May. 3, 2021



Rank: Double of the II Class.


This is the noblest of all trees, and is placed in the midst of Paradise: It is the Cross, dazzling in its exceeding beauty, which Helen, the mother of Constantine, sought after with all the ardour of her soul. On it, the Author of our salvation vanquished, by his own Death, the death of all men, alleluia.

He that overcame mankind by a Tree, was overcome by a Tree.

O great work of mercy! Death then died, when life died on the Cross. Alleluia.


The Roman Church has the following Responsories and Antiphons in her Office for this Feast. They are full of unction, and breathe a fragrance of antiquity.

℟. Holy Church celebrates the glorious day whereon was found the triumphant Wood,
*On which our Redeemer broke the bonds of death, and overcame the crafty serpent, alleluia.

℣. Hanging on this Wood, the Word of the Father found the way of our salvation.
*On which our Redeemer broke the bonds of death, and overcame the crafty serpent, alleluia.

℟. This is the noblest of all trees, and is placed in the midst of Paradise:
*On it, the Author of our salvation vanquished, by his own Death, the death of all men, alleluia.

℣. It is the Cross, dazzling in its exceeding beauty, which Helen, the mother of Constantine, sought after with all the ardour of her soul.
*On it, the Author of our salvation vanquished, by his own Death, the death of all men, alleluia.

℟. Man's faith in Christ was strengthened, when the sacred pledge was revealed to him by heaven:
*The divine prodigies that, of old, were prefigured in the rod of Moses, were renewed, alleluia.

℣. The dead rose again by the contact of the Cross, and the wondrous works of God were made manifest.
*The divine prodigies that, of old, were prefigured in the rod of Moses, were renewed, alleluia.

Ant. Save us, O Saviour Christ, by the power of the Cross! O thou that didst save Peter on the waters, have mercy on us, alleluia.

Ant. Behold the Cross of the Lord! flee, ye his enemies, for the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath conquered, alleluia.

Ant. O Tree, loftier than all cedars! whereon hung the Life of the world, and Christ triumphed, and Death conquered death for ever, alleluia.

Ant. O Cross! Brighter than all stars, honoured throughout the world, beloved by men, holiest of holy things that alone wast worthy to bear the ransom of the world! O sweet Wood! O sweet Nails! that bore so sweet a Weight!—save the people assembled here, this day, to sing thy praise! Alleluia, alleluia.

Prayer (Collect).

O God, who, in the miraculous discovery of the holy Cross, wast pleased to renew the wonders of thy passion: grant, by the ransom paid on that saving wood, we may find help for the obtaining life eternal. Who livest and reignest, world without end. Amen.


It was most just that our Divine King should show himself to us with the sceptre of his power, to the end, that nothing might be wanting to the majesty of his empire. This sceptre is the Cross; and Paschal Time was to be the Season for its being offered to him in glad homage. A few weeks back, and the Cross was shown to us as the instrument of our Emmanuel's humiliation, and as the bed of suffering whereon he died; but, has he not, since then, conquered Death? and what is his Cross now, but a trophy of his victory? Let it then be brought forth to our gaze; and let every knee bend before this sacred Wood, whereby our Jesus won the honour and praise we now give him!

On the day of his Birth at Bethlehem, we sang these words of the Prophet Isaias: A Child is born unto us, and a Son is given unto us, and his government is upon his shoulder. (Isaias, ix. 6) We have seen him carrying this Cross upon his shoulder, as Isaac carried the wood for his own immolation; but now, it is no longer a heavy burthen. It is shining with a brightness that ravishes the eyes of the Angels; and, after having received the veneration of man, as long as the world lasts, it will suddenly appear in the clouds of heaven, near the judge of the living and the dead,—a consolation to them that have loved it, but a reproach to such as have treated it with contempt or forgetfulness.

