We know the story of the Shroud of Turin which would bear the image of Christ and which fueled controversy for a long time, or the crown of thorns which was acquired by Saint Louis and is still in the treasury of the Notre-Dame cathedral from Paris. But now, the relics of the passion, which are in fact the different objects that were used for the crucifixion of Christ, are more numerous. Among them are the pieces of the cross, the holy spear that would have pierced the side of the most famous of the condemned, the holy sponge with which he would have been washed, but also the nails with which he was fixed to the cross!!
Framework reliquary of Holy Nail - Relics.es
According to the work of Mgr du Saussay, 88th bishop of Toul in the 17th century: "one of the nails was used to make the bit of Constantine's horse. It is the saint-bit, which is today in Carpentras. A second, who was on Constantine's helmet to protect him, would today be in the Church of the Holy Cross of Jerusalem in Rome.As for the third, he would have been thrown into the sea by Saint Helena in the Adriatic then that she was facing a storm, to calm the elements. This one would have risen to the surface. She would then have given it to the city of Trier, city where she lived. According to other theses, a nail would have been melted into several small ones, and one of them would be visible in Monza in Italy (near Milan), a region where devotion to this type of relic is more frequent.
Between 326 and 328, Saint Helena, mother of Emperor Constantine, traveled to the Holy Land to search for sites and relics associated with the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. The cross, nails, Christ's tunic and a rope used to tie it to the cross were found. Whether this was all genuine or not is another matter, but any consideration of theserelics starts with Helena. In other words, we may not be able to prove that it isrelics of Christ, but we can certainly approach the proof that these are therelics found by Saint Helena.
When evaluating the relics of the Holy Nails, one piece of archaeological evidence provides useful data. In 1968, three tombs were unearthed in an area called Givʿat ha-Mivtar (or Ras el-Masaref). Excavated by V. Tzaferis of the Israeli Department of Antiquities and Museums, Tomb I included an ossuary for a young man named Yehohanan ben ḤGQWL (Yehoḥanan son of Hagkol). Inside were the bones of an adult male, aged 24 to 28, and a child. The adult's tibias and fibulae had been intentionally broken, and both calcanei (heel bones) were pierced by a nail that was still in place. After forensic examination of the remains, Tzaferis said it was "definitely a case of crucifixion". Based on other evidence, he theorized that it was either a rebel executed during the Census Revolt of 7 CE, or another first-century crucifixion.
Dr. N. Haas of the Department of Anatomy at Hebrew University and Hadassah School of Medicine concluded that the nail had been driven through a small plate of acacia or pistacia wood and then through the heels, through the upright of the cross, and finally bent to the opposite side of the upright. Hass wrote:
The feet were joined almost parallel, both transfixed by the same nail at the heels, the legs adjacent; the knees were doubled, the right overlapping the left; the trunk was contorted; the upper limbs were stretched out, each stabbed by a nail in the forearm. The study of the nail itself, and of the situation of the calcaneal bones between the head and the summit of this nail, shows that the feet had not been firmly attached to the cross. This hypothesis necessitates the addition of the traditional "sedecula" ... intended to provide a secure footing for the buttocks of the victim, in order to prevent collapse and prolong the agony.
Haas noted that the fracture of the right tibia was due to a "single and powerful blow" - "The percussion, passing through the already crushed right calf bones, was a hard and cutting blow to the left bones, attached as they l 'were at the sharp-edged wooden cross."
The damage to the body was such that the nail could not be removed, necessitating the amputation of the feet.
The significance of this discovery should be obvious, as it adds concrete archaeological and forensic evidence to the written accounts of the first century Roman crucifixion in Palestine.
She also gives us an actual nail that was used in a crucifixion: an iron carpenter's nail about 16 centimeters long with four sides. This unique discovery tells us about the type, size and shape of the nail.
The relics of Saint Clou
Yehohanan's nail provides hard evidence and combined with other factors helps eliminate some nails. For example, the nail of Our Lady is not the right size, while the one preserved in Trier is not old enough and is also too short. Other nails preserved in Toul, Cologne and Essene have weak claims to authenticity.
It is important to note that these are not necessarily "fakes" but rather partial or third class relics. They may contain pieces of real nails or have been hit by a real nail, and when that detail was lost to history, they became "genuine nails." The fact that some of these nails are similar to the nail of Yehohanan is suggestive but not conclusive.
