Apr 19, 2022 I Paul Seaburn

Sunken Russian Warship May Have Been Carrying a Piece of the 'True Cross'

This Easter season has truly been one for relics of the first Easter – the Christian celebration of the New Testament description of the ‘Passion’, crucifixion, death and resurrection of Jesus. First, we had a scholar reveal evidence linking an agate cup stored since the 14th century in Spain’s Valencia Cathedral to the one used in the biblical story of the Last Supper and tied to the legend and quest of the Holy Grail. Now we have a different link – the Russian news agency TASS revealed that the Moskva missile cruiser that was confirmed sunk last week may have been carrying a piece of the “true cross” used in the biblical crucifixion of Jesus. Yes, that’s the infamous “go f-ck yourself” ship. Did the “true cross” play a role in the sinking of the Moskva?

Could pieces of a wooen cross have survived over 2,000 years?

“A Christian relic, a piece of the True Cross on which the believers say Jesus Christ was crucified would be kept at the Moskva missile cruiser, the Black Sea fleet flagship, archpriest of the Russian Orthodox Church’s Sevastopol District Sergiy Khalyuta told TASS.”

In 2020, TASS reported that an anonymous person had acquired a millimeters-long wood chip alleged to be part of the “true cross.” It’s often said that if all of the wooden chips said to be fragments of the “true cross” were assembled, it would look like a cross factory during peak crucifixion season. Both the Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodox Church accept the “true cross” tradition, but it must seem strange to those who believe communists are godless to hear the Russian state news agency reporting on a religious relic being kept on the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea fleet. The real question is: was it onboard when the Moskva sank? How about during the “go f-ck yourself” encounter?

"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. The Moskva cruiser has an onboard chapel, where services take place."

The anonymous donor of this alleged “true cross” relic believed it had some benefit to the ship, even though most believers see its main power as that of healing rather than protection during battle. The first pieces of the “true cross” may have come from three crosses said to have been found in the 4th century by Empress Helena, the mother of Constantine, the first Christian Emperor of Rome. From there, fragments have ended up around the world in reliquaries kept in churches for ceremonies and venerations. And, as we have just heard, some end up in private hands … and on battleships.

The Moskva was commissioned in 1976 as the Slava and renamed Moskva in 1996 in honor of Moscow. As the flagship of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, it led the naval assault during the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine and became famous to the rest of the world in February 2022 when it ordered Ukrainian armed forces on Snake Island to surrender and were told "Russian warship, go f-ck yourself." According to most news reports, Ukrainian forces hit the Moskva with missiles on April 13, 2022, it caught fire and sank while being towed back to Russia the following day. If the “true cross” relic was onboard, it certainly didn’t provide any healing powers for the ship – nor to its captain, who was said to have died in the incident.

An example of a relic of the "true cross" on display

Business Insider attempted to determine the fate of the “true cross” relic but could not establish if it was onboard or what might have happened to it – the Russian embassy in London did not respond to a request for comment.

Many if not most wars have an element of religion built into them, and this Russia/Ukraine war is no exception. Both countries are majority Orthodox -- 71% of Russians and 78% of Ukrainians identify as Orthodox Christians. As Jonathan L. Zecher, a research fellow at the Australian Catholic University, explains in The Conversation, Orthodox Christianity is deeply woven into the political life of both countries, as priests bless weapons, tanks and ships, and statements of religious leaders can have an effect on a war. So far, neither religious side has made any comment on the “true cross” connection to the Moskva sinking.

Religion and war – ironically inseparable again.

Paul Seaburn

Paul Seaburn is the editor at Mysterious Universe and its most prolific writer. He’s written for TV shows such as "The Tonight Show", "Politically Incorrect" and an award-winning children’s program. He's been published in “The New York Times" and "Huffington Post” and has co-authored numerous collections of trivia, puzzles and humor. His “What in the World!” podcast is a fun look at the latest weird and paranormal news, strange sports stories and odd trivia. Paul likes to add a bit of humor to each MU post he crafts. After all, the mysterious doesn't always have to be serious.

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