The Church has set a feast of the Holy Cross in the middle of Lent so that, looking to the sign of our Lord Jesus Christ’s victory over death, Christians may have courage in the face of any challenge. Fear not is also the message that Basilica.ro insists on during this Lent.
Looking at the Romanian saints, we see that the Cross’s most obvious promoter as a sign of victory is the Holy Prince Stephen the Great.
“The Holy Cross has always been the invincible weapon of Prince Stephen”, says historian Gh. Ghibănescu.
And how could the ruler prince called “Trophy-bearer for Faith” and even “Athlete of Christ” not be a lover of the Cross?
According to historian Ștefan S. Gorovei above all that is expressed in words, there is a heraldic testimony in which Stephen himself expressed his belief, with all conciseness: the coat of arms he fixed around 1490 and which, with minor modifications, he would wear until death.
The coat of arms includes a double-cross and a double lily flower, which symbolizes the same sign of the Cross.
Saint Stephen, therefore, placed all his actions, struggles and efforts under the sign of the Honourable Cross.
From behind the shield of the Holy Cross, he became so many times victorious; and the victories and the few defeats were regarded by Stephen as ordained by God. Therefore, as the chroniclers say, he fasted and prayed whenever he confronted his enemies.
After the resounding battle in Vaslui, for example, which “from God alone, they counted that it is… four days they ate no food, only bread with water” mention “The Chronicles of Romania or the Chronicles of Moldavia and Wallachia.”
“I took the sword in my hand, and with the help of our Sovereign Almighty God, I went against the enemies of Christendom, I overcame them and trampled on them… for which may our Lord and God be praised,” said the holy ruler prince.
And after losing the battle of Războieni, tradition says that he went to a hermit near Voroneţ, Saint Daniel, he confessed to the hermit and asked for his advice, which he followed exactly.
“By the will of God, the Christians were defeated by the heathens (…) My Court and I did what I could, and what you know happened. What I consider to be God’s will to punish me for my sins, and praise be to His name.”
Here is another example of unwavering courage based on God’s power. Let us, like St. Stephen, take the sweet weapons with which true Christians wage the “good fight”: the Holy Cross, humility, fasting, spiritual obedience, and faith in God.
* Note: The information about Saint Stephen was taken from the book “Saint Stephen the Great. The church. A history lesson,” published by Putna Monastery in 2004.