The Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross
“Far be it for me to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (St Paul, Galatians 6:14).
Like all Christians, Armenians recognize the cross to be the consummate symbol of Jesus’ death and resurrection, and through them, of God’s abiding presence in our lives.
The Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (the Feast of Khachveratz) is the last one of the five cardinal feasts or Daghavars.
It commemorates the emancipation of the Cross of Christ from Persia and elevation of it on Calvary in Jerusalem.
The story of this event is as follows:
When the Persian King, King Khosrov, occupied Jerusalem in 610 (AD.), he carried also the Cross of Christ with him to Persia as a bondage in order to insult the Christian community. In 628 (A. D.) Emperor Heracles of Constantinople conquered Persia and emancipated the Cross of Christ from the bondage and brought it back to Jerusalem.
The Armenian people also have their own version of this event. When the Cross was emancipated from Persia, it was brought first to Garin (a city in Armenia), and it was carried through Armenia into Constantinople and then to Jerusalem. Patriarch Zakariah of Jerusalem decorated the Cross with roses and flowers and erected it on the Hill of Calvary. On this occasion the Church of Jerusalem celebrated the emancipation of the Cross of Christ with great honour and much enthusiasm in order to inspire the people with the spiritual meaning of the Cross.
One mountain top of Garin is called Khachapayd (the wood of the Holy Cross). When the Cross was carried from Persia to Jerusalem, the carriers passed through a road on this mountain. This is the reason why this mountain top is called the Khachapayd. Also, for the same reason an Armenian convent near the City of Garin is called Khachga Vank (the Convent of the Cross).
The Armenian Church celebrates the Feast of the Dedication of the Holy Cross ( Navagadeek Srpo Khacheen ) and the Exaltation of the Holy Cross ( Khachvera ts ) on the Saturday and Sunday nearest September 14.
In the evening of the Exaltation, the priest, deacons, choir and altar servers form a solemn procession ( Antasdan ).
Adorned on a tray with fragrant basil, the cross is carried around the church. At each of the four compass points the procession pauses for a Gospel reading. The celebrant repeats the refrain, “Lord have mercy”.
He then elevates the relic of the holy cross and offers a blessing for that part of the world and all that it symbolizes: in the East, the Armenian Catholicate and holy See of Etchmiadzin with all the clergy of the Armenian Church; in the West, the world’s principalities, governments and peoples; in the South, the harvest; and in the North, all churches and monasteries of the world.
Processing from one side of the church to the other in the form of a cross, the choir sings, “Holy God, holy and mighty, holy and immortal, who were crucified for us, have mercy on us”. The meaning of the ritual could not be more clear: through the holy cross salvation has come into the whole world.
Following the procession, the veneration of the cross takes place.
Date(s) - 12th September 2021
11:00 am - 1:15 pm
St Yeghiche Armenian Church Parish
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