Our Saviour did not think the time between his Resurrection and Ascension a fitting one for glorifying the Instrument of his victory. The Cross was not to be brought into notice, until it had subjected the world to Him whose glory it so eloquently proclaimed. Jesus was three days in the tomb; his Cross is to lie buried unknown to men, for three centuries: but it is to have its Resurrection, and the Church celebrates this Resurrection to-day. Jesus would, in his own good time, add to the joy of Easter by miraculously revealing to us this sacred monument of his love for mankind. He intrusts it to our keeping,—it is to be our consolation,—as long as this world last: is it not just, that we should love and venerate it?

Never had Satan's pride met with a humiliation like that of his seeing the instrument of our perdition made the instrument of our salvation. As the Church expresses it in her Preface for Passiontide: “he that overcame mankind by a Tree, was overcome by a Tree” Thus foiled, he vented his fury upon this saving Wood, which so bitterly reminded him, both of the irresistible power of his Conqueror, and of the dignity of man who had been redeemed at so great a price. He would fain have annihilated the Cross; but knowing that this was beyond his power, he endeavoured to profane it, and hide it from view. He therefore instigated the Jews to bury it. At the foot of Calvary, not far from the Sepulchre, was a deep hole. Into this was the Cross thrown, together with those of the two Thieves, the Nails, the Crown of Thorns, and the Inscription, or Title, written by Pilate. The hole was then filled up with rubbish and earth, and the Sanhedrim exulted in the thought of its having effaced the memory of the Nazarene, who could not save himself from the ignominious death of the Cross.

Forty years after this, Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans,—the instruments of God's vengeance. The Holy Places were desecrated by the idolators. A small temple to Venus was erected on Calvary, and another to Jupiter over the Holy Sepulchre. By this, the pagans intended derision; whereas, they were perpetuating the knowledge of two spots of most sacred interest. When peace was restored under Constantine, the Christians had but to remove these pagan monuments, and their eyes beheld the holy ground that had been bedewed with the Blood of Jesus,—and the glorious Sepulchre. As to the Cross, it was not so easily found. The sceptre of our Divine King was to be raised up from its tomb by a royal hand. The saintly Empress Helen, Constantine's Mother, was chosen by heaven to pay to Jesus,—and that, too, on the very spot where he had received his greatest humiliations,—the honours which are due to him as the King of the world. Before laying the foundations of the Basilica of the Resurrection, this worthy follower of Magdalene and the other holy women of the Sepulchre was anxious to discover the Instrument of our Salvation. The Jews had kept up the tradition of the site where it had been buried: the Empress had the excavations made accordingly. With what holy impatience must she not have watched the works! and with what ecstacy of joy did she not behold the Redeeming Wood, which, though not, at first, distinguishable, was certainly one of the three Crosses that were found! She addressed a fervent prayer to the Saviour, who alone could reveal to her which was the trophy of his victory; the Bishop, Macarius, united his prayers with hers; and their faith was rewarded by a miracle, that left them no doubt as to which was the true Cross.

The glorious work was accomplished, and the Church was put in possession of the instrument of the world's Redemption. Both East and West were filled with joy at the news of this precious discovery, which heaven had set on foot, and which gave the last finish to the triumph of Christianity. Christ completed his victory over the Pagan world, by raising thus his Standard,—not a figurative one, but his own real Standard,—his Cross, which, up to that time, had been a stumbling-block to the Jews, and foolishness to the Gentiles; but before which every Christian is, henceforth, to bend his knee.

Helen placed the Holy Cross in the Basilica that had been built by her orders, and which covered both the glorious Sepulchre and the hill of the Crucifixion. Another Church was erected on the site, where the Cross had lain concealed for three hundred years, and the Faithful are enabled, by long flights of steps, to go down into the deep grotto, which had been its tomb. Pilgrims came, from every part of the world, to visit the hallowed places, where our Redemption had been wrought, and to venerate the sacred Wood of the Cross. But God's merciful providence willed not that the precious pledge of Jesus’ love for mankind should be confined to one only Sanctuary, however venerable it might be. Immediately after its discovery, Helen had a very large piece cut from the Cross; and this fragment she destined for Rome, the new Jerusalem. The precious gift was enshrined in the Basilica built by her son Constantine in the Sessorian garden, and which was afterwards called the Basilica of Holy-Cross-in-Jerusalem.

