The 14th of the month, Feast of the Universal EXALTATION of the Precious and Life-giving CROSS
Saint Constantine the Great (21 May) was preparing to march on Rome to confront his rival Maxentius when the sign of the Life-giving Cross appeared to him in the midday
sky, surrounded with- the inscription: By this sign you shall conquer. He therefore had his standards adorned with the Sign of the Cross and won a brilliant victory, that enabled him to assume power over the entire Roman world and to assure the triumph
In the twentieth year of his reign (326), Constantine sent his mother Saint Helen to Jerusalem to venerate the Holy Places and to find the site of the Holy Sepulchre and of the Cross, that was covered by rubble from building-works, done at the time of Hadrian
when the city had been enlarged. Relying upon the oral tradition of the faithful, Saint Helen found the precious Trophy along with the crosses on which the two thieves had hung, and the three nails that had nailed the life-giving body of the Saviour,
but she could see no way of telling which was the Cross of Christ.
The healing of a dying. woman at the touch of the holy Wood enabled Macarius, the Patriarch of Jerusalem, to identify the Cross of Christ, for no miracle was worked by the other two crosses. Then the Queen and her whole court worshiped the Holy Cross and kissed it with great devotion. The people, who had gathered in large numbers at the place; also wanted to share in this grace, or at least-so ardent was their love for Christ-to see from afar the instrument of our Redemption. So the Patriarch mounted the ambo, and taking the Cross in both hands, raised it on high so that all could see it, while the crowd exclaimed: Kyrie eleison!
This was the occasion of the institution in all the Churches of the Exaltation of the ‘Precious Cross, not only in memory of the event but also to show forth this instrument of shame as having become our pride and our joy. By recalling the action of the Patriarch and by elevating the Cross at the four points of the compass to the chant of Kyrie eleison, Christians show today that, in mounting the Cross, Christ desired to reconcile all things to Himself, uniting Creation in all its height and depth and to its farthest bounds in His body, so that we may have access through Him to the Father.
THE SYNAXARION The Lives of the Saints of the
Orthodox Church By HIEROMONK MAKARIOS OF SIMONOS PETRA
Translated from the French by Christopher Hookway
Holy Convent of The Annunciation of Our Lady
Ormylia (Chalkidike) 1998
Kontakion for the Exaltation of the Precious Cross,
THOU Who wast raised up on the Cross of Thine own will, * O Christ our God, do Thou bestow Thy compassions * upon this, Thy new commonwealth named after Thee. * Gladden with Thy sovereign might * our most Orthodox hierarchs, * and vouchsafe them victory * over every false teaching; * and as Thy help in war may they possess * the weapon of peace, the trophy invincible.
Hymn used by permission of the Holy Transfiguration Monastery, Brookline, MA.