Monday, September 14, 2009

Exaltation of the Cross

Today is the feast day of the Exaltation of the Cross. I particularly like Miguel Arias' write-up on this moment in Christian history in "Palabra, Vida Y Fe" so here it is in English:

The devotion to the Holy Cross on which our Lord Jesus Christ died began with the early Christians. This feast was instituted after Emperor Heraclius recovered the Cross on which Our Lord died because it has been stolen by the Persians in the 7th century. When he got it back, Heraclius, dressed in all his regal splendor, wanted to carry the Cross on his shoulders up to Calvary, but he could not. Zacharias, the Patriarch of Jerusalem, told him that in order to carry Christ's Cross, he had to get rid of all his wealth and worldly power. So, barefoot and without his crown, Heraclius carried the Cross of Our Lord to Calvary, to the Basilica of the Resurrection, that was consecrated on September 14, 335.

In his personal reflection on the feast, Arias comments: "The path and the victory of Our Lord is not through weapons or violence, but through peace and faithfulness to the Cross, to the suffering that brings true liberation. The Cross is not a defeat, it is the victory of the vanquished. Jesus' victory is our victory."

Photo: Painting of the Exaltation of the Cross by Spanish painter Juan de Valdés Leal, Getty Museum. A barefoot Heraclius presents the Cross to the Patriarch of Jerusalem.

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