Today is the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. St. Helena had found it and placed it on Mt. Calvary, but Chosroas, King of the Persians, took it. Emperor Heraclius returned it to Jerusalem in 629. While scouring the web for art to use in the Live Twitter Rosary Threads (also see the Rosary Project posted here on the blog), I found a painting of the scene (see image above), but I didn’t know what it was at the time. The story goes (and I’m not implying that it’s a mere story) that the Emperor was attempting to return the Holy Cross—well, here, let me let the folks over at Catholic Culture tell it.
“The lessons from the Breviary tell us that Emperor Heraclius carried the Cross back to Jerusalem on his shoulders. He was clothed with costly garments and with ornaments of precious stones. But at the entrance to Mt. Calvary a strange incident occurred. Try as hard as he would, he could not go forward. Zacharias, the Bishop of Jerusalem, then said to the astonished monarch: “Consider, O Emperor, that with these triumphal ornaments you are far from resembling Jesus carrying His Cross.” The Emperor then put on a penitential garb and continued the journey.”The Liturgical Year, September 14, Exaltation of the Holy Cross, CatholicCulture.org.
The day is also known as the Triumph of the Cross.
“This day is also called the Exaltation of the Cross, Elevation of the Cross, Holy Cross Day, Holy Rood Day, or Roodmas. The liturgy of the Cross is a triumphant liturgy. When Moses lifted up the bronze serpent over the people, it was a foreshadowing of the salvation through Jesus when He was lifted up on the Cross. Our Mother Church sings of the triumph of the Cross, the instrument of our redemption. To follow Christ we must take up His cross, follow Him and become obedient until death, even if it means death on the cross. We identify with Christ on the Cross and become co-redeemers, sharing in His cross.”Ibid.
There’s more at their post. Worth taking a look.
A good devotional practice, especially for this day, would be the Stations of the Cross. After I learned to pray the Rosary with a CD by Dana and Fr. Kevin Scallon (may he rest in peace) while I was working at the Catholic bookstore, Dana and Fr. Kevin released a CD for the Stations, too. I thought the Rosary CD was lovely but the music for the Stations was/is truly hauntingly beautiful. This track will give you a taste of it so you’ll see (or hear) what I mean.
Video: Dana and the late Fr. Kevin Scallon, Stations of the Cross, the 12th Station, Track: Jesus dies on the Cross.
Thank you for visiting and reading. Until next time, whoever and wherever you are, please stay safe and well, and virtuous and holy. May the Lord bless and keep you and yours, and may His peace be always with you. +JMJ+
Notes and Links
- Exaltation of the Holy Cross, The Liturgical Year, September 14, CatholicCulture.org.
- The Rosary, by Dana and Fr. Kevin Scallon: CD. (Amazon affiliate link. See Full Disclosure below for more.)
- Stations of the Cross, by Dana and the late Fr. Kevin Scallon. CD. MP3 Album. (Amazon affiliate links. See below for more.) At least some tracks also available on YouTube. Here’s the 12th Station.
Images: 1) Emperor Heraclius Recovers the Holy Cross: Shown is the version by an unknown artist in the manner of Scarsellino. Public domain. Several different versions of this scene may be seen at Wikimedia. 2) Christ Crucified, by Diego Velázquez. Both are from Wikimedia and in the public domain. (I edited the color of he first one and added text to the second one.)
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