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The Day of The Exaltation of the Precious Cross

Exaltation of the Venerable and Life-Giving Cross of the Lord

Finding of the Cross

The cross was found by the mother of Emperor Constantine the Great, Empress Helena, who had come toPalestine, and Bishop Makarios of Jerusalem (314 - 333). Excavations had uncovered the cave of the Holy Sepulchre and three crosses were found not far from it. A sick woman was laid on each cross one at a time and the Cross of Christ was identified when she was healed. According to another tradition, a dead man came back to life after coming into contact with the cross as he was borne along the street for burial (hence the name Life-Giving Cross). Holy Empress Helen commemorated the places involving the earthly life of the Savior, founding more than 80 churches, including one at the place of Christ’s Nativity in Bethlehem, one on the Mount of Olives where the Lord ascended into heaven, one in Gethsemane where the Savior prayed before His sufferings and one wherethe Mother of God was buried after Assumption. St. Helen brought back with her to Constantinople ​​a part of the Life-Giving Tree and the nails. Equal to the Apostles Emperor Constantine ordered a majestic and vast church to be erected in Jerusalem to honor the Resurrection of Christ, which included in itself the Holy Sepulchre and Golgotha. The construction of the temple took almost 10 years. St. Helena did not live to see the consecration of the temple, she died in 327. The church was consecrated on September 13, 335. The next day, September 14, was established as the day to celebrate the Exaltation of the Venerable and Life-Giving Cross.

Return of the Cross

Another event associated with the Cross of the Lord is commemorated on this day – its return to Jerusalem from 14 years of captivity in Persia. In a war against the Greeks, the Persian king Hozroy II defeated the Greek army, plundered Jerusalem and took captive the Life-Giving Cross of our Lord and Patriarch Zacharias (609 - 633). The Cross remained in Persia for 14 years and only during the reign of Emperor Heraclius (610 - 641), who defeated Hozroy, with the help of God, and then made peace with his son, was the sacred Cross of the Lord returned to Christians.