tv Finding Jesus Faith Fact Forgery CNN December 26, 2018 12:00am-1:01am PST
didn't understand how the story was going to play out, what he knew was being on the side of jesus was being a part of god's story in human history. /s the true cross, the actual cross that jesus of nazareth was crucifyed on, his blood and tears. >> it is literally the scaffolding on which jesus saved the world. >> but the relic was thought to be lost to history. then a roman empress, helena sets off on a dramatic quest to find it. >> helena changed everything. the discovery of the cross is shrouded in mystery. there is intrigue. there is murder. there's sex. there's violence behind all of this.
>> her discovery will be hacked into tiny pieces and traded around the globe. venerated by millions, ridiculed by others. >> i don't think there is a snowball's chance in hell helena discovered the true cross. >> modern science sets out to answer the question, is the cross a hoax or a relic of relics? >> the true cross is one of the greatest mysteries in christian history. we have the tools to solve it. ♪ ♪
♪ >> the cross, an object of savage torture. >> that cross was an instrument of death. pieces of wood nailed together to kill a human being. >> but also an object of deepest veneration. >> the cross on which jesus died symbolizes for me the greatest act of love in human history. >> the cross remains hugely powerful because jesus survives the cross. he doesn't just die an ignominious, shameful death, but rises to new life. >> the cross is now the ultimate
symbol of christianity, adorning vast cathedrals and houses of worship the world over. but in some churches, they have crosses said to be made out of the actual wood jesus died on, the true cross. >> the true cross is surely the most important object in christian history. >> to touch a piece of the true cross is the opportunity to reach across time and space and human history, and grasp something that changed the world. >> to the churches that hold them, fragments of the true cross are a miraculous link to the son of god. but could these relics possibly be real? and where do they come from? according to church tradition, 300 years after the execution of jesus of nazareth, the mother of
the roman emperor constantine, empress helena, arrives in jerusalem. >> she is arguably one of the most revered women of antiquity, and of all time. >> she has come to lead a dramatic excavation on the site of christ's crucifixion. >> she has been called the first archeologist. she is said to have personally discovered the most sacred symbol in christianity, the true cross, the cross on which jesus was cruise identified. the story of helena puts her at the heart of the story of the christian faith.
>> helena is said to have broken up the cross and sent it throughout the roman empire. but as the legend grew, so did the number of relics. there are now more than a thousand scattered around the world. >> they are in trinkets. they are in necklace emulets, embedded under altars. there is a bit of skepticism about relics such as these. >> one of the first people to publicly question the authenticity of the true cross was the 16th century protestant reformer, john calvin. >> he says, you can't walk into a church anywhere without seeing a piece of what's supposedly the true cross. >> calvin laughs and says, you know, if you took all of the pieces of the true cross and put them together, they would fill a ship.
>> yet scripture says that just one man, jesus, was able to carry it on his shoulders. >> there were a lot of people who were speaking out about the devotion of relics of something which is absurd and disgusting. and i really thought that people had lost touch with the true faith. >> the true cross had the power to divide christianity, and the question remained. could the legend be real? high in the mountains of northern spain lies the monstery of santo. it is home to the largest and most revered piece of helena's discovery. dr. george kazan is here to investigate the mystery of the true cross. >> what's at stake here is the truth about the origins of this
relic. is it something that dates back from the time of christ? this relic is said to have been brought in the 5th century from jerusalem by a monk called taribia. and this relic is enormous by the standards of relics of the cross. there's not many relics that are anything like this size. there is a little window here where you can actually touch the wood itself. unfortunately, we can't open up this relic and take this wood with us or subject it to any scientific sampling. however, what i'd really like to do is to get something like it into a proper laboratory environment where we can explore it further. >> to help him in his search, dr. kazan's starting point is a fascinating project by a 19th
century french architect. he set out to add up all the pieces of the true cross. >> this map shows the places which he documented as having wood of the cross, and he worked out that all of this wood from all the places he'd been to didn't come up to 10% of the total valium needed to put up a cross of the size required to crucify christ. if he's right, calvin must be wrong. >> now kazan will use the map to help locate relics that his team can then carbon date. >> we would want to find relics subjecting these to scientific analysis just to see how much of a legend might be true. >> dr. kazan's hunt for churches that will grant him access to the true cross will take him around the world. but the story of helena's quest
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>> she is likely to have left from rome. to reach jerusalem is almost 2000 miles over land. >> for an elderly lady, helena was in her 70s at this point, this journey is an enormous undertaking. >> it is so unbelievably far away. in the american context, if new york is rome, jerusalem is something like guam, or american samoa. >> but by all accounts, helena is a remarkable woman. >> we know only a couple of things about the empress helena. we know that she was christian, and we know that she was a commoner. and yet she gets together with a traveling roman and gives birth to the man who will one day become emperor of rome. >> since its creation in 27
b.c., the roman empire has been ruled by pagans. then in 312 a.d., helena's son constantine has a dramatic change of faith. >> the story goes that on the eve of a great battle outside rome, he has a vision. >> he sees a cross of light in the sky and he hears a voice tell him, by this you will conquer. he takes it to mean by the symbol of the cross. by christianity, he's going to become the lone emperor, the supreme figure in the known world. >> he wins the battle and becomes the first christian emperor. >> christianity is very much a minority cult practice, probably no more than 10% of the empire's population, if that. >> it's almost impossible to under estimate the impact of constantine's conversion to christianity. before that, the empire had been persecuting its christians.
