Equal to the Apostles Empress Saint Helen (also Helena and Elena) (AD c.248 - c.329) was the mother of Emperor Saint Constantine the Great. She was probably born in Drepanum (afterwards re-named Helenopolis) on the Gulf of Nicomedia and allegedly the daughter of an innkeeper. Later legend, mentioned by Geoffrey of Monmouth, claimed that she was a daughter of Briton King Coel, who married her off to Constantius Chlorus I to avoid more war between the Britons and Rome. Monmouth further states that she was brought up in the manner of a queen, as she had no brothers to inherit the throne of Britain.
Constantius Chlorus divorced her (circa 292) to marry the step-daughter of Maximian, Theodora. Helen's son, Constantine, later became emperor of the Roman Empire, and following his elevation she became a presence at the imperial court.
She is also considered by the Church to be a saint, and she is famed for her piety. Eusebius of Caesarea records the details of her pilgrimage to Palestine and other eastern provinces. She is traditionally credited with the finding of relics of the cross of Christ (see True Cross for the story), and finding the remains of the Three Wise Men, which currently reside in the Shrine of the Three Kings at Cologne Cathedral. Her feast day is on May 21, together with her son.
- Ss. Constantine and Helen at goarch.org
- A more detailed bio of Helen based on historical sources
- Icon and Kontakion of St. Helen