Exaltation of the Holy Cross Icon

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Orthodox Icon of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.

Commemorated September 14th.

After 300 years under the Emperor Constantine the Great (306-337), Life-Creating Cross and the Holy Sepulcher were again discovered and opened for veneration. Desiring to find the Holy Cross, St Constantine sent his mother Helen (May 21), to Jerusalem, giving her a letter to St Macarius, Patriarch of Jerusalem. Upon arrival she gave orders to destroy the pagan temple and the statues in Jerusalem. It was an elderly Hebrew by the name of Jude who showed her that the Cross was buried where the temple of Venus stood.

They demolished temple and began to excavate the ground. Soon the Tomb of the Lord was uncovered. Not far from it were three crosses, a board with the inscription ordered by Pilate, and four nails which had pierced the Lord's Body. To determine which of the three crosses was Jesus crucified, Patriarch Macarius alternately touched the crosses to a corpse. When the Cross of the Lord touched, he came to life.

This con everyone was convinced that the convinced everyone that the Life-Creating Cross was found. A large number of Christians came to venerate the Holy Cross, beseeching St Macarius to elevate the Cross, so that even those far off might reverently contemplate it. The Patriarch with other spiritual leaders raised up the Holy Cross, and the people, cried out Lord have mercy and reverently prostrated before it.

Helen journeyed to other holy places connected with the earthly life of the Jesus, building more than 80 churches, including one at Bethlehem the birthplace of Christ, and on the Mount of Olives where the Lord ascended to Heaven, and at Gethsemane where the Savior prayed before His sufferings and where the Mother of God was buried after her death. Part of the Life-Creating Cross and nails were taken by Helen to Constantinople. Constantine built a large church in honor of the Resurrection of Christ, also including under its roof the Life-Giving Tomb of the Lord and Golgotha.

The temple was constructed in about ten years. St Helen fell asleep in the Lord before the dedication of the temple. The church was consecrated on September 13, 335. On the following day, September 14, the festal celebration of the Exaltation of the Venerable and Life-Creating Cross was established.