Friday, 3 May 2013

The Invention of the Holy Cross

The feast of the Invention of the Holy Cross is a Double of the Second Class and its liturgical colour is red. The feast celebrates the discovery of the Holy Cross by the Empress Helena, mother of the Emperor Constantine.

At Vespers yesterday afternoon the antiphons O magnum pietatis opus etc were sung with psalms 109, 110, 111, 112 and 116. The Office hymn was the magnificent Vexilla regis, last heard towards the end of the Mass of the Pre-Sanctified on Good Friday morning, but the verse O Crux ave differed by one line, Paschale quae fers gaudium. After the collect of the feast a commemoration was sung of the preceding feast of St. Athanasius. At Compline the Dominical psalms were sung, Te lucis was sung with the Paschal Doxology and the Dominical preces were omitted.

At Mattins the invitatory is Christum Regem crucifixum, Venite adoremus, alleluia. In the first nocturn the antiphons Inventae Crucis etc are sung with proper psalms, the first lesson is from St. Paul to the Galatians with the poignant words: 'Christ has redeemed us from the curse law, being made a curse for us: for it is written: Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: that the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Christ Jesus; that we may receive the promise of the Spirit by faith.' The second lesson is from the Epistle to the Philippians with the passage so familiar from the Triduum and the third lesson from the Epistle to the Colossians. In the second nocturn the antiphon Felix ille triumphus etc is sung, the lessons relate the work of St. Helena in fourth century Jerusalem finding three crosses buried in a cistern. Not knowing which cross the LORD had died on each was placed on a woman with a sickness by Macarius, Bishop of Jerusalem. When touched by the True Cross the sick woman was instantly restored to health. In the third nocturn the psalms are sung under the antiphon Adoramus te Christe etc, the lessons are from a homily of St. Augustine on the Gospel of St. John. The ninth lesson is of the commemorated feast of SS Alexander, Eventius, Theodulus & Juvenal.

At Lauds the antiphons O magnam pietatis opus etc are sung with the Dominical psalms (Pss. 92, 99, 62, Benedicite & 148). After the collect of the day a commemoration is sung of SS Alexander etc.

At the Hours the Paschaltide Doxology is sung with all the Office hymns and the antiphons of Lauds are sung with the Dominical psalms in the usual order. At Prime the festal psalms are sung (Ps. 53, 118i & 118ii), the Dominical preces are omitted and the short lesson is Humiliavit semetipsum.

Mass is sung after Terce. The Gloria and Creed are sung. In private Masses the second collect is of SS Alexander etc. The Creed is sung and the preface is that of the Holy Cross.

At second Vespers all is sung as at first Vespers except the antiphon on the Magnificat which is proper to second Vespers. After the collect of the feast a commemoration is sung of the following feast of St. Monica. At Compline the Dominical preces are omitted.

In the in 'liturgical books of 1962' the feast of the Invention of the Holy Cross has been abolished as its observance in the West only dated to the seventh century (it appears on May 3rd in Martyrologium Hieronymianum. Today becomes a ferial day with a commemoration of SS Alexander etc at Lauds and low Mass. The Paschaltide Doxology (and tone) is not sung at the Horae Minores. In sung Masses there is one collect. Vespers are of the ferial day without a commemoration of St. Monica. In contrast even Cranmer's Book of Common Prayer preserved the feast of the Invention of the Holy Cross in the Kalendar.

Art: A ninth century MS illustration of the Invention of the Holy Cross by St. Helena from Wikipedia.


The Rad Trad said...

Was this feast victim to accusations of repetition (like the Seven Sorrows in Lent, the Invention of St. Stephen etc)?

The Rad Trad said...

Also, the Latin rite in Jerusalem still keeps this feast even in the Pauline system: