The American Cyclopædia (1879)/Helena, Saint

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HELENA, Saint, wife of the emperor Constantius Chlorus and mother of Constantine the Great, born in Drepanum (Helenopolis), Bithynia, in 247, died in Nicomedia about 327. She was probably of obscure parentage, though some historians pretend that she was a British princess. When her husband was made Cæsar in 292, he put her away and espoused Theodora, stepdaughter of the emperor Maximian; but in his will he acknowledged Constantine, his son by Helena, as his sole heir. Constantine on assuming the purple (306) brought his mother to reside in the imperial palace at Treves, loaded her with honors, gave her the title of Augusta, and conferred her name upon several cities of the empire. She erected and endowed a number of churches, and at the age of 79 made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, where, according to the earliest Byzantine historians, she discovered the true cross. (See Cross.) She died in the arms of her son, and her body was carried to Rome, where a mausoleum was raised to her.