The Liturgical Home: Holy Cross Day

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Today is Holy Cross Day. Holy Cross Day is where Christians around the world celebrate the cross of Christ. The cross is pivotal to the Christian faith. It is the instrument of Christ’s redemption for the whole world, “having made peace through the blood of His cross” (Colossians 1:20). It is such a holy object to us and the saving acts of God through the cross of Christ are reason to celebrate!

The Rediscovery of the Cross

Holy Cross Day is an ancient feast day that celebrates the cross and all that it means for our lives. On this day, we discover not only the cross itself but also its rediscovery after it disappeared in the fall of Jerusalem.

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The earliest Christians considered Jesus’ tomb a holy site. However, the siege of Jerusalem in AD 70 reduced the city to ruins. Later, in AD 130, Emperor Hadrian built a Roman colony over its ruins. He ordered the tomb of Christ filled to create a flat foundation for a temple dedicated to Venus.  Hadrian demonstrated the truth of Paul’s words: “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:18).

In the 4th century, Emperor Constantine and his mother, Helena Augusta, converted to Christianity and set about finding and restoring Christianity’s holy sites and objects. Constantine sent his mother to have the pagan temple over the tomb destroyed and the old ruins of the tomb excavated. The excavations uncovered three crosses believed to be the cross of Christ and the two thieves. This caused much celebration, and Helena and her delegation, with the local Christians, declared a feast day to commemorate it. 

Ways to Celebrate

  • Make a dessert in the shape of the cross. I am sharing a super easy dessert to make with your kids. Your kids will have so much fun making it! Also, whipped cream and crisp dark chocolate wafers…what’s not to love about that?
  • Make a cross out of toothpicks. This is a fun and easy activity for your kids. Break up toothpicks and glue them in the shape of a cross on black construction paper. Punch holes in the corners of the paper, thread twine through and hang or process through your house.
  • Make something with basil. Tradition says that basil was growing all over the hill where St. Helena found the cross of Christ buried. Because of this, in Greece, priests hand out sprigs of basil to the parishioners. Have your children gather up bundles of basil and tie with a ribbon. Place the basil bundles on the table as decorations for your feast. For dinner, make homemade pesto and add to hot pasta.
  • Show your children how to make the sign of the cross over themselves. People often believe that making the sign of the cross over ourselves is superstitious or weird but that was never how it was intended to be used. Making the sign of the cross is just a way that we remind ourselves that we are set apart for Christ. 

A Recipe: Whipped Cream & Chocolate Cross

Holy Cross Day Whipped Cream and Chocolate Dessert

  1. 1 to 2 boxes of Nabisco chocolate wafers, these are found in the ice cream toppings section of your grocery store or in the cookie section (reserve four cookies and finely grind them up)
  2. 1 quart heavy whipping cream
  3. 1 cup sugar

Whip the whipped cream on high until soft peaks form. Slowly add sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form. Add a layer of whipped cream between layers of chocolate wafers and arrange on their side on a platter. Stack the wafer layers on their sides and in the shape of a cross. When you are satisfied with the shape, cover the whole cross in the remaining whipped cream. Place the ground wafers in a sifter and sift over the cake. Serve immediately or refrigerate and serve.

Published on

September 14, 2022

Author

Ashley Tumlin Wallace

Ashley Tumlin Wallace, the author of the Liturgical Home series of books and articles at Anglican Compass, is a homeschooling mom of four and the wife of an Anglican priest. She and her family live in the panhandle of Florida.

View more from Ashley Tumlin Wallace

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