The lost Russian cruiser Moscow may be taken down with a (purported) piece of the True Cross on board, according to Russian state media.
The 19th-century reliquary was donated to the Black Sea Fleet by an anonymous private collector in 2020, according to the Archpriest of the Sevastopol District of the Russian Orthodox Church, Sergiy Khalyuta. It was intended for the Moskva chapel.
The relic came into private hands when “European churches began to close and sell their property”, state media TASS reported. Many churches in Crimea have closed since Russian annexation in 2014, driven out by government policies that limit religious freedom. Advocacy Groups, researchers and religious organizations in Crimea claim that Russian officials are restricting the activities of non-Russian Orthodox congregations, including Jehovah’s Witnesses, evangelical christiansUkrainian Greek Catholics and Orthodox.
Many Christian denominations believe in the value of the relics of the True Cross. Fragments of the historic cross figured prominently in early Christian history, and they were purchased, traded, and subdivided for millennia. The provenance of each fragment can be difficult to determine; numerous historical references to fragments of the True Cross evoke a bustling trade in counterfeits. Yet reliquaries and shrines containing cross fragments have value for the communities that venerate them and for the collectors who market them.
If this particular relic was on board the Moscow on his last voyage, and was not abducted by a member of his crew, he is believed to be in the wreckage of the ship at the bottom of the Black Sea. Ukrainian and US defense sources claim that Moscow was hit by two of Ukraine’s Neptune anti-ship missiles on 13 April, resulting in her sinking the following day. Officially, the Russian Ministry of Defense maintains that a fire on board triggered a magazine explosion and the ship sank during a salvage tow; unofficially, commentators on Russia’s main state television channel openly blamed Ukraine for the sinking.