The Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross is the last one of the five major feasts of the Armenian Apostolic Church. It is the most important feast among the feasts dedicated to the Holy Cross, as it is dedicated to the history of the return of the Holy Cross from imprisonment, its elevation and glorification. In the Armenian Apostolic Church the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross is celebrated on Sunday during the period between September 11-17.
The celebration of the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross in the Armenian Church takes place at the end of the Divine Liturgy. With great ceremony, the clergy, deacons and acolytes proceed around the church holding high the gleaming gold cross, which is adorned with sprigs of fresh basil (a symbol of royalty), after which an antasdan service takes place.
In the antasdan service, the four corners of the church are blessed as a sign of the sanctification of the world. Similar to the Feast of the Assumption, the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross is also related to the blessing of the harvest of fruits and their preservation: a time to give thanks for God’s blessings. Following the ceremony, parishioners customarily take home a sprig of the sweet basil and use it for its healing properties.
For Christians the Cross is God’s power and strength and pride of all prides, on which Christ’s innocent blood was shed. By means of the Cross Jesus proved His love towards mankind, and the Cross became for us the symbol of hope, love and saving.