May 3rd - Finding of the Holy Cross and St. Alexander I
May 3 – Finding of the Holy Cross
Taken from The Liturgical Year by Dom Prosper Gueranger (1841-1875)

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It was most just that our Divine King should show himself to us with the scepter of his power, to the end that nothing might be wanting to the majesty of his empire. This scepter 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 honor 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. We have seen him carrying his 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 Savior did not think the time between his Resurrection and Ascension a fitting one for glorifying the Instrument of his victory. The Cross was not 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 today. 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 entrusts 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 endeavored 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 Sepulcher, 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 Senhedrin 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 Sepulcher. 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 Sepulcher. As to the Cross, it was not so easily found. The scepter of our Divine King was to be raised up from its tomb by a royal band. 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 honors 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 Sepulcher 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 ecstasy 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 Savior, 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 ever 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 Sepulcher 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., other places were honored 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. Redegonde, 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 Vanantius Fortunatus composed the Vexilla Regis,—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, forever 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 a found a Catholic, 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 recognize, in this successive profusion of our Jesus’ 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 entrusted 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 today.

Quote: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 Savior’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 to 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 health.

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.

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


Vexilla Regis prodeunt;
Fulget Crucis mysterium,
Qua Vita mortem pertulit,
Et morte vitam protulit. 

The Standard of our King comes forth: the mystery of the Cross shines upon us—that Cross on which Life suffered death, and by his Death gave life.

Quæ vulnerata lanceæ
Mucrone diro, criminum
Ut nos lavaret sordibus,
Manavit unda et sanguine. 

He was pierced with the cruel Spear, that, by the Water and the Blood, which flowed from the wound, he might cleanse us from sin.

Impleta sunt quæ concinit
David fideli carmine,
Dicendo nationibus:
Regnavit a ligno Deus. 

Here, on the Cross was fulfilled the prophecy foretold in David’s truthful words: “God hath reigned from the Tree.”

Arbor decora et fulgida,
Ornata Regis purpura,
Electa digno stipite
Tam sancta membra tangere. 

O fair and shining Tree! beautified by the scarlet of the King, and chosen as the noble trunk that was to touch such sacred limbs.

Beata cujus brachiis
Pretium pependit sæculi,
Statera facta corporis,
Tulitque prædam tartari. 

O blessed Tree! on whose arms hung the ransom of the world! It was the balance, wherein was placed the Body of Jesus, and thereby hell lost its prey.

O Crux, ave, spes unica,
Paschale quæ fers gaudium,
Piis adauge gratiam,
Reisque dele crimina, 

Hail, O Cross! our only hope, that bringest us the Paschal joy. Increase to the good their grace, and cleanse sinners from their guilt.

Te, fons salutis Trinitas,
Collaudet omnis spiritus.
Quibus Crucis victoriam
Largiris, adde præmium.

May every spirit praise thee, O Holy Trinity, thou Font of salvation! and by the Cross, whereby thou gavest us victory, give us, too, our recompense. Amen.

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.


℟. Gloriosum diem sacra veneratur Ecclesia, dum triumphale reseratur lignum, * In quo Redemptor noster, mortis vincula rumpens, callidum aspidem superavit, alleluia. 
℟. 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.

℣. In ligno pendens nostræ salutis semitam Verbum Patris invenit. * In quo Redemptor noster, mortis vincula rumpens, callidum aspidem superavit, 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.

℟. Hæc est arbor disnissima, in paradisi medio situata, * In qua salutis auctor propria morte mortem omnium superavit, 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.

℣. Crux præcellenti decore fulgida, quam Helena Constantini mater concupiscenti animo requisivit. * In quo salutis auctor propria morte mortem omnium superavit, alleluia. 
℣. It is the Cross, dazzling in its exceeding beauty, which Helen, the mother of Constantine, sought after with all the ardor of her soul. * On it, the Author of our salvation vanquished, by his own Death, the death of all men, alleluia.

℟. Dum sacrum pignus cœlitus revelatur, Christi fides roboratur; * Adaunt prodigia divina in virga Moysi primitus figurata, 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.

℣. Ad Crucis contactum resurgunt mortui, et Dei magnalia reserantur. * Adsunt prodigia divina in virga Moysi primitus figurata, 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. Salva nos, Christe Salvator, per vitutem Crucis; qui salvasti Petrum in mari, miserere nobis, alleluia. 
Ant. Save us, O Savior Christ, by the power of the Cross! O thou that didst save Peter on the waters, have mercy on us, alleluia.

Ant. Ecce Crucem Domini, fugite partes adversæ; vicit leo de tribu Juda, radix David, alleluia. 
Ant. Behold the Cross of the Lord! flee, O ye his enemies, for the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath conquered, alleluia.

Ant. Super omnia ligna cedrorum tu sola excelsior, in qua Vita mundi pependit, in qua Christus triumphavit, et mors mortem superavit in æternum, 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 Crux splendidior cunctis astris, mundo celebris, hominibus multum amabilis, sanctior universis; quæ sola fuisti digna portare talentum mundi: dulce lignum, dulces clavos, dulcia ferens pondera: salva præsentem, catervam, in tuis hodie laudibus congregatam. Allelia, alleluia. 
Ant. O Cross! brighter than all stars, honored 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.

Our Latin Churches of the Middle Ages are fervent in their Hymns in honor of the Holy Cross. The first we select is the celebrated Sequence of Adam of Saint-Victor.


Laudes Crucis attollamus,
Nos qui Crucis exsultamus
Speciali gloria:
Nam in Cruce triumphamus,
Hostem ferum superamus
Vitali Victoria. 

Let us proclaim the praises of the Cross—we who have so special a reason to exult in it; for it is in the Cross that we triumph, and gain the victory of life over our fierce enemy.

Dulce melos
Tangat cœlos;
Dulce lignum
Dulci dignum
Credimus melodia:
Voci vita non discordet;
Cum vox vitam non remordet,
Dulcis est symphonia. 

Let our sweet melodies reach the heavens, for our faith tells us that this sweet Wood is worthy of sweet songs. Oh! let not our life be out of tune with our voice. When our voice is not a reproach to the life we lead, then is our Music sweet.

Servi Crucis Crucem laudent,
Per quam Crucem sibi gaudent
Vitæ dari munera.
Dicant omnes, et dicant singuli:
Ave salus totius sæculi,
Arbor salutifera! 

Let the servants of the Cross praise the Cross, whereby they have been blessed with the gifts of Life. Let each and all thus sing: Hail, thou saving Tree—thou salvation of the world!

O quam felix, quam præclara
Fuit hæc salutis ara
Rubens Agni sanguine,
Agni sine macula,
Qui mundavit sæcula
Ab antiquo erimine! 

O how honored and how grand was this Altar of salvation, that was crimsoned with the Blood of the spotless Lamb, who purified the world from its old antiquity!

Hæc est scala peccatorum,
Per quam Christus, rex cœlorum,
Ad se trahit omnia;
Forma cujus hoc ostendit
Quæ terrarum comprehendit
Quatuor confinia. 

This is the Ladder of sinners, whereby Christ, heaven’s King, draws all things to himself. Its very shape shows that it takes in the four parts of the earth.

Non sunt nova sacramenta,
Nec recenter est inventa
Crucis hæc religio:
Ista dulces aquas fecit;
Per hanc silex aquas jecit
Moysis officio. 

The Cross is not a new mystery, nor does the honor that is paid it date from modern times. It was the Cross that made the bitter waters sweet; it was with the Cross that Moses struck the rock, and made the waters flow.

Nulla salus est in domo,
Nisi Cruce munit homo
Neque sensit gladium,
Nec amisit filium
Quisquis egit talia. 

There was no protection in the house of him who marked not the door-posts with the Cross. But he that so marked them, neither felt the destroying sword, nor lost his first-born son.

Ligna legens in Sarepta
Spem salutis est adepta
Pauper muliercula:
Sine lignis fidei
Nec lecythus olei
Valet, nec farinula. 

