By: Modesto Sa-onoy
This piece was delivered yesterday at church of the Triumph of the Holy Cruz parish of Fr. Joevic Lemoncito. However, I spoke in Hiligaynon. I am publishing this due to inquiries about this festival that falls in May and the end of summer.
The word “santacruzan” is a Filipino version of the Spanish “Fiesta de la Santa Cruz” or Feast of the Holy Cross. This Spanish festival was introduced in Spanish colonies in the Americas and the Philippines. The celebrations, however date back to antiquity and through the centuries has evolved depending upon the culture of the adopting countries and temper of the times.
Santacruzan should not be confused with the Flores de Mayo or Flowers of May. The two are different, firstly because Flores de Mayo is basically Filipino although there are flower festivals in European countries during the spring in March until the summer in August.
Flores de Mayo focuses solely on the Blessed Mother Mary while the Santacruzan features St. Helen and the Cross.
The Santacruzan is held to commemorate the finding of the Holy Cross by St. Helen, the first Christian Empress. When she was converted to Christianity, she went to Jerusalem although she was already 75 years old, to look for the Cross on which Jesus was crucified.
Legend has it that when the workers excavated the spot in Calvary, they found three crosses and to determine which one was the cross on which Jesus died, she had her sick handmaid lie on top of these crosses. The one where the handmaid recovered was declared to be the true cross and brought to Constantinople.
The finding of the cross took place on September 14, 320 and since then the Finding of the Holy Cross was celebrated on this day.