September 14: The feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross

We should glory in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, for he is our salvation, our life and our resurrection: through him we are saved and made free (Introitus).

Cima da Cornegliano 1459-1517, Santa Helena, National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross celebrates two historical events: the discovery of the True Cross by Saint Helena, the mother of the Emperor Constantine in 320, and the dedication in 335 of the basilica and shrine built on Calvary by Constantine, which mark the site of the Crucifixion.

The basilica was destroyed by the Persians in 614. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre which now stands on the site was built by the crusaders in 1149.

However, the feast, more than anything else, is a celebration and commemoration of God's greatest work: his salvific death on the Cross and His Resurrection, through which death was defeated and the doors to Heaven opened.