Saint of the Day
Helena, a poor innkeeper’s daughter, caught the eye of Constantius Chlorus, a Roman general - despite their different ranks. They married and had a son.
When Constantius was made Caesar, that is the junior emperor, he was forced to take a different wife, Theodora, and Helena had to make herself scarce.
However later their son, Constantine, inherited the throne and invited his exiled mother to rejoin him as Empress, appointing her Augusta Imperatrix. They both entertained Christian beliefs, adopted while visiting Britain they embraced the religious life and carryied out many charitable acts.
Helena made the pilgrimage to Palestine and while there was instrumental in the discovery and excavation of the Holy Cross. She commemorated its reappearance with the building of churches and ordered the destruction of the obsolete Temple of Venus.
Nails from the cross were preserved in Constantine’s helmet and his horse’s bridle. Soil was specially brought from the area, Golgotha, to the Vatican Gardens.
Helena also built a church in Egypt to identify the Burning Bush of Sinai and imported hundreds of cats to Cyprus to rid a monastery there of snakes. Her birthplace, Drepanum, was renamed Helenopolis.
Her skull is displayed in the Cathedral of Trier.
Evelyn Waugh wrote about her in his novel, Helena.
The Island of St Helena was named after her - it is one of the most remote islands in the world which is why Napoleon was imprisoned there.
Helena is the patron saint of new discoveries.
Here is a painting of Helena and Constantine he looks about twice her age: @lamplifeboatladder
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