Gulgun Koroglu, a Turkish archeologist who led an excavation team in uncovering an ancient chest at the Balatlar Church in Turkey, claims she has found a piece of the cross on which Jesus Christ was crucified. The finding is one of several hundred other such claims, and skeptics say the pieces of cross which have been found previously could “fill a ship.” That particular quote was from a farmer living in the 16th Century. While it is difficult to get an exact count of how many times people have claimed to have found the cross or pieces of the cross of Jesus, it’s safe to assume that several ships would now be needed to hold all of the relics.
Koroglu, however, is certain she has discovered a legitimate piece of the cross. “This stone chest is very important to us,” she said. “It has a history and is the most important artifact we have unearthed so far… We have found a holy thing in the chest. It is a piece of a cross.” Both the piece of cross and the stone chest in which it was discovered will be sent to an independent lab for testing to see if either object can be linked to the crucifixion.
The dig site has yielded an impressive number of other objects, including over 1,000 skeletons that had been buried beneath the church, and ruins of Roman bath houses. The stone chest, however, holds the most significant piece of history, according to Koroglu. Her team has been digging for four years at the church, which was constructed in the Byzantine era of 660AD.
Koroglu believes that the fragment is a leftover from the legend of Saint Helena, who is said to have found the cross of Jesus when she was 80 years old. Helena chopped the cross up into tiny pieces and then mailed the pieces to churches and religious leaders.
According to the legend:
Helena Augustas, mother of Constantine, at the age of 80 travels to the Holy Land and finds the True Cross, the cross upon which Christ was crucified. Helena visits the Holy Land as a representative of the emperor and to view the places where Christ had lived and died. She becomes interested in locating the True Cross. There are several versions on how the cross is found. In some, Helena has a dreams telling her where the cross is buried. In another tradition, the Ethiopian Coptic tradition still celebrated as Mesquel, she follows smoke from a bonfire to the site. Helena finds the three crosses, nails, and title under a pagan temple. To determine which is the right cross, a dead girl is brought to the site. Upon being touched by the True Cross, she is restored to life.
The fact that the story is a legend and that it has numerous versions seems to be of no concern to the archeological team, who say that what they have discovered the Holy Cross of Jesus.
Laboratory tests results on the relics are pending.
By: Rebecca Savastio