Sunday, 3 May 2015

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. This year the feast fall on the fourth Sunday after Pascha and takes precedence over the Sunday.

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 commemorations were sung of the preceding feast of St. Athanasius and of the Sunday. 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 Sunday.

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 feast commemorations are sung of the Sunday and of SS Alexander & Others.

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 is sung, the second collect is of the Sunday (in private Masses the third collect is of SS Alexander etc), the Creed is sung, the preface is of the Holy Cross and the last Gospel is of the Sunday.

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 Office of St. Monica and of the Sunday. 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. At Vespers yesterday there were no commemorations. Mattins (of the Sunday) is cut down to a single nocturn. At Lauds there are no commemorations. At Mass there is a single collect. The Paschaltide Doxology (and tone) is not sung at the Horae Minores.

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


Anonymous said...

The North African (Carthage in origin, maybe?) Latin Calendar found at Mt. Sinai in the 1950s has its only feast of the Cross on this date. September 14th was St. Cyprian's feast day and thus wasn't dislodged.

A translation of the calendar can be found here:

My old parish back in the Philippines (Holy Cross Parish) has its feast on the first Sunday of May (nearest to the 3rd, and coinciding with it this year).

Anonymous said...

The Mass of the Invention is still found in the 1962 missal, though it is buried in the appendix (Missae pro aliquibus locis).