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Helena the mother of the Emperor Constantine

Discussion in 'One Bread, One Body - Catholic' started by Colin, Aug 18, 2019.

  1. Colin

    Colin Senior Veteran

    United Kingdom
    UK - SNP
    St Helena

    Celebrated on August 18th


    Saint Helena was an innkeeper's daughter born at Drepanum (later Helenopolis) in Asia Minor, around 270. Another story claims she was born in Britain and was the daughter of King Cole. She married the Roman general Constantius Chlorus, but when he became emperor in 292 he divorced her for political reasons. After his death, their son, who was to become the Emperor Constantine, reinstated his mother and showed her great respect. Coins were minted in her honour.

    In about 312, when she was over 60, St Helena became a Christian. She was very devout, dressed quietly, and gave generously to the poor and prisoners. She made a lengthy pilgrimage to the Holy Land where she spent large sums for the relief of the poor and sick, and founded churches on the sacred sites.

    Ambrose, and the 9th century poet Cynewulf, wrote that Saint Helena won renown because she was the mother of the first Christian Emperor and because she is said to have found the True Cross in Jerusalem. Many miracles were attributed to her. St Helena died in 330. Her sarcophagus is in the Vatican Museum.

    Many places were dedicated to her name, including St Helen's in Lancashire. The Atlantic island of St Helena was named after her, because Spanish sailors discovered it today - her feast day.
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  2. Leroy25

    Leroy25 Member

    (c. 248/250 – 330)
    St. Helena was the mother of Constantine the Great, and according to the sixth-century historian Procopius, she was born around AD 248 in Drepanum, which today is located in modern Turkey. Her full name became Flavia Julia Helena Augusta.
    She married Constantius Chlorus, who would later become co-Regent of the Western part of the Roman Empire, but in order for that to happen, he had to divorce Helena after twenty-two years of marriage and marry Theodora, the step-daughter of the Emperor Maximinianus. After the divorce, Helena and her son were dispatched to the court of Emperor Diocletian at Nicomedia where Constantine grew to be a member of the inner circle. Her son remained faithful to her, and following the death of Constantius Chlorus, Constantine succeeded him, he summoned his mother to the imperial court and conferred on her the title of Augusta, a Roman imperial honorific title given to empresses and honored women of the imperial families. Augustae could issue their own coinage, wear imperial regalia, and rule their own courts. Constantine ordered that all honor should be paid to her as the mother of the sovereign, and he had coins struck bearing her effigy. Some of the earliest coins were minted in Nicomedia.
    She embraced Christianity following her son's victory over Maxentius, and, according to Eusebius, she “became a devout servant of God,” and her influence helped Christianity spread throughout the empire. She had churches built over the sacred spots in Palestine, and at an advanced age, she undertook a journey to Palestine in the year AD 324, once her son had become the sole emperor of the Roman Empire. During this journey, she had two special churches constructed, one in Bethlehem, near the Grotto of the Nativity, and the other on the Mount of the Ascension. She had great concern for the poor, financially assisting both individuals and entire communities. It was during this time that a legend, first recorded by Rufinus, began circulating about how she had “found” the true cross.
    There are several versions on how the cross is found. In some, Helena has a dream telling her where the cross is buried. In another tradition, the Ethiopian Coptic tradition still celebrated as Mesquel, she followed smoke from a bonfire to the site.
    However, in the version that received the most circulation and became popular in the Middle Ages, she asks the people of Jerusalem to tell her the location. When the Jewish leaders of the city are silent, she places one of them, a man named Judas, in a well until he agrees to show her the site. After seven days, he prays to God for guidance and is told to reveal the location to her. Afterwards, Judas converts to Christianity, and takes the name Kyriakis, "he who belongs to the Lord.”
    Helena finds three crosses, nails, and the titulus (title) under a pagan temple. To determine which is the right cross, a deathly sick girl was brought to the site. She was touched by all three crosses, but upon being touched by the True Cross, she was restored to health.
    St. Helena lived in a lavish house near the Lateran, and a pious tradition associates her with the founding of what would become the Vatican Gardens because, on that site, she spread earth brought from Golgotha to symbolically unite the blood of Jesus with that shed by thousands of early Christians who died under Nero. After her death, her residence was demolished, and the Church of the Holy Cross was built on that site. On November 8, 324, she received the title Augusta, and in AD 327, Constantine changed the name of his mother's hometown to Helanopolis. She was about eighty-two when she died on August 18, 330, with her son at her side, and her body was brought to Constantinople and laid to rest in the imperial vault of the Church of the Apostles. She was buried in the Mausoleum of Helena, outside Rome on the Via Labicana. Her sarcophagus is on display in the Pio-Clementine Vatican Museum. Next to her is the sarcophagus of her granddaughter Saint Constantina (Saint Constance). Her skull is displayed in the Cathedral of Trier, in Germany. As the Muslims began advancing, her body was transferred to the Abbey of Hautvillers in Reims, France in AD 849.
    PATRON: archaeologists, converts, difficult marriages, divorced people, empresses, Saint Helena island.
    Holy and blessed Saint Helena, with the anguish and devotion with which you sought the Cross of Christ, I plead that you give me God's grace to suffer in patience the labors of this life, so that through them and through your intercession and protection, I will be able to seek and carry the Cross, which God has placed upon me, so that I can serve Him in this life and enjoy His Glory ever after. Amen.
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