For the first four centuries there was no extra-biblical mention of the crown of thorns. A few writers of the fifth and sixth centuries AD speak of a relic known to be still in existence and venerated by the faithful. St. Paulinus of Nola, writing after 409, refers to "the thorns with which Our Saviour was crowned" as relics held in honour along with the cross to which he was nailed and the pillar at which he was scourged (Epistle Macarius in Migne, Patrologia Latina, LXI, 407). Cassiodorus (c. 570), when commenting on Psalm lxxxvi, speaks of the crown of thorns among the other relics which are the glory of the earthly Jerusalem. "There", he says, "we may behold the thorny crown, which was only set upon the head of Our Redeemer in order that all the thorns of the world might be gathered together and broken" (Migne, LXX, 621). When Gregory of Tours in De gloria martyri avers that the thorns in the crown still looked green, a freshness which was miraculously renewed each day, he does not much strengthen the historical authenticity of a relic he had not seen, but the Breviary or Short Description of Jerusalem :16) (a short text dated to about 530 AD :iv), and the itinerary of Antoninus of Piacenza (6th century) :18 clearly state that the crown of thorns was then shown in the "Basilica of Mount Zion," although there is uncertainty about the actual site to which the authors refer. :42 et seq. ) From these fragments of evidence and others of later date (the "Pilgrimage" of the monk Bernard shows that the relic was still at Mount Zion in 870), it is likely that a purported crown of thorns was venerated at Jerusalem from the fifth century for several hundred years.
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