Saint Helen, the mother of Saint Constantine the Great, when she was already advanced in years, undertook, in her great piety, the hardships of a journey to Jerusalem in search of the cross, about the year 325. A temple to Aphrodite had been raised up by the Emperor Hadrian upon Golgotha, to defile and cover with oblivion the place where the saving Passion had been suffered. The venerable Helen had the statue of Aphrodite destroyed, and the earth removed, revealing the Tomb of our Lord, and three crosses. Of these, it was believed that one must be that of our Lord, the other two of the thieves crucified with Him; but Saint Helen was at a loss which one might be the Wood of our salvation. At the inspiration of Saint Macarius, Archbishop of Jerusalem, a lady of Jerusalem, who was already at the point of death from a certain disease, was brought to touch the crosses, and as soon as she came near to the Cross of our Lord, she was made perfectly whole. Consequently, the precious Cross was lifted on high by Archbishop Macarius of Jerusalem; as he stood on the ambo, and when the people beheld it, they cried out, “Lord have mercy.” It should be noted that after its discovery, a portion of the venerable Cross was taken to Constantinople as a blessing. The rest was left in Jerusalem in the magnificent church built by Saint Helen, until the year 614. At that time, the Persians plundered Palestine and took the Cross to their own country (see Jan. 22, Saint Anastasius the Persian). Late, in the year 628, Emperor Heraclius set out on a military campaign, retrieved the Cross, and after bringing it to Constantinople, himself escorted it back to Jerusalem, where he restored it to its place.
A Fast is observed today, whatever day of the week it may be.
Feast Day: September 14
Apolytikion in the First Tone
Lord, save Your people and bless Your inheritance, granting our rulers to prevail over adversaries, and protecting Your commonwealth by Your Cross.
Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
Lifted up on the Cross by Your free will, Christ God, grant mercies to the new commonwealth that bears Your name. Gladden our faithful rulers by Your power, giving them victories over their adversaries. May Your alliance be for them a weapon for peace, an invincible standard.
Video: Feast of the Exaltation of the Honorable Cross in Jerusalem. Patriarchal Divine Liturgy which took place for the feast of the Universal Exaltation of the Honorable Cross, on the exact spot where the Honorable Cross was discovered by St.Helen in 326 AD. near the Church of the Resurrection and the Holy Sepulchre.
Signing the Cross:
In signing the cross, we proclaim our faith in the Incarnation of Christ and the redemption of man.
We start from up and go down, then from left to right. When we go from up to down, we remember how our Lord Jesus Christ descended from heaven and took flesh from the Holy Virgin Mary, and condescended to share our flesh to save us. When we move our hands from left to right, we remember how He died for us and how he brought us from the left hand side (symbol of distance frm God) to the right hand side (symbol of being with God).
*Satan is fearful of the cross. Through the cross, our Lord defeated all the plots of Satan and forgave the sins of all of us. Whenever Satan is reminded of this, he becomes afraid, as is evident in the stories of our holy fathers the monks who used this sign to fight off devils.
*Lastly, the cross is a symbol of the second coming of Christ.
Concerning the end of the world, the Bible states, “..then the sign of Man (the cross) will appear in heaven..”(Matthew 24:30).