Elevation of the Holy Cross

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The Elevation of the Cross

The Elevation of the Holy Cross is one of the Great Feasts of the Orthodox Church, celebrated on September 14. This feast is also referred to as the Exaltation of the Cross. This is also a popular name day for Stavroula/Stavros (from "stavros" meaning cross).

This feast commemorates two events:

  • The finding of the Cross by the Empress Helen (the mother of St. Constantine the Great) on Golgotha, the place where Christ was crucified. When the true Cross was identified, it was lifted on high for all the people to see, who then continually sang Kyrie eleison, a practice which is still enacted at current celebrations of this feast.
  • The recovery of the Cross on which Jesus Christ was crucified from the Persians. The Persians had captured it as a prize of war in Jerusalem, and it was recovered by the forces of the Eastern Roman Empire ("Byzantine Empire"). The cross was joyously held up for veneration by the Christian faithful upon its recovery.

This is one of the two feast days which is held as a strict fast. The other is the commemoration of the Beheading of John the Forerunner on August 29.

Hymns

Troparion (Tone 1) [1]

O Lord, save Your people,
And bless Your inheritance.
Grant victories to the Orthodox Christians
Over their adversaries.
And by virtue of Your Cross,
Preserve Your habitation.

Kontakion (Tone 4)

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.

Instead of the Trisagion

Before Thy Cross we bow down in worship, O Master, and Thy holy Resurrection we glorify. (Thrice)
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.

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