Saint Helena was the mother of Constantine the Great, born about the middle of the third century, died about 330.
She became the wife of Constantius Chlorus, and her only son Constantine was born in the year 274.
In the year 292, Constantius forsook Helena in order to marry Theodora, the step-daughter of Emperor Maximinianus Herculius, his patron. But her son remained faithful to her.
On the death of Constantius Chlorus in 309, Constantine succeeded him.
He summoned his mother to the Imperial Court, ordered that all honour should be paid to her as the mother of the Sovereign, and had coins struck bearing her effigy.
The last coins stamped with her name were in the year 330.
Eusebius wrote that "Helena became under the influence of Constantine, such a devout servant of God, that one might believe her to have been from her very childhood a disciple of the Redeemer of mankind."
Despite her advanced age, she took part in a journey to Palestine, and there had two churches erected , one in Bethlehem near the Grotto of the Nativity, and one on the Mount of the Ascension near Jerusalem.
In the year 326, Helena, then about 80 years of age, journeyed to Jerusalem, to rid the Holy Sepulchre of the mounds of earth heaped upon and around it. She had had some revelations which convinced her that she would find the True Cross.
The Jews had hidden the Cross in a ditch, and covered it with stones, so that the faithful could not come and venerate it. Only a small few of the Jews knew the eact location, and one of them told Helena's excavators where it was. Three crosses were found, but because the Titulus had been detached, it was not possible to simply identify which was the True Croos on which Chruist was crucified.
Macarius had an inspiration from on high, and he caused the three crosses to be carried, one at a time, to the bedside of a worthy woamn who was at death's door. Touching the first two crosses had no effect whatsoever, but as soon as she touched the third Cross she was instantly made wll again.
St Helena herslf sought a means of identifying the True Cross, and she arranged for a man who was already dead and buried to be brought to the Crosses. Immediately on touching the third Cross, he came back to life.
When Helena died, aged about 80, her body was laid to rest in the imperial vault of the Church of the Apostles in Constantinople. It is presumed that her remains were transferred in 849 to the Abbey of Hautvillers, in the French Archdiocese of Reims.
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