An Orthodox priest reader sent some photos of their tradition using sweet basil on their observance of the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. Here are three.
I didn’t get around to posting about the basil tradition yesterday and I was glad for the reminder today.
“But Father! But Father!”, some of you are saying. “What’s with the basil? Some other herbs would do, wouldn’t they?”
Keep in mind that the name of the herb comes from the Greek word for “king”, “basileos“.
There is a tradition that when the True Cross was rediscovered a sprig of basil growing from the wood.
This is why especially in the East there is a custom of placing a Cross on a bed of basil before the faithful venerate it. A kingly tradition.
There is a prayer/rite for the blessing of basil around, but, I cannot determine the provenance. I looked through the Rituale Romanum. No joy.
V. Our help is in the name of the Lord.
R. Who made heaven and earth.
Let us pray.
Almighty and merciful God,
deign, we beseech You, to bless
Your creature, this aromatic basil leaf. +
Even as it delights our senses,
may it recall for us the triumph of Christ, our Crucified King
and the power of His Precious Blood
to purify and preserve us from evil
so that, planted beneath His Cross,
we may flourish to Your glory
and spread abroad the fragrance of His sacrifice.
Who is Lord forever and ever.
The bouquets of basil leaf are sprinkled with Holy Water.
Again, I don’t know which approved book this comes from. Readers?
In the Rituale Romanum there is, however, a blessing for a Cross to be placed in a field for the feast of the Finding of the Cross. I haven’t done that one yet.
There are marvelous blessings and customs attached to the rhythm of the year. People would guide the arc of their years and lives along with these special days.