Chapel of St Helena


Down the steps under the ambulatory, is the Armenian Chapel of St Helena. The rock wall on the right is covered with small crosses scratched by pilgrims at the time of the Crusades. To the right of the main apse is a recess from which Empress Helena is said to have directed the search for the Roman cistern in which the true Cross was found. More steps lead down to what was once the cistern but is now the unpretentious Catholic CHAPEL OF THE FINDING OF THE CROSS. There is a statue commemorating St Helena which, together with the altar, was a gift from the ill-fated Maximilian of Habsburg (husband of princess Charlotte, daughter of Leopold I, king of the Belgians), who later became Emperor of Mexico and was captured and shot by nationalists insurgents in 1867.





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