Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross

September 26, 2021

Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross
September 26, 2021

 

Sunday September 26 we celebrate the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross.

This feast is one of the Five Tabernacle Feasts of the Armenian Orthodox Church.
At the Feast we remember three historical events connected with Christ’s Cross.

The first event is remembered in early Christian tradition, namely, that St. James, the first Bishop or Jerusalem, elevated a cross, blessed the congregation and sang a hymn, of which the beginning words are “We bow before Your Cross, o Christ”- which is proof of an early veneration of the symbol of the cross.

The second event happened during the reign of the Roman Empire by Emperor Constantine the Great, who made Christianity a permitted religion, after centuries of persecution.
Emperor Constantine the Great sent his mother St. Helena to the Holy Land to uncover the Christian sites of pilgrimage.
Pagan emperors before Constantine the Great had built a pagan temple over the Holy Grave of our Lord.
St. Helena had this pagan temple destroyed, and Emperor Constantine the Great gave orders to build a magnificent Basilica on the site of the Holy Grave.
During excavations, three crosses were found on the site. According to ancient Christian tradition it was one of those crosses, the Real Cross of Christ, that revived a person who had died recently.
Bishop Cyril of Jerusalem then elevated the True Cross before the faithful, who witnessed the miracle, and they venerated it.

The third historical event happened in the 7th century. The king of Persia conquered the Holy Land and stole the Holy Cross and took it back to Persia. While the Byzantine Empire sought revanche against the Persians, it was the Armenian Christian army that heavily damaged the Persians.
The son of the king of Persia killed his father in the mayhem but died himself within a year. The Byzantine Emperor Heraclius was willing to not fight his successor, on the condition that the Persians returned the Holy Cross.
The Byzantine emperor went to Persia, accompanied by soldiers, amongst which many Armenians, to return the Holy Cross to the Holy Land. The emperor and his armies, in bringing back the Holy Cross to Jerusalem, travelled through Armenia. Everywhere they passed, Armenian believers came to see and touch the Holy Cross; and the Cross touched Armenian soil in various locations, to bless Armenia.

Sunday we will celebrate this in the Holy Sepulcher, and we cordially invite you to participate in liturgy.

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