September 14


The Feast of the Universal Exaltation of the Precious and Life-Giving Cross is celebrated each year on September 14. The Feast commemorates the finding of the True Cross of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ by Saint Helen, the mother of the Emperor Constantine.


In the twentieth year of his reign (326), the Emperor Constantine sent his mother Saint Helen to Jerusalem to venerate the holy places and to find the site of the Holy Sepulchre and of the Cross. Relying upon the oral tradition of the faithful, Saint Helen found the precious Cross together with the crosses of the two thieves crucified with our Lord. However, Helen had no way of determining which was the Cross of Christ.

With the healing of a dying woman who touched one of the crosses, Patriarch Macarius of Jerusalem identified the True Cross of Christ. Saint Helen and her court venerated the Precious and Life-Giving Cross along with many others who came to see this great instrument of Redemption.

Exaltation of the Holy CrossThe Patriarch mounted the ambo (pulpit) and lifted the Cross with both hands so that all of the people gathered could see it. The crowd responded with "Lord have mercy".

This became the occasion of the institution in all of the Churches of the Exaltation of the Precious Cross, not only in memory of the event of the finding of the Cross, but also to celebrate how an instrument of shame was used to overcome death and bring salvation and eternal life.

The Feast is an opportunity outside of the observances of Holy Week to celebrate the full significance of the victory of the Cross over the powers of the world, and the triumph of the wisdom of God through the Cross over the wisdom of this world. This Feast also gives the Church an opportunity to relish the full glory of the Cross as a source of light, hope and victory for Christ's people. It is also a time to celebrate the universality of the work of redemption accomplished through the Cross: the entire universe is seen through the light of the Cross, the new Tree of Life which provides nourishment for those who have been redeemed in Christ.

Icon of the Feast

The icon of the Feast of the Precious Cross tells the story of the finding of the Cross and of its Exaltation. Patriarch Macarius is standing in the pulpit elevating the Cross for all to see and venerate (1 & 2). On each side of the Patriarch are deacons holding candles (3). The elevated Cross is surrounded and venerated by many clergy and lay people, including Saint Helen, the mother of Emperor Constantine (4).

In the background of the icon is a domed structure that represents the Church of the Resurrection in Jerusalem. This church was one of the churches constructed and dedicated by Emperor Constantine on the holy sites of Jerusalem.


Orthodox Christian Celebration of the Feast of the Universal Exaltation of the Precious and Life-Giving Cross

This Feast of our Lord is celebrated with the Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom, which is conducted on the day of the feast and preceded by the Matins service. A Great Vespers is conducted on the evening before the day of the feast.

On the day of the Feast at the conclusion of the Matins or of the Divine Liturgy, a special service is held. The Cross is placed on a tray surrounded by branches of basil and is taken in solemn procession through the church to the chanting of the Hymn of the Feast. The tray is placed on a table, and the priest takes the Cross and offers petitions from each side of the table, the four directions of the compass. This represents the universal nature of the offering of Christ upon the Cross. As the people respond by chanting "Lord have mercy", the priest raises and lowers the cross, a commemoration of its finding and exaltation. At the conclusion of the service, the people come and venerate the cross and receive the basil from the priest. The basil is used and offered, as it was the fragrant flower growing where the Cross was found.

Scripture readings for the Feast of the Cross are the following: At Vespers: Exodus 15:22-16:1; Proverbs 3:11-18; Isaiah 60:11-16. At the Orthros (Matins): John 12:28-36. At the Divine Liturgy: I Corinthians 1:18-24; John 19:6-11, 13-20, 25-28, 30-35.


The Incarnate God: The Feasts of Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary, Catherine Aslanoff, editor and Paul Meyendorff, translator (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1995).

Festival Icons for the Christian Year by John Baggley (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 2000), pp. 111-115.

The Festal Menaion translated by Mother Mary (South Canaan, PA: St. Tikhon’s Seminary Press, 1969) pp. 50-51.

Orthodox Saints, Vol. 3, by Fr. George Poulos (Brookline: Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 1991), pp. 193-194.

The Synaxarion: The Lives of the Saints of the Orthodox Church, Vol. 1, by Hieromonk Makarios of Simonos Petra (Ormylia: Holy Convent of the Annunciation of Our Lady, 1998), pp. 101-102.

Icons of the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross provided by Athanasios Clark and used with permission. 

Photograph from the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross provided by Tzetsis Photography and used with permission. 



