Mysteries of the Faith (2023) s01e03 Episode Script

Holy Cross of Brazil

[intriguing music playing]
[Cláudio dos Santos in Portuguese]
It really is incredible for us
to have it in the cathedral.
It represents everything
that we believe in.
We keep this reliquary guarded
for security reasons.
It's very powerful A matter of faith.
But to be able to see it,
makes it even more important.
These small pieces of wood
are fragments
of the cross on which
Jesus Christ was crucified.
The relic is kept in our cathedral
and for security reasons, rarely leaves.
But this year I want to change that.
It's my desire to take it out.
I must take it to the streets.
[Cláudio Dos Santos in Portuguese]
This is the Metropolitan Cathedral
of Rio de Janeiro.
I am responsible for this church.
I've been at the cathedral
for about five years
and all my life is focused on
doing God's work, without a doubt.
I will welcome here
in our cathedral 150 couples
who will officially receive
the sacrament of marriage.
[indistinct conversation]
Many of these couples from our city
are impoverished,
living in favelas.
They have this opportunity today,
here in our cathedral,
to fulfill this dream of getting married
in the cathedral of Rio de Janeiro.
[speaking Portuguese]
[narrator in English]
The couples make their vows
beneath a huge crucifix,
the most enduring symbol in the world.
[Dr. Nicola Lewis] The cross is the most
powerful image for Christians today.
This is why Christians wear crosses
around their neck.
It's not just signifying Jesus,
but it's signifying
Jesus' ultimate sacrifice
for the redemption of humankind.
[cheering and applauding]
[narrator] The cross is central
to the Christian faith.
But for many of the people
who live in Rio's favelas,
or slums,
the cross isn't just a symbol,
it's a matter of life and death.
[Francisco De Assis in Portuguese]
The sign of the cross, for me,
represents everything.
It is something that is with me,
an everyday thing, like a shield.
There are great challenges
living in a favela.
Because within the favela,
there is this proliferation
of drugs and weapons.
So, the biggest challenge
is for us fathers
[singing in Portuguese]
[Francisco] because we must try
to make the children see
But show them that it's not something
attractive, that it is not good.
[in Portuguese] For me, the cross means
a lot of protection.
I never go out without
a cross on my chest.
One day when we were at the favela,
there was a confrontation,
and my son was taking some groceries
from the car we were in.
Then some people
who were not from the favela appeared.
The gangs fired a lot of shots.
My son says he saw a bullet
A bullet passing by in front of him,
and he was holding a crucifix.
He said, "Mom, God saved me."
So, for me, that was a great deliverance
from God, you know?
It wasn't luck, it was God there.
God has protected me
from many things like that,
always with a cross in my life
and in my son's life.
[narrator in English] Brazil is
the largest Catholic country in the world,
with over 100 million believers.
But very few of them know
that hidden away in Rio's Cathedral
is a relic so precious
that it's kept under lock and key.
This splinter of the Holy Cross
is rarely seen by the people of Brazil.
And those few who know of its existence
still question how it made its way to Rio.
[Cláudio Dos Santos in Portuguese]
It's a mystery.
Why did it cross the seas
until it reached our Brazil?
Who placed this fragment here?
How did it happen?
To bring God's message to this New World.
[narrator in English]
It's a story that begins
300 years after Jesus' death on the cross.
When an 80-year-old woman
sets out on a 2,000-mile journey.
[Dr. Robert Cargill]
The legend goes that the Empress Helena,
the mother of the Roman emperor
Constantine the Great,
is a devout Christian,
and she wants to go to Jerusalem
essentially on a pilgrimage,
she wants to see and touch
all of the places
associated with Jesus' life.
[narrator] In 326 AD, Helena leaves Rome
for the grueling journey to Jerusalem.
She's on a mission to find precious relics
related to the life and death
of Jesus Christ.
When Helena finally reaches Jerusalem,
she orders her men to dig,
and they discover not one,
but three crosses.
To find out which one is Jesus' crucifix,
she lays the same dead body on each cross.
On the first and second, nothing happens.
Then, on the third,
the body miraculously comes back to life.
This proves to Helena
that she has found
the Holy Cross of Jesus.
[Nicola] When Helena discovers
the True Cross,
she really initiates this interest
in Passion relics,
and really the centrality of relics
to the Christian religion.
[Robert] Helena sent
that piece of wood back to Constantine,
and from that point on,
according to legend,
began the process of being splintered up,
handed out as gifts.
[Jason Horowitz] The True Cross has been
chopped up in lots of different ways.
There are some big pieces,
there are splinters of it.
Certain people think
that if you put it all together,
you'd have something big enough to build
a log cabin out of, not just a crucifix.
