The holy ceremony of venerating the Cross on Good Friday was first instituted at Jerusalem, in the 4th century. Owing to the pious zeal of the Empress St. Helen, the True Cross had then recently been discovered, to the immense joy of the whole Church. The Faithful, as might be expected, were desirous to see the precious Relic, and, accordingly, it was exposed every Good Friday. This brought a very great number of pilgrims to Jerusalem; and yet how few, comparatively, could hope to have the happiness of such a visit, or witness the magnificent ceremony? An imitation of what was done, on this day, at Jerusalem, was a natural result of these pious desires. It was about the 7th century, that the practice of publicly venerating the Cross on Good Friday was introduced into other Churches. True, it was but an image of the True Cross that these other Churches could show to the people; but as the respect that is paid to the True Cross refers to Christ himself, the Faithful could offer him a like homage of adoration, even though not having present before their eyes the sacred Wood which had been consecrated by the Blood of Jesus. Such was the origin of the imposing ceremony, at which holy Church now invites us to assist.

The Celebrant takes off the Chasuble, which is the badge of the Priesthood; it is in order that the Reparation, which he is to be first to offer to our outraged Jesus, may be made with all possible humility: He then stands on the step near the Epistle side of the Altar, and turns his face towards the people. The Deacon takes down the Cross from the Altar, and gives it to the Celebrant, who then unveils the upper part as far as the arms. He raises it a little, and sings these words:

Ecce lignum Crucis;

Behold the wood of the


Then he continues, joined by the Deacon and Subdeacon:

on which hung the salvation in quo salus mundi pepen. of the world.

dit. The people then kneel down, and venerate the Cross, while the Choir sings these words:

Come, let us adore.

Venite adoremus. This first exposition, which is made at the side of the Altar, and in a low tone of voice, represents the first preaching of the Cross, that, namely, which the Apostles made, when, for fear of the Jews, they dared not to speak of the great Mystery except to the few faithful Disciples of Jesus. For the same reason, the Priest but slightly elevates the Cross. The homage here paid to it is intended as a reparation for the insults and injuries offered to our Redeemer in the house of Caiphas.

The Priest then comes to the front of the step, and is thus nearer to the people. He unveils the right arm of the Cross, and holds up the holy Sign of our Redemption higher than the first time. He then sings, and on a higher pote:

Behold the wood of the Cross;

Ecce lignum Crucis;

Then he continues, joined by the Deacon and Subdeacon :

on which hung the salvation in quo salus mundi pepen. of the world.


The people then fall upon their knees, and continue in that posture, whilst the Choir sings :

Come, let us adore.

Venite adoremus.

This second elevation of the holy Cross signifies the Apostles' extending their preaching the mystery of our Redemption to the Jews, after the descent of the Holy Ghost; by which preaching they made many thousand converts, and planted the Church in the very midst of the Synagogue. It is intended as a reparation to our Saviour, for the treatment he received in the Court of Pilate.

The Priest then advances to the middle of the Altar, and, with his face still turned towards the people, he removes the veil entirely from the Cross. He elevates it more than he did the two preceding times, and triumphantly sings on a still higher note:

Ecce lignum Crucis;

Behold the wood of the

Cross ;

The Deacon and Subdeacon here unite their voices with his ;

in quo salus mundi pepen- on which hung the salvation dit.

of the world.

The people fall down upon their knees, and the

Choir sings :

Venite adoremus.

Come, let us adore,

This third and unreserved manifestation represents the mystery of the Cross being preached to the whole earth,

when the Apostles, after being rejected by the majority of the Jewish people, turned towards the Gentiles, and preached Jesus Crucified, even far beyond the limits of the Roman Empire. It is intended as a Reparation to our Lord for the outrages offered to him on Calvary.

There is also another teaching embodied in this ceremony of holy Church. By this gradual unveiling of the Cross, she would express to us the contrast of the Jewish and the Christian view. The one finds nothing in Christ Crucified but shame and ignominy: the other discovers in him the power and the wisdom of God.1 Honour, then, and veneration to his Cross ! The veil is removed by Faith. Unveiled let it be upon our Altar, for He that died upon it is soon to triumph by a glorious Resurrection 1 Yea, let every Crucifix in our Church be unveiled, and


Altar beam once more with the vision of the glorious Standard !

But the Church is not satisfied with showing her Children the Cross that has saved them; she would have them approach, and kiss it. The Priest leads the way. He has already taken off his Chasuble; he now takes off his shoes also, and then advances towards the place where he has put the Crucifix. He makes three genuflexions at intervals, and finally kisses the Cross. The Deacon and Subdeacon follow him, then the clergy, and lastly the people.

The chants which are used during this ceremony are exceedingly fine. First of all, there are the Improperia, that is, the Reproaches made by our Saviour to the Jews. Each of the first three stanzas of this plaintive Hymn is followed by the Trisagion, or Prayer to the Thrice Holy God, who, as Man, suffers death for us. Oh ! let us fervently proclaim him to be The Holy, The Immortal! This form of prayer was used at Constantinople, so far back as the fifth Century. The Roman Church adopted it, retaining even the original Greek words, to which, however, she adds a Latin translation. The rest of this beautiful chant contains the comparison made by our Lord, between the favours he has bestowed

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11. Cor. i. 24.

upon the Jewish people, and the injuries he has received from them in return.


Popule meus, quid feci My people, what have I tibi, aut in quo contristavi done to thee? or in what have te? Responde mihi. Quia I grieved thee? Answer me. eduxi te de terra Ægypti ! Because I brought thee out of parasti crucem Salvatori the land of Egypt, thou hast tuo.

prepared a Cross for thy Sa

viour. Agios o Theos.

O Holy God! Sanctus Deus.

O Holy God! Agios ischyros.

O Holy and Strong ! Sanctus fortis.

O Holy and Strong! Agios athanatos, eleison O Holy and Immortal! imas.

have mercy on us. Sanctus immortalis, mise- O Holy and Immortal! rere nobis.

have mercy on us.

Quia eduxi te per deser- Because I was thy guide tum quadraginta annis : et through the desert for forty mannā cibavi te, et intro- years, and fed thee with duxi te in terram satis bo- manna, and brought thee nam, parasti crucem Salva- into an excellent land, thou tori tuo.

hast prepared a cross for thy

Saviour. Agios o Theos, &e.

O Holy God, &c.

Quid ultra debui facere What more should I have tibi, et non feci ? Ego qui- done to thee, and have not dem plantavi te vineam me- done? I have planted thee am speciosissimam : et tu for my most beautiful vinefacta es mihi nimis amara : yard : and thou hast proved aceto namque sitim meam very bitter to me, for in my potasti : et lancea perforasti thirst thou gavest me vinegar latus Salvatori tuo.

to drink; and piercedst the side of thy Saviour with a

spear. Agios o Theos, &c.

O Holy God, &c.

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