Lonely Planet review
One of Rome’s seven pilgrimage churches, the Chiesa di Santa Croce was founded in 320 by St Helena, mother of the emperor Constantine, in the grounds of her palace. It takes its name from the Christian relics here – including a piece of Christ’s cross and St Thomas’ doubting finger – that St Helena brought to Rome from Jerusalem, housed in a chapel to the left of the altar.
Of particular note are the lovely 15th-century Renaissance apse frescoes representing the legends of Christ's cross, showing from where the wood came and how it was turned into the cross.
In 2011, the monks who lived in the adjoining monastery were ousted by Pope Benedict XVI following accusations of financial mismanagement and lifestyles that were perceived to be not in keeping with being a monk.