The feast of the Universal Elevation of the Precious Cross was celebrated on the island of Leros with impressive Byzantine ceremony. Photos by Georgios Chrisoulis, Nikolaos Daloglou
On the evening of Tuesday 13 September, in the historic church of the Precious Cross, in Platanos, Great Festal Episcopal Vespers was celebrated, presided over by their Eminences Metropolitan Iosif of Prikonnisos and Paisios of Leros, Kalymnos and Astypalaia, assisted by the clergy of the island, in the presence of local leaders and a full congregation.
After Vespers, a small portion of the Precious Cross was carried in procession. This is normally kept in the Monastery of the Holy Angels, on Leros. It was accompanied on its way through the streets of Platanos by the holy icon of the Elevation of the Precious Cross.
The procession was led by the band of the Municipality of Leros, playing a march by Beethoven.
The procession through the streets of Platanos.
The customary prayers on behalf of people from Leros now living abroad were said in front of the Town Hall.
With all due reverence, clergy, local officials and members of the congregation venerated the wonder-working icon of the Precious Cross and passed underneath it as it was held on high by soldiers.
The holy icon being held by soldiers.
On the morning of Wednesday, 14 September, the Divine Liturgy was held, presided over by their Eminences Metropolitan Iosif of Prikonnisos and Paisios of Leros, Kalymnos and Astypalaia, assisted by the clergy of the island.
The sermon was preached by His Eminence Metropolitan Iosif, who addressed it particularly to the students of Middle School who were in the congregation.
He explained that the Cross is the linear and geometrical parameter of God’s love. This love starts from heaven and descends to earth (the vertical part of the Cross) and from East to West (the horizontal arm), thus leaving nobody and nothing outside it. Christ is Love Crucified. God so loved the world that He gave His Only-Begotten Son to be crucified for its sake.
His Eminence made a distinction between real love and the false loves of this world. He stressed that true love is known by its humility, its generosity and its sacrifice. He gave examples of true love from the ‘Book of the Elders’ and from the lives of contemporary saints, as well as of the sacrificial love shown by Christians towards their fellow human beings in difficult times.
Finally, he conveyed to Metropolitan Paisios and the flock on Leros, the prayers, blessings and love of the Ecumenical Patriarch, as well as the interest of the Mother Church of Constantinople. (Leros, as well as the other islands in the Dodecanese and certain other parts of Greece, come under the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, not that of the Church of Greece).
Immediately afterwards, in an atmosphere of great reverence and ceremony, the rite of the Elevation of the Precious Cross was celebrated.
The whole congregation reverenced the Cross, which was held by His Eminence. They took his blessing, as well as the basil and holy water which the ladies will use for leaven to make bread and Church loaves.