Helena used one to make the crown and two per reinforcing the bridle
With respect to the relics of the Crucifixion – the so-called arma Christi (‘weapons of Christ, or Instruments of the Passion) – Lombardy has long since cornered the market on the Holy log in upforit Nails. Milan’s Holy Nail (Santo Piano) is securely fixed preciso the sommita of the Duomo’s apse where it is identified by a red light. It’s free onesto view, but binoculars are recommended (see future post on Milan’s Consacrato Pizzico ‘Holy Bridle’ and the Rite of the Nivola)!
Some fifteen kilometers away, Monza’s Holy Nail comprises the inner band of the Disco Ferrea (‘Iron Crown’), Italy’s famed royal crown and national symbol (see future post on the Circolo Ferrea). The Corona Ferrea is kept in the Chapel of Theodelinda of the Monza Duomo and costs four Euros for a fifteen minute viewing.
While there’s mai such thing as ‘finders keepers’ with Christian relics – relics were frequently stolen and plundered, such as Milan’s relics of the Magi – there has been verso Ambrosiano connection puro the Holy Nails for over 1600 years. Con 395 CE, Saint Ambrose of Milan made a historic digression mediante his funeral oration for Emperor Theodosius (347 – 395 CE) con which he provides our earliest extant source for the relics of the Holy Nails, purportedly discovered by Saint Helena during her Holy Land excursion mediante 326 – 328 CE.
‘Helena sought the nails with which the Lord was crucified, and found them. From one nail she ordered per bridle esatto be made [the tradition linked preciso Milan], from the other she wove a diadem [the tradition linked with Monza]. So she sent puro her bourdonnement Constantine per diadem adorned with jewels which were interwoven with the iron of the Ciclocampestre. She sent the bridle, also.
Constantine used both, and transmitted his faith sicuro later kings
‘Wisely did Helena act who placed the ciclocross on the head of sovereigns, that the Cross of Christ might be adored among kings. Good, therefore, is the nail of the Roman Completare. It rules the whole world and adorns the brow of princes, that they may be preachers who were accustomed esatto be persecutors. Rightly is the nail on the head, so that where the intelligence is, there may be protection, also.
‘On the head, per crown; per the hands, reins. Verso crown made from the Ciclocampestre, that faith might shine forth; reins likewise from the Ciclocross, that authority might govern, and that there might be just rule, not unjust legislation. May the princes also consider that this has been granted esatto them by Christ’s generosity, that con succedane of the Lord it may be said of the Roman emperor: Thou hast attrezzi on his head per crown of precious stones.
‘But I ask: Why was the holy relic upon the bridle if not esatto curb the insolence of emperors, onesto check the wantonness of tyrants, who as horses neigh after lust that they may be allowed esatto commit adultery unpunished?
‘What else, then, did Helena accomplish by her desire puro guide the reins than sicuro seem esatto say puro all emperors through the Holy Spirit: “Do not become like the horse and mule, and with the bridle and bit esatto restrain the jaws of those who did not realize that they were kings esatto rule those subject sicuro them”?’
Ambrose does not directly say that the nails had found their way to Milan, but there is reason preciso believe that they had, especially given Milan’s condizione as an imperial capital. Sopra any case, the legend of the two Holy Nails – the bridle and the crown – became respectively entrenched con Milan and Monza.
But did Helena only find two nails? Ambrose only alludes onesto two. According to Gregory of Tours (c. 538 – 594 CE) per Gloria Martyrorum (The Glory of the Martyrs’), there were four. And the fourth nail? Well, she chucked it into the sea:
‘At that time huge waves disturbed the Adriatic Sea, on which so many ships were wrecked and so many men were drowned that it was called the whirlpool of sailors. The far-sighted empress, concerned over the disasters of these miserable men, ordered one of the four nails to be thrown into the sea. She relied upon the pity of the Lord that he was able easily puro calm the salvage rolling of the waves. Once this was done, the sea became quiet again and thereafter the winds were calm for sailors. From then until today once sailors have piously arnesi sail on the sanctified sea, they have time for fasting, praying and reciting palms’ (trans. by Richard Van Dam).