The poor woman of Sarephta found her salvation whilst picking sticks. Without the Wood of faith, there is nor oil nor meal.

In Scripturis
Sub figuris
Ista latent,
Sed jam patent
Crucis beneficia;
Reges credunt,
Hostes cedunt;
Sola Cruce,
Christo duce,
Unus fugat millia. 

These were blessings of the Cross, hidden under Scriptural figures, but now made manifest to the world. Kings have embraced the faith, and enemies are put to flight. With the Cross alone, under the leader Christ, one man routs a thousand.

Roma naves universas
In profundum vidit mersas
Una cum Maxentio:
Fusi Thraces, cæsi Persæ,
Sed et partis dux adversæ
Victus ab Heraclio. 

Rome beheld Maxentius and all his fleet drowned in the deep. The Thracians were dispersed, the Persians slaughtered, and the leader of the hostile troops vanquished.

Ista suos fortiores
Semper facit et victores;
Morbos sanat et languores,
Reprimit dæmonia;
Dat captivis libertatem,
Vitæ confert novitatem:
Ad antiquam dignitatem
Crux reduxit omnia. 

The Cross ever gives courage and victory to its soldiers; cures all disease and sickness; checks the devil; sets captives free; gives newness of life; restores all things to their former dignity.

O Crux, lignum triumphale,
Vera mundi salus, vale!
Inter ligna nullum tale
Fronde, flore, germine;
Medicina Christiana,
Salve sanos, ægros sana:
Quod non valet vis humana
Fit in tuo nomine. 

Hail, O Cross, triumphant Wood, the world’s true salvation! No tree can yield such shade or flower or fruit as thine. O Medicine of Christian life! keep the healthy strong, and give health to the sick. What man cannot of his own strength, he can do in thy name.

Assistentes Crucia laudi
Consecrator Crucis, audi,
Atque servos tuæ Crucis
Post hanc vitam, veræ lucis
Transfer ad palatia;
Quos tormento vis servire,
Fac tormenta non sentire;
Sed quum dies erit iræ,
Confer nobis et largire
Sempiterna gaudia. Amen. 

O thou that madest the Cross thus sacred, hear the prayers of them that celebrate the praises of thy Cross. We are the servants of thy Cross—oh! take us, after this life, to the courts of true light. Grant that we who honor the instrument of thy sufferings, may escape the sufferings of hell: and when the day of thy wrath comes, give us to enjoy eternal bliss. Amen.

The following Hymn is taken from the ancient Roman-French Breviaries for this Feast.
Salve Crux sancta, salve mundi gloria,
Vera spes nostra, vera ferens gaudia,
Signum salutis, salus in periculis,
Vitale lignum Vitam portans omnium. 

Hail, Holy Cross! Hail, thou the world’s glory!—our true hope, that bringest us true joy—the standard of salvation—our protection in danger—the living Tree, that bearest Him who is the Life of all!

Te adorandam, te Crucem vivificam,
In te redempti, dulce decus sæculi,
Semper laudamus, tibi semper canimus,
Per lignum servi, per te lignum liberi. 

O sweet charm of life! we, who were redeemed on thee, tire not in praising and hymning thee as the adorable and life-giving Cross. We were made slaves by a tree; by thee, O Tree, were we made freedmen.

Originale crimen necans in Cruce,
Nos a privatis, Christe, munda maculis,
Humilitatem miseratus fragilem,
Per Crucem sanctam lapsis dona veniam. 

Thou, O Christ, didst slay original sin on thy Cross: by thy holy Cross, cleanse us from our own guilty stains, have pity on our human frailty, and grant pardon to them that have fallen.

Protege, salva, benedic, salvifica
Populum cunctum Crucis per signaculum,
Morbos averte corporis et animæ;
Hoc contra signum nullum stet periculum. 

By the sign of the Cross, protect, save, bless, sanctify thy whole people; avert from them every malady of body and mind; let no danger prevail against this sign.

Sit Deo Patri laus in Cruce Filii,
Sit coæqualis laus Sancto Spiritui,
Civibus summis gaudium sit Angelis,
Honor in mundo sit Crucis
Inventio. Amen. 

Praise to God the Father from the Cross of his Son! praise co-equal be to the Holy Ghost! May the Finding of the Cross be a joy to the Angel-Citizens of heaven, and a glory to the world! Amen.

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


Dies lætitiæ est, Christi resuscitatione mors evanuit, vitæ splendor exstitit; Adam resurgens cum gaudio choreas ducit; propterea jubilemus victricia cormina concinentes. 
This is a day of joy! At Christ’s Resurrection, death disappeared, and life was seen in all its splendor. Adam, who rises again, exults with joy. Let us, therefore, rejoice and sing our hymn of triumph.

Advenit dies adorandi pretiosam Crucem; adeste omnes: jaciens enim Resurrectionis Christi lucidos radios, nunc prostat; eam proinde spirituali gaudio pleni amplectamur et exosculemur. 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.

Appareto, o ommensa Domini Crux, ostende mihi nunc divinam faciem venustatis tuæ. Dignare adoratorem, ut præconia tua decantet. Nam ut cum re animata tecum loquor, teque amplector. 
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.

Laudes consona voce decantent cœlum et terra, quia omnibus Crux beatissima proposita est; in qua Christus suo corpore fixus immolatus est; ipsam lætis mentibus osculemur. 
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.

Olim divinus Moyses præfiguravit Crucem tuam, traducens populum Israeliticum per mare rubrum, virga aquis divis; canticum exitus celebrandi gratia tibi, Christe Deus, decantans. 
The saintly Moses of old prefigured thy Cross, O 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.

Quam olim Moyses manibus præfigurabat Crucem tuam nunc osculantes, Amalec spiritalem in fugam vertimus, Domine, per quam etiam salvati sumus. 
Thy Cross, O Lord, which we kiss today, 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.

Hodie gaudium existit in cœlo et terra, quia Crucis signum mundo illuscescit, Crux ter beata; quæ proposita gratiam perennem stillat. 
Today, 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.

Quid tibi Christe retribuemus, quod copiam nobis fecisti venerandam Crucem tuam adorandi, in qua sanctissimus tuus santuis effusus est, cui etiam caro tua clavis est affixa? Quam osculantes gratias tibi persolvimus. 
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.

Hodie choreas cum lætitia ducunt Angelorum ordines ob Crucis tuæ adorationem; in illa enim dæmonum catervas vulnerasti, Christe, humano genere servato. 
The Angelic hosts exult with joy, because of the adoration of thy Cross; for on it, O Christ, thou woundedst the demon troop and savedst mankind.

Alter paradisus effecta est Ecclesia, quæ ut prius, vivificum lignum possidet, nimirum Crucem tuam, Domine; ex cujus contactu immortalitatis participes efficimur. 
The Church has been made a second Paradise, which, like the first, possesses a a Tree of Life—thy Cross, O Lord—by whose contact, we are made immortal.

Impletur Psalmistæ oraculum. Ecce enim adoramus immaculatorum pedum tuorum scabellum, Crucem tuam venerandum, desiderastissimum illud lignum. 
The prophecy of the Psalmist is fulfilled: for lo! we adore the footstool of thy divine feet—thy venerable Cross, the much loved Wood.

Lignum, quod in panem tuum missum vidit Jeremias, Crucem scilicet tuam, o misericors, osculantes celebramus vincula tu, et sepulturam, lanceam et clavos. 
The Wood, which Jeremias saw put in thy bread, is thy Cross, O merciful Redeemer! We kiss it, and honor thy Chains, and Tomb, and Spear, and Nails.

Hac die odorem halant unguenta ex divinis myrotheciis, Crux nimirum vitali unguento delibuta. Odoremur cœlestem, quam halat, auram; eamque cum fide adoremus in sæcula. 
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.

