Today at the Solemn Veneration of the cross we will sing the Crux Fidelis, a hymn about the Cross of Christ written by St. Venantius Fortunatis in the late 6th century. Traditionally sung during the transferal of the Blessed Sacrament during the Good Friday Liturgy, it was written for the reception of a large relic of the True Cross from the Byzantine Emperor Justinian II to the monastery of St. Croix at Poitiers.
The beautiful poem hails the victory over Adam’s original sin by Christ, the New Adam, and His Holy Cross. He went out to what is called the Place of the Skull, in Hebrew, Golgotha. Traditional says “the skull” was that of Adam and the tree which hung our Savior was fashioned from a limb of the very tree from which Eve stole the fruit in the garden.
Faithful is the Cross, one noble tree among all others:
no forest has offered anything like unto it
in foliage, flower or seed.
Sweet the wood, sweet the nails,
sweet the weight which it supports.
Sing, my tongue, the victory of the glorious battle, and tell the
noble triumph won on the memorial sign of the Cross: how the
Redeemer of the World, once sacrificed, was conquered.
The Creator, sorrowing over the deceit of our first parents, when
a bite of deadly fruit cast them into death, took note of that tree
then, so that he might release those damned by it.
This work of our salvation demanded a proper order, so that art
might deceive the manifold art of the deceiver, and the enemy
might pay the price from the same place he inflicted the wound.
Eternal glory to the Blessed Trinity, and to Father and to Son
coequal; likewise to the coequal Paraclete: let all creation
praise the Name of the One and Three. Amen.
translation by Albert Trudel, OP