Monday, September 14, 2020

Exaltation of the Holy Cross

Today's the Feast of the Holy Cross and Christians everywhere, if they think about it all, scratch their heads and ask why September 14th?

Because the Eastern Roman Emperor Heraclius returned the Cross to its rightful place in Jerusalem's Holy Sepulchre on September 14, 629 AD. Where had the most holy relic in Christendom been until then? With the pagan Persians who, under their King Chosroes II waged war against Constantinople, capturing Jerusalem and the Cross in 608, along with much of the rest of Asia Minor.

However, despite near total defeat, Heraclius, possibly the last classical Roman Emperor, launched a successful campaign against the Persians, defeating Chosroes in 627 at the battle of Nineveh and advancing on his capital, Ctesiphon. 

Chosroes was subsequently overthrown and killed by his bloodthirsty son Kavad, who gave the Cross to Heraclius in a gesture of goodwill. And so the Wood on which hung the Saviour of the World returned to the Holy City. Restored on the same day as the Church of the Holy Sepulchre's consecration, September 14th.

Legend has it that Heraclius attempted to carry the Cross into Jerusalem in his bejeweled regalia but was mysteriously unable to move forward. The city's Patriarch, advised by an angel, put matters right; the Emperor must proceed in sackcloth, barefoot, and he did.

So the Cross came back to the Sepulchre. Within a few short decades it faced another enemy, Islam, which arose like a storm from the East and swept both Persian and Byzantine empires before it.

O GOD, who by the passion of thy blessed Son hast made the instrument of shameful death to be unto us the sign of life and peace: Grant us so to glory in the Cross of Christ, that we may gladly suffer shame and loss; for the sake of the same thy Son 
our Lord. Amen.

God Bless,


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