The Feast of the Holy Cross 10 Paramhat/March 19

“May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” (Galatians 6:14)

The Cross is the altar on which Jesus Christ was sacrificed for the forgiveness of our sins. Through the Cross, Christ descended into Hades to save those who departed in the hope and faith of a resurrection to come. The Cross is the power of Christians. Because of its power, the Coptic Orthodox Church celebrates two feasts dedicated to the Cross. The first is on 10 Paramhat, March 19 celebrated on that day only and the second on 17-19 Thout, September 27-29, three days long.

The celebration on 10 Paramhat commemorates the recovery of the Holy Cross in the seventh century during the reign of Emperor Heraclius.

The Persians undertook a series of invasions and occupation of Roman lands. In the occupied lands Christians were persecuted, harassed, and often killed. Even the cross on which Christ was crucified, considered one of the most venerated artifacts of Christianity, was stolen and taken to Persia.

After Heraclius defeated the Persians, a Persian prince saw light coming out form the piece of wood that was kept in a golden frame in the church of the Holy Sepulcher. He stole the Holy Cross from its Church as his army returned to Persia. The prince hid the Cross in a box, dug a deep hole in the garden of his palace, and kept the Cross in it.

When Heraclius heard the news, he gathered his army and headed to Persia to recover the Holy cross. Heraclius defeated them once again and freed all the prisoners. He searched everywhere for the Holy cross but could not find it. The daughter of a Jewish Rabbi, who was taken captive, saw what happened and told the emperor Constantine. He was successful in finding the Cross, and returned it to Constantinople in the year 629 A.D. It is on this day that we celebrate the feast of the recovery of the Holy cross.

On 17 Thoout, the Church commemorates the discovery of the Holy Cross, the cross on which Christ was crucified, by Queen Helena – the mother of Emperor Constantine. Empress Helena had a vow to visit Jerusalem if her son Constantine believed in the Lord Jesus Christ. Constantine at that time was preparing for a war. When the day was already beginning to decline, he saw with his own eyes the sign of a cross of light in the heavens, above the sun, and bearing the inscription, “By this symbol you will conquer.” In February 313, Constantine announced The Edict of Milan, which ended Christian persecution. He was in his early 40s that Constantine officially proclaimed his faith.

To fulfill her vow, Empress Helena traveled to Jerusalem, accompanied by her soldiers. When she arrived there, she asked about the place of the Cross but for a long time her search remained unsuccessful. Finally, an old Jewish Rabbi named Jude, knew where that Cross was. At the beginning, he guided her to the place. The Cross was buried under the rubble for Golgotha, where the Jews wanted it to remain, for fear of the power of the Cross and the Crucified. It was on this day that the cross was discovered in the year 326 A.D.