Holy Cross Day

According to legends that spread widely, the True Cross was discovered in 326 by Saint Helena, the mother of the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great, during a pilgrimage she made to Jerusalem. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre was then built at the site of the discovery, by order of Helena and Constantine. The church was dedicated nine years later, with a portion of the cross placed inside it. Other legends explain that in 614, this portion of the cross was carried away from the church by the Persians, and remained missing until it was recaptured by the Byzantine Emperor Heraclius in 628. Initially taken to Constantinople, the cross was returned to the church the following year.

The date of the feast marks the dedication of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in 335. This was a two-day festival: although the actual consecration of the church was on September 13, the cross itself was brought outside the church on September 14 so that the clergy and faithful could pray before the True Cross, and all could come forward to venerate it.

The lectionary of the Church of England (and other Anglican churches) stipulates red as the liturgical colour for Holy Cross Day.


9:30 am Sung Eucharist (Book of Alternative Services rite)

Choral music by David Hurd & W.A. Mozart


11:00 am Solemn Eucharist (Book of Common Prayer rite)

Choral music by George Oldroyd & John Stainer


7:00 pm Solemn Evensong & Devotions

Choral music by Orlando Gibbons & Thomas Tallis