By degrees, other places were honoured by the presence of the Wood of the Holy Cross. So far back as the 4th Century, we have St. Cyril of Jerusalem attesting that many of the Pilgrims used to obtain small pieces of it, and thus carried the precious Treasure into their respective countries; and St. Paulinus of Nola, who lived in the same Century, assures us that these many gifts lessened not the size of the original Relic. In the 6th Century, the holy Queen, St. Radegonde, obtained from the Emperor Justin 2nd a large piece from the fragment that was in the imperial treasury of Constantinople. It was for the reception of this piece of the True Cross into France, that Venantius Fortunatus composed the Vexilla Regis [see below],—that beautiful Hymn which the Church uses in her Liturgy, as often as she celebrates the praises of the Holy Cross. After several times losing and regaining it, Jerusalem was, at length, for ever deprived of the precious Relic. Constantinople was a gainer by Jerusalem's loss. From Constantinople, especially during the Crusades, many Churches of the West procured large pieces. These again supplied other places; until, at length the Wood of the Cross was to be found in almost every town of any importance. There is scarcely to be found a Catholic, who, some time or other in his life, has not had the happiness of seeing and venerating a portion of this sacred object. How many acts of love and gratitude have not been occasioned by this? And who could fail to recognise, in this successive profusion of our Jesus’s Cross, a plan of divine providence for exciting us to an appreciation of our Redemption, on which rest all our hopes of eternal happiness?

How dear, then, to us should not this day be, which blends together the recollection of the Holy Cross and the joys of the Resurrection of that Jesus, who, by the Cross, has won the throne to which we shall soon see him ascend! Let us thank our Heavenly Father for his having restored to mankind a treasure so immensely precious as is the Cross. Until the day comes for its appearing, with himself, in the clouds of heaven, Jesus has intrusted it to his Spouse, as a pledge of his second Coming. On that day, he, by his divine power, will collect together all the fragments; and the Tree of Life will, then, gladden the Elect with its dazzling beauty, and invite them to eternal rest beneath its refreshing shade.


The Liturgy gives us the following history of the great event we are celebrating to-day.

After the great victory gained over Maxentius by the Emperor Constantine, under the standard of our Lord’s Cross, which had been miraculously shown to him,—Helen, his mother, was told in a dream to repair to Jerusalem and search for the true Cross. Upon her arrival, she ordered to be taken down a marble statue of Venus, which had been erected by the Pagans, some hundred and eighty years before, in order that all memory of our Lord’s Passion might be obliterated. She did the same for the place where there reposed the Saviour’s Crib, as also for the site of the Resurrection; removing from the former an idol of Adonis, and from the latter an idol of Jupiter.

The place, where the Cross was supposed to be, having been excavated, three crosses were discovered at a great depth below the surface; and with them, though not attached, the Title that had been fastened to our Lord's Cross. The doubt as to which of the three Crosses the Title belonged was removed by a miracle. After having prayed to God, Macarius, the Bishop of Jerusalem, applied each of the Crosses to a woman, who was afflicted with a dangerous malady. The first two produced no result; the third was then applied, and the woman was restored to perfect heath.

The Holy Cross being thus found, Helen built a magnificent Church in Jerusalem, in which she placed a portion of the Cross, enshrined in a silver case; the remaining part she took to her son Constantine, and it was put in the Church called Holy-Cross-in-Jerusalem, which was built on the site of the Sessorian palace. She also took to her son the Nails, wherewith the most holy Body of Christ Jesus had been fastened to the Cross. Constantine passed a law, that from that time forward, a cross should never be used as an instrument of punishment; and thus, what hitherto had been an object of reproach and derision, became one of veneration and glory.


Both the Eastern and Western Churches abound in Liturgical compositions in honour of the Holy Cross. We offer our readers a selection from these, beginning with the glorious verses of Venantius Fortunatus.


Behold the royal ensigns fly
Bearing the Cross’s mystery:
Where life itself did death endure,
And by that death did life procure.

A cruel spear let out a flood
Of water mix’d with saving blood:
Which, gushing from the Saviour’s side,
Drown’d our offences in the tide.

