The guided-missile cruiser Moskva sank this week while being towed to port after suffering heavy damage. While the circumstances remain in dispute between Russia and Ukraine, the whereabouts of a piece of the “True Cross” — what believers say is the wood of the cross on which Jesus Christ was crucified — have also been called into question.
The Russian Orthodox Church announced in early 2020 that the tiny relic used to belong to a Catholic Church and had been acquired by an “anonymous patron of arts,” according to a report from the state-run news agency TASS.
“It was their will to send the relic to the [Black Sea] fleet. The Moskva cruiser has an onboard chapel, where services take place,” archpriest of the Russian Orthodox Church’s Sevastopol District Sergiy Khalyuta told TASS.
The church said in the Feb. 26, 2022, report that the relic had been delivered to Vice-Admiral Igor Osipov, commander of the Black Sea Fleet, and would be delivered to the guided-missile cruiser Moskva cruiser “shortly.”
The relic in question is a fragment of wood just millimeters big, which according to believers is a piece of the cross on which Christ was crucified, Tass said. That fragment is embedded in a 19th-century metal cross which is itself kept in a reliquary, per the outlet.
The Moskva had a chapel on board for sailors to pray in, Sergiy Khalyuta, archpriest of the Russian Orthodox Church’s Sevastopol District, told Tass. He said the fragment was to be transferred at the request of its owner, an anonymous collector.
Insider was unable to establish when the relic was finally transferred to the Moskva or if it was on board at the time of the vessel’s sinking in 2022. The Russian embassy in London did not immediately respond to a request for comment.