2012
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Minister General Celebrates Mass in Commemoration of the Discovery of the Holy Cross

Jerusalem, 7 May, 2012

On the morning of the 7th of May, the Solemnity of the Discovery of the Cross was celebrated according to tradition in the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre. This is a feast day that profoundly involves the Holy Land, commemorating Our Lord’s Cross in Jerusalem and the acts of Saint Helena, mother of the Emperor Constantine. A woman of exemplary faith and assiduous in the practice of virtue and Christian charity, Saint Helena was already advanced in age when she decided to undertake a penitential pilgrimage to the Holy Places. Here, she expended herself in the construction of the Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem and the Basilica of the Ascension on the Mount of Olives, which her son Constantine splendidly decorated. Tradition tells us that Helena, having come to Calvary to purify the Holy Place of the pagan buildings constructed by the Romans, found three crosses and received the gift of being able to tell which of the three had born the Saviour thanks to an extraordinary dream in which she saw the corpse of man lying on the cross come miraculously back to life. With the Holy Cross of Our Lord, three nails were also found and given by St. Helena to her son Constantine, who had one forged to his horse’s bit and another set into the famous Iron Crown that is conserved in the Cathedral of Monza. In this way, Helena wanted to teach her son restraint and to remind him that there is no land that is not subject to Christ. She then persuaded Constantine to build the Basilica of the Anastasis, that is, the Resurrection.

Still today, after so much time, the Holy Land commemorates the precious discovery of the Holy Cross, lost and then found a short distance from Calvary, thanks to the dedication of a woman who was passionate for Christ, Helena.

This year the solemn celebration that took place in the morning at the site of Discovery of the Cross saw the Minister General of the Order, Brother Jose Carballo, presiding after the itinerant retreat he had undertaken for ten days with the Vicar General, the Secretaries and the members of the General Definitory ofm.

During his homily, Father Carballo renewed his engagement and thanked the friars of the Custody for their service here in the Holy Land, in the name of the Definitory and of the entire Order. He then made a brief but interesting historical aside about how the Cross has been represented in ancient and more modern times, emphasizing the two ways talking about the mystery of the cross: one putting the light on its effects (salvation, peace and reconciliation) and the other, its causes (sin, hate and injustice).
The cross, “pride and glory” of believers, reminds us that only by way of it can we follow God. As Father Carballo underlined, looking at the cross means “taking up each day’s cross and following the Lord, while also accepting the pain and crosses of others”.

At the end of the celebration, the relic of the Holy Cross was borne in procession around the aedicule of the Sepulchre.

Text by Caterina Foppa Pedretti
Photos by Father Enrique Bermejo and Brother Adelmo Vasquez

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