The mystery we now unfold,
Which David’s faithful verse foretold,
Of our Lord’s kingdom: whilst we see
God ruling nations from a tree.

O lovely tree, whose branches wore
The royal purple of his gore!
How glorious doth thy body shine,
Supporting members so divine!

The world’s blest balance thou wert made,
Thy happy beam its purchase weigh’d,
And bore his limbs, who snatch’d away
Devouring hell’s expected prey.

Hail, Cross, our hope! On thee we call
Who keep this glorious festival:
Grant to the just increase of grace,
And ev’ry sinner’s crimes efface.

Blest Trinity, we praises sing
To thee, from whom all graces spring:
Celestial crowns on those bestow,
Who conquer by the cross below. Amen.

℣. This sign of the cross shall appear in the heavens.
℟. When the Lord shall come to judge.

Prayer (Collect).

O God, who, in the miraculous discovery of the holy Cross, wast pleased to renew the wonders of thy passion: grant, by the ransom paid on that saving wood, we may find help for the obtaining life eternal. Who livest and reignest, world without end. Amen.


Another account of the Invention or Discovery of the Holy Cross.

A.D. 326

God having restored peace to his church , by exalting Constantine the Great to the imperial throne, that pious prince, who had triumphed over his enemies by the miraculous power of the Cross, was very desirous of expressing his veneration for the holy places which had been honoured and sanctified by the presence and sufferings of our blessed Redeemer on earth. He accordingly came to a resolution to build a magnificent church in the city of Jerusalem, as the place which had been most honoured by the presence, the instructions and miracles, of the Son of God. St. Helena, the emperor's mother, out of a desire of visiting the holy places there, undertook a journey into Palestine in 326, though at that time near eighty years of age: and on her arrival at Jerusalem, was inspired with a great desire to find the identical cross on which Christ had suffered for our sins. But there was no mark or tradition, even amongst the Christians, where it lay. The heathens, out of an aversion to Christianity, had done what they could to conceal the place where our Saviour was buried. They had heaped upon it a great quantity of stones and rubbish, besides building a temple to Venus; that those who came thither to adore him, might seem to pay their worship to a marble idol representing this false deity. They had moreover erected a statue of Jupiter in the place where our Saviour rose from the dead, as we are informed by St. Jerom; which figure continued there from the emperor Adrian's time to Constantine's: which precautions of the persecutors shew the veneration which Christians paid from the beginning to the instruments of our Redemption. Helena, being willing to spare no pains to compass her pious design, consulted all people at Jerusalem and near it, whom she thought likely to assist her in finding out the cross; and was credibly informed, that if she could find out the sepulchre, she would likewise find the instruments of the punishment; it being always the custom among the Jews to make a great hole near the place where the body of the criminal was buried, and to throw into it whatever belonged to his execution; looking upon all these things as detestable objects, and which for that reason ought to be removed out of sight. The pious empress therefore ordered the profane buildings to be pulled down, the statues to be broken in pieces, and the rubbish to be removed; and upon digging to a great depth, they discovered the holy sepulchre, and near it three crosses, also the nails which had pierced our Saviour's body, and the title which had been fixed to his cross. By this discovery, they understood that one of the three crosses was that which they were in quest of, and that the other two belonged to the two malefactors between whom our Saviour had been crucified. But, whereas the title was found separate from the cross, a difficulty remained to distinguish which of the three was that on which our Divine Redeemer consummated his sacrifice for the salvation of the world. In this perplexity the holy bishop Macarius, knowing that one of the principal ladies of the city lay extremely ill, suggested to the empress to cause the three crosses to be carried to the sick person, not doubting but God would discover which was the cross they sought for. This being done, St. Macarius prayed that God would have regard to their faith, and after his prayer, applied the crosses singly to the patient, who was immediately and perfectly recovered by the touch of one of the three crosses, the other two having been tried without effect. St. Helena, full of joy for having found the treasure which she had so earnestly sought and so highly esteemed, built a church on the spot, and lodged it there with great veneration, having provided an extraordinary rich case for it. She afterward carried part of it to the emperor Constantine, then at Constantinople, who received it with great veneration: another part she sent or rather carried to Rome, to be placed in the church which she built there, called Of the Holy Cross of Jerusalem, where it remains to this day. The discovery of the Cross must have happened about the month of May, or early in the spring. For St. Helena went the same year to Constantinople, and from thence to Rome, where she died in the arms of her son, on the eighteenth of August, 326, as Pagi demonstrates, from Eusebius and Gothefridus. The title was sent by St. Helena, to the same church in Rome, and reposited on the top of an arch, where it was found in a case of lead, in 1492, as may be read at length in Bozius. The inscription in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin is in red letters, and the wood was whitened. Thus it was in 1492; but these colours are since faded. Also the words Jesus and Judæorum are eaten away. The board is nine, but must have been twelve inches long.

