Archaeologists excavating an ancient church in Turkey believe they have found a piece of the cross Jesus was crucified on.
While digging up ruins of the Balatlar Church, a seventh-century building in Sinop, Turkey, recently, researchers stumbled across a stone chest that contained artifacts they believe are connected to Jesus Christ's crucifixion, LiveScience.com reported.
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"We have found a holy thing in a chest. It is a piece of a cross," lead archaeologist Gülgün Köroğlu told the Hurriyet Daily News.
"This stone chest is very important to us. It has a history and is the most important artifact we have unearthed so far."
The stone chest has been taken to a lab for further study.
It is said that fragments of the cross were sent around the world as relics in medieval times. Legend has it that St. Helena — the mother of Emperor Constantine — found the cross in Jerusalem and distributed pieces of the wood to church leaders in Jerusalem, Rome, and Constantinople (present-day Istanbul in Turkey).
Later in the 4th century, St. Cyril of Jerusalem said the whole world "has been filled with pieces of the wood of the cross," LiveScience.com said. St. Gregory of Nyssa also said the wood had "saving efficacy for all men, though it is, as I am informed, a piece of a poor tree, less valuable than most trees are."
Köroğlu and her team have been excavating the Balatlar Church since 2009. They have discovered other interesting things, including the ruins of an ancient Roman bath and more than 1,000 human skeletons.
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