Tuesday, September 9, 2014
Finding the Cross
Coming up this weekend is the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. St. Helen encouraged her son, the Emperor Constantine to build some churches and shrines in Jerusalem on the site of the Crucifixion and burial of Jesus. They were dedicated in 335 AD.
There are many conflicting stories about how the true Cross was found. One that I heard as a child very much impressed me. During the excavation for the building of the churches, St. Helen found three crosses in a cistern. To determine which was the Cross on which Jesus died, she had a Jerusalem woman who was dying brought to the site and laid on the crosses. When she was laid on the third cross, she recovered her health.
In Butler's Lives of the Saints, after recounting a number of legends, the author says that probably the Holy Cross with the title (that Pilate had put above Jesus' head) was found during the excavations. The author adds, "What is certain in the whole matter is that from the middle of the fourth century reputed relics of the true cross were spread through the world."
What the feast celebrates is, not only Jesus being lifted up on the cross, but God raising Jesus into glory.