Mount Airy Catholics to venerate True Cross relic on Good Friday
MOUNT AIRY — Shortly before I moved to Mount Airy, I read a fascinating book called "The Living Wood" by Louis de Wohl, which tells the story of St. Helena and her son Constantine, the first Christian emperor of Rome. According to legend, Helena discovered the True Cross, hidden for centuries under the ruins of a pagan temple in Jerusalem.
"The Living Wood" also introduced me to the fascinating "Golden Legend" – the story of the tree which would eventually become the cross on which Jesus died. According to the legend, it begins at the time of Genesis when St. Michael the Archangel gives Seth (the son born to Adam and Eve after Cain slew Abel) a seed from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil to plant in the mouth of Adam when he was buried.
The seed eventually became a tree which grew for centuries. When it was chopped down, its wood was deemed unusable, so the trunk was thrown across a stream as a bridge. The Queen of Sheba, on her way to visit Solomon, approached the bridge and received a vision that the wood would be used to crucify the Savior.
The queen knelt in reverence and told Solomon about her vision. Solomon saw this vision as a warning of the destruction of his kingdom and had the tree removed and buried. More than a thousand years later, at the proper time, it was discovered and used to fashion the cross that Jesus carried to Calvary.
After the True Cross was discovered, pieces of it were quickly dispersed throughout the world. One of the largest is preserved at the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, and many churches and individuals claim to have a piece of this "living wood."
With such a colorful history fresh in my mind, I was in awe to discover that as I knelt in front of the tabernacle at my new parish in Mount Airy, Holy Angels Church, I was praying just a few feet from a relic of that True Cross. It was displayed in a niche above the altar but has since been locked away for safekeeping. The relic is brought out on Good Friday and the Feast of the Holy Cross (Sept. 14) to be venerated by parishioners and visitors to the parish.
Father Eric Kowalski, pastor, says the relic was obtained by his predecessor, Father Thomas Stott. Father Stott had connections with several bishops in Rome and he already possessed an extensive collection of relics, along with documentation as to their authenticity. Unfortunately, Father Stott has passed away and cannot give an account as to how the True Cross relic came into his possession.
Father Kowalski attests to the blessings the relic has brought to Holy Angels.
"I was very happy, upon my arrival, to learn of the presence of this relic here in our parish. I consider our parish family quite blessed because of it. In addition to the wonderful gift and privilege of being able to spend time in adoration of Our Lord in the Holy Eucharist during our weekly Holy Hour and Eucharistic Benediction, we are fortunate to be able to venerate the relic of the True Cross not only on Good Friday, but also on the Feast of the Holy Cross.
"The presence of the relic has borne much spiritual fruit in the lives of our parish family members through their understanding of the Cross as what it truly is: the instrument of our salvation."
Holy Angels parishioner Erik Moledor simply and eloquently vocalizes the range of emotions one experiences at venerating a relic of the True Cross, "This wood held God!"
The True Cross relic will be venerated at the Good Friday liturgy at 3 p.m. on April 6 at Holy Angels Church, 1208 North Main St. Visitors are always welcome.
— Peggy Bowes, correspondent
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FROM THE PASTORS
Read and listen to homilies posted regularly by pastors at parishes within the Diocese of Charlotte:
- Fr. Frank Cancro at Queen of the Apostles
- Fr. Patrick Earl at St. Peter in Charlotte
- Fr. John Eckert at St. John the Baptist in Tryon
- Fr. Timothy Reid at St. Ann in Charlotte
- Fr. Benjamin Roberts at Our Lady of Lourdes in Monroe
- Fr. Patrick Winslow at St. Thomas Aquinas in Charlotte
- Watch full Masses live and on demand, listen to homilies and reflections from Sacred Heart Church in Salisbury
- Listen to homilies from St. William Catholic Church in Murphy