This Sunday, October 24, the Armenian Church celebrates the Feast of the Discovery of the Holy Cross (Giut Khachi). Empress Helena, mother of Constantine and a devout Christian, wanted to visit the Holy Land and explore the sites Christ had walked centuries ago. She went to Golgotha (Calvary), which had become an obscure and neglected place. According to some chronicles, it was an informed Jew named Juda who pointed out the location. At her instruction, workers excavated the site, and three wooden crosses were found. Which one was the True Cross? The three crosses were successively placed on the body of a youth who had just died. When one of the crosses was placed on him, the young man came back to life. This was determined to be the True Cross. The commemoration of this event takes place on the Seventh Sunday of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.
The cross is a great source of pride for Armenians and they have created beautiful works of art using the cross. What once was a means of punishment and death, became a symbol of salvation and victory.
“After the marvelous vision which the empress had, she began to search in Jerusalem for the precious wood of the cross on which the Messiah had been crucified. At her awesome command the Jews assembled and pointed out to her the precious wood of the cross which the Creator of creatures had ascended. The discovery of the holy cross in the holy place was accompanied by the spread of fragrance and the universe was filled with great gifts.”
(From the Canon for the Discovery of the Holy Cross, according to the Liturgical Canons of the Armenian Church)