Thursday, August 18, 2016
On August 18, we commemorate Saint Helena of Constantinople (246-330), mother of Constantine the Great, and finder of the True Cross of Jesus Christ. St. Helena is the patroness of archaeologists, converts, difficult marriages, and divorced people.
St. Helena was the daughter of an innkeeper in Bithynia, Asia Minor. She was married to an ambitious Roman general and they had one son, Constantine. When her husband was named emperor, he promptly divorced Helena to marry another woman for political gain. Following the death of his father, Constantine became emperor of Rome, and one of his first acts as ruler was to declare his mother empress. Constantine had converted to Christianity, and with his encouragement, Helena also became a Christian.
As empress, Helena spent her days in acts of charity, and built magnificent churches on the holy sites of the faith, frequently tearing down pagan temples that had been built on those sites. She worked tirelessly for the poor, released prisoners, and humbly mingled with ordinary worshipers in modest attire. Throughout her life, she spread the Gospel of Christ, bringing many to the faith through her witness.
At the age of 80, she led a group to the Holy Land to search for the True Cross. On a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, she discovered the True Cross. She built a church on the spot where the True Cross was found. The Feast of the Holy Cross on September 14 celebrates the event. Thus in art, she is usually depicted holding a wooden cross.
Holy and blessed Saint Helena, with the anguish and devotion with which you sought the Cross of Christ, I plead that you give me God's grace to suffer in patience the labors of this life, so that through them and through your intercession and protection, I will be able to seek and carry the Cross, which God has placed upon me, so that I can serve Him in this life and enjoy His Glory ever after. Amen.