last week, my ma invited me to join her and my father to visit monasterio de tarlac, a monastic community of the servants of the risen christ which houses a relic of a fragment of the holy cross of jesus. the relic itself is inside an arqueta (an ornate box) found in the chapel of the monastery. i have read that twice a year, this relic is open for public viewing.
queen helena, mother of emperor constantine, in her journey to the holy land in 312 ad, had the temple dedicated to venus destroyed. uncovered was christ’s sepulcher and three crosses. to discern which of the crosses was christ’s, they were brought to a gravely ill woman. when she touched the third cross, she got healed—a sign that this was the true cross of jesus. following the fall of constantinople, fragments of the cross were divided among the knights as booty and were distributed to churches and monasteries in europe. sixteen centuries later, a relic of the true Cross, now encased in a silver arqueta engraved with christian symbols associated with the crucifixion, lies in the chapel of the holy cross in the peaceful and quiet monasterio de tarlac.
from hacienda luisita in tarlac, it took us an hour drive to reach lubigan, san jose and the place itself is located in the mountaintop, offering a scenic view of the towns of tarlac. the monastery also has a 30 foot statue of the risen christ.
more pictures of the monastery can be found on my other post, ‘revisiting the monastery’.