Αρχιεπισκοπική Εγκύκλιος για την εορτή της Υψώσεως του Τιμίου Σταυρού

Ἀριθμ.  Πρωτ. 34/19

14 Σεπτεμβρίου 2019

Ἡ Παγκόσμιος Ὕψωσις τοῦ Τιμίου καὶ Ζωοποιοῦ Σταυροῦ

Πρὸς τοὺς Σεβασμιωτάτους καὶ Θεοφιλεστάτους Ἀρχιερεῖς, τοὺς Εὐλαβεστάτους Πρεσβυτέρους καὶ Διακόνους, τοὺς Μοναχοὺς καὶ Μοναχές, τοὺς Προέδρους καὶ τὰ Μέλη τῶν Κοινοτικῶν Συμβουλίων, τοὺς Ἐντιμολογιωτάτους Ἄρχοντες τοῦ Οἰκουμενικοῦ Πατριαρχείου, τὰ Ἡμερήσια, Ἀπογευματινὰ καὶ Κατηχητικὰ Σχολεῖα, τὶς Φιλοπτώχους Ἀδελφότητες, τὴν Νεολαία, τὶς Ὁμογενειακὲς Ὀργανώσεις καὶ τὸ Χριστεπώνυμο πλήρωμα τῆς Ἱερᾶς Ἀρχιεπισκοπῆς Ἀμερικῆς.

Προσφιλεῖς Ἀδελφοὶ ἐν Χριστῷ,

Καθὼς τιμοῦμε τὴν τρισευλογημένη ἑορτὴ τῆς Ὑψώσεως τοῦ Τιμίου καὶ Ζωοποιοῦ Σταυροῦ, διατρανώνουμε ἐν ὕμνοις τὴν πίστη μας καὶ μαρτυροῦμε τὸν εὐαγγελικὸ λόγο πρὸς ὅλον τὸν κόσμο, ὅτι «Σταυρὸς ἀνυψούµενος, τοῦ ἐν αὐτῷ ὑψωθέντος, τὸ πάθος τὸ ἄχραντον, ἀνυµνεῖν προτρέπεται κτίσιν ἅπασαν» (Στιχηρὸν τοῦ Ἑσπερινοῦ). Σήμερα, ὡς Χριστιανοὶ Ὀρθόδοξοι, ὑψώνουμε τὸν Σταυρὸ ὡς σημεῖο τῆς νίκης καὶ ὡς ἀκαταμάχητη ἀσπίδα. Ὑψώνουμε τὸν Σταυρὸ τοῦ Κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, διακηρύσσοντας τὴν σωτηρία ἡ ὁποία ἦλθε μέσῳ Αὐτοῦ. Ὑψώνουμε τὸν Σταυρό, ἐπιβεβαιώνοντας ὅτι ἡ ἀγάπη τοῦ Θεοῦ γιὰ ἐμᾶς ὑπερβαίνει τὴν ἰσχὺ τοῦ θανάτου. Ὑψώνοντας  τὸν Σταυρό, ὑψώνουμε τὸν ἴδιο τὸν Χριστό, γιὰ νὰ δεῖ ὁ κόσμος ὅλος τὸν Ἀναστάντα Κύριο καὶ νὰ πιστέψει.

Ἡ σημερινὴ ἑορτὴ τοῦ Τιμίου Σταυροῦ εἶναι πολὺ σημαντικὴ γιὰ ἐμᾶς ὡς Ὀρθοδόξους πιστούς,  ἀλλὰ καὶ ἀποτελεῖ πολὺ ἰδιαίτερη ἡμέρα καὶ γιὰ τὴν Ἱερὰ Ἀρχιεπισκοπὴ Ἀμερικῆς. Κάθε χρόνο, κατὰ τὴν ἑορτὴ αὐτή, ἐπιβεβαιώνουμε τὴν στήριξή μας στὸ ἱερὸ ἔργο τῆς ἀγαπημένης μας Ἑλληνορθόδοξης Θεολογικῆς Σχολῆς τοῦ Τιμίου Σταυροῦ. Κατὰ τὴν εὔσημη αὐτὴ ἡμέρα προσευχόμεθα ὑπὲρ τῶν ἐκεῖ διδασκομένων, διδασκόντων καὶ ἐργαζομένων, παροτρύνοντας τὶς ἐνορίες καὶ τοὺς πιστοὺς νὰ συνδράμουν στὸ ἔργο τῆς Σχολῆς. Προσέτι, προτρέπεσθε νὰ ἐνθαρρύνετε νέους σπουδαστές,  οἱ ὁποῖοι θὰ προέρχονται ἀπὸ τὶς ἐνορίες σας καὶ νὰ δεσμευθεῖτε ὅτι θὰ ἀναδείξετε ἀκόμη περισσότερους ἡγέτες ποὺ θὰ διακονοῦν τὴν Ἐκκλησία μας.

