3 May - Day of the Holy Cross // September 14, Exaltation of the Holy Cross
September 14, Exaltation of the Holy Cross
The True Cross restored the dead man to life.
In celebration of the discovery of the Holy Cross, Constantine ordered the construction of churches at the site of the Holy Sepulchre and on Mount Calvary. Those churches were dedicated on September 13 and 14, 335, and shortly thereafter the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross began to be celebrated on the latter date. The feast slowly spread from Jerusalem to other churches, until, by the year 720, the celebration was universal.
In the early seventh century, the Persians conquered Jerusalem, and the Persian king Khosrau II captured the True Cross and took it back to Persia. After Khosrau's defeat by Emperor Heraclius II, Khosrau's own son had him assassinated in 628 and returned the True Cross to Heraclius. In 629, Heraclius, having initially taken the True Cross to Constantinople, decided to restore it to Jerusalem. Tradition says that he carried the Cross on his own back, but when he attempted to enter the church on Mount Calvary, a strange force stopped him. Patriarch Zacharias of Jerusalem, seeing the emperor struggling, advised him to take off his royal robes and crown and to dress in a penitential robe instead. As soon as Heraclius took Zacharias' advice, he was able to carry the True Cross into the church.
For some centuries, a second feast, the Invention of the Cross, was celebrated on May 3 in the Roman and Gallican churches, following a tradition that marked that date as the day on which Saint Helena discovered the True Cross. In Jerusalem, however, the finding of the Cross was celebrated from the beginning on September 14.
The Day of the Cross is a popular part of religious and cultural identity in many Latin American countries. “Holy Cross Day” is based on an old liturgical feast celebra- ting the discovery of the true cross of Christ by St. Helen on May 3rd, 326 A.D.
On this day the Name and the Cross of Jesus Christ is honored with processions, singing, and hundreds -even thousands- of decorated crosses along roadsides, hillsides, parks, cemeteries, and other public places.
Things you can do:
- Learn and pray the prayer to Christ Crucified; Point out particularly this shot prayer:
We adore You, O Christ, and praise You, Because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world.
- Study the history of St. Helena and Constantine, especially St. Helena’s quest for finding the relics of Jesus.
- Make sure that crucifixes are displayed prominently throughout your home. Point out the crucifix in every room even to the smallest ones. Your child's first word may be "Jesus"!
- Explain the meaning of the Sign of the Cross to your children and be sure that even the little ones are taught how to make it.
- Encourage your children to make reparation for sin and teach them a short prayer such as "Through the sign of the Cross deliver us from our enemies, O our God!".