Adesto Helisæe, dic palam, quidnam lignum illud, quod in aquam demisisti. Crux Christi, qua ex profundo interius extracti sumus: eam adoremus fideliter in sæcula. 
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 olim præfigurans Crucem tuam, Christe, adorabat fastigium divinæ virgæ Joseph, prævidens eam esse regni sceptrum tremendum, quam nunc fideliter in sæcula adoramus. 
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 scepter of thy kingdom. Let us now adore it, with ever faithful hearts.

Magnus propheta Daniel missus quondam in lacum leonum, manibus crucis in speciem expansis, incolumis ex faucibus bestiarum evasit, benedicens Christum Deum in sæcula. 
The great prophet Daniel, when cast into the lion’s 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 Lord.

In hymnis exsultent omnia ligna sylvæ intuentia hodierno die ejusdem nominis lignum Crucis osculis et amplexibus honorari, cujus Christus caput exaltavit, ut vaticinatur divinus David. 
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 honored with kisses and embraces. This is the Tree whose head was lifted up by Christ, as David foretold.

Qui in ligno mortuus fueram, lignum vitæ te, Crux Christum ferens, reperi. Custodia mea insuperabilis valida adversus dæmones virtus, te hodie adorans, clamo: Sanctifica me gloria tua. 
I, whose death was caused by a tree, have found thee, O Tree of Life, O Cross that bearest Christ! Thou art my invincible defense, my power protecting me against Satan. I venerate thee this day, and exclaim: “Sanctify me by thy glory!”

Lætare, exsulta, Ecclesia Dei, quæ ter, beatum sanctissimæ Crucis lignum hodie adoras, cui, tamquam ministri, Angelorum ordines etiam cum timore assistunt. 
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.

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Christ Crucified is the power and wisdom of God. Thus spoke thine Apostle, O Jesus! and we are witnesses of the truth of his words. The Synagogue thought to dishonor thee by nailing thee to a Cross, for it was written in the Law: Cursed is he, that hangeth on a tree. But, lo! this gibbet, this Tree of infamy, is become the trophy of thy grandest glory! Far from dimming the splendor of thy Resurrection, the Cross enhances the brilliancy of thy magnificent triumph. Thou wast attached to the Wood—thou tookest on thyself the curse that was due to us; thou wast crucified between two thieves; thou wast reputed as an impostor, and thine enemies insulted thee in thine agony on this bed of suffering. Hadst thou been but man, O Son of David! all this would have disgraced thy name and memory; the Cross would have been the ruin of thy past glory—but thou art the Son of God, and it is the Cross that proves it. The whole world venerates thy Cross. It was the Cross that brought the world into submission to thee. The honors that are now paid it, more than make amends for the insults that were once offered it. Men are not wont to venerate a Cross; but if they do, it is the Cross on which their God died. Oh! blessed be he that hung upon the Tree! And do thou, dearest Crucified Jesus! in return for the homage we pay to thy Cross, fulfill the promise thou madest us: And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all things unto myself.

That thou mightest the more effectually draw us, thou this day permittedst us to find the very Wood, whereon thou stretchedst forth thy divine arms to embrace us. Thou deignedst to give us this holy instrument of thy victory, and which is to shine near thee in the heavens on the day of judgment; thou mercifully confidest it to our keeping, in order that we might thence derive a salutary fear of Divine Justice, which demanded thy death on this Wood, so to atone for our sins. Thou also gavest us this most precious relic, that it might excite us to a devoted love for thee, O Divine Victim! who, that we might be blessed, didst take upon thyself the maledictions due to our sins. The whole world is offering thee, today, its fervent thanks for so inestimable a gift. Thy Cross, by being divided into countless fragments, is in all places, consecrating and protecting, by its presence, every country of the Christian world.

Oh! that we had St. Helen’s spirit, dear Jesus, and knew, as she did the breadth, and length, and height, and depth of the mystery of thy Cross. Her love of the mystery made her so earnest in her search for the Cross. And how sublime is the spectacle offered to us by this holy Empress! She adorns thy glorious Sepulcher; she unburies thy Cross from its grave—who was there, that ever proclaimed with such solemnity as this, the Paschal Mystery? The Sepulcher cries out to us: “He is risen: He is not here!” The Cross exclaims: “I held him captive but for a few passing hours: He is not here! He is resplendent in the glory of his Resurrection!” O Cross! O Sepulcher! how brief was the period of his humiliation, and how grand the kingdom he won by you! We will adore, in you where his feet stood, making you the instruments of our Redemption, and thereby endearing you ever to our respectful love. Glory, then, be to thee, O Cross! dear object of this day’s festival! Continue to protect this world, where our Jesus has left thee. Be its shield against Satan. Keep up within us the twofold remembrance, which will support us in all our crosses—the remembrance of Sacrifice united with Triumph; for it is by thee, O Cross! that Christ conquers, and reigns, and commands. Christus vincit, Christus regnat, Christus imperat.
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre
May 3 – St Alexander, Pope & Martyr
Taken from The Liturgical Year by Dom Prosper Gueranger (1841-1875)

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A holy Pope and Martyr comes today, laying his bright crown at the foot of the triumphant Cross, whereby he won his victory. It is Alexander, the fifth successor of St. Peter. Let us honor this venerable witness of the Faith, who is now receiving the devout homage of the Church Militant, he who, for these long ages past, has been enjoying in heaven the company of our Risen Jesus. The Passion of his Divine Master was ever present to his mind while here on earth; and the Church has registered in her annals his adding four words to the Canon of the Mass, in which he expresses the fact of our Lord’s having instituted the august mystery of the Eucharist the day before he suffered.

We owe to the same holy Pontiff another institution, most dear to Catholic piety. It is by him that the Church received the sacramental which is such an object of terror to Satan, and which sanctifies everything it touches: Holy Water. This is an appropriate day for our renewing our faith in what regards this powerful element of blessing, which heretics and infidels have so frequently made the subject of their blasphemies, but whose use will ever serve as one of the distinguishing marks between them that are, and them that are not, Children of the Church. Water, the instrument of our regeneration—and Salt, the symbol of immortality, form, under the Church’s blessing, this Sacramental, in which we would have the greatest confidence. The Sacramentals, like the Sacraments, derive their efficacy from the Blood of the Redeemer, the merits of which are applied to certain material objects by the power of the Priesthood of the New Law. Indifference for these secondary means of salvation would be not only an indiscretion, but a sin; and yet, in these days of weak faith, nothing is so common as this indifference. There are Catholics for whom Holy Water is as though there were no such thing in existence; the continual use made of it by the Church is a lesson lost to them; they deprive themselves, without a single regret, of the help wherewith God has thus provided them, both to strengthen their weakness and to purify their souls. May the holy Pontiff Alexander pray for them, that their faith may become more what it ought to be; and that they begin to value the supernatural aids which God, out of pure mercy to them, has so profusely bestowed on his Church.

The following short notice on this holy Pope is given in the Breviary.

Quote:Alexander, who was born at Rome, governed the Church during the reign of the emperor Adrian, and converted a great portion of the Roman nobles to Christ. He decreed that only bread and wine should be offered in the Mystery, but that water should be mingled with the wine, in memory of the Blood and Water which flowed from the Side of Christ Jesus. He added to the Canon of the Mass these words: Qui pridie quam pateretur. He also decreed that Holy Water, with salt in it, should always be kept in a Church, and that it should be used in the dwellings of the Faithful for the purpose of driving away evil spirits. He governed the Church ten years, five months, and twenty days. He was illustrious for the holiness of his life, and the useful laws which he made. He was crowned with martyrdom together with the Priests Eventius and Theodulus, and was buried on the Nomentan Road, three miles out of Rome, and on the very spot where he had been beheaded. He ordained, in the December of various years, six priests, two deacons, and five bishops for divers places. The bodies of these Saints were afterwards translated to the Church of Saint Sabina in Rome. On this same day occurred the death of blessed Juvenal, Bishop of Narni, who, after having, by his learning and virtue, converted many persons of that city to Christ, and being celebrated for the miracles he wrought, he slept in peace, and was honorably buried in the same city.