[Nicola] There are pieces
in Rome, in Venice,
in Pisa, in Florence.
There's pieces in Ethiopia.
There's a piece in the Philippines.
And then there are all the pieces
that get brought to the New World.
[Luiz Souza in Portuguese] The story
of this relic is very interesting
because there is
no other phenomenon like this
that's been split into thousands of parts,
and those parts have then been sent
all over the world,
influencing the lives
of billions of people.
So, Rio is also part of this history.
The Portuguese arrived
here in Brazil in April 1500.
Here we are today,
with all this land occupied,
but imagine how
this wonderful port used to be,
what a wealth of nature,
this natural landscape,
attracting the Portuguese,
the adventurers.
[in English] One of the first things
they do when they see Brazil,
they call it Ilha de Vera Cruz,
the Island of the Holy Cross.
So, this concept of the Holy Cross
as kind of traveling with them
is there right from 1500.
[Luiz Souza in Portuguese]
Rio, at the beginning, was a small town.
It was only with the discovery of gold
that Rio began to have an influx
of more Portuguese people.
The amount of gold was so great
that it changed the course of history.
Against that backdrop,
Bishop Antônio de Guadalupe
assumes his post as bishop
of the city of Rio de Janeiro.
[narrator in English]
One story goes that in 1725,
Bishop Antônio de Guadalupe
departs from Lisbon
on an arduous two-month journey
across rough seas.
His destination,
a land he's never seen
and barely imagined.
His mission, to spread the word of God.
His companion,
a small fragment of Jesus' cross
set in a gleaming, gilded case.
[Jason] Just as you have
missionaries going out into the world
and spreading the faith with,
you know, the gospel,
you also have relics
spreading out into the world,
and they're spreading the faith also.
[Dr. Emma Southon] It's powerful to have
a piece of the True Cross
and to be able to show people and say,
"Jesus died on the cross for your sins,"
and here is a bit of the cross
that he died on."
And it gives it a little tangible hook
to hang the story on.
[narrator] Some fragments
of the True Cross
can be found much closer
to the center of the Catholic Church.
Not in the Vatican itself,
but in an ancient church
on the outskirts of Rome.
On display are three relics
said to have been found by Helena
on her epic pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
A splinter of the cross.
One of the nails hammered
through Jesus' flesh.
And a wooden sign from his crucifix.
[Don Alessandro in Italian]
The first thing I thought about
when my superiors asked me
to come and work here
was my youth, my childhood.
My parents, and my father in particular,
were very keen
to bring people to this church.
Because this basilica kept
the greatest treasure of Christianity.
The Titulus Crucis.
The Titulus reminds me that the Gospel
is alive, is true.
It's not an invention.
[Nicola in English] There's only one relic
in all of Christendom,
which is said to be the Titulus.
The Titulus Crucis
is a small plaque or sign
that was affixed
to the top of Jesus' crucifixion cross,
which announced who he was.
[narrator] When Jesus is condemned
to be crucified,
Roman soldiers attach
a wooden sign to the cross
detailing his crime
a custom intended to deter onlookers
from committing the same offense.
Jesus' sign, or Titulus,
is inscribed in Latin, Greek and Hebrew,
announcing that his crime
is claiming to be Jesus of Nazareth,
King of the Jews.
[Robert] The Titulus was done
in a mocking manner.
The Romans didn't really think
that Jesus was the king of the Jews,
but that was the charge against Jesus,
basically insurrection.
You can't claim to be king.
We have an emperor already.
And so this is the crime,
and this is what we do to people
who claim to be King around here.
[narrator] For centuries,
people have travelled the world
to bring their prayers
to this unique relic.
Some even devote their lives to it.
[Romel Almoneda]
When I saw the Titulus Crucis,
my legs were shaking.
And then I knelt down,
and then I started crying.
Tears were falling down from my eyes,
I don't know why.
But there was a feeling that
It's as if the Holy Spirit
came down upon you and touched you.
I am the Sacristan of the Basilica
of the Holy Cross.
Sacristan means not only
taking care of the day-to-day activities
of the church,
but also taking care of all the relics
inside the chapel.
This church has been my life for 15 years.
When I came here from the Philippines,
I am already married,
but my kids are small.
That's why I left my wife there
to take care of them.
Seeing the proof of Jesus' sufferings,
it deepened my faith.
It gave me strength to accept
being away from my family.
This is one of my favorite parts
of the church.
It's called The Chapel of Saint Helen.
This was her private chapel
when Constantine was Emperor.
She brought the soil from
where she found the cross to here.
[Robert] Helena did something interesting.
