What is the Feast of the Holy Cross?
Helena was a Christian, a leader in the Roman Empire, and the mother of Constantine, the first Christian Emperor of Rome. She was born sometime around the year 250; and we think she died around the year 330. She was faithful, energetic, and resolute.
When she was about seventy, soon after Constantine became emperor, Helena made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem to see where the story had begun.
At Calvary, the hilltop just outside the city limits where Jesus was crucified, Helena and her associates built a church called the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Though it has changed much over the centuries, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre remains on that site. During the excavation for the foundation, they discovered a remnant of what was believed to be the cross upon which Christ had been crucified.
A few years after Helena’s death, on September 13th in the year 335, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre was prayed over and sanctified and was made a church sanctuary. The next day…September 14…the remnants of the cross she had found were taken up, and taken out of the building, and brought out into the city to be among the people. The cross was taken out of the church building, and into the community. Some people of the city kissed it; some prayed before it; some were simply reminded, by its presence, of the One who loves us completely and forever.
Ever since, September 14th has been known as Holy Cross Day.
On Holy Cross Day, we remember with special intention the power of the cross to transform and make new. We are reminded of how Easter follows all of our Good Fridays; and how life and hope, through the mercy of God, always prevail. We celebrate the healing found in the cross of Christ, and the expanse of the Lord’s reach; for there is room for everyone at the foot of the cross.
And so it is your friends with the Episcopal Church of the Cross bid you a blessed Feast of the Holy Cross.
Almighty God, whose Son our Savior Jesus Christ was lifted high upon the cross that he might draw the whole world to himself: Mercifully grant that we, who glory in the mystery of our redemption, may have grace to take up our cross and follow him; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.
-The Prayer for Holy Cross Day from the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer