1. In the year 313, the Roman Emperor Constantine began the long process of conversion to Christianity. His mother, the devout and pious Express Helena – St Helena- had already become a Christian. Helena, who lived in the Roman capital of Constantinople, made a pilgrimage to the Holy land. In Jerusalem she arranged for the erection of a great Church dedicated to the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. We know this Church today as the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher.
2. According to tradition that has come down to us the Empress Helena discovered somewhere in Jerusalem the true cross on which Christ died. This occurred on Sep 14th, 320. The new Church of the Holy Sepulcher was dedicated on Sep 14th 335. On this occasion the relics of the true cross were held up or exalted for the veneration of the people. Gradually this event was observed annually on Sep 14th throughout the Eastern Church as the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross. Only in the 7th century this feast in honour of the cross began to be observed in Western Latin Church.
3. The cross can preach to us the great message of Christianity. The vertical beam represents the love of God and the horizontal beam represents the love of neighbor. What more sermon we need than to just look at the cross intently?
4. This feast denotes the great joy of salvation Jesus brought to us through his cross. That is the reason this feast is not celebrated during the Lent which usually focuses on the sorrows.
5. There is no Christianity without cross. As Jesus gave a new and nobler meaning to the cross which was a sign of great shame and insult, let us also strive to give new meaning to our hurts, wounds, misfortunes by looking at them as the ladders which takes us closer to Jesus.
‘Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross’ – Judeline D’Souza – Awakening Faith – Sep – Oct 2009, Volume 22