June 24, 2024

Exaltation of the Holy Cross

September 14

For the Jews, the cross was a tree of shame and for the Romans it was an instrument of execution. But for Christians, the cross became a symbol of victory and salvation.

Ancient historian Eusebius described how in the early 2nd century the site of the Crucifixion had been covered with earth and a temple of Venus constructed above. The true cross was discovered in the early fourth century during excavating operations there and at a nearby site, the future Basilica of the Resurrection (Church of the Holy Sepulchre).

St. Helena sent part of the Holy Wood to her son, Emperor Constantine the Great; another part was sent to the church in Rome, while the greatest part remained in Jerusalem. In 614 Persians conquered Jerusalem and removed the True Cross. It was recovered in 628 by Emperor Heraclius III, who defeated the Persians and returned the Cross to Jerusalem, where on September 14 a second solemn celebration of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross took place.