Receive, O holy Pontiff, on this day, sacred as it is to the Cross of thy Divine Master, the devout homage of the Christian people. It was by the way of the Cross that thou, this day, ascendedst to heaven; it is but just that thy praise should be mingled with those which we are giving to the sacred instrument of our Redemption. Intercede for us with Him who shed his Blood for us upon this Tree of Life: may he graciously accept our celebration of his triumphant Resurrection, and the hymns we sing in honor of his Cross. Pray for us, that our Faith may increase; that thus we may appreciate the divine economy of the Redemption, whereby our Lord Jesus Christ deigned to employ, for our salvation, those very elements which the enemy had perverted to our destruction. Drive far from us that wretched nationalism, which while approving of certain usages of the Church because they happen to fit in with its fancies, presumes to treat all the rest with disdain. Pray also for the holy Church of Rome! She invokes thy name on this thy feast; prove to her that she is still dear to thee.
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre
The True Cross
Taken from the 1908 Catholic Encyclopedia

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Growth of the Christian cult

The Cross to which Christ had been nailed, and on which He had died, became for Christians, quite naturally and logically, the object of a special respect and worship. St. Paul says, in 1 Corinthians 1:17: "For Christ sent me not to baptize; but to preach the gospel: not in wisdom of speech, lest the cross of Christ should be made void"; in Galatians 2:19: "With Christ I am nailed to the cross"; in Ephesians 2:16: Christ . . . . "might reconcile both to God in one body by the cross"; in Philippians 3:18: "For many walk . . . enemies of the cross of Christ"; in Colossians 2:14: "Blotting out the handwriting of the decree that was against us, which was contrary to us. And he hath taken the same out of the way, fastening it to the cross"; and in Galatians 6:14: "But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ; by whom the world is crucified to me, and I to the world".

It seems clear, therefore, that for St. Paul the Cross of Christ was not only a precious remembrance of Christ's sufferings and death, but also a symbol closely associated with His sacrifice and the mystery of the Passion. It was, moreover, natural that it should be venerated and become an object of a cult with the Christians who had been saved by it. Of such a cult in the Primitive Church we have definite and sufficiently numerous evidences. Tertullian meets the objection that Christians adore the cross by answering with an argumentum ad hominem, not by a denial. Another apologist, Minucius Felix, replies to the same objection. Lastly we may recall the famous caricature of Alexamenos, for which see the article Ass. From all this it appears that the pagans, without further consideration of the matter, believed that the Christians adored the cross; and that the apologists either answered indirectly, or contented themselves with saying that they do not adore the cross, without denying that a certain form of veneration was paid to it.

It is also an accepted belief that in the decorations of the catacombs there have been found, if not the cross itself, at least more or less veiled allusions to the holy symbol. A detailed treatment of this and other historical evidence for the early prevalence of the cult will be found in ARCHAEOLOGY OF THE CROSS AND CRUCIFIX.

This cult became more extensive than ever after the discovery of the Holy Places and of the True Cross. Since the time when Jerusalem had been laid waste and ruined in the wars of the Romans, especially since Hadrian had founded upon the ruins his colony of Ælia Capitolina, the places consecrated by the Passion, Death, and Burial of Christ had been profaned and, it would seem, deserted. Under Constantine, after peace had been vouchsafed to the Church, Macarius, Bishop of Jerusalem, caused excavations to be made (about A.D. 327, it is believed) in order to ascertain the location of these holy sites. That of Calvary was identified, as well as that of the Holy Sepulchre; it was in the course of these excavations that the wood of the Cross was recovered. It was recognized as authentic, and for it was built a chapel or oratory, which is mentioned by Eusebius, also by St. Cyril of Jerusalem, and Silvia (Etheria). From A.D. 347, that is to say, twenty years after these excavations, the same St. Cyril, in his discourses (or catecheses) delivered in these very places (iv, 10; x, 14; xiii, 4) speaks of this sacred wood. An inscription of A.D. 359, found at Tixter, in the neighbourhood of Sétif in Mauretania, mentions in an enumeration of relics, a fragment of the True Cross (Roman Miscellanies, X, 441). For a full discussion of the legend of St. Helena, see ARCHAEOLOGY OF THE CROSS AND CRUCIFIX; see also ST. HELENA. Silvia's recital (Peregrinatio Etheriae), which is of indisputable authenticity, tells how the sacred wood was venerated in Jerusalem about A.D. 380. On Good Friday, at eight o'clock in the morning, the faithful and the monks assemble in the chapel of the Cross (built on a site hard by Calvary), and at this spot the ceremony of the adoration takes place. The bishop is seated on his chair; before him is a table covered with a cloth; the deacons are standing around him. The silver-gilt reliquary is brought and opened and the sacred wood of the Cross, with the Title, is placed on the table. The bishop stretches out his hand over the holy relic, and the deacons keep watch with him while the faithful and catechumens defile, one by one, before the table, bow, and kiss the Cross; they touch the Cross and the Title with forehead and eyes, but it is forbidden to touch them with the hands. This minute watchfulness was not unnecessary, for it has been told in fact how one day one of the faithful, making as though to kiss the Cross, was so unscrupulous as to bite off a piece of it, which he carried off as a relic. It is the duty of the deacons to prevent the repetition of such a crime. St. Cyril, who also tells of this ceremony, makes his account much more brief but adds the important detail, that relics of the True Cross have been distributed all over the world. He adds some information as to the silver reliquary which contained the True Cross. (See Cabrol, La Peregrinatio ad loca sancta, 105.) In several other passages of the same work Silvia (also called Egeria, Echeria, Eiheria, and Etheria) speaks to us of this chapel of the Cross (built between the basilicas of the Anastasis and the Martyrion) which plays so great a part in the paschal liturgy of Jerusalem.

A law of Theodosius and of Valentinian III (Cod. Justin., I, tit. vii) forbade under the gravest penalties any painting, carving, or engraving of the cross on pavements, so that this august sign of our salvation might not be trodden under foot. This law was revised by the Trullan Council, A.D. 691 (canon lxxii). Julian the Apostate, on the other hand, according to St. Cyril of Alexandria (Contra Julian., vi, in Opp., VI), made it a crime for Christians to adore the wood of the Cross, to trace its form upon their foreheads, and to engrave it over the entrances of their homes. St. John Chrysostom more than once in his writings makes allusion to the adoration of the cross; one citation will suffice: "Kings removing their diadems take up the cross, the symbol of their Saviour's death; on the purple, the cross; in their prayers, the cross; on their armour, the cross; on the holy table, the cross; throughout the universe, the cross. The cross shines brighter than the sun." These quotations from St. Chrysostom may be found in the authorities to be named at the end of this article. At the same time, pilgrimages to the holy places became more frequent, and especially for the purpose of following the example set by St. Helena in venerating the True Cross. Saint Jerome, describing the pilgrimage of St. Paula to the Holy Places, tells us that "prostrate before the Cross, she adored it as though she had seen the Saviour hanging upon it" (Ep. cviii). It is a remarkable fact that even the Iconoclasts, who fought with such zeal against images and representations in relief, made an exception in the case of the cross. Thus we find the image of the cross on the coins of the Iconoclastic emperors, Leo the Isaurian, Constantine Copronymus, Leo IV, Nicephorus, Michael II, and Theophilus (cf. Banduri, Numism. Imperat. Rom., II). Sometimes this cult involved abuses. Thus we are told of the Staurolaters, or those who adore the cross; the Chazingarii (from chazus, cross), a sect of Armenians who adore the cross. The Second Council of Nicæa (A.D. 787), held for the purpose of reforming abuses and putting an end to the disputes of Iconoclasm, fixed, once for all, the Catholic doctrine and discipline on this point. It defined that the veneration of the faithful was due to the form "of the precious and vivifying cross", as well as to images or representations of Christ, of the Blessed Virgin, and of the saints. But the council points out that we must not render to these objects the cult of latria, "which, according to the teaching of the faith, belongs to the Divine nature alone . . . . The honour paid to the image passes to the prototype; and he who adores the image, adores the person whom it represents. Thus the doctrine of our holy fathers obtains in all its force: the tradition of the Holy Catholic Church which from one end of the earth to the other has received the gospel." This decree was renewed at the Eighth Ecumenical Council at Constantinople, in 869 (can. iii). The council clearly distinguishes between the "salutation" (aspasmos) and "veneration" (proskynesis) due to the cross, and the "true adoration" (alethine latreia), which should not be paid to it. Theodore the Studite, the great adversary of the Iconoclasts, also makes a very exact distinction between the adoratio relativa (proskynesis schetike) and adoration properly so called.

