blank'/> SHARING CATHOLIC TRUTH: AUGUST 18 - SAINT HELEN --- SANT' ELENA, Imperatrici, Awgusta --- Patronage: archaeologists, converts, difficult marriages, divorced people,

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

AUGUST 18 - SAINT HELEN --- SANT' ELENA, Imperatrici, Awgusta --- Patronage: archaeologists, converts, difficult marriages, divorced people,


Empress; Mother of Constantine the Great
Patronage: archaeologists, converts, difficult marriages, divorced people

Feast of St Helen at Birkirkara, Malta

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Today, August 18, we celebrate the feast day of Saint Helena of Constantinople (also known as Saint Helen, Eleanor, and Olga, 246-330), mother of Constantine the Great, and finder of the True Cross of Jesus. Despite being elevated to empress of the Roman Empire during her life, she worked tirelessly for the poor, released prisoners, and humbly mingled with the ordinary worshipers in modest attire. Throughout her life, Helena built magnificent churches throughout the Holy Land, spreading the Gospel of Christ, and bringing many to the faith through her witness.



Born in Bithynia, the daughter of a humble innkeeper, Helena rose above her humble beginnings after marrying the Roman General Constantius I Chlorus. Following the birth of their son, Constantine, Helena’s husband was elevated to junior emperor and proclaimed Caesar. He promptly divorced Helena and took a new wife. Years later, in 312, Constantine became emperor (renamed Caesar) following a decisive victory in battle during which his father was killed, and his mother, Helena, named empress (renamed Helena Augusta).



Helena converted to Christianity, and through her witness, the emperor made Faith in Christ the official religion of the Roman Empire. As Eusebius wrote, Helena was: "such a devout servant of God, that one might believe her to have been from her very childhood a disciple of the Redeemer of mankind.” Helena spent her days in acts of charity, and built many churches on the holy sites of the faith, oftentimes tearing down pagan temples that had been built on the sites. In the year 325, Helena was moved to undertake a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, as she had been called by God to search out the True Cross on which Jesus had been crucified. Elderly by this time, she undertook the hardships of the journey without complaint.



Upon reaching Golgotha, the holy place where Christ was crucified, Helena had the temple of Aphrodite (built by Emperor Hadrian to defile the place of the Passion) torn down, and the hill excavated. During excavation, three crosses were found buried in the earth—one for each thief crucified beside Jesus, and the True Cross upon which He gave His life for the world. Gazing upon the crosses, Helena was unsure of which might be the wood of salvation. A woman from Jerusalem, who was near certain death from a disease she had contracted, was brought to Golgotha and made to touch each of the crosses. As soon as she approached the Cross of Our Lord, she was cured. The Cross itself was venerated and placed in a magnificent church (Church of the Holy Sepulchre) built by Saint Helen in Jerusalem, although she took a small portion back to Constantinople with her as a blessing. Within fifteen years, Saint Cyril, the bishop of Jerusalem, reported the wide spread distribution of the True Cross as a relic: "The holy wood of the cross gives witness: it is here to be seen in this very day, and through these who take [pieces] from it in faith, it has from here already filled almost the whole world."



Legend also suggests that Saint Helena recovered other relics of Christ, including the tunic He wore prior to the crucifixion, and the nails and rope used to affix Him to the Cross. Some of these relics are on display, even today, in the private chapel of her palace in Rome (now converted to the Basilica of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem), while others are housed at the Staurovouni monastery, which she founded.


Following her miraculous discoveries, Saint Helena resolved to spread the devotion to Christ throughout the region. It was in Palestine, as we learn from Eusebius, that she had resolved to bring to God, the King of kings, the homage and tribute of her devotion. She lavished on that land her bounties and good deeds, she "explored it with remarkable discernment,” and "visited it with the care and solicitude of the emperor himself.” Then, when she "had shown due veneration to the footsteps of the Savior,” she had two churches erected for the worship of God: one was raised in Bethlehem near the Grotto of the Nativity, the other on the Mount of Olives, where Jesus ascended into heaven, near Jerusalem. She also embellished the sacred grotto with rich ornaments. Further churches were raised marking the sites of the Resurrection and Crucifixion.



