Saint Helena, Mother of Constantine (May 21st)
Scripture Readings for the Week:
- Today – First Peter 4:7-11 & John 14:23-31
- Monday – Acts 10:42-48 & John 3:16-21
- Tuesday – Ezekiel 47:1-12 & Acts 2:14-36
- Wednesday – Isaiah 45:18-21 & Acts 2:37-47
- Thursday – Isaiah 45:22-25 & John 14:1-22
- Friday – Jeremiah 9:23-26 & John 15:1-25
- Saturday – Isaiah 44:6-8 & John 16:31-17:26
About this Saint:
Despite many of the details of her life being uncertain, one thing is for sure; Saint Helena was one of the most important and influential believers of the early Christian Church.
The facts of her early life and middle age are much in dispute. Her birthplace is given as somewhere in Syrian Palestine, or in Bithynia in Asia Minor, or near present-day Nottingham, England, as a princess of a king of ancient Britain. Her birth date could be anywhere between A.D. 246 and 250. She was either a stable-maid or an Anglo-Saxon Queen. She either became the full wife or the legal consort of Emperor Constantius I. Perhaps she became a Christian believer early in her life, and helped convert her only son, Constantine, to the true faith, or he converted her after his own conversion following his victory at the battle of the Milvian Bridge in 312. The truth is most probably a mixture of parts of all these.
This much we know for sure; once her son became sole Emperor of Rome he bestowed on her the impressive title Flavia Iulia Helena Augusta, and he gave her unlimited funds to be used to find and recover relics of the Patriarchs, Prophets, Kings, Apostles, and Christ in the Holy Land.
She is unquestionably credited to locating and having churches built on the site of Jesus’ Nativity, His refuge in Egypt, His boyhood home, His crucifixion and burial, and His Ascension. She also provided for the construction of a chapel at Mt. Sinai on the traditional site of the Burning Bush. She is said to have discovered the “true Cross,” that is, the very Cross upon which Christ was executed. Whether that is true or not, she did return to Rome with substantial pieces of a cross, along with numerous other supposedly holy relics. She also built churches in and around Rome and was known far and wide for her piety and charity. She died August 18th, 330, at more than 80 years old – a remarkable age in those days.
Introit: I know Whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that Day. There is laid up for me a crown of righteousness which the LORD, the Righteous Judge, shall give me. O LORD, You have searched me and known me. You know my sitting-down and rising-up. Glory be to the Father and to the Son (+) and to the Holy Spirit; as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, forever and ever. Amen.
Collect: O almighty God, Who has built Your Church upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the Head Cornerstone, grant us to be joined together in unity of spirit by their doctrine that we may be made a holy temple acceptable unto You; through Jesus Christ Your Son, our Lord, Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, even one God, forever and ever. Amen.