Raising of the Holy Cross celebrated at St. Thomas Cherry Hill Community
CHERRY HILL, NJ – On September 14, the parish of Saint Thomas Greek Orthodox Church in Cherry Hill, NJ celebrated the Divine Liturgy for the Raising of the Life-giving Holy Cross under the presidency of His Grace Bishop Apostolos of Medeia. Metropolitan New Jersey Chancellor Fr. Christoforos Oikonomidis, Presiding Priest of Saint Thomas Fr. Avgoustinos Psomas, Fr. Steve (Stavros) Vlahos, Fr. Floren and Deacon Joseph also participated in the service.
One of the great feasts of the Orthodox Church, the Raising of the Holy Cross is one of the two feast days that takes place as a strict fast. The other is the commemoration of the beheading of Saint John the Baptist on August 29.
In 326 AD, Saint Helena traveled to Jerusalem to worship in the Holy Land and thank God for the triumphs of her son Constantine the Great. Saint Helena, driven by her Christian faith, began a search to find the Holy Cross on which Jesus Christ was crucified.
During excavations on Golgotha, where a pagan temple of Aphrodite was demolished, three crosses were eventually found, but which of the three was the True Cross? Then Bishop Makarios of Jerusalem, with several priests, after the prayers, touched the crosses on the body of a pious lady who had died. When the third cross touched her, which was truly the Lord’s, the woman was immediately resurrected.
The news spread throughout Jerusalem and as the crowds gathered, the Holy Cross was raised for all to see. September 14 was then established by the Holy Fathers of the Church as the Feast of the Elevation of the Holy Cross.