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Five fast facts about the widely anticipated Santacruzan

While we can’t celebrate this popular event this year, we can still learn a lot about it!

Had it not been for the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing quarantine that has so far stretched to the end of May, Filipino communities would be busy preparing for the Santacruzan, a highly anticipated pageant held on the last day of Flores de Mayo. 

So while we can’t celebrate this annual event this year, we can still learn a lot about it. Here are five fast facts on the Santacruzan: 

Santacruzan and Flores de Mayo are two different things.

Photos from (Left) Panay News; (Right) The Catholic World Report

Some people think these two events are one and the same. Flores de Mayo refers to the month-long celebration in May held in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Santacruzan refers to the parade of characters based on the Queen Helena’s search for the Holy Cross (or in Spanish, “santacruzan”). 

Also Read: Flores de Mayo vs. Santacruzan—what’s the difference?

The Santacruzan is a religious event.

Photo from Catholic Online

Though it appears like a fashion show or beauty pageant, what with its good-looking participants dressed and made up in their finest, the Santacruzan is actually a religious affair.

A novena in honor of the Holy Cross is held and completed before the Santacruzan parade. As mentioned, the parade is based on Constantine the Great’s mother, Queen Helena, whose search for the Holy Cross led her to find it in Jerusalem in around 320. Thus, the lady who portrays Sta. Elena in the Santacruzan carries a crucifix in her hands. 

The Santacruzan involves a cast of characters.

Photo from The Philippine Reporter

Sta. Elena may be the star of this parade, but she is ably supported by equally important religious and historical characters

The Holy Cross lives up to its name.

Emperor Constantine’s mother, Helena, heads to Jerusalem in order to seek the True Cross. As the Cross is unearthed, the crosses of the two thieves are also discovered. (Image from Web Gallery of Art)

Otherwise known as the True Cross, the Holy Cross was the cross in which Jesus was crucified. Helena is credited for finding the Holy Cross in Jerusalem—along with two other crosses, said to be the ones that the two thieves who died next to Jesus were nailed to. An ill woman was brought in to touch each of the crosses; when she touched the one where Jesus was nailed to, she was instantly cured of her disease. 

Also Read: The Discovery of the True Cross

The Holy Cross is everywhere.

Photos from (left to right) Orthodox Christianity, Zenit, and Flickr/Gazza H

Measuring between 9-12 feet vertically and 6 feet horizontally, the True Cross, says, was supposedly split into three by Helena: one piece she had left in Jerusalem, one was sent to Rome, the other went to her son Constantine. Centuries later, splinters (or relics) of the True Cross can be found all over the world, including the monastery of Mount Athos in Greece, the Hofburg Palace in Vienna, Austria, and Rome’s Basilica Church of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme

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