Biblical Archaeology Review 27:6, November/December 2001

The Monastery of the Cross: Where Heaven and Earth Meet

By Vassilios Tzaferis

Many years ago, before I had married and gone to work as an archaeologist at the Israel Antiquities Authority, I lived for five years in the Monastery of the Cross as a Greek Orthodox monk. So I know the complex well.

According to legend, the tree that furnished the wood for the cross of Jesus once grew on the very spot where the Jerusalem monastery now stands. Until the 15th century, pilgrims attested that they could look behind the altar of the monastery’s church to see what remained of the trunk, still in the ground. Today the site is enclosed within the crypt chapel to the left of the church.

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