Friday, September 14, 2007

14 September, Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross

We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you, because by your Holy Cross you have redeemed the world!

The original name of this feast was the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, by which name it is still known by the Orthodox Church and the Eastern Rites of the Catholic Church. Since 1970, it has been called in English the Triumph of the Cross by the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church. However, in Latin its name remains 'The Exaltation of the Cross'. In some parts of the Anglican Communion it is called Holy Cross Day, a name also used by Lutherans. In Jewish folklore the feast was established by Saint Peter for converted Jews to observe instead of Rosh Hashana.

The feast commemorates the finding of the True Cross in 325 during a pilgrimage to Jerusalem by St. Helena, the mother of the Roman emperor Constantine I . The Church of the Holy Sepulchre was then built at the site of the discovery, by order of Helena and Constantine. The church was dedicated nine years later, with a portion [1] of the cross placed inside it. In 614, that portion of the cross was carried away from the church by the Persians, and remained missing until it was recaptured by the Byzantine Emperor Heraclius in 628. The cross was returned to the church the following year after initially having been taken to Constantinople by Heraclius.

The date used for the feast marks the dedication of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in 335. This was a two-day festival: although the actual Consecration of the church was on September 13, the cross itself was brought outside the church on September 14 so that the clergy and faithful could pray before it.


Bella Boy said...

I was once told that a sliver of the cross was put into the Bishop's ring and that why the rings were venerated. Also they had stopped doing this years ago?? Any truth to this??

Subimonk said...

I am not sure. Some rings are also reliquaries (as are some pectoral crosses). It would be possible that some rings of prelates had relics, either of the true cross or the saints. Such rings could still be made today if they were commissioned and a place for a relic was incorporated. Most prelatial rings today contain either a stone or are signet rings with the prelate's coat of arms.
The kissing of the ring of a prelate, which has largely fallen out of custom these days, was a sign of filial submission to the prelate's authority,and honor to his person. That is, I believe, the reason for the veneration of the prelatial ring.