Exaltation of the Cross, Summorum Pontificum, Basil Pesto

Tomorrow, 14 September, I think I shall make some fresh pesto tomorrow for the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross… 7th anniversary of Summorum Pontificum.

I found this on Vultus Christi:

The aromatic herb, basil (Ocimum basilicum) has long been associated with the Holy Cross.

Etymologically, it is related to basileios, the Greek word for king. [Great connection!]

According to a pious legend, the Empress Saint Helena found the location of the True Cross by digging for it under a colony of basil. Basil plants were reputed to have sprung up at the foot of the Cross where fell the Precious Blood of Christ and the tears of the Mother of Sorrows.

A sprig of basil was said to have been found growing from the wood of the True Cross.

On the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross it is customary in the East to rest the Holy Cross on a bed of basil before presenting it to the veneration of the faithful.

Also, from the practice in some areas of strewing branches of basil before church communion rails, it came to be known as Holy Communion Plant Blessed basil leaf can be arranged in a bouquet at the foot of the crucifix; the dried leaves can also be used by the faithful as a sacramental.

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.

R. Amen.

The bouquets of basil leaf are sprinkled with Holy Water.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. One of those TNCs says:

    And this blessing may be done only by a validly ordained minister, correct? (Deacon, priest, bishop)

  2. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    One of those TNCs,
    A good question! Is there any analogous domestic blessing, or would blessing for similar domestic use also be done by someone in Holy Orders?

  3. Venerator Sti Lot says:


    Thank you for passing on this post!

    I have long wondered how much ‘kingsfoil’ in The Lord of the Rings might have to do with basil, but this makes me think it even more likely that Tolkien’s great ‘typological romance’ is using ‘Athelas’ as at least a fore-type of basil, if not indeed the Sindarin name for that herb!

  4. Nicholas says:

    I happened to have pesto for dinner, though not for this reason.

    Good post.

  5. I bought and planted my summer supply of basil on Sunday! Very happy.

  6. Ray says:

    Good post, Father. My wife and I make pesto every year. We put the pesto into ice cube trays and freeze it. Then you can get out one or two for recipes throughout the year.

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