Catholic doctrine on the veneration of the Cross

In passing to a detailed examination of the Catholic doctrine on this subject of the cult due to the Cross, it will be well to notice the theories of Brock, the Abbé Ansault, le Mortillet, and others who pretend to have discovered that cult among the pagans before the time of Christ. For a demonstration of the purely Christian origin of the Christian devotion the reader is referred to ARCHAEOLOGY OF THE CROSS AND CRUCIFIX. See also the works of De Harley, Lafargue, and others cited at the end of this section. With reference, in particular, to the ansated cross of Egypt, Letronne, Raoul-Rochette, and Lajard discuss with much learning the symbolism of that simple hieroglyphic of life, in which the Christians of Egypt seem to have recognized an anticipatory revelation of the Christian Cross, and which they employed in their monuments. According to the text of the Second Council of Nicæa cited above, the cult of the Cross is based upon the same principles as that of relics and images in general, although, to be sure, the True Cross holds the highest place in dignity among all relics. The observation of Petavius (XV, xiii, 1) should be noted here: that this cult must be considered as not belonging to the substance of religion, but as being one of the adiaphora, or things not absolutely necessary to salvation. Indeed, while it is of faith that this cult is useful, lawful, even pious and worthy of praise and of encouragement, and while we are not permitted to speak against it as something pernicious, still it is one of those devotional practices which the church can encourage, or restrain, or stop, according to circumstances. This explains how the veneration of images was forbidden to the Jews by that text of Exodus (20:4 sqq.) which has been so grossly abused by Iconoclasts and Protestants: "Thou shalt not make to thyself a graven thing, nor the likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or in the earth beneath, nor of those things that are in the waters under the earth. Thou shalt not adore them, nor serve them: I am the Lord thy God," etc. It also explains the fact that in the first ages of Christianity, when converts from paganism were so numerous, and the impression of idol-worship was so fresh, the Church found it advisable not to permit the development of this cult of images; but later, when that danger had disappeared, when Christian traditions and Christian instinct had gained strength, the cult developed more freely. Again, it should be noted that the cult of images and relics is not that of latria, which is the adoration due to God alone, but is, as the Second Council of Nicæa teaches, a relative veneration paid to the image or relic and referring to that which it represents. Precisely this same doctrine is repeated in Sess. XXV of the Council of Trent: "Images are not to be worshipped because it is believed that some divinity or power resides in them and that they must be worshipped on that account, or because we ought to ask anything of them, or because we should put our trust in them, as was done by the gentiles of old who placed their hope in idols but because the honour which is shown to them is referred to the prototypes which they represent; so that through the images which we kiss, and before which we kneel, we may adore Christ, and venerate the saints, whose resemblances they bear." (See also IMAGES.)

This clear doctrine, which cuts short every objection, is also that taught by Bellarmine, by Bossuet, and by Petavius. It must be said, however, that this view was not always so clearly taught. Following Bl. Albertus Magnus and Alexander of Hales, St. Bonaventure, St. Thomas, and a section of the Schoolmen who appear to have overlooked the Second Council of Nicæa teach that the worship rendered to the Cross and the image of Christ is that of latria, but with a distinction: the same worship is due to the image and its exemplar but the exemplar is honoured for Himself (or for itself), with an absolute worship; the image because of its exemplar, with a relative worship. The object of the adoration is the same, primary in regard to the exemplar and secondary in regard to the image. To the image of Christ, then, we owe a worship of latria as well as to His Person. The image, in fact, is morally one with its prototype, and, thus considered, if a lesser degree of worship be rendered to the image, that worship must reach the exemplar lessened in degree. Against this theory an attack has recently been made in "The Tablet", the opinion attributed to the Thomists being sharply combated. Its adversaries have endeavoured to prove that the image of Christ should be venerated but with a lesser degree of honour than its exemplar.

The cult paid to it, they say, is simply analogous to the cult of latria, but in its nature different and inferior. No image of Christ, then, should be honoured with the worship of latria, and, moreover, the term "relative latria", invented by the Thomists, ought to be banished from theological language as equivocal and dangerous.-- Of these opinions the former rests chiefly upon consideration of pure reason, the latter upon ecclesiastical tradition, notably upon the Second Council of Nicæa and its confirmation by the Fourth Council of Constantinople and upon the decree of the Council of Trent.

Relics of the True Cross

The testimony of Silvia (Etheria) proves how highly these relics were prized, while St. Cyril of Jerusalem, her contemporary, testifies as explicitly that "the whole inhabited earth is full of relics of the wood of the Cross". In 1889 two French archæologists, Letaille and Audollent, discovered in the district of Sétif an inscription of the year 359 in which, among other relics, is mentioned the sacred wood of the Cross (de ligno crucis et de terrâ promissionis ubi natus est Christus). Another inscription, from Rasgunia (Cape Matifu), somewhat earlier in date than the preceding, mentions another relic of the Cross ("sancto ligno salvatoris adlato".-- See Duchesne in Acad. des inscr., Paris, 6 December, 1889; Morel, "Les missions catholiques", 25 March, 1890, p. 156; Catech. iv in P.G., XXXIII, 469; cf. also ibid., 800; Procopius, "De Bello Persico", II, xi). St. John Chrysostom tells us that fragments of the True Cross are kept in golden reliquaries, which men reverently wear upon their persons.

The passage in the "Peregrinatio" which treats of this devotion has already been cited. St. Paulinus of Nola, some years later, sends to Sulpicius Severus a fragment of the True Cross with these words: "Receive a great gift in a little [compass]; and take, in [this] almost atomic segment of a short dart, an armament [against the perils] of the present and a pledge of everlasting safety" (Epist. xxxi, n.1. P.L., LXI, 325). About 455 Juvenal, Patriarch of Jerusalem, sends to Pope St. Leo a fragment of the precious wood (S. Leonis Epist. cxxxix, P.L., LIV, 1108). The "Liber Pontificalis", if we are to accept the authenticity of its statement, tells us that, in the pontificate of St. Sylvester, Constantine presented to the Sessorian basilica (Santa Croce in Gerusalemme) in Rome a portion of the True Cross (Duchesne Liber Pontificalis, I, 80; cf. 78, 178, 179, 195). Later, under St. Hilary (461-68) and under Symmachus (498-514) we are again told that fragments of the True Cross are enclosed in altars (op. cit., I, 242 sq. and 261 sq.). About the year 500 Avitus, Bishop of Vienne, asks for a portion of the Cross from the Patriarch of Jerusalem (P.L., LIX, 236, 239).

