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May 3.

The Invention, or Discovery of the Holy Cross, A. D. 326. St. Alexander, Pope, A.D. 119[.]


This festival of the Romish church is also in the church of England calendar; Mr. Audley says, "the word invention sometimes signifies the finding a thing that was hidden;" thence the name of this festival, which celebrates the alleged finding of the cross of Christ by St. Helena, who is said to have found three crosses on Mount Calvary, but the true one could not be distinguished, till a sick woman being placed on each, was healed by one, which was therefore pronounced the veritable cross. Mr. Audley quotes, that "the custody of the cross was committed to the bishop of Jerusalem. Every Easter Sunday it was exposed to view, and pilgrims from all countries were indulged with little pieces of it enchased in gold or gems. What was most astonishing, the sacred wood was never lessened, although it was perpetually diminished, for it possessed a secret power of vegetation." It appears from Ribadeneira, that St. Paulinus, says, "the cross being a piece of wood without sense or feeling, yet seemeth to have in it a living and everlasting virtue; and from that time to this it permitteth itself to be parted and divided to comply with innumerable persons, and yet suffereth no loss or detriment, but remains as entire as if it had never been cut, so that it can be severed, parted, and divided, for those among whom it is to be distributed, and still remains whole and entire for all that come to reverence and adore it." There is no other way left to the Romish church to account for the superabundance of the wood of the cross.

Robert Parker wrote a remarkably learned book, in folio, entitled—"A Scholasticall Discourse against symbolizing with Antichrist in ceremonies: especially in the signe of the Crosse, 1607." This erudite work subjected Parker to a persecution under James I., from which he fled to Doesburg, where he died in 1630.


This constellation is in about 185 degrees of longitude; its south-polar distance being only about 39 degrees, it cannot be seen in the northern parts of Europe.* [1] Humboldt who observed the cross of the soouth, thus eloquently describes it:—"The lower regions of the air were loaded with vapours for some days. We saw distinctly, for the first time, the cross of the south, only in the night of the 4th and 5th of July, in the sixteenth degree of latitude. It was strongly inclined, and appeared, from time to time, between the clouds, the centre of which, furrowed by uncondensed lightnings, reflected a silver light. The pleasure felt on discovering the southern cross was warmly shared by such of the crew as had lived in the colonies. In the solitude of the seas, we hail a star as a friend from whom we have been long separated. Among the Portuguese and the Spaniards, peculiar motives seem to increase this feeling; a religious sentiment attaches them to a constellation, the form of which recalls the sign of the faith planted by their ancestors in the deserts of the new world. The two great stars which mark the summit and the foot of the cross, having nearly the same right ascension, it follows, that the constellation is almost vertical at the moment when it passes the meridian. This circumstance is known to every nation that lives beyond the tropics, or in the southern hemisphere. It is known at what hour of the night, in different season, the southern cross is erect, or inclined. It is a timepiece that advances very regularly nearly four minutes a day; and no other group of stars exhibits, to the naked eye, an observation of time so easily made. How often have we heard our guides exclaim, in the savannas of Venezuela, or in the desert extending from Lima to Truxillo, 'Midnight is past, the cross begins to bend!' How often these words reminded us of that affecting scene, where Paul and Virginia, seated near the source of the river of Lataniers, conversed together for the last time; and when the old man, at the sight of the southern cross, warns them that it is time to separate!"


Poetic Narcissus. Narcissus poeticus.
Invention of the Cross.


Notes [all notes are Hone's unless otherwise indicated]:

1. Dr. Forster Peren. Cal. [return]