Procession of the Cross
The Procession of the Precious Wood of the Life-giving Cross of the Lord is commemorated by the Church on August 1. It is the first of the three "Feasts of the Savior" in August. (The second is the great feastday of the Transfiguration, and the third is the Translation of the Image Not-Made-by-Hands on August 16.)
About the feast
It became a tradition to carry the wood of the Venerable Cross through the streets of Constantinople for the sanctification of the city starting in the beginning of August. This was done because illnesses were more common in August at that time. On the eve of the feast, it was taken out of the imperial treasury, and laid upon the altar of the Great Church of Hagia Sophia. From this Feast until the Feast of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos, they carried the relic of the Cross, throughout the city in procession, offering it to the people to venerate.
The Baptism of Rus', was done on this day in 988. So in the Russian Church, the Lesser Blessing of Water has became a part of the celebration of this feast.
Celebration of the feast
Currently, this minor feast day may not be liturgically celebrated at many local parishes unless it falls on a Sunday. And even then there may not be a cross set up in the center of the church to venerate, as on the Great Feast of the Elevation of the Holy Cross on September 14, or the Sunday of the Holy Cross the third Sunday of Great Lent.
Like these two other feasts, the epistle reading is from I Corinthians 1:18-24, and says that "the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." The gospel reading is taken from John 19:6-11, 13-20, 25-28, and 30-35 together. This long reading is the passion account.
If there is a Lesser Blessing of Waters, the epistle reading is from Hebrews 2:11-18, and the Gospel is John 5:1-4.
- O Lord, save Your people,
- And bless Your inheritance!
- Grant victories to the Orthodox Christians
- Over their adversaries.
- And by virtue of the Cross,
- Preserve Your habitation!
Kontakion ( Tone 4)
- As You were voluntarily crucified for our sake,
- Grant mercy to those who are called by Your name;
- 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!