>> it was illegal. by penalty of death to be a christian. after that, you were free. >> constantine legalizes christianity throughout the empire. 14 years later, his mother is on her way to the holy land. >> i think that she was sent by the emperor constantine. he felt that the cross was very important, and he wanted to send her there to do something special. >> there is potentially a darker side to helena's journey. it follows on from a scandalous episode within the house of constantine.
>> constantine abandoned his first wife to marry the noble woman fausta. fausta has given him three young sons. but her husband's likely successor is his eldest son crispus. >> he was the golden boy. he had a successful military career. he had been made cesar by his father. >> on the face of it, the christian family at the center of the roman empire are united. but a scandal is about to erupt. >> christian sources tend to hush-hush about it. they don't want to say anything. but the pagan sources jump all over constantine. >> the story goes that
constantine discovers that his son crispus, his favorite son, has been having an affair with his second wife fausta. >> what we are told by the sources we have is that on the orders of his father, he is sent to a place on the coast of croatia. and he is put to death by poison. >> helena was crushed by this scandal. this was likely her favorite
grandson. >> this must have been devastating for her. >> but the scandal is about to get bigger. >> constantine discovers from back channels that perhaps fausta had manufactured all of this, that she favored her own sons for the throne and that she set crispus up to be murdered. >> he orders that she be put in a bath chamber, the doors locked, and the fire stoked up to the point that it cooks her to death. >> as the self-proclaimed christian emperor, he's engaged
in the sin of murder. thou shalt not kill is one of the ten kmamts. >> he would have thought of helena as his great ally, thinking he can rely on his mother's support in anything. perhaps he should have thought again before he killed her grandson. >> you are weak. you are a weak and sinful man. >> the murder of fausta and of
crispus happens in 326. helena departs for the holy land in 327. there is almost certainly some connection between those two events. >> if you're his mother, hoping for his soul to be saved somehow, you are going to want to make a passionate gesture of reconciliation of penitence. >> she knew what she wanted when she traveled to jerusalem. and when she went looking for that true cross, she was surely determined to find it. ts. most can tell the continent or country that your ancestors are from, but ancestrydna showed me the specific places they called home. 20 million members have connected to a deeper family story. order your kit at ancestry.com.
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mom. ♪ in the year 327 a.d., helena, the empress of rome, begins a pioneering mission in the holy land. according to christian tradition, she has come to find the cross jesus died on. >> helena was doing something actually at the time quite radical in the history of christianity. she wanted to hold in her hands something that has been close to jesus. >> her pilgrimage could change the course of christian history.
>> but the sight of christ's passion is no more. jerusalem is now an outpost of the roman empire, renamed elia capataline. >> when helena entered the city of jerusalem, it's likely to have been a shell of its former glorious self in the early first century a.d. >> you have to realize that ancient cities are absolutely chaotic. >> we can imagine that she's sort of overwhelmed by the tangible reality of life in the ancient world. it was full of sounds and noises, and it was dirty. >> jerusalem is now a pagan city. 200 years before, a jewish uprising was crushed by rome. >> jews were banned from jerusalem and an observance of jewish law was prohibited by the romans.
>> helena will be the first person to try and retrace the final footsteps of christ. >> here you have a woman who stands in the pinnacle of power, and understands what power looks like. it, to me, is fascinating that a person from that vantage point would see jesus as the one worthy of her life, her allegiance, and her worship. >> this was a way of getting in closer to really understanding the bible, and to really entering into the story of jesus. >> there was something about knowing that he actually walked here, that he talked here, where she's standing. >> you realize that this is not just a myth. jerusalem is not a made-up city. jesus is not a made-up person.