The main part of the cross St. Helena inclosed in a silver shrine, and committed it to the care of St. Macarius, that it might be delivered down to posterity, as an object of veneration. It was accordingly kept with singular care and respect in the magnificent church which she and her son built, in Jerusalem. See the lives of St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Saint Porphyrius of Gaza, &c. St. Paulinus, in his epistle to Severus, relates, that though chips were almost daily cut off from it and given to devout persons, yet the sacred wood suffered thereby no diminution. It is affirmed by St. Cyril of Jerusalem, twenty-five years after the discovery, that pieces of the cross were spread all over the earth: he compares this wonder to the miraculous feeding of five thousand men, as recorded in the gospel. Read Gretzer On the Cross. The stately church, which Constantine the Great built at Jerusalem, the rich ornaments of which are mentioned by Eusebius, was called The Basilic of the Holy Cross, because it possessed this precious treasure; the keeper of which was always a venerable priest. It was shewn publicly to the people, at Easter. The same was also called the church of the sepulchre, or of the resurrection; though this was properly only the title of the holy chapel in it which stood over the sepulchre or cavern, in which our Saviour was buried, which was in the garden adjoining to Mount Calvary; so that this great church covered the sepulchre, and was extended so far on Mount Calvary as also to include the rock Golgotha, and the very place where the cross of Christ stood at his crucifixion. This extensive building was inclosed within the walls of Jerusalem, when that city was rebuilt. Constantine also built a church upon Mount Olivet, over the spot from which our Saviour ascended into heaven. This place was venerated by Christians from the very time of his death, as much as the fear of their enemies would permit. And this may account for the industry of the Pagans in filling up the sepulchre or cavern with stones, heaping rubbish over it to a considerable height, and setting up the most infamous of their idols, over it, that the Christians might seem to worship a Venus, when they came hither to pay their homage to Jesus Christ. We find the Festival of the Invention, or the discovery of the Cross solemnized in the Latin church ever since the fifth or sixth in century. The finding of the cross by St. Helena, happened in the year of our Lord 326, in the twenty-first year of Constantine's reign, the thirteenth of the pontificate of Sylvester, and the first after the council of Nice. The feast of the Exaltation of the Cross was kept in May, from the time that it was triumphantly placed by St. Helena in the church at Jerusalem, upon its discovery in 326, which continued to the year 335, when the great church of the Resurrection was built at Jerusalem by the orders of Constantine the Great, and dedicated on the thirteenth of September that year, as St. Sophronius, (Or. de Exalt. S . Crucis in Bibl. Patr. Colon. t. 7.) Nicephorus, and the Typic of St. Sabas mention. The Cross was exalted or set up in that church the day following, which was Sunday. Hence both the Greeks and Latins kept this feast on the fourteenth of September; and St. Chrysostom's death is related to have happened on this festival. After the recovery of the Cross by Heraclius, this festival began to be kept in the Eastern church with greater solemnity and a fast. At Jerusalem the Cross was shewn to the people to be adored on Easter Monday, and also in the middle of Lent, as we learn from St. Sophronius, St. Paulinus, &c. In the Latin church, this was celebrated on the third of May; whether this was the day of the Discovery of the Cross by St. Helena, or of Constantine's vision or victory, or of the dedication of the church of the Holy Cross in Rome, is uncertain.

