The Holy Face of Lucca, the unique wooden crucifix preserved in the Cathedral of San Martino, is the most important relic of the entire diocese. The worship of the crucifix, which was widespread until medieval times even outside the boundaries of the city and region, made it the site of constant pilgrimages. Critical analysis has dated the cross back to between the 11th and 12th centuries, whilst tradition asserts that the relic was carved by Nicodemo, one of Jesus’ apostles. The legend linked to the arrival of the statue recounts its journey from the port of Luni across a track followed by a cart dragged by oxen without a coachman, after the miraculous cross had survived the navigation from the Holy Land to the Ligurian Coast unscathed. The crucifix was initially placed in the Church of San Frediano, where you can still find frescos which tell the history of the Holy Face and a vial of blood which was discovered inside the cross (the other was found in Sarzana). Linked to the legend is also its positioning in the cathedral in the temple built in the 15th century by Matteo Civitali. Dedicated to the Holy Face are the Solennità dell'Invenzione and the Esaltazione della Santa Croce on May 3 and September 14 respectively. On these occasions, the statue is re-dressed in precious vestments, work of gold craftsmanship and engravings of exceptional quality.
Sources: Belli Barsali I., Guida di Lucca, Maria Pacini Fazzi Editore, Lucca, 1970. archiviovoltosanto.org