jerusalem is now a very different place. >> the question is how could helena find it? it really takes us back to the year 135 a.d. when the emperor hadrean, builds a pagan temple over the site and ends up marking for all posterity the place of his death. >> the year before helena's son, the emperor constantine, ordered the temple be torn down. >> it wasn't his policy to destroy all of them, but that temple was the very antithesis of what christians or christ was about. >> the account of what happened next is recorded in a later church history. >> at some point, perhaps as early as the 360s, we begin to see a legend emerge that
describes helena's role in the finding of the true cross. >> which ha len a personally with her own bare hands, removes some of the earth and uncovers three wooden crosses together. >> what she came across was the relic. one could only imagine the emotions that welled up inside of her. ♪ ♪ >> the reality is that we don't know precisely what happened in jerusalem. and my own personal belief is
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history, 300 years after the crucifixion of christ, helena, empress of rome, discovers the cross jesus died on. >> from the moment the cross is found, people become interested in having a piece of the wood itself because of its direct connection to the body of christ. >> legend says helena divides the cross into pieces. >> i imagine when helena broke up the cross, it was such a desire for her to take it with her, to be able to share this tangible representation of her savior, of her lord. >> sometime later, pieces of the
true cross start appearing throughout the roman empire. >> our first evidence that fragments of the cross were being spread around the mediterranean is from the late 340s and 350s when we learn that people have taken pieces of the true cross over to the north african seaboard. >> if the helena tradition is correct, that would only have been 20 years or so since its first finding. that shows that physical particles of the true cross actually did spread out from jerusalem very early on. >> there must have been the discovery of wood by helena or someone for this trade-in relics to have really boomed. >> this really becomes a new moment for christianity in which the cross becomes something that they are no longer afraid to talk about or to signify. >> before the cross is basically a symbol of defeat, a symbol of humiliation, a symbol of death,
people were familiar with the horrors of roman crucifixion. >> the cross is an instrument of capital punishment. and it's quite amazing. it's one of the big stories of early christianity that the instrument of the execution and torture of jesus christ, over time, becomes the primary symbol of jesus christ. >> one of the key factors in the change is helena's pilgrimage to find the true cross. it changes the cross to something that actually becomes something tangible that people want to think about as part of their devotion. >> as fragments spread around the world, they will also help turn christianity from an
underground cult into a global religion. >> pieces of the true cross were almost used like trading cards. this is a way to gain favor with a bishop here, or an aristocrat or prince over there. >> if you share the true cross with someone, you are sharing power with them, because the true cross is a source of religious power. >> people are going to respect you for having a piece of this. >> the ledgend of helena's discovery would change the course of christian history. but could she found have been the actual cross jesus died on? now, the modern-day investigation into the true cross is gathering pace. the city of waterford is the oldest city in ireland. it boasts a long history of christianity.
and a museum that holds an important relic of the true cross. >> what's fascinating is that it is said to have been given directly by the pope to the king of ireland, and rome as we know, had access to relics from jerusalem. >> archeologist george kazan is joined by scientist tom hooil. he is also from oxford university in england and he will put the relic to the test. >> for the first time in history we're able to place these relics in their proper time and proper date. >> the waterford cross is on loan to the medieval museum from the roman catholic arch diocese. and museum curator aman mcmeany has secured their permission to test it. >> the relic is just inside had? >> it's just inside this. >> is it an ancient script? >> it says a piece of the wood of the true cross, and it was given to the king of muenster by
the pope in 1110. >> we can date it at least back to 1110. >> the cross is believed to be cedar wood. and since its arrival in ireland, it has been carved up further to share with different churches. >> you can see it quite plainly here on the back. >> oh, wow. >> again, you can see a sample was taken from here. >> what kind of information do you have to say that this cross may have come from jerusalem? >> well, to my knowledge, cedar wood certainly wasn't available in the 12th century. it had to come from middle east somewhere, labor israel. lebanon or israel. >> but could this piece of wood come from first century jerusalem? the time has come to find out. are you a christian author with
christ's death. 800 years after that, the pope would give this piece of it to the king of ireland. >> when the pope gives you a relic of the true cross, he's almost saying, you know, you're a real king. you've got that legitimacy. you've got that power. >> for the first time in history, a prized relic of the true cross will be carbon dated. professor tom higham has over 20 years experience. >> there's quite a lot of what looks like lacquer that's across the top of the wood, and lacquer will have a different radio carbon concentration probably to the age of the wood. but fortunately, pieces of material have been taken, and that exposes the actual wood. so that's a good place for us to take the sample from. >> the procedure should leave little perceptible trace of damage, in theory. but it's a nerve-racking business. >> just going to take a small bit from here.
