Posted by: Fr Chris | September 14, 2020

Exaltation of the Life-giving Cross: Sept. 14th

The Exaltation of the Holy Cross – Damascene Gallery

Emperor Hadrian had buried Jerusalem, and covered the Jewish and  Christian sites with pagan temples. As a result, believers had continued to make discreet visits to the remnants of the holy places, and when Saint Helena came there searching for relics, it was a matter of digging down to the level of first-century Jerusalem and those sites.

The Cross of Christ had been saved by the early faithful as a major relic, but in the designated spot, there was other wood. Legend has it that these were those used to crucify the two thieves on either side of Christ. It may just have been a way to save the cross, or perhaps enemies dumped in other wood to mock the Christians.

Cathedral of Exaltation of the Holy Cross - Uzhgorod, Ukraine - Cathedrals on Waymarking.com
Holy Cross Byzantine-Ruthenian Catholic Cathedral, Uzhhorod, Ukraine

Tradition holds that the sign with the inscription, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews”, the remnants of which can be seen today in Rome’s Santa Croce Church, also lay among the three crosses. In order to determine which one was the true cross, a sick woman was told to kiss each of  three crosses. The woman kissed the first cross with no result. She kissed the second cross and again nothing happened. However, when the ailing woman kissed the True Cross, she was immediately made well. It so happened that a funeral procession was passing that way, and so the body of the dead man was placed on each of the crosses, and when it was placed on the True Cross, the dead man came to life — thus the name the “Life-Giving” Cross, which gives life not only to that man, but to each person who believes in the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross and His all-glorious three day Resurrection.When the true Cross was identified, it was lifted on high for all the people to see, who then continually sang Kyrie eleison, a practice which we repeat in Matins and the Divine Liturgy of the feast.

Full of Grace and Truth: July 2011

Relics of the True Cross

The Cross was being broken into small pieces to provide relics for churches and the devout by the 340s. The remaining main part of the Cross was lost after Saladin conquered Jerusalem in 1187. If all the existing parts of the Cross were pieced together, they do not constitute the size of the original large arm on which Jesus’ hands were crucified contrary to the claims of certain Protestant Reformers. Our parish has a tiny relic, with a Roman certificate of authenticity. This relic is brought out on this day for our veneration.

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