Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross

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Exaltation of the Cross, Feast of the

September 14; formerly May 3 by Roman Catholics
The holiday known as the Exaltation of the Cross by the Eastern Church, where it is one of the 12 great feasts, is also known as the Elevation, Recovery, or Adoration of the Cross . In the West, it is known as Holy Cross Day (by the Anglican Communion), the Triumph of the Cross (by Roman Catholics), and also the Invention of the Cross (from Latin invenire, meaning "to find"). It commemorates three events: the finding of the cross on which Jesus was crucified, the dedication in 335 of the basilica built by Emperor Constantine enclosing the supposed site of Jesus' crucifixion on Golgotha, and the recovery in 629 by Emperor Heraclius of the relic of the cross that had been stolen by the Persians.
According to tradition, St. Helena, mother of Emperor Constantine, found the cross on a visit to Jerusalem, being enabled to identify it by a miracle. Many relics from the cross were distributed among churches throughout the world. (In the late 19th century, Rohault de Fleury catalogued all the known relics in the world; he estimated that they constituted less than one-third of the size of the cross that was believed to have been used.)
In addition, St. Helena discovered the four nails used in the Crucifixion, and the small plaque hung above Jesus that bore the sarcastic inscription "INRI" ( Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum, Latin for "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews"). Two of the nails were placed in Constantine's crown, one was later brought to France by Charlemagne, and the fourth was supposedly cast into the Adriatic Sea when Helena's ship was threatened by a storm on her return journey.
On September 13, 335, bishops met in Jerusalem for the dedication of the basilica of the Holy Sepulchre built by order of Constantine. Many believe this date marks the discovery of the remains of the cross during excavations on the site of the Temple of Venus. On the 14th, a relic enshrined in a silver-gilt receptacle was elevated for veneration.
The relic was taken to Persia in 614 after the Persian army of King Choesroes occupied Jerusalem. When Heraclius of Constantinople defeated the Persians on the banks of the Danube in 629, he brought the sacred relic to Constantinople (now Istanbul). On September 14, 633, it was carried in a solemn procession to the Church of the Holy Wisdom (Hagia Sophia in Greek; Saint Sophia in English) where it was elevated for all to adore, recalling Jesus' words, "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me" (John 12:32).
Former names for this day are Crouchmas ( Cross Mass ), Holy Rood Day, and Roodmas, rood referring to the wood of which the cross was made.
In the Philippines, there is a nationwide celebration commemorating the discovery of the Holy Cross of Calvary by St. Helena. It is known as Santacruzan . Nine-day pageants are held in May with local men and women playing the parts of biblical characters. There are processions with floats of each town's patron saint, and costumed young women and their escorts parade under flower-decked arches. In Lucban, Quezon Province, multicolored rice wafers, called kiping, are shaped into the form of fruits and vegetables and displayed as window ornaments.
See also Día de la Santa Cruz; Epiphany, Orthodox; Maskal
Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia
242 Cleveland St.
Redfern, NSW 2016 Australia
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Orthodox Church in America
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Philippine Tourism Center
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BkDays-1864, vol. I, p. 586; vol. II, p. 340
BkFest-1937, pp. 152, 295
BkHolWrld-1986, May 3
DaysCustFaith-1957, pp. 118, 234
FestSaintDays-1915, pp. 110, 177
FolkAmerHol-1999, pp. 213, 381
FolkWrldHol-1999, p. 324
OxYear-1999, pp. 194, 371
RelHolCal-2004, pp. 101, 114
SaintFestCh-1904, pp. 224, 404
Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary, Fourth Edition. © 2010 by Omnigraphics, Inc.
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