Today is the Greek Orthodox commemoration of the elevation of the Holy Cross of Jesus.
Saint Helen, the mother of Saint Constantine undertook a journey to Jerusalem in search of the Holy Cross in the year 325. A temple to Aphrodite had been raised by Emperor Hadrian at Golgotha where the Crucifixion had taken place. St Helen had the statue to Aphrodite destroyed and the earth removed to reveal the tomb of Jesus.
One was believed to be that of Jesus and the other two of thieves crucified with him and Saint Helen was at a loss to find out which was that of the saviour.
Saint Macarius, Jerusalem’s Archbishop, found a lady in the area who was sick with a deadly disease and asked her to touch the crosses. Upon encountering the cross of Jesus, she felt whole.
The cross was lifted on high by Archbishop Macarius of Jerusalem as people cried out, “Lord have mercy”. A portion of the Cross was taken to Constantinople, whereas the rest was left in Jerusalem in the church built by Saint Helen until the year 614.
When Persians plundered Palestine, they took the Cross to their own country. Late, in the year 628, Emperor Heraclius set out on a military campaign, retrieved the Cross, and after bringing it to Constantinople, he escorted it back to Jerusalem, where he restored it to its place.
The feast of the cross is a day of fasting, and also the name day for Stavros, which comes from σταυρóς (cross), though it has the accent on the first syllable rather than the second. In English, the name is sometimes changed to Steve. The female version of the name is Stavroula and Stavriani.