The Discovery of the Cross celebrated at the Basilica of the Resurrection

On Wednesday, May 6, at the usual time, the daily procession led by the Franciscans has just begun. All of the pilgrims present in the basilica have not seen that the Custos of the Holy Land has already made his solemn entry. He is the one who will preside over the day’s procession. This solemnity celebrates the fact that this day is not quite like any other day at the Basilica of the Resurrection. This is where Jerusalem commemorates the Inventio Sanctae Crucis, the Invention of the Cross, or in other words the fact that, according to tradition, Saint Helen, the mother of the Emperor Constantine, discovered the crosses of the three men executed on Good Friday in a hole in the Garden of the Resurrection.

Also, when the daily procession, following its regular path, arrives at what is now called Saint Helen’s Chapel, the ritual gives way to vespers that are solemnly celebrated in the same place where the Holy Cross was found.
This is where the Franciscans gather for vigils at midnight in a cozy atmosphere.

This is also where finally in the morning, on Thursday, May 7, they come to celebrate the Eucharist. This is the first solemn mass at the Holy Sepulcher since the Easter celebrations. This place is unusual, but it is still nonetheless a historic site that is suitable for such a feast.
Before 1960, the Church celebrated the Holy Cross twice a year: once in September for what was called the “Exaltation of the Cross,” and now the “Glorious Cross,” and once in May, to commemorate the Discovery of the True Cross. This second feast was removed, as it was considered a duplicate of the September celebration.

At the Holy Sepulcher, for reasons both historical and because of the Status Quo, the feast of the Invention of the Cross continues to take place.
This is what the small group of faithful gathered around the Friars Minor celebrated together.
Celebrated by the Father Custos, the mass was of singular beauty.
Saint Helen’s Chapel, somber in nature, was decorated with red and gold drapes that perfectly blended with the purple liturgical vestments used for the celebration. The presider was Fr. Pizzaballa, and the relic of the True Cross was placed on the altar for the duration of the mass.

The faithful, who were gathered on the steps, then followed the staurotheca (the reliquary of the Cross) behind the clergy for a solemn procession around the Shrine.
Incensed by two acolytes, the relic was used to bless the faithful three times: before the empty tomb, at the altar of the appearance to Mary Magdalene, and then at the place of Mary’s encounter of the Risen Christ.

Celebrated during the Easter season, the feast of the Invention of the Cross is a particularly solemn celebration: the victorious wood that carried the body of Christ is a reminder that it is “by wood that God has established his reign.”
These two aspects will always come together at the Holy Sepulcher: the Passion and the Resurrection, the Cross and the empty Tomb, so as to remind all faithful and all pilgrims, that by accepting the Cross in our lives, we can share in Christ’s Resurrection.

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