It is known that Radegunda, Queen of the Franks, having retired to Poitiers, obtained from the Emperor Justin II, in 569, a remarkable relic of the True Cross. A solemn feast was celebrated on this occasion, and the monastery founded by the queen at Poitiers received from that moment the name of Holy Cross. It was also upon this occasion that Venantius Fortunatus, Bishop of Poitiers, and a celebrated poet of the period, composed the hymn "Vexilla Regis" which is still sung at feasts of the Cross in the Latin Rite. St. Gregory I sent, a little later, a portion of the Cross to Theodolinda, Queen of the Lombards (Ep. xiv, 12), and another to Recared, the first Catholic King of Spain (Ep. ix, 122). In 690, under Sergius I, a casket was found containing a relic of the True Cross which had been sent to John III (560-74) by the Emperor Justin II (cf. Borgia, "De Cruce Vaticanâ", Rome, 1779, p. 63, and Duchesne, "Liber Pontificalis", I, 374, 378). We will not give in detail the history of other relics of the Cross (see the works of Gretser and the articles of Kraus and Bäumer quoted in the bibliography). The work of Rohault de Fleury, "Mémoire sur les instruments de la Passion" (Paris, 1870), deserves more prolonged attention; its author has sought out with great care and learning all the relics of the True Cross, drawn up a catalogue of them, and, thanks to this labour, he has succeeded in showing that, in spite of what various Protestant or Rationalistic authors have pretended, the fragments of the Cross brought together again would not only not "be comparable in bulk to a battleship", but would not reach one-third that of a cross which has been supposed to have been three or four metres in height, with transverse branch of two metres (see above; under I), proportions not at all abnormal (op. cit., 97-179). Here is the calculation of this savant: Supposing the Cross to have been of pine-wood, as is believed by the savants who have made a special study of the subject, and giving it a weight of about seventy-five kilograms, we find that the volume of this cross was 178,000,000 cubic millimetres. Now the total known volume of the True Cross, according to the finding of M. Rohault de Fleury, amounts to above 4,000,000 cubic millimetres, allowing the missing part to be as big as we will, the lost parts or the parts the existence of which has been overlooked, we still find ourselves far short of 178,000,000 cubic millimetres, which should make up the True Cross.

Principal feasts of the Cross

The Feast of the Cross like so many other liturgical feasts, had its origin at Jerusalem, and is connected with the commemoration of the Finding of the Cross and the building, by Constantine, of churches upon the sites of the Holy Sepulchre and Calvary. In 335 the dedication of these churches was celebrated with great solemnity by the bishops who had assisted at the Council of Tyre, and a great number of other bishops. This dedication took place on the 13th and 14th of September. This feast of the dedication, which was known by the name of the Encnia, was most solemn; it was on an equal footing with those of the Epiphany and Easter. The description of it should be read in the "Peregrinatio", which is of great value upon this subject of liturgical origins. This solemnity attracted to Jerusalem a great number of monks, from Mesopotamia, from Syria, from Egypt, from the Thebaïd, and from other provinces, besides laity of both sexes. Not fewer than forty or fifty bishops would journey from their dioceses to be present at Jerusalem for the event. The feast was considered as of obligation, "and he thinks himself guilty of a grave sin who during this period does not attend the great solemnity". It lasted eight days. In Jerusalem, then, this feast bore an entirely local character. It passed, like so many other feasts, to Constantinople and thence to Rome. There was also an endeavour to give it a local feeling, and the church of "The Holy Cross in Jerusalem" as intended, as its name indicates, to recall the memory of the church at Jerusalem bearing the same dedication.

The feast of the Exaltation of the Cross sprang into existence at Rome at the end of the seventh century. Allusion is made to it during the pontificate of Sergius I (687-701) but, as Dom Bäumer observes, the very terms of the text (Lib. Pontif., I, 374, 378) show that the feast already existed. It is, then, inexact, as has often been pointed out, to attribute the introduction of it to this pope. The Gallican churches, which, at the period here referred to, do not yet know of this feast of the 14th September, have another on the 3rd of May of the same signification. It seems to have been introduced there in the seventh century, for ancient Gallican documents, such as the Lectionary of Luxeuil, do not mention it; Gregory of Tours also seems to ignore it. According to Mgr. Duchesne, the date seems to have been borrowed from the legend of the Finding of the Holy Cross (Lib. Pontif., I, p. cviii). Later, when the Gallican and Roman Liturgies were combined, a distinct character was given to each feast, so as to avoid sacrificing either. The 3rd of May was called the feast of the Invention of the Cross, and it commemorated in a special manner Saint Helena's discovery of the sacred wood of the Cross; the 14th of September, the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, commemorated above all the circumstances in which Heraclius recovered from the Persians the True Cross, which they had carried off. Nevertheless, it appears from the history of the two feasts, which we have just examined, that that of the 13th and 14th of September is the older, and that the commemoration of the Finding of the Cross was at first combined with it.

The Good Friday ceremony of the Adoration of the Cross also had its origin in Jerusalem, as we have seen, and is a faithful reproduction of the rites of Adoration of the Cross of the fourth century in Jerusalem which have been described above, in accordance with the description of the author of the "Peregrinatio". This worship paid to the Cross in Jerusalem on Good Friday soon became general. Gregory of Tours speaks of the Wednesday and Friday consecrated the Cross—probably the Wednesday and Friday of Holy Week. (Cf. Greg., De Gloriâ Mart. I, v.) The most ancient adoration of the Cross in Church is described in the "Ordo Romanus" generally attributed to Saint Gregory. It is performed, according to this "Ordo", just as it is nowadays, after a series of responsory prayers. The cross is prepared before the altar; priests, deacons, subdeacons, clerics of the inferior grades, and lastly the people, each one comes in his turn; they salute the cross, during the singing of the anthem, "Ecce lignum crucis in quo salus mundi pependit. Venite, adoremus" (Behold the wood of the cross on which the salvation of the world did hang. Come, let us adore) and then Psalm 118. (See Mabillon, Mus. Ital., Paris, 1689, II, 23.) The Latin Church has kept until today the same liturgical features in the ceremony of Good Friday, added to it is the song of the Improperia and the hymn of the Cross, "Pange, lingua, gloriosi lauream certaminis".

Besides the Adoration of the Cross on Good Friday and the September feast, the Greeks have still another feast of the Adoration of the Cross on the 1st of August as well as on the third Sunday in Lent. It is probable that Gregory the Great was acquainted with this feast during his stay in Constantinople, and that the station of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, on Lætare Sunday (the fourth Sunday in Lent), is a souvenir, or a timid effort at imitation, of the Byzantine solemnity.
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre
The Golden Legend: Finding the True Cross
by Jacobus da Voragine

[Image: St.%2BHelena%2B%25282%2529.jpg]

This feast is named for the finding of the holy cross because, it is said, the cross was found on this day. It had been found earlier by Adam's son Seth in the earthly paradise, as we shall see below, by Solomon in Lebanon, by the queen of Sheba in Solomon's temple, by the Jews in the water of the pond; and on this day it was found by Helena on Mount Calvary.

The finding of the holy cross occurred more than 200 years after the Lord's resurrection. We read in the Gospel of Nicodemus that when Adam became infirm, his son Seth went to the gates of paradise and begged for some oil from the tree of mercy, with which he might anoint his father's body and restore his health. The archangel Michael appeared to him and said: "Waste no toil or tears trying to obtain oil from the wood of mercy, because there is no way you can acquire it before 5,500 years have gone by!" ...this although it is believed that only 5,199 years elapsed from Adam's day to Christ's passion. Elsewhere we read that the angel offered Seth a shoot from the tree and ordered him to plant it on the mount of Lebanon. In a certain admittedly apocryphal history of the Greeks we read that the angel gave him a branch from the tree under which Adam committed his sin, informing him that when that branch bore fruit, his father would be made whole. When Seth went back and found his father dead, he planted the branch over Adam's grave, where it grew to be a great tree and was still standing in Solomon's time. Whether any of this is true we leave to the reader's judgment, because none of it is found in any authentic chronicle or history.

Solomon admired the beauty of this tree and had it cut down and used in the building of his forest house. John Beleth says, however, that it was not possible to find a place where the trunk of the tree could be fitted in: it was always too long or too short. If it did not fit into a place too narrow for it and it was carefully shortened, it was immediately seen to be so short as to be completely useless. Therefore the workmen would have nothing more to do with it, and it was thrown over a certain pond to serve as a bridge for those wishing to cross.

When the queen of Sheba came to hear Solomon's words of wisdom and was about to cross this bridge, she saw in spirit that the Saviour of the world would one day hang upon this very same wood. She therefore would not walk on it but immediately knelt and worshiped it. In the Scholastic History, however, we read that the queen of Sheba saw the wood in Solomon's forest house, and when she returned home, she sent word to Solomon that a certain man was to hang upon that wood, and that by this man's death the kingdom of the Jews would be destroyed. Solomon therefore had the wood taken out and buried in the deepest bowels of the earth. Later on the pond called Probatica welled up at that spot, and the Nathineans bathed the sacrificial animals there. So it was not only the occasional descent of an angel of the Lord, but also the power of the wood, that caused the motion of the water and the healing of the sick.

