The “Vera Cruz” itself, also called “del Milagro” or “Cruz de Garay” is guarded in the Cathedral of the city of Santa Fe, in the historic center of the city. The small cross, seven centimeters high by three wide and uniformly carved in an unknown wood, is embedded in the heart of another larger cross, which is adorned with pearls and other metals, giving it different reliefs.
The story of various historians converges on the story of how the cross that would give the city its name years later was found. It should be noted that, although traditionally it is recognized Santa Fe “de la Vera Cruz” as the full name of the city, said nomenclature is not found in the records prior to which the enclave of the city was effectively modified and located in the current place in the year 1651, when the transfer was decided.
Here happens the period in which some conjectures are opened regarding the authenticity of the cross that is exhibited in the Cathedral. The story goes that the discovery was made by one of the subordinates of Juan de Garay himself, surnamed Lapalma. This would explain that after years and oblivion had passed, the so-called “Cruz del Milagro” passed into the hands of a noble family from Entre Ríos with the same surname.
This family had the relic for many years until in this case the official records say that due to the interest of Nicolás Fasolino, bishop of the Santa Fe diocese at that time, the relic was donated to the Metropolitan Cathedral and remains protected in a room adjoining the east wing. What is worth asking, and for now it does not have a 100% illuminating support, is if the small cross of the Lapalma family that was donated to the Cathedral is the same one that Juan de Garay’s men found back in the 16th century.
There are several versions regarding the name “de la Vera Cruz”. Some authors base it on the fact that while Juan de Garay was registering Indians in 1573, he found in a tree “a flask and a Cross” belonging to the people who were accompanying the governor of Santiago del Estero, Juan Gregorio Bazán, at that time. According to this version, these people had left the object in 1568 when they made the crossing between Asunción and Santiago del Estero, the so-called “Malabrigo road”. What is striking and what would deny this version is that the Malabrigo road did not pass through where the cross was found.
For his part, the historian Federico Guillermo Cervera adds as a basis for the name of the city related to the relic that the chapter session of April 12, 1651 coincides with the celebration of Holy Week, for which he induced that the new site to transfer to the city the name of “Vera Cruz” in homage to Good Friday that corresponds to the exaltation of the Holy Cross.
One last point of view is that raised by the historian Catalina Pistone, who maintains that April 12, 1651, the day the Cabildo met, served to set 20 days from that moment for the people of bells, clerics, mayors and captains, as well as neighbors, will move to the new site to measure it. On May 3, the day of the Holy Cross, everything was ready and finished because it was a venerable day and served to name or baptize the new city, calling it Santa Fe de la Vera Cruz.
The object remains there, within the reach of any Santa Fe who wishes to observe it. What for now is not within the reach of the Santa Fe is to recognize if the exhibited is the same cross that the legend tells in the hands of Juan de Garay.