Feast day: August 18
Saint Helena was the mother of the first Christian emperor, Constantine. She married the Roman general Constantius Chlorus. In 292 he divorced her to marry the emperor’s stepdaughter. Helena’s ex-husband and eventually her son each became emperor. Her son, Constantine, is known as the patron saint of the Church.
After his conversion to Christianity in 312, Constantine legalized Christianity, made generous donations to the Church, erected numerous basilicas (churches), and even called the bishops together for the first ecumenical (worldwide) council in Nicaea in 325.
Helena, who also became a Christian in 312, is the patron saint of converts. She was over 60 at the time of her conversion, and was attentive to the needs of poor people, orphans, and those in prison. As an old woman, Helena visited the Holy Land and founded many churches on sacred sites, including the Mount of Olives and Bethlehem.
Saint Helena is often pictured with the cross, both because she did much to spread the Christian faith and because tradition connects her with the discovery of the cross of Christ. (From The Catholic Faith Handbook for Youth, Third Edition [Saint Mary’s Press])
(Image in public domain-100)