>> yes, the smallest possible, very, very small piece. >> we only need about 10 milligrams. >> that's equivalent this relic has been here for almost 1,000 years. every speck counts. >> it is really, really hard. >> it actually looks old. it just looks aged. so far, so good. >> tom is satisfied with his sample. now they can head back to the lab to test for the first time this piece of the true cross. eight centuries before the
waterford cross arrived in ireland, she will continue her tour of the holy land. with the backing of her son, the emporor constantine she will transform the landscape. she builds churches on the side of christ's birth in beth leham and one to commonerate his last moment on earth. >> constantine made it legal to practice christianity. helena gave christians places to practice. before her arrival there were no christian buildings in this land. they met here to commemorate jesus assension but secretly met in caves. after helena christians can come
here openly and publicly to remember this important part of their faith. >> for a religion that had been illegal for over 200 years it is a defining moment. >> she makes the holy land holy. the churches she built were ways of literally cementing in the ground christianity in the holy land. >> it reinstates it as the place where people want to go and remember jesus' passion. >> arguably helena and constantine's biggest contribution to jerusalem was this, set to be built on the site where jesus was executed, but did they get the location right?
based on the archaeological evidence, this would be a logical place just outside the city walls. romans liked that for crucifixion. there is no better candidate than right here. >> the church has been rebuilt several times, but its core goes back to the fourth century. >> we are deep, deep inside the lowest level inside the church. and this is the place where tradition says helena found the
true cross. >> after her tour of the holy land, helena begins the long journey home. but did she do so, as legend says, with a piece of the cross that jesus died on. doctor george cozan heads in to date a relic to find out once and for all. it's great when you see a hundred orders come in, a hundred orders come in, but then you realize i've got a hundred orders i have to ship out. shipstation streamlined that wh the order data, the weights of , everything is seamlessly put into shipstation, so when we print the shipping ll everything's pretty much done. it's so much easier so now, we're ready, bring on t. shipstation. the number one ch
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text "listen5" to 500500 to start your free trial today. >> in 328 a.d.helena returned to rome from the holy land. according to church history her pilgrim acknowledges complete to find the cross jesus died on, but her triumph is short lived. >> helena dies shortly after returning from the holy land. >> it is incredible to think about the power of this one woman's spiritual drive, and the impact that it has had on human history.
>> her influence upon her son, constantine, would change the fate of the roman empire and christianity. >> a decade after her death, her son constantine, now an old man, falls ill. after a lifetime of championing the cause of christianity he takes the final step and asks to be baptized. >> there was so much of constantine's life that did not lineup with being a christian. he was a violent man. but something i believe changed in the last year of his life. i think that he had a full conversion.
>> in 337 a.d., constantine the great as he came to be known dies. >> what we are seeing is christianity moving out of the shadows and into the mainstream and now into the dominant position. it is not just a religion, it is the religion. now the roman empire will be christian and the known world will be christian. >> but the question remains, did helena actually discover the cross jesus was crucified on? at the oxford university lab they are about to take a step closer to solving this mystery. by carbon dating a fragment of the true cross given to the king
of ireland by the pope in 1100 a.d. >> the true cross is the most important relic. so, to have it tested in this way, which could reveal the story is potentially true, is fascinating. >> this is the first time, to our knowledge, directly dated a piece of the true cross. >> radiocarbon is a complex method involving a series of stages. the first is which to preclean and pretreat the sample which is to remove any carbon that could alter the result and the particle accelerator letting us issue individual particles of carbon 14. the more radiocarbon there is the more recent it is and the less, the older it is. we can date anything from the
present day back to about 50,000 years ago. >> in less than 20 minutes they solved an enigma dating back 2,000 years. >> let's have a look to see what we can see. >> could the waterford cross be part of the cross helena is said to have discovered? this relic of the true cross dates from 1100 a.d. >> that is not the age of the true cross. >> maybe around 1100. >> not the date they were hoping for, but it does reveal the relic's rich history. >> it is very interesting because it matches with the date of the script on the back of the relic. this is a time when the symbol
and the relic of the cross were exceptionally important for the spread of christianity. the fact that this relic was created around that time goes to support how important that moment was. >> for hundreds of years after the legend of helena's discovery, the true cross continues to play a central role in the story of christianity. and though the relic is only 1,000 years old, others may prove far older. >> the first step in a long journey to investigate and to see if any of them can go back as far as the time of helena or maybe even the time of christ. >> the church in holy jerusalem they continue to celebrate helena's discovery of the true cross in a church she built in a
city she reclaimed. >> helena is the person that takes jerusalem from a sleepy capital and turns it into a place we are all looking to for a spiritual message. >> for centuries devoted pilgrims have come here to mark their fate with a symbol now recognized the world over. >> at the time of jesus, a cross was a very negative image. it was a place of brutal horrible execution and death. after constantine and helena it becomes a contract with the transcendent. >> without the story of the discovery of the true cross helena would be just another but the story places her in the
heart of the christian faith and she gives christianity a symbol without which christianity would not be the religion that it is. can wall street recover from its worst christmas eve ever? the president still railing against the fed and running low on patience with his treasury secretary. it's a disgrace what's happening in our country. but other than that, i wish everybody a very merry christmas. >> a christmas lump of coal from the president. no end in sight for the government shutdown. now in day five. for the second time this month, a migrant child dies in u.s. custody after crossing the border. overnight customs promises changes. strong winds, heavy rain, and snow set to
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