Forefeast of the Elevation of the Holy Cross
Apolytikion of Forefeast of the Exaltation in the Second Tone
We offer Thee in mediation the life-giving Cross which, of Thy goodness, Thou hast given unto us, the unworthy, O Lord. Save Thy hierarchs and Thy flock, and grant Thou peace through the Theotokos, O only friend of man.
The Consecration of the Church of the Holy Resurrection (Holy Sepulchre)
The church that is honoured far above all others is that of the Holy Resurrection, which Saint Constantine the Great constructed at the place of Golgotha, where our Saviour was crucified and buried. For a long time this place had been purposely buried beneath the earth by the Jews and heathen; furthermore, during the reign of Hadrian (117-138), a temple dedicated to Aphrodite was built over the site so that this sacred place might be even further desecrated and fall into utter oblivion. It was here that the Cross was hidden. However, at the command of the pious Emperor Constantine, excavations were made and the tokens of the saving Passion were found. It was here, then, that the very great and magnificent temple named in honour of Christ God’s Resurrection-the Anastasis-was built under the supervision of the blessed Helen, while Dracilian was Eparch of Palestine and Macarius was Archbishop of Jerusalem. It was the latter, also, who exalted the venerable Cross and performed the consecration of this temple in the year 336.
Apolytikion of Temple of the Resurrection in the Fourth Tone
Thou hast shown the earthly beauty of the holy tabernacle of Thy glory to be like unto the splendour of the heavenly firmament, O Lord. Strengthen it for ever and ever, and accept our prayers which we unceasingly offer therein unto Thee, through the Theotokos, O Thou Who art the Life and Resurrection of all.
Kontakion of Temple of the Resurrection in the Fourth Tone
The Church is shown to be a many-lighted heaven that doth shine a guiding light upon all them that do believe; wherein while standing we cry aloud: Do Thou Thyself now establish this house, O Lord.
Saint Cornelius the Centurion & Martyr
Soon after the Lord Jesus Christ’s Ascension into Heaven, a centurion by the name of Cornelios settled at Caesarea in Palestine, who had lived previously in Thracian Italy. Although he was a pagan, he distinguished himself by deep piety and good deeds, as the holy Evangelist Luke records in Acts 10:1. The Lord did not disdain his virtuous life and led him to the knowledge of truth through the enlightening light of faith in Christ.
Once, Cornelios was at prayer in his home. An angel of God appeared to him and said that his prayer had been heard and accepted by God. The angel commanded him to send people to Joppa to Simon, called Peter. Cornelios immediately fulfilled the command. While those people were on their way to Joppa, the Apostle Peter was at prayer, during which time he had a vision three times of a vessel being lowered down to him, filled with all kinds of beasts and fowl. He heard a voice from Heaven commanding him to eat everything. When the Apostle refused to eat anything unclean, the voice said, “What God has cleansed, you must not call common” (Acts 10:15). Through this vision, the Lord commanded Apostle Peter to preach the Word of God to the pagans. When Peter arrived at the house of Cornelius in the company of those sent to meet him, he was received with great joy and respect by the host together with his kinsmen and comrades.
Cornelios fell down at the feet of the Apostle and requested to be taught the way of salvation. St Peter began to preach about the earthly life of Jesus Christ, about the miracles and signs worked by the Saviour, about His sufferings, His teachings about the Kingdom of Heaven, His death on the Cross, His Resurrection and Ascent into Heaven. By grace, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, Cornelios believed in Christ and was Baptised together with all his family. He was the first pagan to receive Baptism. He retired from the world and went preaching the Gospel together with the Apostle Peter, who made him a Bishop.
When Apostle Peter, together with his helpers Sts Timothy and Cornelios, was in the city of Ephesus, he learned of particularly vigorous idol worship in the city of Skepsis. Lots were drawn to see who would go there, and St Cornelios was chosen. In the city lived a prince by the name of Demetrius, learned in the ancient Greek philosophy, hating Christianity and venerating the pagan gods, in particular Apollo and Zeus. Learning about the arrival of St Cornelios in the city, he immediately summoned him and asked him the reason for his coming. St Cornelios answered that he came to free him from the darkness of ignorance and lead him to knowledge of the True Light.
The prince, not comprehending the meaning of what was said, became angry and demanded that he answer each of his questions. When St Cornelios explained that he served the Lord and that the reason for his coming was to announce the Truth, the prince became enraged and demanded that Cornelios offer sacrifice to the idols. The Saint asked to be shown the gods. When he entered the pagan temple, Cornelius turned towards the east and uttered a prayer to the Lord. There was an earthquake, and the temple of Zeus and the idols situated in it were destroyed. All the populace, seeing what had happened, were terrified.
The prince was even more vexed and began to take counsel together with those approaching him, about how to destroy Cornelios. They bound the Saint and took him to prison for the night. At this point, one of his servants informed the prince that his wife and child had perished beneath the rubble of the destroyed temple. After a while, the pagan priest Barbates reported that he heard the voice of the wife and son somewhere in the ruins and that they were praising the God of the Christians. The pagan priest asked that the imprisoned one be released, in gratitude for the miracle worked by St Cornelios, and the wife and son of the prince remained alive.
The joyful prince hurried to the prison declaring that he believed in Christ and asking him to bring his wife and son out of the ruins of the temple. St Cornelius went to the destroyed temple, and through prayer the suffering were freed. After this the prince, and all his relatives and comrades, accepted Baptism. St Cornelios lived for a long time in this city, converted all the pagan inhabitants to Christ, and made Eunomios a Presbyter in service to the Lord. St Cornelios died in old age as a martyr and was buried not far from the pagan temple he destroyed.
Dismissal Hymn (Fourth Tone)
In your manner a participant, and in your throne a successor of the Apostles, you discovered action an entrance into visions, O Inspired one of God. Therefore directing the Word of truth, you suffered for the faith even to blood. O Bishop and Martyr Cornelios, pray to Christ God that our souls may be saved!
Kontakion (Fourth Tone)
The Church has received you as the holy first-fruits of the nations; for you illumine her with your great deeds of godly virtues, O hallowed and sacred initiate, most godly Cornelius.