"Hail the Cross, our only Hope."
This is the exclamation which rises in the hearts of Christians today, as we celebrate the blessed Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross.
Originally, the relic of the Holy Cross was placed on Mount Calvary by St. Helena, the Roman Emperor Constantine's mother. However, the precious relic fell into the hands of the Persians during the early 7th century. Thankfully, 15 years later the Holy Cross was returned to Jerusalem by Emperor Heraclius, and it is this joyous occasion of which we celebrate today.
As the legend goes, the Emperor carried the Cross back to Jerusalem on his shoulders, clothed in riches and costly attire. But at the entrance to Mt. Calvary, he was unable to moved forward. The Bishop of Jerusalem informed the Emperor he might consider taking on a garb more closely resembling Jesus carrying His Cross. The Emperor then put on a penitential garb and was able to continue to Mt. Calvary.
"It is truly meet and just, right and for our salvation, that we should at all times, and in all places, give thanks unto Thee, O holy Lord, Father almighty, everlasting God: Who didst establish the salvation of mankind on the tree of the Cross: that whence death came, thence also life might arise again, and that He, who overcame by the tree, by the tree also might be overcome." - Preface of the Holy Cross
Faithful Cross, among all, You are the noblest tree ...
Sweetest wood and sweetest nails, Sustaining so sweet a Load
- Crux Fidelis: Hymn for Good Friday