Feast of the Discovery of the Holy Cross of Christ: experience of healing and the reality of Salvation

The Franciscans of the Custody of the Holy Land celebrated at the Holy Sepulchre the feast of the discovery of the Holy Cross. A devotion celebrated since the year 327 when Saint Helena, mother of Emperor Constantine, found in this very grotto the Cross on which Jesus was crucified. A devotion witnessed over the centuries by St. Rufino, St. Ambrose, the pilgrim Egeria, the historian Socrates and others.

A staircase of 27 steps leads to the chapel of the Armenians, where a painting represents the scene of the Finding. Then a further 21 steps lead down to the cave.

Here, always following the indications useful to counter the spread of the Coronavirus, the first Vespers were celebrated and, during the night, the Eve of the celebration half an hour after midnight.

On the morning of May 7, the Solemn Mass was presided by Br. Francesco Patton, Custos of the Holy Land, concelebrated by the Vicar Custodial Br. Dobromir Jasztal, Br. Salvador Rosas, President of the Franciscan Convent of the Holy Sepulchre, Br. Ibrahim Faltas and the Franciscan community.

“This year,” the Custodian stressed in his homily, “the feast of the rediscovery of the Holy Cross and the readings we have heard acquire a special meaning because of the pandemic that is afflicting the whole world.”

At the end of Mass, there is the procession to the place of the Resurrection, three rounds around the shrine over the tomb of Jesus and one last round around the Stone of Anointing, passing under Calvary where the Cross gave us Salvation.

In the Holy Sepulchre and in all the sanctuaries of the Holy Land where a Franciscan community lives, there is a constant prayer for all humanity.


Holy Land Custos
“Our communities here at the Sepulchre, at the Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem, in Nazareth, but also in all the other shrines, are intensifying the rhythm of community prayer: we are praying particularly intensely for all the sick, for those who work in hospitals and for those who have to make decisions that are not always easy.”

Br. Francesco Patton wanted to reflect on one aspect in particular: the passage from the experience of healing to the experience of salvation.


Holy Land Custos
“The experience of healing is a very important thing. We know this when we are sick: the desire is to heal. But the experience of healing in a Christian perspective is insufficient; it is somehow a kind of allusion to a much deeper reality, which is the reality of Salvation. It is the realization that my life is already in God’s hands, and the realization that God’s life is already sown within my existence and my person: I am united in a profound relationship with Jesus Christ, His Spirit dwells in me and the whole Trinity dwells in me. This is the experience of salvation, the experience of a life with God that already begins now and that one day will pass through the Paschal experience of death to be shared fully and forever in the life of God.”

At the Edicule, at the altar of Mary Magdalene and in the Chapel of the Apparition to the Virgin Mary, the friars sang: “Hail Cross, the only hope, / which brings Easter joy”. And Brother Francesco Patton shared with everyone a prayer composed by St. John Paul II:

“O triumphant Cross of Christ, inspire us to continue the task of evangelization! O glorious Cross of Christ, strengthen us to proclaim and live the Gospel of salvation! O victorious Cross of Christ, our only hope, lead us to the joy and peace of the Resurrection and eternal life! Amen”


Source: cmc-terrasanta.org