St Helena

St Helena


Also referred to as The Empress Helena or Saint Helena, she was the wife or consort of the Emperor Constantius Chlorus , and mother to their son the Emperor Constantine The Great . The Tradition is that she made a pilgrimage to Palestine and discovered The True Cross of The Crucifixion of Christ. Therefore she is an important figure in The History of Christianity and is revered as a saint.

There is uncertainty about her birthplace, background and her relationship to Constantius.

 It is thought that she was born in Drepanum , in Bithyria , Asia Minor c250AD . Her son Constantine renamed it Helenopolis in her honour after her death in c330AD. There is a myth that she was from Britain.
As regards her background, one source states she was a stable maid or innkeeper. Others believe she was a British princess, the daughter of King Cole, who had forged an alliance with  Constantius while he was in Britain . Records during the reign of her son , Constantine , gloss over or ignore her background .

There is further uncertainty about her relationship with Constantius . Maxentius , whom Constantine was to overthrow in his bid for power , had every reason to smear her name . He referred to her as a concubine. Other, more reliable sources state she was his wife. Constantius could have met her while he was campaigning with the Emperor Aurelian in Asia Minor. The Tradition is that when they met they were wearing identical bracelets. Constantius regarded this as a sign from the Gods, signifying that Helena was his soul mate.

When Constantius was made Emperor he had to divorce Helena and marry Theodora, the daughter of the Emperor, Maximillian. Helena and Constantine were banished east to the court of the senior Emperor, Diocletian. She never remarried, and remained in obscurity till her son , Constantine became Emperor in AD306 . He always remained close to his mother , and held her in high regards , affection and respect . He brought her back to public life in AD312 , and appointed her Augusta Imperatrix .He gave her unlimited access to the Imperial Treasury to locate relics of the Judeo—Christian Tradition.

Thus, between AD326—AD328, Helena undertook a pilgrimage to the Holy Places in Palestine. These travels led to a number of discoveries, the erection of several churches and the introduction of many Holy Relics into the West. According to Eusebius of Caesarea, she was responsible for the building of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, and The Church on the Mount of Olives on the site of Christs Ascension . Her legend is that her greatest discovery followed her destruction of the Temple dedicated to either Venus or Jupitor, built over the site of Christs Tomb, near Mount Calvary, by the Emperor Hadrian. Then, it is said that on excavating the site, she came upon three crosses, and is said to have also discovered The Tomb itself. To have definite proof that one of the crosses was indeed that on which Christ was crucified, she called on the assistance of Bishop Macarius of Jerusalem. He devised a test to determine which one was the True Cross. He had the crosses brought to a woman who was near death. On touching two of the crosses there was no improvement. However on touching the third, The True Cross was found ,  as she was miraculously returned to health .Constantine and Helena built The Church Of The Holy sepulchre over the site . Helena is said to have returned to Rome bringing pieces of The True Cross with her, along with Christs Holy Tunic  and samples of earth from Golgotha  . The Cross was lodged in her private palace, in Rome, now called The Basilica of The Holy Cross in Jerusalem, and the earth scattered in the Vatican gardens. Helena is also said to have found the Nails that held Christ on The Cross. These she place in the helmet and bridle of Constantine, as heavenly protection.

Helena is considered a Saint by the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox, Eastern and Latin Catholic, Anglican and Lutheran Churches. She is often referred to as Saint Helen of Constantinople, to distinguish her from others of the same name. Helena shares her feast day on 21st May, with her son, Constantine .
Helena died with Constantine at her side c330AD. She is buried in the Mausoleum of Helena on The Via Libicana , Rome .

 Research by V Ill Kt Dr Keith Lowson P G H Chan