On the fourteenth of
September we commemorate the Universal Exaltation of the Honoured and
Life-giving Cross of our Saviour, which for 300 years had been hidden
know from Saint Luke’s Book of Acts that after Holy
Pentecost, the Church in
Almost 40 years after
the Resurrection of our Lord,
In 130, the Roman
Emperor, Hadrian came to
It should be noted
that after its discovery, a portion of the venerable Cross was taken to
connected to the Cross of the Lord is remembered also on this day: its
The Cross remained in Persia for fourteen years and only under the emperor Heraclius (610-641), who with the help of God defeated Khozroes and concluded peace with his successor and son Syroes, was the Cross of the Lord returned to the Christians.
With great solemnity
the Life-Giving Cross was returned to
A Fast is observed today, whatever day of the week it may be. This is one of the two feast days which is held as a strict fast. The other is the commemoration of the Beheading of Saint John the Forerunner on August 29.
Teachings from the Service of the Feast
When we elevate the Cross and bow down before it in veneration we proclaim our belief that through the Holy Cross, which today we venerate, salvation from the tyranny of Satan is granted to the Universe. This is chanted throughout the whole service of the Feast. The Glory of Great Vespers summarizes the teaching of this Feast::
Come, all ye nations, let us worship the blessed Tree, through which was wrought the everlasting righteosness. For he that by a tree beguiled our forefather Adam, is himself ensnared by the Cross; and he that by tyranny gained dominion over the creation of the King, is by faith overthrown in utter ruin. By the Blood of God, the serpent’s poison is washed away; and the curse of a just condemnation is loosed by the unjust judgment passed against the Just One. For it was fitting that the wood should be healed by wood; and that the sufferings of him who was condemned because of the tree should be done away through the Passion of Him Who is passionless. But, O Christ our King, glory to Thy dread dispensation toward us, whereby Thou hast saved us all, since Thou art good and the Friend of man.
Cross is hymned as the weapon of Christ that
slew him that slew us. Satan used
the tree in
The Old Testament prefigurations of the Holy Cross are brought out by the services. The odes of the Canon, which begin A Cross did Moses inscribe, are especially noteworthy for their teaching on the prefiguration of the Holy Cross in the Old Testament.
The first Old Testament reading of the Vespers of the Feast tells of Prophet Moses and his rod which changed the bitter waters into sweetness and was a prefiguration of the Tree of the Cross (Exodus 15:22-16:1).
The second reading from Proverbs 3:11-18, reminds us that the Lord chastens and corrects those whom he loves and that Divine Wisdom is a Tree of life to those who lay hold upon her and trust in her, as in the Lord. This is reference to the Holy Cross which we are called to embrace.
The third Old
Testament reading is from Isaiah 60:11-16 which is a prophecy of the city of the Lord where both Jews and
Gentiles will live together and shall bow
themselves down at the place of God's feet and shall
know that I the Lord am Thy Saviour and Thy Redeemer, the mighty
In the reading from the First Epistle of Saint Paul to the
Corinthians (1:18 - 24), Saint Paul teaches us that the Extreme
Humility of the Crucifixion of our Saviour can not be understood by
those outside the Church. Those who have not been called consider
the Cross of our Lord as foolishness.
The Holy Gospel of the Feast is John
19:6-11; 13-20; 25-28; 30, which contains the account of the
Crucifixion of Christ.
The historical elevation of the Holy Cross
is commemorated just after the Great
Doxology with a special service during which the Holy Cross is
carried by the clergy on a tray covered with Basil. The Holy
Cross is brought to the centre of the Church and is elevated while Lord Have Mercy is intoned 500
times. When the people are blessed and while they are venerating
the Holy Cross, the following is chanted:
come, 0 ye faithful, let us worship the life-creating Wood, whereon Christ, the King of Glory, stretching out His hands of His own will, lifted up to the ancient blessedness us whom the enemy had aforetime despoiled through pleasure, making us exiles from God. Come, 0 ye faithful, let us worship that Wood whereby we have been deemed worthy to crush the heads of our invisible enemies. Come, all ye kindreds of the nations, with hymns let us honour the Cross of the Lord. Rejoice, 0 Cross, thou perfect redemption of fallen Adam. In thee do our most faithful sovereigns boast, since by thy power they have mightily subjected to themselves the Ishmaelite peoples. As we Christians now venerate thee with fear, we glorify God, Who was affixed to thee, and we say: 0 Lord, Who wast crucified thereon, have mercy on us, since Thou art good and the Friend of man.
Save, O Lord, Thy people and bless Thine inheritance; Grant Thou unto the faithful victory over adversaries. And by the power of Thy Cross do Thou preserve Thy commonwealth.
Icon of the Feast
Icons of the Feast
usually portray St. Macarius
in the center of the Icon, elevating the
Cross and showing it to the people. This elevation or uplifting of the
shows its prominence as the sign of victory. Hence the name Elevation of the Holy
Constantine the Emperor, and St. Helena, his mother, are frequently
although some icons depict only
The Menaion - Volume One, Holy Transfiguration Monastery, Boston, Massachusetts, 2005
The Great Horologion, Holy Transfiguration Monastery, Boston, Massachusetts,1997