A Piece of the True Cross May Have Sunk with Russia’s Warship

The Russian cruiser class warship Moskva now lies at the bottom of the Black Sea. It’s possible that the ship was carrying a piece of the True Cross—a priceless relic some Christians believe is a sliver of wood taken from the cross used to crucify Jesus Christ.

The Moskova was part of Russia’s Black Sea fleet and one of the largest ships in its entire navy. According to Ukraine, it struck the ship with a Neptune anti-ship cruise missile which, eventually, caused it to sink. Russia has admitted the ship sank but not that Ukraine struck it with a missile.

However it got there, the Moskova is now sinking to the bottom of the sea and it’s possibly taking a piece of the True Cross with it. In 2020, the Russian news agency TASS reported that the Russian Orthodox Church had acquired a piece of the cross and would place it on the Moskva.

“This relic used to belong to a Catholic church, but was acquired by anonymous patrons of arts, and it was their will to send the relic to the [Black Sea] fleet,” Sergiy Khalyuta, of the Russian Orthdox Church told TASS at the time. “The Moskva cruiser has an onboard chapel, where services take place.”

The use of relics such as this alleged piece of the True Cross dates back to the middle ages when Christian churches would use them to draw parishioners and pilgrims to specific religious sites. True Cross pieces are typically presented as pieces of wood embedded in ornate crosses or religious artwork. The Russian Orthodox Church has a close relationship with the military. Clergy frequently interact with soldiers and bless weapons as small as a rifle and as big as a nuclear weapon

It’s impossible to know if the piece of the True Cross made it off the Moskva. It did, however, take a long time to sink and the crew evacuated ahead of its departure to the bottom of the sea. It’s quite possible someone recognized the value of the relic and got it off the sinking ship.

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