The Bithynian wife of emperor Constantinos Chlorus, who she had Constantine the Great with. They also had a daughter named Constantia.
After the Edict of Milan, St. Helen became Christian, and spent the rest of her life in Rome and the East. She was active in building churches in the Holy Land, and today her sarcophagus can be seen in the Vatican museum.
A legend tells us that St. Helen went on a journey to Jerusalem in search of the Holy Cross. The wise Jews there told here there was no cross to be found but when she threatened to kill them they handed a man called Judas over to her. They said he had made them deny all knowledge about it.
After many days of torture, Judas finally gave in and went to pray at the temple of Aphrodite/Venus. Soon smoke started to rise from the ground, and when St. Helen had the temple torn down she found three crosses buried underneath. In order to decide which one was Christ's, St. Helen had the crosses placed in the city. After nine hours a dead man was resurrected when he was touched by one of the crosses, and so the right one was found. Judas converted and became bishop of Jerusalem under the name Cyriacus, and was later to find the Holy Nails as well.
In art St. Helen is shown holding or supporting a cross. She is the patron saint of treasure hunters, nail makers and is invoked against theft and fire.
On her and her son's nameday, the tradition of walking across burning is coal is still a custom in northern Greece.
Orthodox nameday: 21/5
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