top of page

Exaltation of the Holy Cross

We bow to Your Cross, O Lord and we praise Your holy resurrection.

Note: The "Feast of the Exaltation Of The Cross" is Saturday, September 14th, 2019

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Glory to Jesus Christ! Dear brothers and sisters!

Icon of the Exaltation Of The Cross
Icon of the Exaltation Of The Cross

What does Holy Cross for us, for Christians?

For the Jews, the cross was a tree of shame and for the Romans it was an instrument of execution. But for the Christians the cross became the symbol of victory and salvation, an object of special veneration. The Primitive Church provides us with sufficient and definite evidence of the veneration of the Holy Cross.

In the fourth century, Saint Helena went looking for the cross on which Christ died. When the true cross of Jesus was found shortly afterwards, this event was commemorated on the same day. In 395, St. John Chrysostom wrote of three crosses which were discovered beneath Golgotha by the Empress Helena. Many other writers speak of miracles which occurred through contact with the true cross. It was through one of these miracles that the true cross was recognized by St. Helena and St. Macarius, the Bishop of Jerusalem.

The Holy Cross was kept in the Basilica of the Resurrection in Jerusalem until 614, when the Persians conquered the city and burned the church. In 628, Emperor Heraclius III defeated the Persians and returned the Holy Cross to Jerusalem. A portion of the cross was taken to Rome in the seventh century by Sergius I, a Pope of Byzantine origin. Until the XIII century, the Exaltation of the Holy Cross was reserved to the Cathedral churches since they usually had the Relics of the True Cross.

It was only in 1276 that the Ritual of the Exaltation was permitted to be introduced into all churches, even in those in the small villages. Thus, by natural development, in those churches where they had no Relics of the True Cross, they used an ordinary wooden cross, a crucifix, for the ceremony. Being a symbol of victory – Christ’s victory over the devil and over sin and death – the cross was crowned or decorated with laurels, garlands and flowers and accompanied by lighted candles during the exposition. According to liturgical custom, the Cross used for veneration in our churches should be a wooden cross, since it is a symbol of the “life-giving tree”. The decorations should have branches of basil or some other fragrant herbs to symbolize the sweet fragrance of the spiritual life secured for us by the Cross.

The ceremony of the exposition of the Holy Cross takes place during the Great Doxology of the Matins. Completing this ceremony, the celebrant places the Holy Cross on the tetrapod and intones the hymn of veneration: “We bow to Your Cross, O Lord, and we praise Your holy resurrection!” during which all the faithful make a profound bow. The Holy Cross remains on the tetrapod for public veneration throughout the entire week during which the hymn of veneration: “We bow to Your Cross, O Lord, …” is sung at the Divine Liturgy in place of the Trisagion.

The Cross calls to mind Christ’s suffering and death that He was willing to endure to save us from eternal death. Through the Cross and Christ’s Resurrection, we have been granted eternal life. The Cross continues to be a great sign for all Christians. We begin our prayers with the sign of the Cross, and we pray in front of the Cross in our homes and churches. The sign of the Cross reminds us that Jesus Christ saved us and He blesses us, His inheritance.

Fr. Myroslav Dumych

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page