On May 7 in the year 351, those living in Jerusalem witnessed an intensely illumined cross appear in the sky extending from Golgotha to the Mount of Olives; a span of almost two miles. As it remained visible for several hours, the population of Jerusalem assembled in the church to praise Jesus Christ for the miraculous sign, but this apparition not only affected the locals. St. Cyril the Bishop of Jerusalem wrote about the miracle in a letter to the Emperor Constantius of Constantinople who at the time, believed in the Arian heresy which denies Jesus is God, and claims He was a created being, subordinate to God the Father. Upon reading the letter, Emperor Constantius was deeply moved and returned to the orthodox teaching of the Church that Jesus is God, equal in nature to the Father. The Armenian translation of this letter is read on the Feast of the Appearance of the Holy Cross «Երեւումն Սուրբ Խաչին» during the Անդաստան service. St. Cyril writes,
But you, most pious Lord Emperor, have surpassed your father’s piety with an even greater reverence for the divine, and in your time miracles have now appeared no longer from the ground but in the heavens: the trophy of the victory which our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, the Only-begotten Son of God, won over death – I refer to the blessed Cross – has been seen flashing like lightning over Jerusalem.
In these holy days of the Easter season, on May 7 at about the third hour, a huge cross made of light appeared in the sky above holy Golgotha extending as far as the holy Mount of Olives. It was not revealed to one or two people alone, but it appeared unmistakably to everyone in the city. It was not as if one might conclude that one had suffered a momentary optical illusion; it was visible to the human eye above the earth for several hours. The flashes it emitted outshone the rays of the sun, which would have outshone and obscured it themselves if it had not presented the watchers with a more powerful illumination than the sun. It prompted the whole populace at once to run together into the holy church, overcome both with fear and joy at the divine vision. Young and old, men and women of every age, even young girls confined to their rooms at home, natives and foreigners, Christians and pagans visiting from abroad, all together as if with a single voice raised a hymn of praise to God’s Only-begotten Son the wonder-worker. They had the evidence of their own senses that the holy faith of Christians is not based on the persuasive arguments of philosophy but on the revelation of the Spirit and power (cf. I Corinthians 2:4); it is not proclaimed by mere human beings but testified from heaven by God himself. (trans. Edward Yarnold, S.J. Cyril of Jerusalem, Routledge, 2000)
The Cross still appears in the world around us. Wherever there is opportunity for sacrifice, healing, forgiveness, mercy, redemption, and love in the name of Jesus Christ, there is the Cross. Pray that God opens our eyes to its appearance.