March 29, 2023
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Great celebration for Orthodoxy – The memory of Saints Constantine and Helen is honored today, Friday 21 May.

Saint Constantine and Saint Helen: Who are the Apostles who celebrate today

Saint Constantine

This is the Roman Emperor, during whose days secularism was established and the Christian faith was promoted, which until then had been persecuted.

At the time when his father Constantius was serving in the Palace, Constantine was in the court of the emperor Diocletian in Nicomedia, holding the office of Chiliarch. But when the two Augustians, Diocletian and Maximian, resign from their positions, Constantius for the West and Galerius for the East are promoted to the position of Augustus.

When Constantius (306) died, the western army recognized Constantine as Augustus.

Constantine, therefore, was proclaimed in August after his victory against Maxentius.

The historian Eusebius states that Constantine did not know exactly to whom God to pray to face Maxentius. When, however, he began to return prayers, in the afternoon a sign appeared in the sky, the Cross with the famous inscription “in spite of victory”.

Thus, having the certainty of divine support, he attacks Maxentius, whom he defeats.

After these events and since he is now the only ruler of the Empire, Constantine will make a decision that was to change the course of mankind: he moves the capital of the Empire from Rome to a fishing village on the Bosphorus and builds Constantinople on the old Byzantium .

A notable event, among others, is the signing of the edict of Milan in 313, which provided for the cessation of persecution and the release of the faithful. The decree was signed on the occasion of Likinios’ marriage to his sister Konstantias.

With the predominance of Christianity begin the first disputes in the body of the Church. The first bomb that will shake its foundations is Arius who will support the one and only nature of Jesus Christ.

Constantine, realizing the problem caused by the heresies in the cohesion of the Empire, convened the First Ecumenical Council at Nicaea in Bithynia in 325, which ruled that Arius taught heretical views.

After the end of the work of the Synod, Constantine himself undertook the notification of the relevant decisions to the whole territory of the Empire.

Arios, however, and his contemporaries deceived Constantine by practicing their philological and philosophical art and convinced Constantine that their teaching did not depart from the doctrine of the Ecumenical Council.

The result of this intervention of Areios was the convening of a new synod in 327 AD, which recalled Areios from exile and restored his like-minded Bishops Nicomedia Eusebius and Nicaea Theognio. This action provoked reactions from the Orthodox, so both Alexandria of Alexandria and Athanasius the Great did not compromise with the decisions of the Synod, even though the Emperor threatened to overthrow him.

Subsequently, a new Synod of Heretical Bishops, convened in Antioch in 330, deposed and exiled Saint Eustathius, Bishop of Antioch, and then in 335, another Synod, held in Tire, Syria, sentenced Athanasius the Great to death. who, therefore, asked Constantine to listen to him, but the Emperor, at first, did not accept the proposal of Athanasius, until this great theologian said to him: “Judge Lord ἀνὰ μέσον ἐμοῦ καὶ σοῦ”.

After the hearing, and after Constantine invited all those who participated in the Council of Tire, Eusebius of Nicomedia appeared, with another argument before the Emperor, this time, raising the issue of the alleged obstruction of the transportation of wheat. The Emperor finally exiled Athanasius the Great to Trevira, France, but did not ratify the decision of that Synod and at the same time did not proceed to the replacement of the episcopal see of Alexandria. The issue of Arios was solved at that time by the Providence of God, since on the eve of the solemn recognition of Arios, he died in a horrible way while he was in the toilet.

Despite the fact that he had worshiped the god Helios all his life, shortly before his death he decided to be baptized a Christian. During the sacrament he also said the famous phrase: “Now it is true because of the bliss of us, now it is worthy of immortal life, now the divine light is received, I believed”. From then until the day of his sleep in 337 in the suburb of Nicomedia no royal cloak was worn. His death occurred nine years after his mother died at the age of 63 and took place on the day of Pentecost, according to historian Eusebius.

Saint Helen

Saint Helen was the mother of Constantine the Great. He was born in Drepano of Bithynia (Gialova, Central Asia) in the middle of the 3rd century AD. About twenty years after her birth, Eleni met Constantius Chloros, an official of the Empire, whom she married in 270, under a special law, which allowed officials to marry women of popular descent. Constantius was a relative of Claudius, who reigned before Diocletian and was hired by Diocletian. The fruit of the marriage of Helen and Constantius was Constantine, the later monarch of the Roman Empire, whom Saint Helen gave birth to in Naissos of Moisia (Nissa, Serbia).

However, in order for Constantius to be promoted by Diocletian to Caesar of Galatia, Spain and Britain, he divorced Saint Helen and married the niece of Maximian Theodora. At that time, Saint Helen and Constantine remained under the protection of Diocletian and then Galerius, so that they could control Constantius. However, Constantius assumed the office of Caesar’s office worked well for the Church, since even during the period of persecution unleashed by Diocletian, the faithful in this area were not persecuted. Also, with the rise of Chloros to this position, the way was opened for his son Konstantinos.

