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King Charles’ coronation cross bears relics of the True Cross

Archbishop of Wales, Andrew John poses with 'The Cross of Wales' ahead of a ceremony to bless the Cross at Holy Trinity Church in Llandudno

PAUL ELLIS | AFP

J-P Mauro - published on 04/20/23

After the May 6 coronation of King Charles III, the cross will be receieved by the Church in Wales to be shared between Catholic and Anglican communities.

To honor the new King of England, Charles III, a new cross has been forged that will lead the procession into Westminster Abbey for his coronation, on May 6, 2023. The cross, which was created using Welsh silver, also bears two relics believed to have come from the True Cross, courtesy of Pope Francis. 

Reuters explains that the relics, two thin shards of wood, are believed to have come from the True Cross, or the Cross on which Christ was crucified during his Passion. The two pieces of wood were arranged in a cruciform pattern and set within a rose crystal gemstone. 

The donation of these relics, which were in the Vatican, was made “some time ago” and is intended as an “ecumenical sign,” a Vatican source told I.MEDIA on April 19.

Like many relics owned by the Holy See, the two fragments were in the Lipsanotheca, which is located in the Vatican Museums and is accessed from the Sistine Chapel through the Redemptoris Mater Chapel. Most of the relics kept in this room come from donations made to popes during canonizations.

The two fragments of the True Cross donated to England measure 5 and 10 mm.

Pope Francis has met with the then Prince Charles twice at the Vatican, in 2017 and 2019.

Keep the faith

According to CNN, the procession cross was commissioned by the Crown and donated to the Church in Wales to mark its centenary. The Church in Wales will receive the cross after the coronation to be shared by the UK’s Anglican and Catholic communities. Andrew John, Archbishop of Wales, said in a statement: 

“We are honored that His Majesty has chosen to mark our centenary with a cross that is both beautiful and symbolic. Its design speaks to our Christian faith, our heritage, our resources and our commitment to sustainability. We are delighted too that its first use will be to guide Their Majesties into Westminster Abbey at the Coronation Service.”

The cross was reportedly designed by master silversmith Michael Lloyd, using materials sourced from Wales. These include recycled silver from the Royal Mint, in Llantrisan; Welsh windfall wood for the staff; and slate sourced from Wales for the stand. The art style drew heavily on historical medieval Christian Welsh designs, with the hallmark reportedly hammered on by Charles III himself. 

CNN notes that the back side of the cross bears an inscription in Welsh, taken from the final sermon of St. David, patron saint of Wales: 

“Byddwch lawen. Cadwch y ffydd. Gwnewch y pethau bychain,” which translates to: “Be joyful. Keep the faith. Do the little things.”

The cross, which is also a reliquary, is a strong symbol of the deeply Christian roots of Wales and England that will be present in Anglican and Catholic ceremonies throughout the UK for generations to come. 

Tags:
EnglandPope FrancisWales
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