Exaltation of the Holy Cross (Khachveratz)
In the Armenian Church there are five great annual feasts which are called Daghavars. They are: Christmas, Easter, Transfiguration (Vartavar), Assumption of Saint Mary, and Elevation of the Holy Cross. The Feast of the Elevation of the Holy Cross is the last one of these five Daghavars. The day following each Daghavar is designated as a memorial day for the departed by death (merelotz in the Armenian language). Also, the week preceding each Daghavar is a week of fast, except for Easter, which has its own seven week fast named the great fast or lent. On the following Monday of the Daghavars, people usually go to the cemetery to honor the memory of their departed ones, and the priest blesses the tombs. And also it is a duty for the Church members to receive communion on the days of Daghavar, or at least on Christmas and Easter, previously having confessed to the priest. The Feast of the Elevation of the Holy Cross commemorates the emancipation of the Cross of Christ from Persia and elevation of it on the Calvary in Jerusalem. The story of this event is as follows:
When the Persian King, King Khosrov, occupied Jerusalem in 610 (AD.), he carried also the Cross of Christ with him to Persia as a bondage in order to insult the Christian community. In 628 (A. D.) Emperor Heracles of Constantinople conquered Persia and emancipated the Cross of Christ from the bondage and brought it back to Jerusalem. The Armenian people also have theiJ1own share in this event. When the Cross was emancipated from Persia, it was brought first to Garin (a city in Armenia), and it was carried through Armenia into Constantinople and then to Jerusalem. Patriarch Zakariah of Jerusalem decorated the Cross with roses and flowers and erected it on the Hill of Calvary. On this occasion the Church of Jerusalem celebrated\the emancipation of the Cross of Christ with great honor and much enthusiasm in order to inspire the people with the spiritual meaning of the Cross. One mountain top of Garin is called Khachapayd (the wood of the Holy Cross). When the Cross was carried from Persia to ! Jerusalem, the carriers passed through a road on this mountain. This is the reason why this mountain top is called the Khachapayd. Also, for the same reason an Armenian convent near the City of Garin is called Khachga Vank (the Convent of the Cross)
The Roman Catholic Church celebrates the Feast of the Elevation of the Cross on September 14th, whether that day falls on one of the weekdays or Sunday. The Armenian Church celebrates it on the Sunday nearest to September 14th.
Between the Feast of Khachveratz and the Feast of Varaka Khach, there is another commemoration which is called “The Feast of the Church.” This commemoration has close connection with the feasts of the Cross. That is the reason that it is celebrated in this period.
Thank you to our sister parish St. Gregory the Illumnator Church of Philadelphia for this information