The earliest description of this ceremony is found in the late fourth century treatise "The Pilgrimage of Egeria." In this diary she describes the Good Friday ceremonies in Jerusalem. During that service, fragments that were believed to be of the true cross were placed on a table in front of the bishop. The people came forward, bowed toward the table, and kissed the sacred wood. Variations of the ceremony developed throughout Christianity. The custom was restored in the 1979 BCP (p. 281), in which a wooden cross may be brought into the church and placed in the sight of the people. Following this the people may sing the Good Friday anthems and the hymn "Sing, my tongue, the glorious battle" (Hymns 165-166). See Veneration.
Veneration of the Cross
Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from "An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians," Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.