When Christ's time to suffer was drawing near, the aforesaid wood floated up to the surface of the pond, and the Jews, seeing it, used it in making the Lord's cross. It is said that the cross was made out of four kinds of wood, namely, palmwood, cedar, cypress, and olivewood. Hence the verse:

Ligna crucis palma, cedrus, cypressus, oliva.

There were four wooden parts to the cross-the upright shaft, the crossbeam, the tablet above, and the block into which the cross was fixed, or, as Gregory of Tours says, the crosspiece that supported Christ's feet. Hence each of these parts might be made of any of the kinds of wood enumerated above. The aposde seems to have this variety of woods in mind when he says: "You may be able to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth." The eminent doctor, 4 at the place referred to, explains these words as follows: "The breadth of the Lord's cross is the crossbeam upon which his hands were extended; the length means the shaft from the ground to the crossbeam, where the whole body hung from the hands; the height means from the crossbeam to the top, where the head touched; the depth is the part hidden by the earth in which the cross stood. By this sign of the cross all human and Christian action is described: to do good works in Christ and to cling to him perseveringly, to hope for heaven, and to avoid profaning the sacraments."

This precious wood of the cross lay hidden underground for over two hundred years and was rediscovered by Helena, mother of Constantine. At that time an innumerable horde of barbarians gathered on the bank of the Danube: their aim was to cross the river and to subjugate all the lands as far as the western limit. When Emperor Constantine learned of this, he moved his camp and took his stand with his army along the opposite bank of the Danube; but more and more barbarians were arriving and were beginning to cross the river, and Constantine, seeing that they were bent on drawing him into battle the next day, was stricken with terror. That night an angel awakened him and urged him to look upwards. The emperor looked toward heaven and saw the sign of the cross formed in flaming light, with the legend In hoc signo vinces written in golden letters. Heartened by the celestial vision he had a facsimile of the cross made, and ordered it to be carried at the head of the army. Then his troops rushed upon the enemy and put them to flight, killing a great many of them. Soon thereafter Constantine called the heads of all the temples and questioned them closely, seeking to find out what god had the cross as his sign. They said they did not know, but then some Christians came along and told him about the mystery of the cross and the faith in the Trinity. Constantine believed perfectly in Christ and received the sacrament of baptism from Pope Eusebius, or, as some books have it, from the bishop of Caesarea. Many of the things stated in this account, however, are contradicted by the Tripartite History and the Ecclesiastical History, as well as by the life of Saint Silvester 5 and the Acts of the Roman pontiffs. There are those who hold that it was not Constantine the great emperor who was converted and baptized by Pope Saint Eusebius, as some historians seem to imply, but Constantine's father, also named Constantine, as we find in some other histories; for this latter Constantine came to the faith a different way, as we read in the legend of Saint Silvester, and he was baptized not by Eusebius but by Silvester.

When the elder Constantine died, the younger, remembering the victory his father had won by virtue of the holy cross, sent his mother Helena to Jerusalem to find the cross, as is related below. The Ecclesiastical History gives a different account of this victory: it says that when Maxentius invaded the Roman empire, Emperor Constantine arrived at the Albine 6 bridge to do battle with him. Constantine was exceedingly anxious about this battle and often raised his eyes to heaven in search of help from above. Then in a dream he saw, in the eastern part of the sky, the sign of the cross blazing with fiery brilliance, and angels standing by and saying to him: "Constantine, in this sign you will conquer." And, as we read in the Tripartite History, while Constantine puzzled about the meaning of this, the following night Christ appeared to him with the sign he had seen in the sky, and ordered him to have a standard made with this sign on it, because this would be of help to him in combat. So Constantine, again happy and confident of victory, drew on his forehead the sign of the cross that he had seen in the sky, had the military standards changed to the shape of the cross, and carried a gold cross in his right hand. After that he prayed the Lord not to allow his right hand, which he had armed with the salutary sign of the cross, to be bloodied or stained by spilled Roman blood, but to grant him victory over the tyrant without bloodshed.

Maxentius meanwhile gave orders to arrange his boats as a trap, stringing floats across the river to look like a level bridge. Now, when Constantine drew up to the river, Maxentius rushed upon him with a small band of troops, commanding the rest to come after him; but he forgot his own stratagem and started across the false bridge, thus being caught by the ruse with which he had hoped to deceive Constantine, and was drowned in the depths of the stream. Thereupon Constantine was unanimously acclaimed emperor by all present.

We read in a fairly reliable chronicle that at that time Constantine's faith was not yet perfect and that he had not yet been baptized, but that after an interval he had a vision of Saints Peter and Paul 7 and was reborn by holy baptism at Pope Silvester's hands. Then, cured of his leprosy, he believed perfectly in Christ and so sent his mother Helena to Jerusalem to search for the Lord's cross. Ambrose, however, in his letter about the death of Theodosius, and the Tripartite History both say that he received baptism only in his last hours, having put it off in order that he might be able to be baptized in the river Jordan. Jerome says that he became a Christian under Pope Silvester. There is doubt about whether or not he delayed baptism, so that Saint Silvester's legend is likewise questionable on more than one point. This account of the finding of the cross, which we read in the Ecclesiastical History, seems more authentic than the story usually read in the churches. In the latter many things are stated which clearly are not in accord with the truth, unless perhaps one would choose to say, as was said above, that not Constantine but his father, also called Constantine, was the one concerned; but this does not seem very likely, although that is what we read in certain histories from overseas.8

When Helena arrived in Jerusalem, she gave orders that all the Jewish wise men located throughout the entire area should come together in her presence. This Helena had previously been an innkeeper or inn-servant, 9 but because of her beauty Constantine [the elder] had attached her to himself. Ambrose has this to say about her: "They assert that this woman had been an innkeeper or servant, but was joined to Constantine the elder, who later became emperor. She was a good innkeeper, who diligently sought a crib for the Lord, a good hostess who knew about the innkeeper who healed the wounds of the man who fell among robbers, a good servant, who preferred to spurn all things as dung in order to gain Christ: therefore Christ lifted her up from the dunghill to the throne." Thus Ambrose. Others, however, assert, and we read in a reasonably authentic chronicle, that this Helena was the only daughter of Clohel, king of the Britons. When Constantine came to Britain, he took Helena to wife, and so the island devolved to him after Clohel's death. Even British sources attest this; yet elsewhere we read that Helena was a native of Trier. Be that as it may, the Jewish scholars, somewhat alarmed, asked each other: "Why do you think the queen has summoned us?" One of their number, Judas by name, said: "I know why! She wants to learn from us the whereabouts of the wood of the cross on which Christ was crucified. Be cautious, therefore, and let no one of us presume to tell her! Otherwise you can be absolutely sure that our Law will be annulled and the traditions of the fathers completely wiped out. My grandfather Zacheus foretold this to my father Simon, and on his deathbed my father said to me: 'Look, my son! When they come searching for Christ's cross, show them where it is or you will be tortured; for from then on the Jewish nation will never reign, but those who adore the Crucified will rule, because Christ was indeed the Son of God.' I asked him: 'Father mine, if our forefathers truly knew that Jesus Christ was the Son of God, why did they nail him to the gibbet of the cross?' 'God knows,' he replied, 'that I was never in their counsels and often spoke against them. But because Christ denounced the vices of the Pharisees, they had him put to death on the cross. He rose again on the third day and ascended to heaven as his disciples looked on. My brother Stephen believed in him and the Jews in their madness stoned him to death. Be careful therefore, my son, and do not rashly blaspheme him or his disciples.' " It does not seem very probable, however, that this Jew's father could have lived at the time of Christ's passion, because from that time to Helena's, when this Judas is supposed to have told his story, more than 270 years had elapsed-unless, perhaps, it could be said that men lived longer then than they do now. However that may be, the Jewish scholars now said to Judas: "We have never heard anything like that; but if the queen questions you, see to it that you tell her nothing! " When they all stood before her, she asked them about the place where the Lord had been crucified. They refused absolutely to say where it was, and she condemned them all to die by fire.

