In the Milevsko Monastery, archaeologists say they have discovered a box with a cut-off part of a nail, which most likely comes from the so-called True Cross, upon which Jesus Christ was crucified. It is considered one of the rarest Christian relics. Archaeologists found the six-inch-long piece of nail in a secret cavity in the vault of the historic monastery. “From a historical point of view, from a symbolic point of view, this is even better than the Reliquary of St. Maurus, which is more than a meter tall and beautifully decorated chest. The nail was stored and lined with real gold. And for the medieval society, it was worth two monasteries,” said archaeologist Jiří Šindelář, who is a member of the group that found the nail.
On the nail, there is a small cross made of twenty-one-carat gold. According to dendrological research, the box, used for storage of the nail, is made of oak wood from the 4th or the 5th century, among other materials. Czech News Agency / Pancer Václav The nail found in the Milevsko monastery The value of the nail is incalculable, according to Šindelář. In the Middle Ages, the Milevsko Monastery was one of the richest institutions in the Czech Republic. Therefore, according to scientists, it is a realistic possibility that it would actually own a nail from the True Cross. The then representatives of the monastery carefully hid the rarity when the Hussite reform movement started. “Because the Hussites destroyed the archive, there was no information that such a thing was there,” noted Šindelář, adding that next year, other scientific experts will try to verify the authenticity of the nail.
Commenting on the discovery, Cardinal Dominik Duka stated that with this finding, Christianity is returning to its roots. It also proves that Czech territory was a historically significant area, added Duka. “We were not just a peripheral area. Important events happened here already in Celtic and Germanic times. It turns out that Christianity did not start here with the Byzantine mission of Saints Cyril and Methodius,” Duka said, recalling the arrival of the missionaries who brought Christianity to the then Great Moravia in the 9th century. The cavity in the safe room where the box was stored is 26 centimeters deep and 16 centimeters wide, with a secret corridor leading to the room. Archaeologists discovered the passageway in the spring and used the help of speleologists when surveying it. The lid of the box was originally made of a solid gold plate with a wrought inscription of “IR”. “The letters can be understood in this context as an abbreviation for Latin – Iesus Rex, i.e. Jesus King,” said Šindelář. Archaeologists have been researching the Milevsko monastery for several months. It is the oldest monastery in southern Bohemia, located in the south-west part of Czechia. It was founded by George of Milevsko and the future first abbot of the Jarloch monastery. During the Hussite wars in the 15th century, the monastery was looted.
Title image: A man holds a crucifix during a Pentecost vigil prayer lead by Pope Francis at Rome’s Circus Maximus, Saturday, June 3, 2017. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)