The cross was chosen by our dear Redeemer to be the glorious instrument of his victory and triumph over the devil and sin; and by his death thereon he has purchased for us redemption, grace, and glory. The cross is his holy standard, under which all his followers fight his battles; and, according to the holy fathers, will be borne before him in a triumphant manner, when he shall come in glory to judge the world. The church professes a very high regard, and veneration for this mysterious and salutary sign, giving it an honourable place in her churches, making frequent use of it in her holy offices, in the administration of the sacraments, and on many other occasions: in which particulars she imitates the earliest and purest ages of Christianity. It is the remark of St. Jerom, “that if the ark was held in such high veneration among the Jews, how much more ought the Christians to respect the wood of the cross, whereon our Saviour offered himself a bleeding victim for our sins?” By devoutly respecting the sign of the cross, we profess our faith in Christ, who was crucified for us; we excite our hope in his merits, kindle his love in our breasts, renew the remembrance of his sacred death, and inflame our meditations on his adorable passion, in which we learn all virtue and all spiritual knowledge. What obedience are we here taught? seeing Christ himself learned obedience from those things which he suffered (Heb, v. 8). What love of God and our neighbour? seeing Jesus has sprinkled his cross with his blood to seal his new alliance of charity, and to inculcate his own law and a new commandment. What patience do we here learn? What meekness and humility? the two things which Jesus commands us particularly to learn of him. And it is on the cross and in his sacred passion that he has principally set us the most moving example, and pressed upon us the most endearing precepts of these virtues. Whence, assiduous meditation on the sufferings of Christ, is the great school of Christian perfection. All the saints found in it their comfort and their joy; in it they continually feasted their souls with the most sweet fruits of love and devotion; in it they learned to die perfectly to themselves, and entered into the sentiments of Christ crucified: here they stirred up their souls to perfect compunction; and placing themselves in spirit under the cross of their Divine Redeemer, they offered their tears and earnest supplications to the Father, through the Son, who made himself our sacrifice on this tree: I have seated myself under the shade of him whom I desired, and his fruit was sweet to my palate (Cant, ii. 3). Where did St. Bernard learn his eminent spirit of devotion but in the meditation on Christ's sufferings? Where did the glorious St. Austin glean his spiritual science but, as he himself tells us, in the wounds of his Redeemer? It was in them that the admirable St. Francis conceived his seraphic ardours. St. Thomas Aquinas studied his sacred science and virtue in the book of the cross, and always had recourse to God at the foot of the crucifix. “Saint Bonaventure seems,” says St. Francis of Sales, “when he writes the spiritual breathings of his heart, all inflamed with love; to have no other paper than the cross, no other pen than the lance, no other ink than what is dipped in of the precious blood of Christ. With what feeling sentiments did he cry out: It is good always to abide in spirit before the cross. Let us make to ourselves three tabernacles in the wounds of our crucified Redeemer, one in his feet, another in his hands, a third in his sacred side. Here will I rest; here will I watch; here will I read; here will I converse.” St. Paul, who was very learned, esteemed all his all his other science as nothing, and looked on the knowledge of Jesus Christ crucified as his only learning. I judged not myself to know anything among you but Jesus Christ, and him crucified (I Cor, ii. 2). By being instructed in this mystery, and having the sentiments of Christ crucified deeply impressed upon his heart, he knew all that he wished to know: it was his only solicitude and desire, daily to improve himself in this one science. The same apostle, in the transport of his ardent love of the cross, cried out, God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ (Gal, vi. 14). To glory in a thing is to love it, to esteem it, to place in it our greatness and happiness. Every one glories in those things in which he places his greatness, as St Thomas says – The sacred passion of Christ is the source of all our happiness and good, and the perfect model and school of all virtue. If it be the tender object of our devotion, if we love, and desire always to meditate on our Redeemer crucified for us, the sacred instrument of his triumph, the ensign and trophy of his precious victory, and the principal emblem of his sufferings, which it represents to us, and strongly paints before our eyes, must be always dear and most amiable to us.


