Emperor Constantine erected a basilica on the Jerusalem site where Jesus had died and risen; it was dedicated Sept. 13, 335. Over time, a custom developed: On the day after the anniversary of the dedication, a relic of the wood of the true cross was brought out for veneration.
This feast evolved from that custom, first in the Eastern Church and later in the Western Church. It is also called the feast of the Triumph of the Cross: Through Christ’s action, a symbol of humiliation and defeat was turned into a symbol of liberation and triumph.
It was this feast that Pope St. John Paul II celebrated during his historic apostolic visit to the Diocese of Phoenix in 1987.
“The Cross was ‘lifted up’ on Golgotha. And Jesus was nailed to the Cross and was therefore lifted up with it,” St. John Paul II said in his homily at the Mass celebrated at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe in 1987. “To the human eye, this was the culmination of humiliation and disgrace. But in the eyes of God it was different. It was different in the eternal designs of God.”
, the , Holy Cross Cemetery in Avondale and the community’s Priory Church of the Holy Cross in Phoenix, as well as the Congregation of the Holy Cross, which serves at Our Lady of the Valley Parish in Phoenix, St. Raphael Parish and St. John Vianney Parish in Glendale and André House and Casa Santa Cruz ministries, are all under the patronage of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.