Ἐφέτος ἡ ἑορτὴ βρίσκει τὴν Σχολή μας σὲ μιὰ κρίσιμη καμπὴ στὴν ἱστορία της καὶ καθὼς ὑψώνουμε τὸν Σταυρὸ τοῦ Κυρίου στὶς κοινότητές μας, σᾶς παρακαλῶ νὰ ἀναπέμψετε δεήσεις καὶ ὑπὲρ τῆς Σχολῆς τοῦ Τιμίου Σταυροῦ. Ἔχουμε ἤδη ἐκκινήσει τὴν διαδικασία γιὰ τὴν ἐξεύρευση νέου προέδρου τοῦ ἱδρύματος. Ἐργαζόμεθα ἐπιμελῶς μαζὶ μὲ τὸν Σεβ. Μητροπολίτη Βοστώνης κ. Μεθόδιο καὶ τὴν Ἐφορεία τῆς Σχολῆς γιὰ νὰ ἀντιμετωπίσουμε ζητήματα καὶ προκλήσεις, ὥστε νὰ ἐξακολουθήσει ἡ προσοχή μας νὰ ἑστιάζεται στὴν κατάρτιση κληρικῶν καὶ ἄλλων ἡγετῶν,  οἱ ὁποῖοι θὰ ἀφιερώσουν τὸ ὑπόλοιπο τῆς ζωῆς τους στὴν ὑπηρεσία τοῦ Θεοῦ καὶ τῆς Ἐκκλησίας του. Οἱ προσευχὲς καὶ ἡ στήριξή σας εἶναι ἀναγκαῖες, ὥστε νὰ παραμείνει ἡ εὐλογημένη μας Σχολὴ καὶ ἡ κληρονομία της σὲ σταθερὴ τροχιὰ στὸν χῶρο τῆς ἐκπαίδευσης καὶ στὸ ἔργο τῆς γαλούχησης γενεῶν κληρικῶν.  

Σήμερα ὑποδεχόμεθα τὸν Σταυρὸ μὲ χαρά, διότι ὁ Σταυρὸς μᾶς δόθηκε ὡς φῶς καὶ σωτηρία τῶν ψυχῶν μας. Φωτίζει τὸν δρόμο πρὸς τὴν ἁγιότητα. Μᾶς καθοδηγεῖ στὴν πορεία πρὸς τὴν αἰώνια ζωή, τὴν ὁποία διανύουμε ἐν πίστει. Μέσα στὴ χαρὰ  αὐτὴ  εἴθε νὰ ἑορτάσουμε τὴν εὐεργετικὴ παρουσία τῆς Θεολογικῆς Σχολῆς τοῦ Τιμίου Σταυροῦ, μαζὶ μὲ τὸ τεράστιο ἔργο,  τὸ ὁποῖο προσέφερε καὶ θὰ συνεχίσει νὰ προσφέρει ἀπὸ τὸν ἁγιασμένο λόφο,  ὅπου στέκεται. Ἡ προσφορὰ αὐτὴ συνέβαλε στὴ διάδοση τοῦ Εὐαγγελίου σὲ ὁλόκληρο τὸν κόσμο, στὴ γαλούχηση τῶν πιστῶν στὶς ἐνορίες μας ἀνὰ τὴν ἐπικράτεια καὶ στὴ λειτουργία τῆς Σχολῆς ὡς κοινότητας πνευματικῆς ἀνασυγκροτήσεως, ὡς ἀκαδημίας,  ἡ ὁποῖα προάγει τὴν ἐπιστημονικὴ ἔρευνα μὲ ἀγάπη,  καὶ ὡς φάρου ἀληθείας καὶ χάριτος.

Εἴθε ἡ δύναμη τοῦ Τιμίου Σταυροῦ νὰ σᾶς φυλάττει, τὸ φῶς του νὰ σᾶς καθοδηγεῖ καὶ ἡ ἑορτὴ αὐτὴ νὰ σᾶς ἐμπνέει νὰ ἄρετε τὸν σταυρό σας καθημερινῶς, μὲ τὴν πίστη ὅτι ὁ Θεὸς μᾶς δίδει τὸ νῖκος διὰ τοῦ Κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ. (Α΄ Κορ. ΙΕ΄, 57).


Μετὰ πατρικῆς ἐν Χριστῷ ἀγάπης

  ὁ  Ἀμερικῆς ΕΛΠΙΔΟΦΟΡΟΣ


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Apolytikion (First Tone)

Save, O Lord, Your people and bless Your inheritance; grant victory to the faithful over their adversaries. And protect Your commonwealth, by the power of Your Cross.

Kontakion (Fourth Tone)

You who were lifted upon the Cross of Your own will, O Christ our God, bestow Your compassions upon the commonwealth that bears Your Name. By Your power, gladden our faithful rulers, giving them victory over their adversaries. May your alliance be for them a weapon for peace, an invincible standard.