Feast of Exaltation of the Holy Cross
The Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross was celebrated at St. Mary Armenian Church on September 15, with an Antasdan Service immediately following the Divine Liturgy. The Armenian Apostolic Church celebrates the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (Khachverats in Armenian) on the Sunday nearest to September 15.
It is one of the five major feasts of the Armenian Church, and the most important of the four feasts of the Holy Cross. According to the tradition, the first one to "exalt" the Cross was the Apostle James of Jerusalem, also known as the "Brother of the Lord."
After the Badarak an Antasdan service (blessing of the fields) was celebrated during which the processional cross adorned with basil (a symbol of royalty) was carried and the four corners of the church were blessed as a sign of the sanctification of the world. This sweet-smelling plant is associated with the celebration of this feast because in the early decades of Christianity, basil was a symbol of royalty, befitting the Savior who was crucified as a King. Church traditions also recall a beautiful story of the miraculous growth of basil on the ground at the foot of the Cross of the Lord after it had been removed. Basil, according to pious traditions, continued to grow on that ground despite the faithful cutting and taking it home.