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The Feast of the Elevation of the Holy Cross

One of the Great Feasts of the Orthodox Church

The Feast of the Elevation of the Holy Cross

The Elevation of the Holy Cross is one of the Great Feasts of the Orthodox Church, celebrated on Sep. 14 / Sep. 27. This feast is also referred to as the Exaltation of the Cross.

Hymns to the Elevation of the Holy Cross
As You were voluntarily raised upon the cross for our sake,
Grant mercy to those who are called by Your Name, O Christ God;
Make all Orthodox Christians glad by Your power,
Granting them victories over their adversaries,
By bestowing on them the Invincible trophy, Your weapon of Peace.

Before Thy Cross we bow down in worship, O Master, and Thy holy Resurrection we glorify.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.
And Thy holy Resurrection we glorify.Before Thy Cross we bow down in worship, O Master, and Thy holy Resurrection we glorify.

O Lord, save Thy people, And bless Thine inheritance.
Grant victory to the the Orthodox Christians
Over their enemies
And by the power of Thy Cross
Preserve Thy commonwealth.

The Feast commemorates to dates:
1. The finding of the Cross by the Empress Helen (the mother of St. Constantine the Great) on Golgotha in 326 AD, the place where Christ was crucified.

2. The recovery of the Cross on which Jesus Christ was crucified from the Persians by the armed forces of the Byzantine Empire (Eastern Roman Empire) in 627 AD


On the spot where the Cross was discovered, St. Helen had found a hitherto unknown flower of rare beauty and fragrance, which has been named "Vasiliko," or Basil, meaning the flower of royalty.

Note that the word "Vasiliko" means "of the King," since the word "Basileus" in Greek means "King"; so, the plant Vasiliko, Basil, is tied to the Precious Cross of the King of Glory, our Lord Jesus Christ. Underneath the Basil, the Cross of Christ was found, but with it were the other two crosses, those used to crucify the two thieves on either side of Christ. The sign with the inscription, "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews", also lay among the three crosses.

In order to determine which one was the true cross, a sick woman was told to kiss each of the three crosses. The woman kissed the first cross with no result. She kissed the second cross and again nothing happened. However, when the ailing woman kissed the True Cross, she was immediately made well.

It so happened that a funeral procession was passing that way, and so the body of the dead man was placed on each of the crosses, and when it was placed on the True Cross, the dead man came to life — thus the name the “Life-Giving” Cross, which gives life not only to that man, but to each person who believes in the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross and His all-glorious three day Resurrection.

When the true Cross was identified, it was lifted on high for all the people to see, who then continually sang Kyrie eleison (Lord, have mercy), a practice which is still enacted at current celebrations of this feast.

Emperor Constantine ordered to build the temple of The Resurrection in Jerusalem commemorating the event.

Spiritual theme

The Church teaches that it is Christ's cross that saves. One cannot take up his own cross and follow Christ unless one has Christ's cross which he took up to save mankind. Partaking of this tree, one will no longer die (separated), but will be kept in unity with Christ.


We adore the tree of Thy Cross, O Lover of mankind; for Thou wast nailed thereon, O life of all, and didst open paradise, Thou Savior of the thief, who, having confessed Thee, became worthy of bliss, crying, Remember me, O Lord. Receive us, therefore, as Thou received him, as we cry to Thee, We have all sinned. By Thy compassion, turn not away from us.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
By the mere planting of Thy Cross, O Christ, the foundation of death did shake; for Him Whom Hades did swallow eagerly, it delivered up with trembling; for verily, Thou didst reveal to us Thy salvation, O holy One. Wherefore, we glorify Thee, O Son of God, and have mercy upon us.
Both now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.

Joshua the son of Nun, O my Savior, in ancient times did foreshadow Thy Cross mystically as he openly stretched forth his arms in the form of a cross, and the sun stood still until he destroyed the enemies opposed to Thee, O God. But now the sun hath grown dark, since he hath seen Thee upon the Cross abolishing the might of death and taking Hades captive.


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