly ill woman. This woman recovered at the touch of the third cross, which was taken as a sign that this was the True Cross of Christ.

Saint Helena brought the cross to Jerusalem, where it stayed for three centuries. However, during the war between the Byzantine and Sassanian Empires in the 7th century A.D., The Sassanian king, Khsru II, sacked Jerusalem and carried off the True Cross as spoils of war. The Byzantine emperor Heraclius (610 - 641 A.D.) dedicated his life to the recovery of the cross. He amassed a large, powerful army with the primary goals of liberating Jerusalem and recovering the True Cross of Christ.

Heraclius succeeded and the cross was recovered and taken to Constantinople and then across Asia Minor, back to its final resting place at Jerusalem. As the cross was being taken back to Jerusalem, entire villages of people would line the streets as the cross continued it's journey back to Jerusalem. A piece of the cross, which had broken off during the journey, was burned to fine ash and mixed with clay and impressed into molds to create special sacred clay medallions for pilgrims commemorating the return of the True Cross to Jerusalem. The small, unfired, terracotta medallion here is one of the very tokens that legend states that contain a small portion of the True Cross of Christ.

Jewelry Model
Imagination Takes Shape