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Relics of the Cross given by Pope Francis to King Charles for Coronation

Two pieces of the True Cross, said to be that on which Jesus was crucified, have been given to King Charles III by Pope Francis and they will play a role in the Coronation.

The King has had them incorporated into a new silver cross for the Church of Wales which will be carried at the front of the Coronation procession in which Charles III and Queen Camilla will enter Westminster Abbey.

His Majesty’s decision has been hailed as a major ecumenical gesture.

A closer view of the two shards from the True Cross which have been incorporated into the Cross of Wales
(Church of Wales)

The two shards, measuring 1cm and 5mm, now sit in the Cross of Wales behind a rose crystal. The cross was blessed by the Archbishop of Wales in Llandudno on April 19 2023 before being taken to London for the Coronation. It will be returned to the Principality after the completion of the ceremony.

The Cross was commissioned by King Charles to mark the centenary of the Church of Wales. It will be shared between Anglican and Catholic churches in Wales, another sign of His Majesty’s focus on strengthening relationships between all denominations.

However, His Majesty wanted the Cross to be carried at the front of his Coronation procession to show his long-standing and ongoing affection for Wales. He was the longest serving Prince of Wales in history, holding the title for 64 years and his devotion to the country is well known.

King Charles visited the workshop creating the Cross of Wales
(Julia Skupny/ Church of Wales)

The Cross is made of silver bullion, recycled from the Royal Mint in Llantrisant and Welsh slate as well as windfall timber from the Principality. His Majesty applied his own mark to the cross at the end of 2022 when he added the monarchical ”leopard’s head” to the piece.

The Cross is also carved with words from the final sermon of St. David, patron saint of Wales. They read ”“Byddwch lawen. Cadwch y ffydd. Gwnewch y Pethau Bychain” which translate into English as ”Be Joyful. Keep the faith. Do the little things.”

The shards of the True Cross were presented at The Chapel Royal of St. James’ Palace in London by representatives of the Vatican and received by members of the Royal Household.

The Archbishop of Wales, Andrew John, said the Cross ”speaks to our Christian faith, our heritage, our resources and our commitment to sustainability”.

King Charles III and Queen Camilla will be crowned on May 6 2023 at Westminster Abbey.

About author

Lydia Starbuck is Jubilee and Associate Editor at Royal Central and the main producer and presenter of the Royal Central Podcast and Royal Central Extra. Lydia is also a pen name of June Woolerton who is a journalist and writer with over twenty years experience in TV, radio, print and online. Her latest book, A History of British Royal Jubilees, is out now. Her new book, The Mysterious Death of Katherine Parr, will be published in March 2024. June is an award winning reporter, producer and editor. She's appeared on outlets including BBC 5 Live, BBC Radio Ulster and BBC Local Radio and has also helped set up a commercial radio station. June is also an accomplished writer with a wide range of material published online and in print. She is the author of two novels, published as e-books. She is also a marriage registrar and ceremony celebrant.