Tuesday, 14 September 2010

The Exaltation of the Holy Cross

Today is the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. It is of greater double rite. The origin of the feast was the dedication of Constantine's basilica in Jerusalem in 335. The feast appears to have been celebrated in Rome since the seventh century. A double feast in the Tridentine Missal of 1570 it was raised to a greater double by Clement VIII.

At Mattins the invitatory is Christum Regem, pro nobis in Cruce exaltatum, Venite adoremus. The antiphons and responsories for the three nocturns are proper. The lessons in the first nocturn are taken from the Book of Numbers with the account of Moses and the brazen serpent, a prefigurement of the Cross. In the second nocturn the lessons describe the taking of the Cross from Jerusalem and its triumphant return. In the third nocturn the lessons are from a homily on the Passion of the Lord from St. Leo the Great.

At the Hours the 'Sunday' psalms are sung under the antiphons of the feast. At Prime the short lesson is proper, Humiliavit semetipsum.

Mass is sung after Terce and has the Gloria, Credo and preface of the Holy Cross.

Vespers are of the following feast of the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin with a commemoration of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. A Doxology proper to the feast of the Seven Sorrows is sung at Compline and hymns of Iambic metre tomorrow.

Being the third week of September the Autumn Ember Days follow the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, beginning with Ember Wednesday tomorrow the rest of the week has largely penitential overtones.

In the 'liturgical books of 1962' although the feast has been raised in rank to 'second class', connected with the abolition of the May feast of the Invention of the Holy Cross, it loses first Vespers. At the Little Hours the ferial psalter is used without the antiphons of the feast, at Prime the seasonal short lesson is sung. Vespers are of the Exaltation of the Cross without a commemoration of the following Office.

Icon from the Greek Catholic Church.

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