Within the Christian calendar, and in particular the Roman Catholic Liturgical Year, September 14th is a day of veneration of the Holy Cross. This day goes by various names among the faithful. The Exaltation of the Holy Cross (within the Eastern Rite), The Triumph of the Cross (Roman Rite) or simply Holy Cross Day (Angelic and Lutheran communities).
Observed in various ways around the world, the Feast recalls three events:
- The finding of the True Cross by Saint Helena (mother of Roman Emperor Constantine).
- The dedication of the churches built by Constantine on the site of the Holy Sepulcher and Mount Calvary.
- The restoration of the True Cross to Jerusalem by Byzantine Emperor Heraclius in 629 AD, after the fall of the Persian Emperor Choruses II.
Within the Catholic Faith, prior to the 1960s there were two Feast Days that revolved around the True Cross of Christ. The first was celebrated in May to mark the Finding of the Cross. The second was in September, the Exaltation of the Holy Cross to mark the day that the cross itself was brought outside the church so that the clergy and the faithful might pray before the True Cross. Pope John XXIII removed the feast held in May so that Catholics might celebrate both the finding and the exaltation as one. Still, some Latin American countries and Mexico continue to celebrate the feast of the finding on May 3.
No matter the name, the day is meant to be a day of reflection among the faithful of the sacrifices made on the Cross for the forgiveness of sin and humankind’s salvation. Some observe the day with prayer, some by attending church while others mark the day with foods such as Hot Cross Buns or cross-shaped cakes. Tradition tells us that sweet basil grew wild on the hillside where the Holy Cross was found, making dishes that utilize basil significant. This might include basil soups, breads or pesto dishes.
As luck would have it, today is also National Eat a Hoagie Day. While this recipe might not be a traditional Hoagie, it is in the spirit of Hoagies. And Basil is one of the seasonings, so it’s a perfect way to celebrate The Triumph of the Cross. Enjoy!
Italian Meatball Crescent Hoagies
16 thawed Italian Style Meatballs
2 (8 oz) cans Refrigerated Crescent Sheets
1 cup Tomato Pasta Sauce
1 tablespoon Dried Basil
1 cup shredded Mozzarella Cheese
1 Egg, beaten
Parmesan Cheese as needed
Remove meatballs from the freezer. Place in a zip-lock bag, lay flat in the refrigerator, let thaw overnight.
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Spray 2 rimmed baking sheets with cooking spray, set aside.
Cut a large piece of parchment paper that will fit into the pan. Spray the paper with cooking spray, set aside.
Unroll each can of dough; cut in half lengthwise to create 4 long rectangles. Place rectangles on the prepared parchment paper. Set aside.
In a bowl, mix pasta sauce with basil. Set aside.
Cut thawed meatballs in half. Working with one rectangle of dough at a time, place 8 meatball halves lengthwise down the center of the dough. Top each meatball with 2 tablespoons pasta sauce and 2 tablespoons Mozzarella Cheese.
With scissors, make cuts 1-inch apart in the dough on each side of the filling. Fold cut dough over filling, pinch or tuck under to close. Repeat until all the dough is filled. Carefully slide parchment paper onto the prepared baking pan.
Lightly beat egg, season with a pinch or so of Italian Seasoning, whisk to blend. Brush dough with egg wash. Sprinkle the tops with Parmesan Cheese. Place in the heated oven to bake 15 minutes or until golden brown.
Serve with a simple toss salad and enjoy.