During the excavation of the site for the Basillica of the Holy Sepulcher, which was built over the traditionally recognized site of Jesus' tomb, three crosses were found. They determined which one was Our Lord's cross when a dying woman touched one of the crosses and she was healed.
The Holy Cross has been an object of veneration ever since its discovery in the early 4th century. The feast day is celebrated on the anniversary of the dedication of the Basillica of the Holy Sepulcher.
Capture of the Holy Cross by the Persians
In 614 AD the Persians had captured the Holy Cross and taken it back to Persia. In 627 Emperor Heraclius won a decisive victory over the Persians and recovered the True Cross. As the story goes, when the True Cross was returned to Jerusalem the Emperor wanted to carry it in himself, but could make no forward progress. The Bishop of Jerusalem said to him that he was not as an emperor and not as a humble servant. Heraclius then put on common clothes, picked up the True Cross and carried it into Jerusalem where it was placed at the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher.
"How splendid the cross of Christ! It brings life, not death; light, not darkness; Paradise, not its loss. It is the wood on which the Lord, like a great warrior, was wounded in hands and feet and side, but healed thereby our wounds. A tree has destroyed us, a tree now brought us life" (Theodore of Studios).
Exaltation of the Holy Cross Novena
If you begin this novena on September 6th, it will conclude on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.
Jesus, Who because of Your burning love for us willed to be crucified and to shed Your Most Precious Blood for the redemption and salvation of our souls, look down upon us and grant the petition we ask for ...( mention here)
We trust completely in Your Mercy. Cleanse us from sin by Your Grace, sanctify our work, give us and all those who are dear to us our daily bread, lighten the burden of our sufferings, bless our families, and grant to the nations, so sorely afflicted, Your Peace, which is the only true peace, so that by obeying Your Commandments we may come at last to the glory of Heaven.
On the "Ordinary" Soapbox again:
Through several other articles (see list) you may have seen that this is one of my "missions" and that is to raise awareness of how EXTRA-ordinary the season is after Pentecost. According to the modern lectionary this season is "Ordinary Time," yet we have many very EXTRA-ordinary celebrations during this season! Traditionally the season was called "Ordinal Time" which means "Counting Time" - when we count the weeks after Pentecost. The modern lectionary also combines this ordinal season with the season after Epiphany, further diminishing the deeper meanings of both seasons - which are anything BUT "ordinary." I hope you'll join me in encouraging the bishops to go back to calling this "Ordinal Time" and separating the weeks after Epiphany from the weeks after Pentecost.