Today in many countries the “May Cross” is commemorated

Jasjot Singh

On May 3, “the May Cross” is commemorated in many places, a beautiful and endearing display of popular religiosity centered on the symbol of Christ’s sacrifice. The roots of this tradition go back to the ancient times of Christianity in the City of Jerusalem, and today they are manifested in the faith of the people, especially in Spanish-speaking countries.

The so-called “Feast of the Crosses” is celebrated in cities of Spain, Chile, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Trinidad and Tobago, Argentina, Colombia and Venezuela. Where it is celebrated, the locals decorate the public space with crosses covered with colorful flowers, while processions, dances or parades take place in the streets. It is also possible to see how the faithful walk to the top of the mountains that are crowned by a cross to pray and decorate them with flowers.

“With this sign you will win”

A tradition tells that in the fourth century the still pagan emperor Constantine had to fight a battle against Maxentius. The night before, Constantine had a dream in which he saw a luminous cross in the air and heard a voice that told him: “With this sign you will win.”

The next day, as the battle began, Constantine had crosses placed on the banners of his battalions, exclaiming: “I trust in Christ in whom my mother Elena believes.” That day, the victory was complete, and with it Constantine won the right to be emperor. Because of this turning point in his life, the emperor gave freedom to the Christians.

After these events, Saint Helena, mother of Constantine, traveled to Jerusalem with the intention of finding the Holy Cross on which Christ died. In the excavations that were carried out, it is said that three crosses were found. With this arose the dilemma of which of them would be the Lord’s.

The legend of the three crosses

This is how they took a dying woman to the place, and made her touch the first cross. Her discomfort worsened and the disease worsened. When she touched the second cross, the woman showed no change, but when she touched the third wood, she regained her health.

Saint Helena, together with the bishop of Jerusalem and the faithful present, carried this cross in procession through the streets of the Holy City. On the way there was a widowed woman who was taking her son to be buried. It occurred to some of them to bring the body of the young man to the cross and with that the deceased was resurrected.

For centuries the celebrations have been maintained – starting with Jerusalem – on May 3, as the feast of the discovery of the Holy Cross. The Catholic Church liturgically celebrates the Exaltation of the Holy Cross every September 14.

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