Today we celebrate the Great Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross. On this day we commemorate two specific incidents. The first is the finding of the Cross upon which Christ was crucified by the Empress Helena during her travels in Palestine in 326 A.D. On reaching Golgotha she ordered that the pagan temple be destroyed and when this was done three crosses were found on its site. Uncertain which one was the Cross of the Lord, they were placed on a dying woman who was miraculously healed when the True Cross touched her. The second incident commemorates the recovery of the True Cross in 628 A.D. after it had been captured by the Persians.
This feast is a day of fasting and repentance. The Cross is placed in the centre of the Church, and is surrounded by flowers and basil. As we venerate the Cross, we prostrate ourselves before the Lord, pledging Him our loyalty and pleading for His mercy.
The Cross was originally an instrument of torture and death, and it reminds us of the sufferings of Christ and of His great love for us, a love that the world could not understand. However, it is also a sign of His victory over death. Through His death on the Cross, Jesus Christ has conquered death and so Saint Paul tells us that we find our glory in the Cross of Christ.
Lord, save Your people
and bless Your inheritance, granting our rulers to prevail over adversaries, and protecting Your commonwealth by
Apolytikion for the Feast