Saints & Martyrs

Saint Helena

Helena (d. ca. 328), Empress, mother of Constantine the Great. Helena is best known for her pilgrimages to the Holy Land, during which she allegedly found the True Cross. She converted to Christianity late in life, but donated generously to the Church and to the poor, and was greatly revered by her son, Emperor Constantine.

Excerpt from The Golden Legend

This blessed cross was put in the earth, and hid by the space of a hundred years and more, but the mother of the emperor, which was named Helena, found it in this manner. ... Helena went in to Jerusalem and did do assemble all the wise men of the country, and when they were assembled they would fain know wherefore they were called. Then one Judas said to them: I [know] well that she will [ask] of us where the cross of Jesus Christ was laid, but beware you all that none of you tell her, for I wot well, then shall our law be destroyed. ...

When the queen had called them and demanded them the place where our Lord Jesus Christ had been crucified, they would never tell n[or] [show] her. ... Show to me, said she, the place named Golgotha where our Lord was crucified, because and to the end that we may find the cross. Then said Judas: It is two hundred years passed and more, and I was not then yet born. Then said to him the lady: By him that was crucified, I shall make thee perish [of] hunger if thou tell not to me the truth. Then made she him to be cast into a dry pit and there tormented him by hunger and evil rest. When he had been seven days in that pit, then said he: If I might be drawn out, I should say the truth. Then he was drawn out, and when he came to the place, anon the earth moved, and a fume of great sweetness was felt, in such wise that Judas smote his hands together for joy, and said: In truth, Jesus Christ, thou art the Saviour of the world.

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