The first day of August [August 13 n.s.], friends, is dedicated to the remembrance of the procession of the venerable wood of the Cross of the Lord. This feast was established in the twelfth century on the occasion of a miraculous victory won by the Russian Grand Prince Andrey Bogolyubsky over the Bulgars who lived along the Volga River. In the Prince’s regiments there was always an icon of the Mother of God and the Holy Cross. In war, the pious Prince trusted God’s help more than his own weapons. Before the battle, according to the usual custom, the Prince prayed fervently before the icon of the Mother of God and the Holy Cross, and following his example, all the soldiers knelt and prayed; then, having kissed the icon and the Cross, all fearlessly went out against the enemies.
After such preparations, having won a victory over the enemy on August 1, Prince Bogolyubsky, upon returning to his camp, was vouchsafed to see a wonderful sign of God’s help: Bright rays emanated from the icon of the Mother of God and covered the entire army with their light. This vision inspired the Russian forces even more, so that they turned again against the enemies and completely dispersed them.
Later it turned out that the Greek Emperor Manuel, who was fighting against the Persians, on the same day of August 1, saw a similar sign from the icon of the Mother of God and the Holy Cross and also defeated his enemies. In commemoration of this glorious visitation of God, the two royal leaders, by mutual agreement, established a feast on this day, which they called “The Procession of the Venerable Wood of the Cross of the Lord,” from the procession of the royal leaders with the Holy Cross against their enemies. They ordered that on this day the Holy Cross should be carried out from the altar and placed in the midst of the Church for the veneration of Christians, and that they should go with it to springs, rivers, lakes and wells for the blessing of water.
Friends! The Holy Church in her sacred hymns, glorifying the Cross of Christ, thus prays to the Lord to save people and grant victory to our beloved Monarch over enemies by the power of the Holy Cross. The Russian Orthodox tsars, and the kingdom entrusted to them, have always defeated the enemies of Christianity by the power of the Lord’s Cross. Let us pray fervently now, heeding the prayer of the Holy Church, that the power of the Cross of the Lord will preserve the precious life of our Emperor Nicholas Alexandrovich,1 strengthen him in the great and difficult Royal service and give him victory over the external and internal enemies of our fatherland.
O Cross of the Lord! Guide us all to the path of salvation, establish peace and calm in our land, so that we may live a quiet and peaceful life in all piety and purity. Save, O Lord, Thy people and bless Thine inheritance.
1 August 1914