Holy Cross-Saints Constantine & Helen
Greek Orthodox Church
Huntsville, AL

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Icon of Elevation of the Holy Cross Icon of Saints Constantine & Helen
Universal Exaltation of the Venerable and Life-Giving Cross Holy, Glorious, Great, God-Crowned and Equal to the Apostles, Emperor Constantine and Helen

Universal Exaltation of the Cross

Universal Exaltation of the Venerable and Life-Giving Cross
Feast day celebrated on September 14.

The Elevation of the Holy Cross is one of the Great Feasts of the Orthodox Church, celebrated on September 14. This feast is also referred to as the Exaltation of the Cross. This is also a popular name day for Stavroula/Stavros (from "stavros" meaning cross).

This feast commemorates two events:

  • The finding of the Cross by the Empress Helen (the mother of St. Constantine the Great) on Golgotha, the place where Christ was crucified. When the true Cross was identified, it was lifted on high for all the people to see, who then continually sang Kyrie eleison, a practice which is still enacted at current celebrations of this feast.
  • The recovery of the Cross on which Jesus Christ was crucified from the Persians. The Persians had captured it as a prize of war in Jerusalem, and it was recovered by the forces of the Eastern Roman Empire ("Byzantine Empire"). The cross was joyously held up for veneration by the Christian faithful upon its recovery.

This is one of the two feast days which is held as a strict fast. The other is the commemoration of the Beheading of John the Forerunner on August 29.


Hymns

Troparion (Tone 1)

O Lord, save Thy people,
And bless Thine inheritance.
Grant victory to the Emperor [or "Thy people" or "the Orthodox Christians"]
Over the barbarians, [or "their enemies"]
And by the power of Thy Cross
Preserve Thy commonwealth. [or "estate" or "habitation"]

Kontakion (Tone 4)

As You were voluntarily raised upon the cross for our sake,
Grant mercy to those who are called by Your Name, O Christ God;
Make all Orthodox Christians glad by Your power,
Granting them victories over their adversaries,
By bestowing on them the Invincible trophy, Your weapon of Peace.

Instead of the Trisagion

Before Thy Cross we bow down in worship, O Master, and Thy holy Resurrection we glorify. (Thrice)
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.
And Thy holy Resurrection we glorify.
Before Thy Cross we bow down in worship, O Master, and Thy holy Resurrection we glorify

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Saints Constantine and Helen

Holy, Glorious, Great, God-Crowned and Equal to the Apostles, Emperor Constantine and Helen
Feast day celebrated on May 21.

Reading:

This great and renowned sovereign of the Christians was the son of Constantius Chlorus (the ruler of the westernmost parts of the Roman empire), and of the blessed Helen. He was born in 272, in (according to some authorities) Naissus of Dardania, a city on the Hellespont. In 306, when his father died, he was proclaimed successor to his throne. In 312, on learning that Maxentius and Maximinus had joined forces against him, he marched into Italy, where, while at the head of his troops, he saw in the sky after midday, beneath the sun, a radiant pillar in the form of a cross with the words: "By this shalt thou conquer." The following night, our Lord Jesus Christ appeared to him in a dream and declared to him the power of the Cross and its significance. When he arose in the morning, he immediately ordered that a labarum be made (which is a banner or standard of victory over the enemy) in the form of a cross, and he inscribed on it the Name of Jesus Christ. On the 28th Of October, he attacked and mightily conquered Maxentius, who drowned in the Tiber River while fleeing. The following day, Constantine entered Rome in triumph and was proclaimed Emperor of the West by the Senate, while Licinius, his brother-in-law, ruled in the East. But out of malice, Licinius later persecuted the Christians. Constantine fought him once and again, and utterly destroyed him in 324, and in this manner he became monarch over the West and the East. Under him and because of him all the persecutions against the Church ceased. Christianity triumphed and idolatry was overthrown. In 325 he gathered the First Ecumenical Council in Nicaea, which he himself personally addressed. In 324, in the ancient city of Byzantium, he laid the foundations of the new capital of his realm, and solemnly inaugurated it on May 11, 330, naming it after himself, Constantinople. Since the throne of the imperial rule was transferred thither from Rome, it was named New Rome, the inhabitants of its domain were called Romans, and it was considered the continuation of the Roman Empire. Falling ill near Nicomedia, he requested to receive divine Baptism, according to Eusebius (The Life of Constantine. Book IV, 61-62), and also according to Socrates and Sozomen; and when he had been deemed worthy of the Holy Mysteries, he reposed in 337, on May 21 or 22, the day of Pentecost, having lived sixty-five years, of which he ruled for thirty-one years. His remains were transferred to Constantinople and were deposed in the Church of the Holy Apostles, which had been built by him (see Homily XXVI on Second Corinthians by Saint John Chrysostom).

As for his holy mother Helen, after her son had made the Faith of Christ triumphant throughout the Roman Empire, she undertook a journey to Jerusalem and found the Holy Cross on which our Lord was crucified (see Sept. 13 and 14). After this, Saint Helen, in her zeal to glorify Christ, erected churches in Jerusalem at the sites of the Crucifixion and Resurrection, in Bethlehem at the cave where our Saviour was born, another on the Mount of Olives whence He ascended into Heaven, and many others throughout the Holy Land, Cyprus, and elsewhere. She was proclaimed Augusta, her image was stamped upon golden coins, and two cities were named Helenopolis after her in Bithynia and in Palestine. Having been thus glorified for her piety, she departed to the Lord being about eighty years of age, according to some in the year 330, according to others, in 336.


Apolytikion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone

He beheld the image of Your Cross in the Heavens and, as Paul, he too did not receive the call from men. Your Apostle among Kings placed the care of the Royal City in Your hands. Through the intercessions of the Theotokos, O only Loving Lord, keep it ever in peace.

Kontakion in the Third Tone

Today, Constantine with his mother Helen present the Cross, the most precious wood. It shames unbelievers. It is a weapon of faithful kings against their adversaries. A great sign has come forth for us which is awesome in battle.

Reading courtesy of Holy Transfiguration Monastery
Apolytikion courtesy of Narthex Press
Kontakion courtesy of Narthex Pres
s
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Service Times

Sundays
  9:00 a.m. – Orthros
10:00 a.m. – Divine Liturgy
11:30 a.m. – Sunday School

Office Hours

Monday to Thursday
10:00 AM to 4:00 PM

Friday
10:00 AM to 1:00 PM


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Sunday Readings

On Sunday, November 24, 2013 we commemorate:
13th Sunday of Luke



Matins Gospel

John 21:14-25


Epistle Reading

St. Paul's Letter to the Galatians 6:11-18


Gospel Reading

Luke 18:18-27

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