She didn't just bring back
these holy relics,
but she brought back soil from Jerusalem.
And when she built her chapel,
she put this soil in the floor
so that she could say
that this is actually Jerusalem.
Kind of like an embassy today.
[Romel] I am pretty sure
that Saint Helen was always here
praying for her son, for his endeavors.
And it reminds me
of my mother praying for me.
Praying for my siblings,
my wife praying for our daughters,
and praying for me.
But my children are asking me now
to be with them.
And I said yes,
I said it's about time that we will
be together after 15 years,
because I haven't seen them grow up.
Thank you.
I prayed, and I asked for a sign to God.
Is this the right time?
And he gave me a sign that,
"Yeah, my child, you can rest now,"
and be with your family."
After 15 years here,
I'm going back to the Philippines.
[woman in Italian] I have to
tell you guys something
that when we came
to the Holy Cross Basilica,
Romel was the one who welcomed me.
Now, when I heard that Romel is leaving,
for me, I'll tell you the truth.
I didn't sleep at the beginning
because I couldn't believe it.
- Hooray, Romel!
- [laughing]
Hooray for the Philippines!
- Thank you, Romel.
- Thanks to you.
- [man] Fifteen years!
- [Romel] Thanks to you.
[man] Fifteen years!
[Romel] Thanks especially for your help.
[Romel in English] I will think
of the relics every day.
I could tell my children, my grandchildren
that in one chapter of my life,
I have served the Lord in taking care
of the relics of the Passion.
[Cláudio dos Santos in Portuguese]
Being the custodian of the relic
is a great responsibility
because there you have
this direct link with the Lord's cross.
This is the Santo Antônio Convent
where I came one day
when I was very anxious to speak with God.
I already felt this desire to serve God,
to become a priest,
but I didn't know who to talk to.
I knelt down, like this,
and after kneeling
and making the sign of the cross
Looking at God and thinking,
I said "Lord, show me someone,"
and I cried a lot. [chuckles]
When I got home,
a lady named Alda called me.
She was a woman of prayer,
a very Godly woman.
When I was leaving,
she turned to me and said,
"Don't you have anything to tell me?"
I said to her, "Mrs. Alda,
today I asked God to show me"
someone who I could
talk to about my vocation."
She said, "Talk to Father Pedro.
I will help you."
What really led me to this desire
to become a priest is
to be able to provide this presence of God
in the hearts and lives of people.
Bringing hope, bringing true love.
[narrator in English] Like
Bishop Guadalupe 300 years before him,
Canon Cláudio wants to use
the relic of the Holy Cross
in his mission to spread the Word of God.
He wants to take it
to places it's never been
to be witnessed by the people of Rio.
[Cláudio dos Santos in Portuguese]
Rarely do these fragments
of the Lord's Cross leave the cathedral,
and are kept here for security reasons.
But this year, I want to change that,
as many people do not have
the opportunity to see it.
It is my wish that
as many people as possible
can know and see this relic.
It is this desire that Pope Francis
talks so much about
of a missionary church.
So this object is a way of evangelizing,
because it helps people
to be closer to God.
We must take it out onto the streets.
[narrator in English]
For those whose lives have been shaped
by the power of the Cross,
having the chance
to witness the relic in person
will be the pinnacle
of their hopes and prayers.
[Luciany in Portuguese] The cross
is a very important symbol for me.
Looking at the cross
is looking at eternity.
Because we are here,
but we have to think about eternity.
Life does not end here.
Hello. Would you accept a gift?
A cross of Christ?
Because of the devotion I have
to the cross,
I promote the cross.
And it's beautiful.
Hello, how are you?
Would you accept a cross of Christ?
I always gave crosses at weddings
to the bride and groom.
That's when it started.
And it kept growing and growing.
- Would you accept the cross of Christ?
- I do.
Would you like
the cross of Christ as well?
Our Father in Heaven.
[Luciany] That's right, Father in Heaven.
She thinks it's an earring. [chuckles]
Several miracles have happened to me
because of the cross.
Here's where I live.
And in 2020, at the beginning
of the Covid-19 pandemic
I came from work on the day
when lockdown was imposed.
I was very concerned
about the elderly residents.
[siren wailing]
[woman in English]
Everywhere you look in this cemetery,
there's row upon row
of freshly dug graves.
Confirmation that Brazil now has
the highest daily death rate
of any country in the world.
[narrator] Covid ripped through
the dense population of Rio,
endangering the lives
of the sick, the vulnerable,
and terrifying the elderly.
[Luciany in Portuguese]
Then I started praying and God answered me
that I should hang a cross
down there in the building.
This is the cross that I put up.
And thank God, it was a miracle.