This frightened them and they handed Judas over to her, saying: "This man is the son of a just man and a prophet. He is learned in the Law and will give you the answers to all your questions." So she dismissed them all except Judas, to whom she said: "You have the choice of death or life: choose which one you prefer! Show me the place called Golgotha, where the Lord was crucified, so that I may find his cross." "How could I know the place?" he responded; "More than two hundred years have gone by since then!" "I swear by the Crucified," the queen said, "that I will starve you to death unless you tell me the truth!" She therefore had him thrown into a dry well and left him to suffer the pangs of hunger. After he had been without food for six days, he asked to be pulled out of the well on the seventh, and promised to show where the cross was. He was lifted out, and when he came to the place and prayed there, the earth suddenly quaked and a mist of sweet-smelling perfumes greeted their senses. Judas, filled with wonder, clapped his hands and said: "In truth, O Christ, you are the Saviour of the world!"

The Ecclesiastical History tells us that at that place there was a temple of Vcnus, which Hadrian had built so that any Christians who came to pray there would seem to be adoring Venus. For this reason few came and the place was almost consigned to oblivion; but Helena had the temple razed and the site ploughed up. After that, Judas girded himself and started manfully to dig, and when he had dug down twenty yards, he found three crosses buried and took them forthwith to the queen. Since they had no way of distinguishing Christ's cross from those of the thieves, they placed them in the centre of the city and waited for the Lord to manifest his glory; and behold! At about the ninth hour the body of a young man was being carried past, and Judas halted the cortege. He held the first cross and the second over the body, but nothing happened. Then he extended the third cross, and the dead man immediately came back to life. In the histories of the Church we also read that when one of the leading women in the city lay close to death, Macarius, the bishop of Jerusalem, brought in first one and then another of the crosses, to no effect; but when he placed the third beside the lady, she opened her eyes at once and rose up cured.

Ambrose says that Judas determined which was the Lord's cross by finding and reading the title that Pilate had placed on the cross. At that moment the devil was up in the air screaming and shouting: "O Judas, why have you done this? My Judas did just the opposite: I pressed him and he betrayed his master, but you, despite my interdict, have found the cross of Jesus! Through the other Judas I gained the souls of many; through you I seem to be losing those I gained. Through him I reigned among the people, through you I will be expelled from my realm. But I will pay you back in turn: I will raise up another king against you, a king who will abandon the faith of the Crucified and by torture will make you deny the Crucified!" It would seem that he said this referring to Julian the Apostate, who, when Judas had become bishop of Jerusalem, inflicted many torments on him and made him a martyr of Christ. Judas heard the devil shouting and screaming but was not frightened in the least. Unshaken, he cursed the evil spirit, saying: "May Christ damn you to eternal fire!"

Judas was later baptized and given the name Quiriacus. When the bishop of Jerusalem died, Quiriacus was ordained bishop. Now the blessed Helena did not have the nails from Christ's cross and asked the new bishop to go to the place and try to find them. He went there and prayed profusely, and at once the nails appeared on the surface, gleaming like gold, and he collected them and delivered them to the queen, who fell to her knees and bowed her head, worshiping them with much reverence. Helena brought a piece of the cross to her son and left other pieces, encased in silver, in the place where the cross had been found.

She also brought to Constantine the nails that had held the Lord's body on the cross. Eusebius of Caesarea reports that the emperor had one of them fashioned into a bit for his war bridle, and had the others welded into his helmet. Some assert, however, as does Gregory of Tours, that four nails had pierced Christ's flesh, and that Helena put two of them in the emperor's bridle, fixed the third into the statue of Constantine that dominates the city of Rome, and cast the fourth into the Adriatic sea, which until then had been a whirlpool perilous to mariners. She also commanded that this feast be solemnly celebrated annually in honour of the finding of the holy cross.

Ambrose has more to say on this subject: "Helena sought the Lord's nails and found them, and had one of them made into a bit and the other worked into the royal crown: it was right that the nail be on the head, the crown at the top, the bridle in the hand, so that the mind should be pre-eminent, the faith should shine forth, and the royal power should rule."

At a later time Julian the Apostate put Bishop Saint Quiriacus to death because he had found the holy cross while the emperor was trying to destroy the sign of the cross everywhere. When Julian was on his way to attack the Persians, he invited Quiriacus to sacrifice to the idols, and when the bishop refused, Julian ordered his right hand to be cut off, saying: "With that hand you wrote many letters recalling many people from the cult of the gods." Quiriacus answered him: "You are doing me a favour, you rabid dog, because before I believed in Christ, I often wrote letters to the Jewish synagogues to dissuade everyone from believing in Christ, and now you have cut this scandal from my body." Then Julian had lead melted and poured into the saint's mouth, and an iron bed prepared on which Quiriacus was laid while hot coals and fat were sprinkled over him. When the saint lay there motionless, Julian said to him: "If you will not sacrifice to the gods, at least say that you are not a Christian!" Quiriacus cursed him and refused, so he ordered a deep trench to be dug and venomous snakes to be put in it, and Quiriacus to be thrown in on top of them; but the snakes died instantly. The emperor commanded that the bishop be thrown into a caldron full of boiling oil, and the saint, making the sign of the cross, was about to step into it of his own volition, and prayed the Lord to baptize him again with the bath of martyrdom. This angered Julian, who ordered the soldiers to plunge a sword into Quiriacus's chest, and so the saint merited to finish his life in the Lord.

The great power of the cross is evident in the experience of a young notary, a Christian. A sorcerer had deluded him and promised him great wealth, then led him to a place to which the sorcerer had summoned the demons. There the notary saw a huge Ethiopian 10 seated on a high throne, around which stood other Ethiopians armed with spears and cudgels. The large Ethiopian asked the sorcerer: "Who is this boy?" The sorcerer: "My lord, he is our slave." The demon to the notary: "If you will adore me and be my servant, and deny your Christ, I will have you seated at my right hand." The notary quickly made the sign of the cross and declared that he was in all freedom the servant of Christ his Saviour; and the minute he made the sign of the cross, the horde of demons vanished. There came a time when this notary went into the church of Saint Sophia with his master, and they both stood before an image of Christ the Saviour. The master noticed that the image had its eyes fixed on the notary, looking at him attentively. The master wondered at this and directed the young man to move to the right, and he saw that the image's eyes turned and were again fixed on the notary. He had the youth go to the left, with the same result. The master begged him to say how he had merited of God that the sacred image should so keep its eyes on him. The young man answered that he was not aware of having done anything meritorious, unless it was that he had refused, before the devil, to deny his Lord.

1. It was called the forest house because so many cedar trees had been used in its construction.
2. John 5:2.
3. Natmei (in Graesse) is no doubt a scribe's error (or Graesse's) for the Nathinaei of I Chron. 9:2, which the New English Bible translates "temple-servitors."
4. Most likely Augustine, whom Jacobus, elsewhere in the Legenda aurea, calls doctor egregius, the term he uses here.
7. See the legend of Saint Silvester, chapter 12 above.
8. The confusion about Constantine's part in the finding of the cross (or his father's, whose name was not Constantine but Constantius) no doubt goes back to the manuscript sources available to Jacobus, including not only Eusebius and the Tripartite History but the more or less "authentic," or frankly apocryphal, documents to which Jacobus refers. The uncertainty about the time of his baptism persists among present-day scholars.
9. The word stabularia can mean either innkeeper or servant in an inn.
10. Aethiops, in Jacobus's time, meant a black man, the colour black standing for evil as white for
Virtue. This followed patristic exegesis of passages in the Old and New Testaments. There was no racial implication, because black people were rarely if ever known in Jacobus's time and place.

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