Unlike other feasts, the Exaltation of the Holy Cross is marked by a severe fast. The Cross is a symbol of victory over death and sin, and the feast of the Ascension of the Holy Cross is the only feast of fasting and prayer that appears on 14 September in both the Byzantine (Orthodox and Greek Catholic) and Latin calendars.
The Exaltation of the Holy Cross marks two solemn events: the discovery of the Cross and its lifting up before the people by Bishop Macarius of Jerusalem on 14 September 335 and the bringing of the Holy Cross from the Persians in 629 under the Byzantine Emperor Heraclius. They placed it in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.
The Ascension of the Holy Cross, one of the oldest Christian feasts, recalls the passion and death of the Saviour on Calvary, and 14 September is also considered the date that heralds the end of summer and the beginning of autumn, writes Mediafax.
What is Holy Cross?
Sign of the “Son of Man”; the cross is also a sign of the Christian. By revealing Christ’s love, we must also show our love as a call and a response. It is the sign of the exchange of love between God and us. The Church saw in this sign the cross of God. Towards this understanding, the confessions of the Holy Scripture lead us.
According to historical accounts, the Holy Cross is the Cross where Jesus Christ was crucified and later found by Saint Helena. The Lord’s cross is more than atonement for him in our place as “locator,” our representative. Through His very incarnation as Man, there is an exchange of lives. The Son of God takes our flesh, our life with all that is ours, with its needs or sin. The Holy Cross is both sacrifice and altar of sacrifice; the cross is simultaneous “the sign of Christ” and Christianity. Holy Scripture says it is “the sign of the Son of Man.” “Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven,” says the Saviour (Matthew 24:30).
According to other traditions, on the Day of the Cross, the last healing plants (box, mums, chickweed, chickweed) are gathered and taken, together with bunches of flowers and basil, to the church to be placed around the cross and consecrated. The plants thus blessed are then kept in the home, at icons, or in other sheltered places and are used to cure illnesses and for love spells.
Read also: Was Jesus born in a cave?
What happens on Holy Cross Day?
The Exaltation of the Holy Cross is celebrated on 14 September. It is the oldest feast dedicated to honoring the holy wood. The Cross is itself “the sign of the Son of Man” (Matthew 24:30). “The banner” of the Church (Isaiah 5:26), and “the way to follow Christ” (Mark 8:34-35). There is, in fact, and law, no other way to the kingdom of God than the stairway to heaven of the holy cross (Acts 7:55-56).
The day of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross is celebrated with fasting because it reminds us of the passion and death of the Saviour. Also, on this day, we celebrate the memory of two special events in the history of the wood of the Holy Cross: The discovery of the Cross on which the Saviour was crucified. And its solemn raising before the people by Bishop Macarius of Jerusalem on 14 September 335; The bringing or return of the Holy Cross from the pagan Persians, in 629, during the reign of the Byzantine Emperor Heraclius, who deposited it with great honor in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem.
The Holy Cross was found at the behest of the Holy Empress Helena, mother of the Holy Emperor Constantine the Great. Thanks to her, three crosses were found on Calvary. To find out which was the cross on which the Saviour was crucified and which were the crosses of the thieves crucified with Him, Patriarch Macarius told them to touch the crosses of a dead woman one by one. The woman was resurrected when she was touched by the third cross, the one on which Christ was crucified.
Read also: If Jesus Was without Sin, Then Why Was He Baptized?
Do Catholics celebrate Holy Cross Day?
The Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross is celebrated every year on 14 September. It is listed in the calendar as a fast day. This feast commemorates the discovery of the Holy Cross on which Christ was crucified and its raising before the faithful by Bishop Macarius of Jerusalem on 14 September 335 but also refers to the time in 629 when the Emperor Heraclius recovered the Holy Cross taken by King Chosroes of Persia and deposited it in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.
According to church custom, Catholics celebrate the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. The feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross is said to have originated in 335, when on 13 September, the church built by Emperor Constantine the Great over the Lord’s tomb was consecrated, and the following day Bishop Macarius of Jerusalem showed the Cross on which the Lord was crucified to the faithful for the first time. From that moment on, September 14 became the feast of the Ascension or the Showing of the Holy Cross.
The raising of the Holy Cross was initially a local affair, being present only in Jerusalem. Over time, the feast spread to Constantinople, especially in 634, when the Holy Cross was brought from Jerusalem to Constantinople. Later, the feast became widespread throughout the Church of the East.
Read also: Why Did Jesus Ride a Donkey into Jerusalem?