We didn't have any coronavirus cases
in the building,
no one contracted the virus or got ill.
- Hi, Josefa, good afternoon.
- [speaking Portuguese]
How are you?
I came to bring you a little souvenir.
- Thank you, my dear.
- Okay.
- It's been blessed?
- It's blessed.
I'm remembering downstairs,
the cross we put up.
It was a very good idea.
It was wonderful. Thank you.
God be with you.
Let me know if you need anything.
- All the best, bye-bye.
- Okay, bye.
I see it as a great miracle
of God protecting us,
through the sign He asked me to put up.
[narrator in English]
Now the relic of the True Cross
is being carried
from the safety of the cathedral
to be witnessed by the people
whose lives have been changed by it.
[Luciany in Portuguese]
So, it's a reason to be very emotional
to have the relic with us
for the first time,
wood from the cross
he was hung on to save us.
[Nicola in English] When you think
of how powerful the cross is as a symbol,
that people would
wear that around their neck,
this kind of symbol of protection.
Imagine wearing a cross
and feeling so strongly about it
and then being in the presence
of an actual piece of the True Cross
and how powerful that must be
to connect you back to Jesus Christ.
[narrator] The fragment of the True Cross
clearly has the power
to give hope to believers.
Perhaps where it can help the most
is where it's needed the most.
Rio's favelas are where
the poorest communities live.
Set up on wasteland
at the edge of the city,
over one and a half million people
live in these shanty towns.
[Cláudio dos Santos in Portuguese]
In the favelas are the people
with the greatest difficulties,
realities of suffering, of violence,
very strong in our city, you know?
The violence is
often caused by confrontations
between drug traffickers and the police.
[Cláudio dos Santos]
And the stray bullets, right?
They prevent people
from leaving their homes.
And sometimes people are prevented
from going to their jobs.
Children are prevented
from going to school.
[Francisco] The relic of the Cross
coming out of the cathedral
into the favela,
I think it is something wonderful.
It is a relic,
a relic of the Cross
on which Jesus was crucified
and it is in our favela!
I think this relic can be
like a wake-up call,
like "What am I doing?"
[Rosa Rodrigues]
When the relic comes here,
it will touch people's hearts a lot.
And it will bring peace.
Many people need to see it happening here.
Welcome, Father.
Thank you.
[Cláudio dos Santos] I believe
that this will bring hope.
It provides, in fact, a blessing.
An opportunity, right?
Because it's the first time, you know?
[all chanting]
[in Portuguese]
May the Lord be present now,
with His cross touching the hearts,
souls and lives
of everyone in this community.
[all chanting]
With His cross touching the hearts,
souls and lives of each resident
of this community.
[Rosa] It is so beautiful.
I was very emotional.
When I first saw it,
the impact was like, "Wow!"
May this blessing extend
throughout this community,
meaning that the blood of Jesus
touches each one of us.
In the name of the Father,
the Son and the Holy Spirit.
[Rosa] It was very important
to our community
to pass on the faith.
[Francisco] Faith has been
a little shaken dead.
So, I think that the coming
of the relic here, to the favela,
is causing an awakening of faith.
[Rosa] I saw that all of them,
even the gangsters,
they bowed when they saw the relic,
I saw that.
[Cláudio dos Santos]
There are so many difficulties,
but there is the moment of hope,
of a new life, of better days,
of protection for their life
and their families.
Oh cross, you shall save us ♪
[singing in Portuguese]
Strengthen the faith of the poor
and the sinner strengthen our hope ♪
[Cláudio dos Santos in Portuguese]
Jesus came for the people
and we too must be close to the people.
Listen to their pain, listen to their joy,
participate in every moment
of their lives.
In the path to the Lord ♪
I think that's the concept
of being a priest,
to be able to bring happiness
to people's hearts and lives.
So it's also a very strong moment,
being able to come back
here to this place.
It's the very beginning of my story
where I strongly felt
this call of God.
I didn't deserve any of this.
But God
wanted me.
[voice shaking] I don't know why,
but he wanted me.
It's hard to
It's not a cry of sadness
but it's a cry of joy,
knowing that among
so many people in this world,
God chose me.
[voice shaking]
He called me to be a priest.
And that's what touches my heart,
what makes me a happy person,
and makes me bring happiness
to other people's lives.
We have to light up people's lives
with love.
[narrator in English]
Next on Mysteries of the Faith
The story of relics in the 21st century.
[man in Italian]
A bloodied shirt with two bullet holes
speaks to a teenager
without the need for words.
[woman in English] The church still
needs relics, still likes relics,
still creates relics to show you
that God still works
through people in the modern world.
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