ABSTRACT

Hidden in a dark corner of St. Peter’s shrine, Pope Sergius I (687-701) found a silver box so blackened with age that he was at first unsure whether it was indeed made of silver. Having said a prayer over it, he broke its seal and opened it. Inside, resting on a silken cushion, he discovered a jeweled reliquary of the True Cross and, according to the Liber Ponticalis, introduced into Rome the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross in its honor.1 Some decades later, Pope Zacharias (741-52) made a similar find, this time in the Lateran: a reliquary containing the head of St. George, identified by a label in Greek. Accompanied by the assembled populace of the city, a solemn liturgical procession carried the head to the church dedicated to S. Giorgio in Velabro. After Gregory had enshrined it there, many miracles and benefits followed.2