"I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else."
C. S. Lewis

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Day the Sky Caught Fire

Appearance Over Jerusalem of the Sign of the Precious and Life-giving Cross

n 7 May 350, the Day of Pentecost, in the reign of Constantius, son of Saint Constantine the Great, and the episcopate of Saint Cyril of Jerusalem, there appeared in the sky over Jerusalem at the third hour, the hour of our Lord’s crucifixion (Mark 15:25),  an immense and shining Cross, that stretched from Golgotha to the Mount of Olives. Its radiance was such that it surpassed the rays of the sun. All the people, both young and old, ran to the Church of the Resurrection, to raise hymns of thanksgiving to God for this miracle that manifested the glory of the Cross and its victory over the powers of darkness.

Hieromonk Makaios of Simonos Petra, The Synaxarion: The Lives of the Saints of the Orthodox Church (Chalkidike: Holy Convent of The Annunciation of Our Lady, 2005) Vol. 5, p. 70.


Socrates Scholasticus, an early fifth century Greek church historian, authored a seven-book Ecclesiastical History, writing:
"At the time that Cyril administered the Church of Jerusalem after Maximus, the sign of the Cross appeared in the sky. It shone brilliantly, not with divergent rays like a comet, but with the concentration of a great deal of light, apparently dense and yet transparent. Its length was about 15 stadia from Calvary to the Mount of Olives, and its breadth was in proportion to its length.

“So extraordinary a phenomenon excited universal terror. Men, women, and children left their houses, the market place, or their respective employments, and ran to the church, where together they sang hymns to Christ, and voluntarily confessed their belief in God. Reports of it disturbed in no little measure our entire dominions, and this happened rapidly; for, as the custom was, there were travelers from every part of the world who were dwelling at Jerusalem for prayer, or to visit its places of interest. These were spectators of the sign, and divulged the facts to their friends at home.

“The Emperor was made acquainted with the occurrence, partly by numerous reports concerning it which were then current, and partly by a letter from Cyril the Bishop. It was said that this prodigy was a fulfillment of an ancient prophecy contained in the Holy Scriptures [Mt 24:30]. It was the means of the conversion of many pagans and Jews to Christianity." (Ecclesiastical History, book 4, chapter 5)

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