I think we can determine, however, that the nails from Rome, Siena, and Milan have good reason to claim to be the nails recovered by Helena.
The Nail of the Holy Cross (Rome)
The first place we must turn to is the Basilica of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem (Basilica di Santa Croce in Gerusalemme) in Rome, consecrated in 325 with a floor comprising soil from the Holy Land. The name "in Jerusalem" therefore does not refer to the Cross, but to the Basilica itself, which is "in Jerusalem" because it rests on the land of Jerusalem. According to tradition, the basilica was built around the personal palace chapel of Saint Helena, itself built on the former site of a temple to Sol Invictus (the Invincible Sun). It has been restored and enlarged several times over the centuries. A chapel houses various relics of the crucifixion.
The nail of the Holy Cross is similar in shape to the nail of Yehohanan, but at 11.5 cm it is significantly shorter. This appears to be due to the original head and tip breaking off. Other pieces have probably been removed over the years as relics. Since some nails that claim to be real match the Holy Cross nail, it is quite possible that filings or whole pieces of the original were embedded in the replicas. This means that some of the many nails can still claim to be relics even though they include other materials, since in relics a part represents the whole. Given the basilica's unbroken history, its connection to Helena, and its current size and shape, the highlight of Sainte-Croix is most likely to be authentic. In other words, if Helen indeed found the crucifixion relics and returned with them to Rome, this is where they should be, and they appear to be the right material, shape, and size. Indeed, the width of the nail of Yehonanan and the nail of Holy Cross (0.9 cm) is almost identical.
The Church of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem in Rome has other relics.
The famous relics, whose authenticity is disputed, are now kept in a chapel (the Cappella delle Reliquie), built in 1930 by the architect Florestano di Fausto.
The relics kept at the Basilica of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem, in the Chapel of the Holy Relics include:
A large fragment of the good thief's cross;
The bones of a forefinger of Saint Thomas, the finger he is said to have placed in the wounds of the risen Christ.
A reliquary containing small pieces: from the Pillar of Scourging, from the Holy Sepulcher (tomb of Christ) and from the manger of Jesus
Two thorns from the crown of thorns.
Three fragments of the True Cross
A nail used in the Crucifixion.
A third of the Titulus Crucis, discovered in the church in 1492. The fragment shows the word "Nazarene" written in Hebrew, Latin and Greek. That is, the panel hanging from the Cross of Christ.
A much larger piece of the Holy Cross was transferred from Holy Cross in Jerusalem to St. Peter's Basilica on the instruction of Pope Urban VIII in the year 1629. It is kept near the statue of Saint Helena, completed in 1639 by Andrea Bolgi.
The nail of Siena
It only remains to consider the two nails of Constantine. They were kept for several centuries in the Byzantine imperial treasury. In 1354, one of them was purchased by a Venetian merchant, who sought the advice of the Apostolic Nuncio in Constantinople. Confirmation came from Empress Irene Asanina, who sold it after the abdication of her husband, Emperor John VI. As it was forbidden to sell relics, the nail was given as a "donation" to the Santa Maria della Scala Hospital in Siena. He arrived in Siena in procession in 1359, and the Manto Chapel was built to accommodate him.
Is it genuine Again, the chain of custody is strong. The nail itself is similar in size and shape to the Holy Cross nail and the Yehohanan nail, and that's all we can say..
The highlight of the Duomo cathedral in Milan
In the vault that overlooks the heart of the cathedral, a red light marks the position of a niche where a nail from the cross of Christ has been kept since 1461. This nail, which was once kept in the medieval church of Santa Maria Maggiore, has the shape of a horseshoe and was found by Saint Helena, who offered it to her son, the Emperor Constantine. It was then offered to Saint Ambrose and carried by San Carlo in procession during the plague of 1576. It is shown to the public every September 14. For this, the Bishop of Milan is lifted by invisible pulleys to the niche where this sacred nail rests in a kind of decorated balcony.
It is said that nails were forged to form a bridle and helmet for Constantine. In the 5th century, Theodoret of Cyrus wrote that it was a single nail, cut in two, one of which was driven into the helmet and the other melted down to be made into a bridle.
