Register Article on name of newly created parish

Name of newly created parish symbolic of Christ's victory over sin, death

STEUBENVILLE — The name of the newly created parish in the Diocese of Steubenville – Triumph of the Cross – can be traced to the early part of the fourth century when St. Helen/Helena, mother of the Roman Emperor Constantine, went to Jerusalem in search of the holy places of Christ’s life.

Constantine, born in 274, became emperor in 306 and in 313, after seeing a vision of the cross, became a Christian and issued the historic Edict of Milan that granted freedom of worship to Christians. His mother, whom he treated with great honor, was 63 at the time and is said to have gladly converted to Christianity.

When she was 70, Helen went to the Holy Land, helped establish several churches there and devoted her time to caring for the needy, redeeming prisoners and setting up shrines, according to The Saints from A to Z by Cynthia Cavnar.

She is credited with finding the true cross in 326.

In Jerusalem, the empress searched for the holy places of Christ’s life.

She had the Temple of Aphrodite, which tradition held was built over the Savior’s tomb, razed and engineered an arduous dig.

Legend has it that she was rewarded with the buried remains of three crosses used the day Christ died, The Catholic Source Book reads.

Helena’s son built the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher over the tomb.

Empress Helena enshrined the relics of the cross in a silver casket within the church and also delivered a portion of it to Rome.

The cross relics are said to have immediately become an object of veneration.

At a Good Friday celebration in Jerusalem toward the end of the fourth century, an eyewitness is to have said that the wood was taken out of its silver container and placed on a table together with the inscription Pilate ordered placed above Jesus’ head:

Then "all the people pass through one by one; all of them bow down, touching the cross and the inscription, first with their foreheads, then with their eyes; and, after kissing the cross, they move on."

Today, Catholic and Orthodox churches celebrate the Exaltation of the Holy Cross Sept. 14 – on the September anniversary of the basilica’s dedication.

The feast entered the Western calendar in the seventh century after Emperor Heraclius recovered the cross from the Persians, who had carried it off in 614, 15 years earlier, history shows. The emperor intended to carry the cross back in to Jerusalem himself, the story goes, but was unable to move forward until he took off his imperial garb and became a barefoot pilgrim.

To commemorate the victory, in the seventh century, the Church of Rome adopted the "Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross" on Sept. 14.

Today the cross is the universal image of Christian belief – Christ’s victory over sin and death.

"How splendid the cross of Christ! It brings life, not death; light, not darkness; paradise, not its loss. It is the wood on which the Lord, like a great warrior, was wounded in hands and feet and side, but healed thereby our wounds. A tree has destroyed us, a tree now brought us life." This quote is attributed to Theodore of Studies, also known as St. Theodore Studites, a zealous champion of the veneration of images.