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Elevation of the Holy Cross
The Elevation of the Holy Cross (Greek: Ύψωση του Τιμίου Σταυρού; also known as the Exaltation of the Holy Cross) is one of the Great Feasts of the Orthodox Church, celebrated on September 14. It is one of the two feast days which is held as a strict fast. The other is the commemoration of the Beheading of John the Forerunner on August 29.
The feast is nominally celebrated on September 14. Thus Orthodox churches following the Revised Julian calendar celebrate it on the civil date of September 14: Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, Bulgaria, Greece, Cyprus, Romania, Poland, Czechia and Slovakia, Albania, the Estonia, and most of the Orthodox Church in America. Those following the Julian calendar celebrate it on civil September 27: Jerusalem, Russia, Serbia, North Macedonia, Georgia, Ukraine, Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate), and Mount Athos.
According to Orthodox Church teachings, Saint Helen, the mother of Emperor Constantine the Great, discovered the Holy Cross on 14 September 325 AD in the vicinity of Golgotha, where it lay buried in the dust of the centuries. On the spot where the Cross was discovered, there was also found a hitherto unknown flower of rare beauty and fragrance, which has been named Vasiliko (Basil), meaning the flower of royalty, out of respect for the Dowager Queen who led the expedition. For the next three hundred years, the Cross stayed in the possession of the Christians in Jerusalem, but the city was captured by the Persians in 614 AD and the Cross fell into their hands. It was later recovered by the forces of the Eastern Roman Empire (or Byzantine Empire).
The feast of the Elevation of the Holy Cross is celebrated as the name day of persons named Stavros (Σταύρος) or Stavroula (Σταυρούλα); this includes those using the English nickname Steve (derived from Greek Στέφανος Stephanos/Stephen) for Stavros.
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