We Adore You, O Christ, and We Praise You.
Because by Your Holy Cross, You have redeemed the world.
This ancient feast honors the cross, as the instrument of Christ’s redemption of the world. The cross disappeared after the Crucifixion and was discovered by St. Helena, mother of Constantine, around the year 327 while she was on pilgrimage to Jerusalem. She actually found three crosses. To determine which one was actually Christ’s cross she asked a very sick girl to touch each cross. When the girl touched the third cross she was healed instantly! That was the cross of Christ! On the site of the discovery, a beautiful church was built. The Church of the Holy Sepulcher or the Church of the Resurrection still stands today.
St. Helen’s son, Constantine was not yet a Christian. However, when he was about to go to war he had a vision of the cross and heard the words “In this sign you shall conquer!” He had crosses drawn on all the flags and shields and he won the battle. He then believed and became a Christian.
Tradition holds that sweet basil (the herb of kings) grew all over the hill where St. Helena found the Holy Cross. In Greece, the faithful are given sprigs of basil by the priest to honor this special day. We will have sliced tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and fresh basil (from my garden) marinated in olive oil and balsamic vinegar with dinner tonight.
We will also celebrate with a cross-shaped cake for dessert and read The Queen & the Cross: The Story of Saint Helen (Tales and Legends) by Cornelia Mary Bilinsky and The Tale of Three Trees: A Traditional Folktale by Angela Elwell Hunt.