Never stand in the way of a woman on a mission, especially if she is an empress. In the year 325, St. Helena, mother of Roman emperor Constantine, arrived in Jerusalem surrounded by investigators, architects, and advisors. Holy desire burned in Helena’s heart, a desire to find the true cross on which Jesus died. For more than three hundred years, the exact location of Christ’s death was a mystery. According to Roman law, instruments of execution are buried on the site of the criminal’s death. Where was Mount Calvary? Jerusalem was ringed with many hills, only serious investigation and excavation would reveal the location. Hundreds of workers were employed to dig up places around Jerusalem. Six months of digging passed and still nothing was found.
One day men began digging on a hill filled with rubble, remains of a temple to the Roman goddess Venus. Helen ordered two hundred workers to the site. Ruins of the temple were cleared away and the hill roped off to keep away curiosity seekers. Suddenly a shout rose from among the workers. “Wood!” Three crosses were discovered deep inside the massive hole. Which cross was the real cross of Christ? Legend tells us that a miraculous healing occurred when a sick person touched the true cross.
On September 14, 335, Emperor Constantine dedicated the Church of the Holy Sepulcher on the site of Mt. Calvary. In the year 614, Persian marauders invaded Jerusalem and stole the True Cross. Fifteen years later, the precious relic was recovered and brought triumphantly back to Jerusalem. The date was September 14, 629.
On September 14th, the Roman Catholic Church celebrates the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross in which we meditate on the supreme sacrifice of Our Lord. One of the most famous passages from the New Testament is read. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” (John 13:16).