This Sunday, October 23, the Armenian Church commemorates the Feast of the Discovery of the Holy Cross (Kude Khatchi). Empress Helena, mother of Constantine and a devout Christian, wanted to find the True Cross. She went to Golgotha (Calvary), which had become an obscure and neglected place. According to some chronicles, it was an informed Jew named Juda who pointed out the location. After excavation at the site, three wooden crosses were found. In order to identify the True Cross, the three crosses were successively placed on the body of a youth who had just died. When one of the crosses was placed on him, the young man came back to life. This was determined to be the True Cross. The commemoration of this event take place on the Sunday closest to October 26, and can vary from October 23 to 29.
Christ’s exact burial site was also located, and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher was built on that spot in 335. The church was destroyed by fire in 614 when the Persians invaded Jerusalem; it was subsequently rebuilt. The current dome dates back to 1870. Three denominations (Armenian Orthodox, Greek Orthodox, and Russian Orthodox) administer and maintain the church and surrounding grounds, unfortunately not always harmoniously. Agreements strictly regulate times and places of worship for each denomination. Ironically, for centuries a Muslim family has been the custodian of the keys to the church, which is within the walled Old City of Jerusalem.