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Saint of the Month: St. Helena – August 2016

St. Helena was a wife and mother, an empress, a patroness, and a very influential person in Church history.  Little is known of her early life, but she is believed to have been born around the year 250.  She was from Bithynia in Asia Minor, an area in northern modern-day Turkey on the cheap jerseys Black Sea.

A life changing marriage

A reliable early historian records that she was an innkeeper’s daughter.  Bithynia was on the outer edge of the Roman Empire at the time, but Roman soldiers were stationed there.  In about 270, she married the Roman General Constantius, who was probably stationed near her home.  They were said to have been wearing identical silver bracelets upon their meeting, taking that as a sign that they were meant to be together.  Both were pagans then.  Their son Constantine was born around the year 272.  In 293, Constantius was named Caesar, a rank slightly lower than emperor or Augustus.  He abandoned his marriage to Helena in favor of a woman of a higher social status, the Emperor Maximian’s step-daughter.  Maximian was a Co-Emperor with Diocletian, focusing on the western provinces, such as modern day Spain, Italy, France and Britain. Constantius had Helena and Constantine sent to the court of Diocletian at Nicomedia, also located in Bithynia.  There, Constantine grew in prominence and influence and remained very close to his mother, who was living in obscurity.  When the Maximian died in 306 in Britain, Constantine, a popular and successful officer, was with him.  Then and there he was declared Emperor by the legions in Britain.  His cheap nba jerseys political supremacy did not Luke become a reality, however, until six years later after he led a major military victory.

From castoff wife to empress

Upon his consolidation of power in 312, because of his great affection and respect for her, Constantine recalled his mother to his court and had her SEVILLA declared Empress.  He minted coins with her name and image.  In 313, Constantine and his Co-Emperor, Licinius, issued the Edict of cheap jerseys Milan. This document was pivotal in the course of Church history, for it not only made Christianity legal throughout the Empire, but also it decreed the release of religious prisoners.  Around this same cheap jerseys time, Helena was baptized at age sixty three, although it is not known who influenced her to do so.

After her conversion, Helena became an ardent and model Christian.  With her son as an Emperor she had vast resources available to her, wholesale jerseys China and she put them to good use.  She personally attended to the needs of troubled people and generously funded the relief of the poor.  She also had numerous churches built in the area of Rome, providing great relief from centuries of the Mass having to be offered in hiding. Unfortunately, this legalization of Christianity did not cheap jerseys China cause persecutions to cease completely, just as they continue to occur in abundance in our own times. In Magento 324, Licinius was deposed and Constantine became the sole ruler of both the eastern and western halves of the Empire.

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Treasures discovered in the Holy Land

In 326, Helena set out on a pilgrimage to the places made sacred by the life of Christ in the Holy Land.  Jerusalem, after its near complete destruction in the year 70, was in a period of rebuilding.  Its Jewish people had been scattered throughout the known world, and it was a pagan Roman outpost, with a significant temple to Jupiter placed where Christ’s resurrection had taken place.  Now in her seventies and with the Buy authority of her title as Augusta Imperatrix, Helena set about to restore the Holy Land.  She had churches built at the site of Christ’s nativity at Bethlehem, and the site of His Ascension on the Mount of Olives.  She ordered the destruction of the pagan temple at the sight of Christ’s resurrection.  She commissioned the building of the great Church of the Holy Sepulchre at the site, encompassing the locations of Christ’s passion at Calvary and His resurrection.  During the excavations, she discovered a cross.  To test Football it, she had it touched by a gravely ill woman who completely recovered.  Helena also discovered the three nails used to fasten Christ to the cross, the tunic which was stripped from Him, and the rope used to fasten His Body to the Cross.  During her time in the Holy Land, Helena was well known for her wholesale mlb jerseys kindness, especially to soldiers and poor people, and she strove to obtain release for political prisoners.  She returned to Rome in 328 with the Relics of the Lord’s Passion and displayed them in her chapel for veneration.  She died around the year 330 with her son at her bedside.  Her burial site can be seen at the Pio-Clementine Vatican Museum.

The influence on Christianity of St. Helena and her son, Constantine the Great, was powerful.  Constantine is not a canonized saint, but his mother is, not only for her usage of the riches of the Empire for the unfortunate, but also because of her devotion to restoring and protecting the most holy places and articles on cheap jerseys earth.  Her Roman palace, which contained the chapel of the venerated holy relics was later converted in to the beautiful Basilica of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem.  While it is one of the Seven Pilgrim Churches of Rome, it is considered “in Jerusalem” because some soil from Golgotha was brought back by Helena and placed in the foundation.  Some of the holy relics are also located in cheap nfl jerseys Cyprus, where Helena personally founded the monastery, now Greek Orthodox, that houses them.  St. Helena is venerated by both Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Christians.  Sometimes known as Helen of Constantinople, the Empress Helena, or simply St. Helen, she is the patron of converts and divorced people, and her feast day is August 18.

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