Saint Helen returned to public life when Constantine was promoted to Caesar in 306, when Constantine brought her to Trevira and then took her with him to Rome, when he was to be proclaimed in August. The Saint was proclaimed in Augusta by Constantine, when he remained emperor defeating Licinius, while in the process she acted as his advisor and collaborator. This love and respect of Constantine to his mother was shown by the erection of two columns in the large square “Foros”, one in the name of St. Helen and the other in his name, and between them a cross, which bore the inscription : “To the Saint, to the Lord, Jesus Christ, to the glory of God the Father, Amen”. Also, in order to honor her, she minted coins with her name and form and renamed Drepano to Elenopolis.

Among other things, he gave his mother the palace in Cesorio of Lateranos, where he built a church, so that she could perform charitable and spiritual work. Subsequently, St. Helen, with the consent of Constantine, took responsibility for the reconstruction of temples and the construction of new churches and auspicious institutions throughout the territory of the Empire. The historian Eusebius states in this regard: “Eleni Augusta … founded pious presumptions of disposition”.

But apart from the life and work of Saint Helen at the side of her son, the most important event that sealed her was her transition to the Holy Land. There, according to Tradition, following a divine sign, he found the Holy and Animal Cross of the Lord in 326 AD. When he arrived in Jerusalem, then, at the suggestion of Saint Kyriakos, who was a Jew and then called Judas, but also based on a tradition that said that after the Apostasy the Holy Cross was thrown into a pit near Golgotha, he immediately began the relevant investigations .

But because it was a tremendous amount of work, the research turned to the part where the basil flower bloomed, whose fragrance was intense. The chronographer George the monk notes the fact of the discovery as follows: “And the Bishop (Makarios) learned the things of the Royal Coming … he always asked for peace and made a more important wish in favor of it, to God he offered … God showed the Bishop the place where the unclean demon, the temple and the statue of Aphrodite existed. Then the queen, a large number of craftsmen and workers gathered and from the bottom destroyed the infamous building. As a result, the divine Memory, the place of the skull and three registered crosses were revealed … Embarrassment and sadness seized the Queen, since no one knew who the Holy Cross was.

And the Bishop answered the question by faith … A sick woman, desperate in all respects and the wind blowing, they brought between the crosses … With the shadow of the Holy Cross the patient … jumped straight, glorifying God with a loud voice. ..And Queen Eleni, with great joy received the Cross … and handed over part of it to the Bishop of the city “(George Monk, On the Finding of the Cross, 110.620-621).

Also, St. John Chrysostom mentions that three crosses were found on Golgotha, one of which was diagnosed as belonging to Jesus Christ. The Synaxari of the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross states: “And when the Queen (ie Saint Helen) passed away, the miracle of the Lord Stavros is shown to the dying widow; two crosses of the Robbers, zero indicated in this miraculous model “.

After the point Saint Helen decided to build the Church of the Resurrection on the spot, another temple above the Cave of the Nativity in Bethlehem and two others, one on the Ascension Mountain and one on Mount Tabor.

Then, Saint Helen left for Constantinople, carrying with her pieces of the Sacred Wood. On her way she passed for the second time from Cyprus. So he landed south of the island near today’s Libra. The area where he landed was a river, then called the royal river, near which he deposited the crosses – traditionally, because the three crosses had remained together for many years, he disconnected them, mixed their wood and rebuilt them. From the wood of the foot of the cross of Christ he also made another small cross.

There, exhausted as she was, the eighty-year-old Saint leaned down to rest for a while, so that she could continue her journey to Constantinople. According to Tradition, during her sleep, a young man in angelic form said to her: “My dear queen, I am an envoy of God Almighty, to express His will to you. Just as you built temples there in Jerusalem, so that God may be glorified and praised, so here, on this blessed island, you should do the same. To build a holy temple here, which in fact to be founded with the Holy Wood, so that the Cross of the Lord can be worshiped and glorified for centuries by the inhabitants of this place. “Christians will live here until the end of the world.”

When the Saint woke up, she immediately ordered it to be done as that brilliant young man had indicated to her. However, one of the big crosses had disappeared and was seen on the top of Mount Olympus. There, then, was found the Sacred Wood, which had been lost for a moment. Then, Agia Eleni and her associates built a church which they inaugurated with the Holy Wood and since then (327) this mountain is called Stavrovouni, where until today there is the homonymous Holy Monastery.

Then the Saint left for the Queen, where Constantine welcomed the Holy Cross, the four Nails (= nails) and his mother with all splendor. We note that of these four Ilos, two were placed in the Crown, which was worn by King Constantine.

Agia Eleni was buried a year later, at the age of about 81 years (328-329) while today, most of the Holy Wood is kept in the Holy Monastery of Xiropotamos on Mount Athos.

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