Saint Helena passed into heaven at the advanced age of eighty. Her body was brought to Constantinople and laid to rest in the imperial vault of the church of the Apostles. It is presumed that her remains were transferred in 849 to the Abbey of Hautvillers, in the French Archdiocese of Reims, as recorded by the monk Altmann in his "Translatio.” Her sarcophagus is on display in the Pio-Clementine Vatican Museum.







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.
and from Facebook post:
Sant' Elena, Birkirkara, Malta

18th August is the feastday of SAINT HELENA, patron saint of those whose marriage has failed (separated and divorced). Her husband, co-emperor of the West, divorced her to marry the step-daughter of the co-emperor of the East.
Saint Helena's life is a proof that with the will to abide by God's Law and with the help of His Divine Grace, those whose marriage has sadly failed can still be faithful to God's Commandments and the following Teachings of Christ on the permanence and indissolubility of marriage between one man and one woman, as God established right from the very beginning of creation, and as He wills it:
- “In the beginning, God created male and female. For this reason a man leaves his parents and unites with his wife, and the two become one body. So they are no longer two, but one. So then, what God then has joined, man must not separate.” (Matthew 19:5-6) 
- “A man who leaves his wife and takes another woman commits adultery. In the same way, if a woman leaves her husband and takes another man, she is guilty of adultery too.” (Mark 10:12) 
- “The man who takes a married woman whose husband is still alive commits adultery which she too is guilty of.” (Luke 16:18)
The Teachings of the Catholic Church on the indissolubility of marriage echoes that of its Divine Founder, as evident in the following extracts from the taken from the Epistles of Saint Paul:
- From the Letter to the Romans: 
“To the married, I give charge, NOT I, BUT THE LORD CHRIST HIMSELF, that if the wife separates from her husband, even for very valid reasons, she must remain single if it is no longer possible for her be reconciled to her husband once again, and that the husband cannot divorce his wife even if he lives separated from her. All of you know about GOD’S LAW, that RULES OVER ALL PEOPLE AS LONG AS THEY LIVE, EVEN THOSE WHO REJECT TO LIVE ACCORDING TO HIS WORD, AS WELL AS THOSE WHO DO NOT BELIEVE IN HIM, INCLUDING THOSE WHO REFUSE TO BELIEVE IN HIM! A married woman is bound by God’s law to her husband as long as he lives. So then, if she gets involved in a relationship outside marriage and gives herself to another man while her husband is alive, she is an adulteress and a great cause of scandal to others, and for this she must answer directly to God Himself”.
- From the First Letter to the Corinthians: 
“The body is not to be used for sexual immorality, but to serve the Lord; and the Lord provides for the body. God raised the Lord from death, and He will also raise our bodies by His power. You know that your bodies are parts of the body of Christ. Shall I take a part of Christ's body and make it part of the body of a sinner? Impossible! Perhaps you do not know that the man or the woman who joins his or her body to a woman or a man who is not his wife or her husband becomes physically one with her or with him? The scripture says quite plainly, ‘The two will become one body.’ But he who joins himself to the Lord in the great sacrament of marriage becomes spiritually one with Him. Avoid immorality. Any other sin a man or a woman commits does not affect his or her body; but the man or the woman who is guilty of sexual adultery sins against his or her own body. Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and who was given to you by God? Your body is not yours, but belongs to God. You do not belong to yourselves but to God! Christ bought you for a very high price: His Own Precious Blood shed on the cross. So use your bodies for God's glory, and not to displease Him!”

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August 18 is the feast day of Saint Helena, the mother of Constantine. This prayer is for mothers.


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