From the Liturgical compositions produced by the Greek Church in honour of the Holy Cross, we select the following Canon, or Hymn, written by St. Theodore the Studite.


This is a day of joy! At Christ's Resurrection, death disappeared, and life was seen in all its splendour. Adam, who rises again, exults with joy. Let us, therefore, rejoice and sing our hymn of triumph.

The day for the adoration of the precious Cross has arrived. Come, all ye Faithful! It is exposed before us, and it sends forth the bright rays of Christ's Resurrection. Filled, therefore, with spiritual joy, let us embrace and kiss it.

O Cross of my Lord, thy glory is immense! Show me now the divine face of thy beauty. Vouchsafe that I, who venerate thee, may sing thy praises. I speak with thee as though thou wert a living thing, and I embrace thee.

Let heaven and earth unite in singing its praise, for the most holy Cross is shown to all,—the Cross on which Christ was fastened and sacrificed. Let us joyfully approach and kiss it.

The saintly Moses of old prefigured thy Cross, Christ, when, dividing the waters with his rod, he led the Israelite people through the Red Sea, and sang a canticle of praise to thee in celebration of the going forth from Egypt.

Thy Cross, O Lord, which we kiss to-day, was prefigured by Moses, when he stretched forth his arms; by it, we put our spiritual Amalec to flight; by it, also, we are saved.

To-day, there is joy in heaven and on earth, because there shines upon the world the sign of the thrice blessed Cross. Its sight is a source of unceasing grace to us.

What return shall we make to thee, O Christ, for thy having permitted us to adore thy venerable Cross, on which thy most holy Blood was shed, and to which thy Flesh was fastened with nails? We kiss it, and give thee thanks.

The Angelic hosts exult with joy, because of the adoration of thy Cross; for on it, Christ, thou woundedst the demon troop and savedst mankind.

The Church has been made a second Paradise, which, like the first, possesses a Tree of Life,—thy Cross, O Lord,—by whose contact, we are made immortal.

The prophecy of the Psalmist is fulfilled: for lo! we adore the footstool of thy divine feet,—thy venerable Cross, the much loved Wood.

The Wood, which Jeremias saw put in thy bread, is thy Cross, O merciful Redeemer! We kiss it, and honour thy Chains, and Tomb, and Spear, and Nails.

On this day, a sweet fragrance is exhaled from the thurible of heaven,—the Cross, perfumed with a life-giving ointment. Let us inhale its heavenly wafted breeze; let us ever venerate it with faith.

Tell us, O Eliseus! what is the Wood thou didst put in the water? It is the Cross of Christ, which drew us from the depths of spiritual death. Let us ever venerate it with faith.

Jacob, of old, prefigured thy Cross, O Christ, when he adored the top of Joseph's mysterious rod. He foresaw that it was to be the venerable sceptre of thy kingdom. Let us now adore it, with ever faithful hearts.

The great prophet Daniel, when cast into the lions’ den, stretched forth his hands in the form of a Cross; he was saved from the jaws of the wild beasts, and for ever blessed Christ our God.

Let all the trees of the forest sing a glad hymn, for on this day, they behold one of themselves, the Tree of the Cross, being honoured with kisses and embraces. This is the Tree whose head was lifted up by Christ, as holy David foretold.

I, whose death was caused by a tree, have found thee, Tree of Life, O Cross that bearest Christ! Thou art my invincible defence, my power protecting me against Satan. I venerate thee this day, and exclaim: “Sanctify me by thy glory!”

Rejoice and be glad, O Church of God, that adorest this day, the thrice blessed Wood of the most Holy Cross, round which the very Angels stand ministering in awe.

Taken from: The Liturgical Year – The Paschal Time, Vol. II, Dublin, Edition 1871;
The Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Other Principal Saints, Vol. V, 1821; and
The Divine Office for the use of the Laity, Volume I, 1806.


May 3, 2021: Ss. Pope Alexander, Eventius, Theodulus, and Juvenal.


By the sign of the Cross, deliver us, O our God, from all our enemies.

Behold the Cross of the Lord, fly you his adversaries: the lion of the tribe of Juda, the offspring of David, hath overcome.