The Elevation of the Holy Cross (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.
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).
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