Key Verse related to The Holy Cross’ Day
“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
How was the Holy Cross found?
The same feast commemorates a significant moment in the lives of Saints Constantine and Helena. On the eve of the battle with Maxentius, an enemy of the Christians (307-312). Emperor Constantine had a vision: in broad daylight. A cross made of stars appeared in the sky with the inscription, “By this sign, you shall overcome.”.After his victory, the Emperor prevailed, and his mother ordered the Holy Cross to be found in Jerusalem, near Golgotha.
The mother of Emperor Constantine, Saint Helena, founded the Holy Cross of Jesus Christ by imperial command. In 0335 AD, the Patriarch erected it for all the people to see; every year since then, on 14 September, this event is celebrated.
Three identical crosses were found there, the one on which Jesus was crucified. And two of the robbers were killed with him. To find out which cross Jesus was crucified on, Jerusalem Patriarch Macarius brought each cross close to a girl who had just died. The young girl is said to have risen when Macarius placed the Holy Cross beside her. The news spread like lightning, and the church became overcrowded with the faithful arriving to see the Holy Cross.
Read also: Feast of the Transfiguration.
What is the significance of the Cross in Christianity?
The cross means resistance against the assaults of these impulses—opposition to all that tempts us with momentary pleasure. But with dire consequences for us and others. Also, the cross means patience in bearing hardships and trials from which we cannot escape through hasty acts but tolerate even more. The cross implies temperance and wisdom in responding to the offenses and wrongdoings of others.
According to biblical writings, in Christianity, the cross means the Cross where Jesus was crucified, and the spiritual meaning of it marks the Christian thought and life in any struggle with evil. With sin in us, with the possible sources of sin, selfishness, any effort to cleanse our flowing being from the mud of cloudy. And dirty thoughts and feelings to make it a clear conception of inner and outer life.
The cross is the breaking away from evil and hateful impulses. From unbridled and selfish greed, from the pleasure that decays, anger, and envy. Also, from hatred of brothers, gossip, and all the unloving deeds we want to do to others. Jesus said, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself. And take up his cross and follow me” (Mark 8:34).
Read also: Did Jesus descend into Hell?
- The Saviour did not carry a symbolic cross. Thus, the human cross is also accurate and cannot be avoided. Humanly it is hard to bear, but through Christ, it becomes easy. As we grow in union with Christ, so does the Savior’s taking up the burden of the cross.
- From the moment Christ was crucified on it, the Cross became a divine sign of the Son of Man, a sign of victory, joy, and life. The Church rejoices in singing: “Your Cross, Lord, life, and resurrection is for your people. “
- The cross is the weapon against demons because it is the sign of humility and love of Christ, and the devils are driven away by this sign because they cannot humble themselves and cannot love. Christ is the worker in the Holy Cross, so we not only sign ourselves with the Holy Cross but also carry it with us.
Read also: How many days did Jesus stay on Earth after Resurrection?
The Exaltation of the Holy Cross is a fast day. It is celebrated on 14 September. The holy and honorable Cross we celebrate is the wood of the Cross on which Christ was crucified for our salvation. As is well known, honoring the Holy Cross goes back to the Apostles’ time.
The fall came through the wood, through a tasting of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The rising from the fall is also through the wood by Christ. He becomes the Fruit that crushes death and the giver of power in overcoming the passions of those who unite with Him. If the fall was done in the past at the prompting of the devil, now the rising from sin is done by the Church’s unceasing call to share in the Fruit grown on the Wood of the Cross.
May you have only sunshine and joy in your hearts! To better understand the message of the wood on which Our Holy Christ stood, you can access the Bible Trivia section, and you will identify a variety of quizzes about the immeasurable love of Jesus Christ.
- Borgehammar, S. J. (1993). How the Holy Cross was found: From event to medieval legend.
- Dołęgowska, S., Gałuszka, A., & Migaszewski, Z. M. (2021). Significance of the long-term biomonitoring studies for understanding the impact of pollutants on the environment based on a synthesis of 25-year biomonitoring in the Holy Cross Mountains, Poland. Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 28(9), 10413-10435.
- Szulczewski, M. (1971). Upper Devonian conodonts, stratigraphy, and facial development in the Holy Cross Mts. Acta Geologica Polonica, 21(1), 1-130.
- Matyja, B. A. (1977). The Oxfordian in the southwestern margin of the Holy Cross Mts. Acta Geologica Polonica, 27(1), 41-64.
- Hauerwas, S. (2005). Cross-Shattered Christ: Meditations on the Seven Last Words. Baker Books.