Monday, September 14, 2009

Exaltation of the Cross

ON THIS FEAST day, Catholics can most properly display the Cross of Christ empty, without a corpus.

In A.D. 326, Saint Helena, mother of the Emperor Constantine, re-discovered the Cross of Christ and the Holy Sepulcher, which had remained hidden for centuries under a pile of rubble — but the location was remembered by local Christians and was venerated. This feast day marks the dedication of a basilica church built by Helena on that spot as well as the first public veneration of the Cross there.

Legend says that basil was growing on the spot over the hidden Cross, and so figures into ancient customs of this feast day.

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