Today, Milan and Carpentras both claim the bridle. Milan's claim is stronger, as it was there that Emperor Theodosius I died in 395, leaving his imperial insignia to Saint Ambrose. The twisted piece of metal could definitely be a piece of a horse's bridle. It resided continuously in the Church of Santa Thecla until 1389, when it was moved in procession to Milan Cathedral, where it is kept today. When a plague struck the city in 1567, Saint Charles Borromeo walked barefoot down the street with a cross and the reliquary of the nail. The end of the plague was attributed to this act.
To celebrate this deliverance, a special elevator, with a roof painted in the shape of a cloud and decorated with angels, was created. Thanks to an ingenious set of ropes and pulleys, the basket is raised to the vault of the cathedral, 45 meters high, where the reliquary of the nail is kept for most of the year. Every year for 400 years, it has descended during the annual rite of Nivola. This took place on May 3 (feast of the invention of the Holy Cross), until this holy day was removed from the calendar. It now takes place on September 14. Locals claim that Leonardo designed the elevator. He did not do it.
The highlight of Monza Cathedral
Kept in the Cathedral of Monza in Lombardy, the Iron Crown of Lombardy is both a relic and one of the oldest royal regalia in Europe. It would, in fact, have been forged from a nail used for the crucifixion of Christ and given to the Emperor Constantine by his mother Helena.
It is above all the famous Iron Crown that is the pride of the place, this crown of the Lombard kings, symbolizing their power, from the 6th to the 8th century, both relic and ancestral royal insignia.
Forged from a nail used for the crucifixion of Christ, according to legend, this iron crown is only 9 millimeters thick, decorated with rectangles of gold, enamels and precious stones.
Offered to Queen Theodelinda, Queen of the Lombards (590-627) by Pope Gregory the Great, this same crown would have consecrated Charlemagne when he put an end to the Lombard reign (774). But there, history and historians stop at using the conditional. Conditional practice that guarantees posterity, reconciles the parties. More surely, there were many of them, following the Lombards, Italian and German kings wearing this crown. Otto I, Germanic Emperor (952), Conrad II, King of Germany and Italy (1026), Sigismund (1431), Charles V (1530) Until Napoleon, in 1805 who, by authority, consecrated himself King of Italy in Milan, placing the famous crown on his own head before pronouncing the formula: God gives it to me, beware whoever touches it. It was later used again by Ferdinand I, in 1838, Emperor of Austria, King of Lombardy and Veneto, then handed over to Victor Emmanuel II, in 1859, King of Sardinia and Italy (in 1861).1).
The Saint mors or Saint clou of Carpentras
The Saint Mors or Saint Clou is a relic of Christ, kept in the Saint Siffrein cathedral in Carpentras.
This object dates from the 6th century AD.
The "Saint Mors" of Constantine would have been forged with one of the nails of the Passion. He would have received it from his mother, Saint Helena. The tradition reports that the Empress Hélène would have had the site of the Calvary excavated and having found the nails of the Passion of Christ, would have forged with one of them, a bit for the horse of her son, the Emperor. Constantine.
This relic was kept in the treasury of the Church of Saint Sophia in Constantinople until the looting of the city by the troops of the 4th Crusade (1202-1204). The bit then disappears. It reappears for the first time in 1226, on the seal of Bishop Isnard of Carpentras.
It became the emblem of the city in 1260. (The bit is silver on a gules background).
This is a Roman bit from the 6th century. It is now exhibited in the chapel of Saint Clou.
The relic of the cathedral of Toul
When in the 10th century, Saint Gérard, bishop of Toul, decided to build his cathedral on the very site of the current one, he wanted to present prestigious relics there. He turns to his hierarchical superior who is the Archbishop of Trier and asks him for the nail! The latter refusing to give up his jewel, Saint Gerard would have started to cry. At this moment, by some miracle, the end of the nail would have split and the Bishop of Toul was able to bring back the noblest part, its tip. One thing is certain, the point of the nail of Toul coincides well with that of Trêves!!
The Cathedral of Toul preserves an insignia relic of one of the Saints Nails of the Passion. When Bishop Henri de Ville (1408-1436) had a reliquary made at great expense to place this relic there, a special feast was introduced into the liturgy of the diocese in his honor.
The relic is still preciously preserved in Toul. The party was obviously suppressed in 1954 like many others. But the Mass has been kept as a votive Mass fixed for the Friday following the Octave of Easter.