St. Helena is the empress mother of Constantine the Great. She was a native of Bithynia, who married the then Roman general Constantius I Chlorus about 270. Constantine was born soon after and, in 293, Constantius was made Caesar, or junior emperor. He divorced Helena to marry co Emperor Maximian's stepdaughter. Her son Constantine became emperor in 312 after the fateful victory at Milvian Bridge. He was quick to call her back to court and gave her the title of August, or empress.
She converted to Christianity, largely due to her son, at about 64 years of age and performed many acts of charity including building churches in Rome and in the Holy Land, assisting at the divine offices with exemplary assiduity, decorating churches with rich furniture and precious vessels, and extended her munificence even to the chapels of the poorest suburbs.
At eighty years of age, she went to Jerusalem to pay for new temples to be built andbecame animated with a desire to discover the cross on which Jesus Christ had suffered death. The search was attended with difficulties; for the pagans, in order to destroy the memory of the Redeemer, had cast a great mound of earth on the site of the sepulchre and, after constructing a platform, erected on it a temple to Venus; thus thinking to keep the Christians from visiting the locality. But nothing could withhold the pious princess from conducting the search. She consulted the oldest inhabitants of Jerusalem who told her that, if she would discover the Lord’s sepulchre, she must also discover the instruments of his death. In fact, it was a custom amongst the Jews to bury along with the body everything that had been used in putting criminals to death. The empress immediately caused the profane temple to be levelled. The earth was removed and the ground was purified. At length the grotto of the holy sepulchre was discovered and near the tomb were three crosses, together with the inscription that had been affixed to that of Jesus Christ, and also the nails that had pierced His holy body.
Helene extended her pious acts over every place through which she passed, comforting the poor with abundant alms, everywhere proving herself a mother to the orphans and afflicted.
For that very reason, one of our homes (in the Community Outreach and Disability Service ministry) has adopted St. Helena as their patron Saint. The staff say that St. Helena was a strong female figure and was able to withstand whatever was thrown her way, which is not unlike this home's resident.