Liébana celebrates the Lebaniego Jubilee Year since 1512. In Santo Toribio de Liébana monastery is preserved the largest piece of Christ’s cross, the “Lignum Crucis”; a privilege shared with Rome, Jerusalem and Santiago de Compostela. More than 500 years of pilgrimage to Santo Toribio de Liébana.
There are stories about pieces of the cross since the end of the 4th century, when the distribution of fragments of it began. The pieces arriving to the churches were kept in boxes called “estaurotecas” which had cross shape and an empty space in the centre (vano) to place the relic. The “vano” was filled with a gemstone that prevented visual contact with the piece of wood. The most famous “estaurotecas” are in: Limboug (dating from the 10th century) cathedral of Cosenza, catedral of Naples (12th century) and catedral of Genova (13th century)
The largest preserved piece of Christ’s Cross, is located in Santo Toribio de Liébana monastery, Cantabria – Spain. The tradition relates it to the origin of the monastery, but the most plausible possibility is that it was brought at the same time as the remains of St Toribio of Astorga, around the 8th century. According to father Sandoval, chronicler of the Benedictine order, this wood relic, corresponds to the “left arm of the Holy Cross”, that Sta Helena, (mother of the Emperor Constantine 4th century) left in Jerusalem when she discovered the Cross of Christ and those of the thieves.
The relic is closed and shaped as a cross, leaving unaffected the sacred hole where was nailed Christ’s hand. The piece of Wood is, therefore, within a reliquary cross of gilded silver with flordelisados ropes (Gothic tradition) made in a workshop from Valladolid in 1679. The measures of the holy wood are of 635mm the vertical stick and 393mm the crosspiece, with a thikness of 40mm. making it the largest preserved relic of Christ’s Cross; ahead of the one in the Vatican.
A scientific analysis determined taht the species of wood is Cupressus sempervirens, (cypress tree) an extremely old wood. The same study specifies that Palestine is located within the geographical area of Cupressus sempervirens.