St. Helen (or Helena) was born around 246 CE and died around 330 CE. Her early life is a lot of mystery. She is well-known for two things. First of all, she is the mother of Emperor Constantine, who legalized Christianity after he converted. The other thing that she is known for is she is credited with discovering the True Cross, the cross on which Jesus was crucified.
After Constantine became the emperor and converted to Christianity, he also converted Helen. He also named her Augusta Imperatrix, which is a title given to an empress or another honored woman in the imperial family. He also gave her unlimited access to the imperial treasury in order that she could locate Christian Relics. In 326 she undertook a pilgrimage to the Holy Land with the intention of doing that. According to Eusebius of Caesarea, the historian who wrote about her travels, she is responsible for the construction or improvement of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem and the Church of Eleona on the Mount of Olives which claims to be the sight of Jesus’ Ascension. She also is credited with discovering the cross on which Jesus was crucified, the True Cross, in the rubble of the temple to Venus (or Jupiter, accounts differ) after she had ordered the Pagan temple to be torn down. On that site Constantine ordered the Church of the Holy Sepulchre to be built. She also discovered relics such as pieces of Jesus’ tunic, the nails from the Crucifixion and pieces of the rope used to tie Jesus onto the Cross.
Helen used her power and influence to help other Christians. The relics that she found were used to heal people of their infirmities. The Church of the Nativity and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre are still standing today and Christians from around the world travel to see them and deepen their faith.
We can also use the gifts that have been given to us to help other people. If you have a gift for using technology, maybe you could offer to help someone learn how to use their cell phone or computer. If you have a gift for listening, you could visit with someone who doesn’t get out much and provide them with a listening ear to help ease some loneliness.
This is part of a monthly series of newsletter articles written by Intern Bridget.