SAINTS CONSTANTINE AND HELEN

Saint Constantine

  Saint Constantine was the son of Constantius Chlorus (the ruler of the western parts of the Roman empire), and of the blessed Helen. He was born in 272. In 306, when his father died, he was proclaimed successor to his throne. In 312, on learning that Maxentius and Maximinus had joined forces against him, he marched into Italy, where, while at the head of his troops, he saw in the sky after midday, beneath the sun, a radiant pillar in the form of a cross with the words: "By this you shall conquer." The following night, our Lord Jesus Christ appeared to him in a dream and declared to him the power of the Cross and its significance. When he arose in the morning, he immediately ordered that a banner be made (which a standard of victory over the enemy) in the form of a cross, and he inscribed on it the Name of Jesus Christ.

On the 28th Of October, he attacked and defeated Maxentius, who drowned in the Tiber River while trying to escape. The following day, Constantine entered Rome and was proclaimed Emperor of the West by the Senate, while Licinius, his brother-in-law, ruled in the East. However, Licinius later persecuted the Christians. Constantine defeated him in 324, and became monarch over the West and the East. Because of him all the persecutions against the Church ceased. Christianity triumphed and idolatry was overthrown.

In 325 he gathered the First Ecumenical Council in Nicaea, which he himself personally addressed. In 324, in the ancient city of Byzantium, he laid the foundations of the new capital of his realm, and inaugurated it on May 11, 330, naming it Constantinople. Since the throne of the imperial rule was transferred from Rome, it was named New Rome, the inhabitants of its domain were called Romans, and it was considered the continuation of the Roman Empire. Falling ill near Nicomedia, he requested to receive divine Baptism, and he reposed on the day of Pentecost in 337. His remains were transferred to Constantinople and were deposed in the Church of the Holy Apostles.

Saint Helen

As for his holy mother Helen, after her son had made the Faith of Christ triumphant throughout the Roman Empire, she went to Jerusalem and found the Holy Cross on which our Lord was crucified. She then erected churches in Jerusalem at the sites of the Crucifixion and Resurrection, in Bethlehem at the cave where our Saviour was born, another on the Mount of Olives whence He ascended into Heaven, and many others throughout the Holy Land, Cyprus, and elsewhere. She was proclaimed Augusta, her image was stamped upon golden coins, and two cities were named Helenopolis after her in Bithynia and in Palestine. Having been thus glorified for her piety, she departed to the Lord being about eighty years of age, according to some in the year 330, according to others, in 336.