One of my favourite places to go is the Chapel of Guild of the Holy Cross at Stratford-upon-Avon. It offers a convenient place for a group to sit down and listen to further information about Shakespeare, and the fascinating story of the Guild Chapel.
This is an appropriate place to look at Roodmas which is celebrated today on May 3rd and September 14th because Rood is another word for the Cross. Parish Churches used to have a Rood Screen separating the holy Choir from the more secular Nave. This screen was topped with a statue of the Crucified Jesus.
Roodmas commemorates two events:
The Discovery of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem in 326 by Queen Helena, wife of Constantius Chlorus and mother of Constantine the Great. Most of the Cross was sent back to the care of Constantine the Great.
The part of the Holy Cross that was left in Jerusalem was taken by Persians but recovered by the Byzantine Emperor Heraclius in 628.
The Guild Chapel, built in 1269 and developed in the 15th Century, was dedicated to the legend of the Holy Cross which held, that seeds from the Tree of Knowledge were grown on Adam’s Grave, honoured by the Queen of Sheba, buried by King Solomon, possibly used in the building of the Temple, and used as the Cross to crucify Jesus. Then buried and found, with the nails, and the crown of thorns by Queen Helena. She knew it was the real thing we a deathly sick women was revived by contact with the timber of the Holy Cross.
Over the years the cross was shivered into ever smaller pieces as Emperors, Kings, Dukes, Counts, Popes, Bishops, Abbots and Abbesses swopped relics with each other. The fragments were cased in beautiful reliquaries and had enormous power for those of faith and those who could be helped by healing by faith.
This post is still, really, in draft form.
For the story of Charles III, his coronation, and the true cross please look here: