Roman Empress, Roman Catholic Saint. She was born circa AD 248. She is believed to have come from a poor background, sometimes being referred to as "stabularia", meaning stable maid. She was the partner of the Emperor Constantius, although it is uncertain whether they were actually married, she bore him a son, the future Emperor Constantine, in AD 271. She had become divorced or separated from Constantius by AD 289, but remained close to her son, who became Emperor in AD 306. Constantine gave his mother the title "Augusta" and bought her into public life and the imperial court. He gave her funds from the imperial treasury to hunt for Christian relics, and in AD 325 she ordered the construction of a church in Egypt to identify the site of the Burning Bush of Sinai, now known as the Chapel of Saint Helen. According to tradition, she ordered the demolition of a pagan temple built on the site of the tomb of Jesus, and began excavations there which revealed three wooden crosses. One of these crosses cured a dying woman who touched it and Helena declared it to be the True Cross. She built the Church of the Holy Sepulchre on the site, and went on to build churches at several other holy sites and founded the Staurovouni Monastery. She is also associated with the discovery of other relics, including the Holy Tunic, the nails of the crucifixion, and pieces of the rope which allegedly tied Christ to the cross. She died in AD 330 and was buried in a magnificent sarcophagus decorated with military scenes which may have been intended for her son. She was sanctified after her death and is the Patron Saint of archaeologists.
Bio by: js