Born outside the noble classes at the time, Saint Helena was born around248 A.D. in present-day Turkey. Saint Helena is also known as Helena andHelena Augusta.
She is one of the most important and notable figures in the history ofChristianity, with several churches revering her as a saint and otherscommemorating her. The churches that revere her include the EasternOrthodox Church, the Catholic Church, the Oriental Orthodox Churches,and the Anglican Communion. The Lutheran Church commemorates her.
Little is known about her early life, but her story and how she becameso notable is one to remember. Let’s read on and discover her life storyand how she became to be so important in the faith of Christianity.
Marriage to Emperor Constantius
While the exact date of their meeting is unknown, it is widely believedthat Constantius saw Helena as his soulmate, sent by God. Why? At thetime of their meeting, Constantius and Helena were wearing identicalsilver bracelets.
The exact legal nature of the relationship between Saint Helena andConstantius is unknown. Some historians believe that the two lovebirdswere in a common-law marriage, while others believed that they were infact legally married.
Other historians have also found some sources where Saint Helena wascalled the wife of Constantius, while other sources called her hisconcubine. Nonetheless, Saint Helena soon into their relationship, gavebirth to the future emperor of Rome, while in Serbia.
Born on 27 February, around 270 A.D., Constantine I was the only sonbetween Helena and Constantius. Soon after his birth, Constantiusdivorced Helena and married Theodora. This was done for Constantius tohave a wife born into the noble classes and keep up with his risingstatus in the noble world.
The divorce broke Helena and she lived a live away from being known bythe public. It wasn’t until Constantine I took the throne in 306 A.D.that Saint Helena came to live in the public eye again.
Once Constantine I became emperor, Saint Helena was given the title of“Augusta Imperatrix.” This gave Helena complete, unlimited access to theimperial treasury and all resources needed to locate Christian relics.
It was once this happened, that Saint Helena undertook her pilgrimage toPalestine and surrounds. She was also tasked with the beautification oftwo churches, namely, the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem and the Churchof Eleona on the Mount of Olives. These churches are the sites ofChrist’s birth and ascension, both Holy grounds in the Christian faith.
Saint Helena discovered major relics of the Christian tradition, whileon her pilgrimage to Palestine and surrounds. Some of these major relicsincluded the True Cross, the nails of the crucifixion, the rope used inthe crucifixion, as well as the Holy Tunic.
In 327 A.D., Saint Helena returned to Rome with the relics she haddiscovered. The relics are housed in her palace’s private chapel, whichcan still be seen today. She is known as the patron saint of newdiscoveries, for her important discovery of these relics. She is alsothe patron saint of difficult marriages, divorced people, converts, andarchaeologists.
Later, the palace, in which Saint Helena resided, was converted into theBasilica of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem.
The Last Years of Saint Helena
Around 330 A.D., beloved Saint Helena passed away with her son at herside. She was buried outside Rome on the Via Labicana, in the Mausoleumof Helena. The sarcophagus of Saint Helena is on display at thePio-Clementine Vatican Museum, with her granddaughter’s sarcophagus nextto her.
5 Interesting Facts About St. Helena
- Her feast day as a saint of the Eastern Orthodox Church is
celebrated with her son, 21 May, known as the “Feast of the Holy Great
Sovereigns Constantine and Helena, Equal to the Apostles.
- While on her pilgrimage, she also stopped in Cyprus. It is said
that Saint Helena is responsible for the large cat population as she
ordered for cats to be sent to rid the monastery of snakes.
- The skull of Saint Helena is on display in the Cathedral of Trier,
- The complete body of Saint Helena is believed to be enshrined
under the main altar at the Church of Saint’Elena in Venice.
- The statue of Saint Helena can be seen in St. Peter’s Basilica in
Prayer to St. Helena
Holy and blessed St. Helena, with love and devotion you sought to findthe Cross of Our Savior.I plead for your intercession that I may have the same love anddevotion to Jesus my Lord. Like you, may I accept the trials of lifewith patience and hope.Under your protection, may I carry the Cross which the Lord has givenme in this life and one day may I share with you the Crown of lifeeternal.St. Helena, finder of the Cross, pray for us. Amen