The beautiful town of Caravaca de la Cruz is located to the northwest of the Murcia province. The area was already inhabited by the Argaric, Iberian, and Roman cultures, but the origins of its urban structure must be sought in its Moorish past. After the Reconquista, these territories began to be governed by the Templar Order and then by the Order of Saint James. At the time, during the 16th and 17th centuries, this was Caravaca’s period of splendour, as it became the political centre of a vast territory.
The Holy relic there is two pieces of wood, also supposedly from the true cross, kept in a reliquary in the shape of a cross with two horizontal arms. The cross and the wood fragments were given to the town in 1942 by Pope Pius XII to replace a 13th century cross that was stolen in February 1934.
The appearance of the original Caravaca cross has an uncertain foundation
One story is that it was part of a miracle in 1232 when a chamber was flooded with a bright light and two angels appeared carrying a two armed cross containing a piece of the true cross. Overcome by this vision, the Moor steward of the area, Ceyt Abu-Ceyt, who was harassing the local priest, fell to his knees and converted to the Christian faith.
Another is that it was brought from the Holy Land by the Knights Templar, and the other is that it was carried here by the guardians of the true cross which was discovered in Jerusalem by St Helene, mother of Constantine, in the 4thcentury.
Caravaca de la Cruz was granted the privilege to celebrate the jubilee year in perpetuity in 1998 by Pope John Paul II. The Holy Year is celebrated every seven years and one can achieve perpetual indulgences. The next Holy Year will be in 2017.