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Helena of Constantinople
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Helena of Constantinople

Flavia Iulia Helena, also known as Saint Helena and Helena of Constantinople, (AD c.248 - c.329) probably born in Drepanum (afterwards re-named Helenopolis) on the Gulf of Nicomedia, was the first wife of Constantius Chlorus, and allegedly the daughter of an innkeeper. Later legend, mentioned by Geoffrey of Monmouth, claimed that she was a daughter of Briton King Coel, who allied with Constantius to avoid more war between the Britons and Rome. Monmouth further states that she was brough up in the manner of a queen as she had no brothers to inherit the throne of Britain.

Constantius Chlorus divorced her (circa 292) to marry the step-daughter of Maximian, Flavia Maximiana Theodora. Helena's son, Constantine later became emperor of the Roman Empire, and following his elevation she became a presence at the imperial court.

She is also considered by some Christians to be a saint, famed for her piety. Eusebius records the details of her pilgrimage to Palestine and other eastern provinces. She is traditionally credited with the finding of relics of the cross of Christ (see True Cross for the story). Her feast day (as a saint of the Roman Catholic Church) falls on August 18.

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