Holy Cross Day is, we might say, the “anchor feast” of the Month of September. Together with the Feast of Our Lady’s Seven Sorrows on September 15th we are brought directly back into the heart of our Redemption as if it were the Sacred Triduum, the Passion of Our Lord and the Compassion of Our Lady. Only now we focus more emphatically on the Triumph of that Cross. In the beautiful and haunting hymn in honor of the Holy Cross, the Vexilla Regis, the text is slightly altered for the Feast of September 14th. The sixth verse reads: O Crux Ave, spes unica, In hac triumphi gloria: Piis adauge gratiam, Reisque dele crimina. (Hail, O Holy Cross, our only hope! IN THIS THY TRIUMPHANT GLORY, increase grace to the just and blot out the sin of the wicked.) 

The Triumphant Glory of the Lord’s Cross! This is Holy Cross Day.

In the development of the Roman Liturgy, Holy Cross Day has come to commemorate the recovery of the True Cross from the Persians in A.D. 629. Fifteen years earlier it had been taken as a war trophy when the Persians conquered Jerusalem and laid waste to the city. When the Roman (Byzantine) Emperor Heraclius finally recovered it He bore it on his own shoulders in a solemn procession, taking it to the Mount of Calvary to which Our Lord Himself had carried it on Good Friday. There a miracle occurred which the Roman Breviary recounts: 

This event was made famous by a spectacular miracle. For Heraclius, clad as he was in gold and jewels, was forced to halt at the gate which led to Mt. Calvary. The more he tried to go on, the more he seemed to be held back. Heraclius and those with him were dumbfounded at this; but Zachary, Bishop of Jerusalem said, ‘Consider, O Emperor, how poorly you are ‘imitating the poverty and humility of Jesus Christ when you carry His Cross in these triumphal robes.’ Then Heraclius, taking off his ceremonial robes and his shoes and putting on a poor man’s garment, easily went the rest of the way and placed the Cross on that same spot from which it had been taken by the Persians. And so the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, which was already being celebrated each year on this day, took on still more luster because of the memory of this event, when Heraclius replaced the Cross where it had first been set up for the Savior. 

Here in our Archdiocese of Boston, Holy Cross Day is also the Titular Feast of our Metropolitan Cathedral of the Holy Cross, located in the South End of Boston. The Cathedral houses a relic of this same True Cross.  

Fr. Higgins

About Our Parish

Mary Immaculate of Lourdes is Newton and Needham Massachusetts's oldest Roman Catholic Parish. Founded as Saint Mary's Parish in 1870 it was renamed "Mary Immaculate of Lourdes" when the new Church was dedicated on Thanksgiving Day, 1910. In addition to being a regular territorial parish of the Archdiocese of Boston it is also a "Mission Parish" since 2007 with a special apostolate for the Traditional Latin Mass (1962 Missal).

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"If you are willing to serenely bear the trial of being displeasing to yourself, then you will be for Jesus a pleasant place of shelter."
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