Skip to main content

Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross

Tuesday, September 14, 2021


September 14th marks the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross in the Catholic Church. This day celebrates the finding of the Holy Cross on which Jesus was crucified. Queen St. Helena, the mother of Emperor Constantine, went on pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 320. Her mission was to build churches in the locations associated with the most important events in the life of Jesus, as well as to find the cross upon which Jesus was crucified. When St. Helena arrived in Jerusalem, there was a pagan temple to the Roman goddess Venus over Calvary which was ordered to be destroyed by the emperor. As the workers dismantled the structure and reached the foundation, they broke into a cistern which contained three crosses. One of these was determined to be the True Cross of Jesus. Afterwards, two churches were built, the Basilica of the Anastasis over the tomb of Jesus to honor His Resurrection, and the Basilica of the Martyrium over Calvary to honor His crucifixion. Both were dedicated on September 13, 335. On September 14, 335, the True Cross was lifted by Bishop Macarius before the crowd. It was venerated with great devotion and then enshrined in the Martyrium. 



It may seem a bit absurd that Catholics honor the cross upon where Jesus died. Regardless of what may seem foolish or odd, the Church recognizes that it was necessary for Christ to suffer and die on the cross prior to His Resurrection to fulfill the ultimate plan of our Father for our salvation. The world, at the time when Jesus was crucified, saw the cross as the ultimate symbol of death; yet, Christ turned it into the ultimate symbol of hope through which we are saved. 

Some have also stated that the cross represents all of our individual obstacles, weaknesses and pains which Jesus carried for us. In times of great suffering, when WE carry our crosses in life, it is good to reflect on how Jesus not only carried His cross with dignity, but He also helps us to carry our crosses.  


Historical reference: 

Van Sloun, Fr. Michael. “The Exaltation of the Holy Cross.” The Catholic Spirit. Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.September 11, 2020. (accessed September 8, 2021).