Elevation of the Holy 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.
In the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, this feast (called Mesqel) is the most significant feast-day after Pascha and Christmas. The faithful light bonfires to commemorate St. Helen's bonfire that revealed the Holy Cross, and burn daisies to symbolize the incense that descended upon the location of the Cross.
- O Lord, save Thy people,
- And bless Thine inheritance.
- Grant victory to the Emperor [or "Thy people" or "the Orthodox Christians"]
- Over the barbarians, [or "their enemies"]
- And by the power of Thy Cross
- Preserve Thy commonwealth. [or "estate" or "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.
- The Universal Exaltation of the Precious and Life-Giving Cross - GOARCH web site
- The Universal Exaltation of the Precious and Life-Giving Cross - OCA web site
- Elevation of the Cross - The Orthodox Faith, by the V. Rev. Thomas Hopko