Why King Charles' Coronation Cross Is So Important

Pieces of the cross that some believe Christ himself was crucified on will make an appearance at the coronation ceremony of King Charles III, CNN reports. The coronation is set to take place May 6 at Westminster Abbey in London, according to BBC News. Two small wooden fragments from what's called the True Cross were gifted to King Charles III by Pope Francis, and these shards were recently integrated into the Cross of Wales, which will be used in the coronation ceremony, the New York Post writes.

Early references to the True Cross show up from around the middle of the 4th century, and since then, pieces of the cross have been highly sought-after religious relics. The Cross of Wales, including the ancient wooden fragments, will serve a dual purpose: to lead the new British king's coronation procession, but it was also commissioned by King Charles III to mark the 100-year anniversary of the Church in Wales and will see regular service in church events in the future (via Church in Wales).

Prior to Charles' ascension to the throne, he was the longest-serving Prince of Wales in history. He has been called a "Welshophile" for his long-time interest in and support of the country (via BBC News).

The new Cross of Wales is otherwise made from silver

As well as the wooden fragments of what some believe to be the actual cross Christ was crucified on, the Cross of Wales, set to lead King Charles III's coronation procession, was fashioned from resources drawn from Wales itself. Making up the rest of the holy object is Welsh timber and slate, and recycled silver from the Royal Mint in the Welsh town of Llantrisant where British coins are manufactured. 

Reportedly, Charles himself hammered the royal hallmark on the object himself, and the back of the cross is inscribed in the Welsh language that says (translated): "Be joyful. Keep the faith. Do the little things," drawn from what's said to be the last sermon of Saint David, the patron saint of Wales and dating back to the 6th century. The cross was designed by master silversmith Michael Lloyd and it was patterned after medieval Welsh art and design, according to Tim Knox, director of the Royal Collection.

The cross will be shared by the Welsh Anglican and Catholic churches

As for the tiny wooden fragments of what some say is the True Cross, those are mounted on the object behind a rose crystal gemstone and can only be seen up close, according to the Independent. After Charles' coronation, the Cross of Wales will be shared between both the Anglican Church and the Catholic Church in Wales. Before the cross makes its appearance in London, it was blessed in a Holy Service by the Archbishop of Wales, Andrew John, at Holy Trinity Church, in Llandudno, Wales. Once back in Wales, Archbishop John will receive the cross in a special service on behalf of the Anglican church. 

Of the object, John said in a statement, "We are honoured that His Majesty has chosen to mark our centenary with a cross that is both beautiful and symbolic." Of the cross, Mark O'Toole, the Catholic Archbishop of Cardiff and Bishop of Menevia, said the object represents the deep Christian roots of the country. After years of decline, the Anglican Church of Wales was reestablished in 1920, after a split from the Church of England. As king, Charles will become supreme governor of the Church of England, as every British monarch has since the 16th century, including Charles' mother, Queen Elizabeth II