From Calvary to the whole world with our eyes fixed on Jesus: the Exaltation of the Holy Cross

18/09/2017
September 14 at Calvary is a great feast: the solemnity of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross is celebrated on this day. In Jerusalem, the Franciscan friars led the liturgy in the Chapel of the Crucifixion, which called for red colored vestments. The priestly garments were red, like the blood of the passion of Christ, who died on the cross for the redemption of the world.
The feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross has ancient origins: it was celebrated for the first time in 335 and in the following centuries it also absorbed the commemoration of the Invention (or Finding) of the True Cross by the Emperor Heraclius in 628, from the hands of the Persians. In reality, however, the recurrence was not related to this event, but to the consecration of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem.
This feast is one of the most important ones linked to the Lord’s Cross, along with the May 7 feast of the Invention (or Finding) the Holy Cross by St. Helen and to that of Adoration of the Cross during the Good Friday liturgy. Today only in Jerusalem (and in a few other places where it is still popular tradition) is the Feast of the Invention of the Cross still celebrated, while the Exaltation on September 14 is still commemorated all over the world.
At the heart of the feast is Christ’s sacrifice of dying on the cross. Christ on the cross suffered the most horrible suffering and through this he taught us how to love: to give life.

The Custodial Vicar, Fr. Dobromir Jazstal, spoke in his homily about the meaning of the solemnity: “These very arms that are open and ready to embrace the whole world, both believers and nonbelievers, and that give everyone the same opportunity to think about the path of life that they have carried out. We must confront it with his supreme love, capable of renewing ourselves as men and disciples.” It is before Jesus’ cross that communication between heaven and earth is established, and between God, who saves, and man, who in need of salvation. “Jesus on the cross says a few words, yet he speaks to everyone,” continued the Custodial Vicar. Here on Calvary and in any place in the world where our glance is fixed upon the cross, one can perceive only his silence that offered consolation to the afflicted, a hope for those who felt the weight of the world on their shoulders, strength for anyone who was tempted. Looking at the cross, we are offered another opportunity to renew ourselves, to convert and and to be reborn.”

At the end of the celebration, the relic of the Holy Cross was brought in procession to the chapel of St. Mary Magdalene, where one by one, the faithful had the opportunity to venerate it. The hymn to the cross, Vexilla Regis, accompanied this solemn moment. During the mass, Fr. Cyrillie, a friar of the Custody, renewed his temporary vows. Having arrived in Jerusalem just a few days to study theology at the international theological seminary, he comes from Togo. “I am really happy to renew my vows on this feast of the Invention of Jesus’ cross,” he commented. “Kissing the cross means commemorating his cross; it is a moment of joy.”
“This is the first time that I attend a celebration of the Custody of the Holy Land and I was very touched,” said a pilgrim from Italy, who came with her husband and a group of faithful.
Huda, an elderly parishioner from St. Savior’s, never misses a celebration. “This is my church and I want to be there,” she said.


Beatrice Guarrera


2017-09-14