In 318, Emperor Constantine the Great renamed Drepana in , Helenopolis, after his mother .RL79456.
Jerusalem was being rebuilt following the destruction caused by Emperor . He had built a temple over the site of Jesus's tomb near Calvary, and renamed the city . Accounts differ concerning whether the Temple was dedicated to or According to tradition, ordered the temple torn down and, according to the that arose at the end of the 4th century, chose a site to begin excavating, which led to the recovery of three different crosses. The is recounted in Ambrose, On the Death of (died 395) and at length in Rufinus' chapters appended to his translation into Latin of Eusebius' Ecclesiastical History, the main body of which does not mention the event. Then, Rufinus relates, the empress refused to be swayed by anything short of solid proof and performed a test. Possibly through Macarius of Jerusalem, she had a woman who was near death brought from the city. When the woman touched the first and second crosses, her condition did not change, but when she touched the third and final she suddenly recovered, and declared the with which the woman had been touched to be the True . On the site of discovery, Constantine ordered the building of the of the Holy Sepulchre; churches were also built on other sites detected by . Sozomen and Theodoret claim that also found the nails of the crucifixion. To use their miraculous power to aid her son, allegedly had one placed in Constantine's helmet, and another in the bridle of his horse.RL79446.
is a saint in the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches and famed for her piety. Her feast day as a saint of the Orthodox Christian is celebrated with her son on May 21, the "Feast of the Holy Great Sovereigns Constantine and Helen, Equal to the Apostles." Her feast day in the Roman Catholic falls on August 18. Her feast day in the Coptic Orthodox is on 9 Pashons. Eusebius records the details of her pilgrimage to and other eastern provinces (though not her discovery of the True ). She is the saint of new discoveries.RL79448.
In the 12th century, of Huntingdon included a passage in his Anglorum that Constantine's mother was a Briton, the daughter of Cole of Colchester. Geoffrey of Monmouth expanded this story in his highly fictionalized Regum Britanniae, an account of the supposed Kings of Britain from their Trojan origins to the Anglo-Saxon invasion. According to Geoffrey, Cole was of the Britons when Constantius, here a senator, came to Britain. Afraid of the Romans, Cole submitted to Roman law so long as he retained his kingship. However, he died only a month later, and Constantius took the throne himself, marrying Cole's daughter . They had their son Constantine, who succeeded his father as of Britain before becoming Roman Emperor. Historically, this series of events is extremely improbable. Constantius had already left by the time he left for Britain. Additionally, no earlier source mentions that was born in Britain, let alone that she was a princess.RL79452.
died around 330, with her son at her side. She was buried in the Mausoleum of , outside on the Via Labicana. Her sarcophagus is on display in the Pio-Clementine Museum, although the connection is often questioned. Next to her is the sarcophagus of her granddaughter Saint (Saint Constance). Her skull is displayed in the Cathedral of Trier, in Germany.RL79455.
Several relics purportedly discovered by Saint are now in , where she spent some time. Among them are items believed to be of Jesus Christ's tunic, pieces of the holy , and pieces of the rope with which Jesus was tied on the . The rope, considered to be the only relic of its kind, has been held at the Stavrovouni Monastery, which was also founded by Saint . According to tradition, is responsible for the large population of cats in . Local tradition holds that she imported hundreds of cats from or in the fourth century AD to rid a monastery of snakes. The monastery is today known as "St. Nicholas of the Cats" and is located near Limassol.RL79449.
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