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Exaltation of the Holy Cross

“For the Jews, the cross was a tree of shame and for the Romans, it was an instrument of execution. But for the Christians the cross became the symbol of victory and salvation, an object of special veneration. The Primitive Church provides us with sufficient and definite evidence of the veneration of the Holy Cross. With the granting of peace by Constantine I and the discovery of the true Cross by Christ (about 326AD), the veneration of the Holy Cross became very public and very popular”

(Byzantine Leaflet Series no.8)

St. Helen

 

Tradition holds, as recorded by St. Ambrose, that the True Cross was found by St. Helena, the mother of the Emperor Constantine. Twenty years later, St. Cyril of Jerusalem preached at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and mentioned it in his writings, “Catecheses” in 348.

Later in 380, a pilgrim named Eteria wrote in the “Diary of a Pilgrim” that the dedication of the two Constantine Basilica, which took place on September 335 “is observed with great solemnities, since the Cross of the Lord was also found on that day.” From these records, the Church established September 14 as the Feast of the Veneration of the Holy Cross.

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