ByzCatholic, Feasts

Exaltation of the Cross

The Universal Exaltation of the Precious and Life-Giving Cross

We celebrate the Exaltation of the Cross 40 days after the Transfiguration. This feast commemorates St. Helen finding the true cross, and the date Constantine dedicated the Church of the Resurrection, built upon the same site in the year 335 A.D. St. Helen was sent to Jerusalem by her son to find the cross, and Glory to God! She succeeded in 320 A.D. However, she found the true cross along with the crosses of the two thieves crucified with Christ. So in order to determine which was the true cross, they prayed for a miracle. Then, a woman who was ill to the point of death came and touched the true cross, and was healed. This miracle revealed the true cross, though further miracles have also occurred when the faithful have come to venerate the true cross, furthering its cause.

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The Cross is particularly venerated in Eastern theology. We have special prayers to the cross that we pray every Wednesday. And besides those, we have this feast and the Veneration of the Holy Cross (which is the third Sunday of Great Lent).

Transfiguration Prayers and Tropars

First Antiphon:

O God, my God, hear me; why have you forsaken me? The words of my transgressions put salvation so far from me.

R: Through the prayers of the Mother of God, O Saviour save us!

O God, I call to You by day but You will not listen. And by night, though it will not be foolish of me.

But You, O Praise of Israel, dwell in the holy place

Second Antiphon:

Why, O God, have You utterly rejected us? Why does Your anger rage against us, the sheep of Your pasture?

R: Son of God, Crucified in the Flesh, Save us who sing to You. Alleluia!

Remember Your congregation which you have formed from the beginning, which You redeemed with the sceptre of your inheritance.

Remember this mountain of Zion, where You made Your dwelling.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and forever and ever. Only begotten Son and Word of God, You are immortal. And You willed for our Salvation to be made flesh of the Holy Theotokos and ever virgin Mary, and without change You became man. You were crucified, O Christ our God, and trampled death by death. You are one of the Holy Trinity. Glorified with the Father and the Holy Spirit, save us O Lord.

Third Antiphon: (tone 1)

Save Your people, O Lord, and bless Your inheritance. Grant victory to Your faithful against enemies, and protect Your people by Your cross.

(verses to 3rd antiphon)

Great is the Lord in Zion, and supreme above all peoples.

Let them profess Your great name for it is awesome and holy.

(Deacon here: Wisdom, stand aright) Exalt the Lord our God, and bow in worship at the footstool of His feet for it is holy.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. Now and forever and ever, amen.

Kontakion: (tone 4)

By Your own choice, O Christ our God, You were lifted on the cross. Grant Your mercies to Your new community that bears Your name. By Your power gladden the faithful people, and grant them victory against enemies.

Irmos: (tone 8, replacing the “it is truly right”)

O my soul, magnify the most precious Cross of the Lord. You are a mystical paradise, O Mother of God, who though untilled, have brought forth Christ. He has planted upon earth the Life-giving Tree of the Cross. Therefore today as we raise it on high we bow low and we magnify You.

Ways to Celebrate

  • Have kids? Check out this Macaroni Cross craft from
  • Write out “By this sign we conquer” and put it underneath your crosses.
  • Read about the Sign of the Cross. Be sure to pray it often today!
  • Pray the prayers and tropars for today’s feast in your icon corner.
  • Have a procession around your home carrying the cross. Older children could hold a candle, while younger ones carry flowers. Or Everybody could have their own cross!

The Byzantine Life

Thank you for checking out this week’s article. If you haven’t already, you can read our article about the Sign of the Cross. Or our article on passing down the faith to toddlers and infants.

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