The Cross Worldwide
It was on a cross that Christ stretched His hands and raised us up to our former blessed state, of which the enemy of old deprived us.
There is no greater weapon than the sign of the Life Giving Cross of Christ. It is the Cross that subdues the enemy! It is the Cross that delivers fallen mankind! It is the Cross that is victorious!
Fr Alexander Schmemann wrote of the Cross; "In spite of everything, the Cross is still elevated, exalted and triumphant. The Cross is the beauty of the universe. For in whatever darkness people find themselves, and however great the outward triumph of evil in this world, the heart still knows and hears the words, 'Take courage, I have overcome the world.'".
It comes as no surprise then, that the Cross represents hope and victory for Christians worldwide. The Cross stands highly visible in many places, a poignant symbol of triumph, and a promise fulfilled. Here are some of the most well-known:
The Monumento Nacional de Santa Cruz (National Monument of the Holy Cross), at 152.4 metres high, is the tallest cross in the world. Located at Cuelgamuros in the Guadarrama Valley near Madrid, Spain, it was built under order of Generalissimo Francisco Franco to honour the people killed in the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939).
The World Trade Center Cross (also known as the Ground Zero Cross) is a group of steel beams found amidst the debris of the World Trade Center following the September 11 attacks, resembling a cross. Many who saw the crossed metal bars felt its survival was symbolic, describing it as a "symbol of hope... faith... (and) healing".
A 31.4 metre high illuminated cross crowns Mount Royal on the Island of Montreal, Canada. A cross was first placed on the mountain by Paul Chomedey de Maisonneuve, founder of Montreal, in fulfillment of a vow he made to the Virgin Mary when he prayed to her to stop a disastrous flood. The current cross was installed in 1924 by the Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste.
The Kryžių Kalnas (Hill of Crosses) located near Šiauliai, Lithuania is a site of pilgrimage. The first crosses were placed on the former hill fort in the 14th century and in the following years, thousands of crosses (along with rosaries and statues of the Virgin) have been placed by pilgrims. During Soviet rule, the communists worked hard to remove new crosses, and the site was bulldozed at least three times, but new crosses continued to appear and by 1985, the authorities gave up.
(Don't ask me why most of these crosses were raised by Roman Catholics. It seems that we Eastern Christians aren't too fond of erecting large crosses any where else other than atop churches.)
To Eastern Orthodox Christians, the largest fragment of the True Cross is preserved at the Holy Monastery of Xeropotamou on Mount Athos.
Western Christians believe the largest surviving piece of the True Cross is held in Santo Toribio de Liébana, a Franciscan monastery in Spain.
Come, all ye peoples of our fatherland, let us honour the Cross of the Lord with hymns, crying Rejoice, O Cross, thou perfect deliverance of fallen Adam; for in thee do most faithful rulers boast, for through thy power are the Moslem hordes mightily subdued! And now, venerating with fear thee upon whom God was nailed, we Christians render glory, saying O Lord Who wast nailed thereto, have mercy upon us, in that Thou art good and lovest mankind!
- Hymn from Orthros, Elevation of the Holy Cross