Patron Saint of St Helena's Primary School and Parish
Feast Day: 18 August
It is generally believed by ecclesiastical historians of England that St. Helena was born in the country, and according to Leland, she was the daughter of Coel, a British king who lived in friendship with the Romans. Constantius, at the time an officer in the Roman army in Britain, married her. Constantine, his eldest son, received his education under her eyes.
In 293, Constantius was honoured by the Empire with the title of Caeser, obtaining the government of Gaul and Britain. In return for this honour, he was obliged to divorce St. Helena and marry Theodora, the daughter-in-law of the Emperor Maximian. St. Helena was not at that time a Christian, but after the accession of her son Constantine and his miraculous victory, she embraced the Christian Faith and the most heroic practices of Christian perfection. Her dutiful son proclaimed her empress and made medals in her honour.
In spite of this new dignity she assisted with the people at the Divine Office in modest attire and employed her wealth in charity to the poor and the building of churches. When the Emperor determined to build a church on Mount Calvary, St. Helena, although eighty years of age, undertook to see the work carried out, and started for Jerusalem hoping to find the holy cross.
Excavations were made and three crosses were discovered. The title which lay near one of the crosses, and perhaps the marks of the nails by which it had been attached
seemed to indicate which was the Cross of our Saviour.
St. Helena built two magnificent churches, one on Mount Calvary, the other Mount Olivet. After travelling through the East, where she beautified the city of Drepanum in honour of St. Lucian, so that Constantine afterward gave it the name of Helenopolis, she returned to Rome. Her journey had been marked by the most illustrious deeds of virtue and by innumerable
charities. She died at Rome in August, 326 or 328, in the twentieth year of her son's reign.
Constantine erected a statue of her memory.