Late vocation: The 80-year-old woman who discovered the Cross upon which Jesus was crucified.

The contemporary historian Eusebius recorded that Helena converted to Christianity around 312, after her emperor son, inspired by a flaming cross, had destroyed his rivals at the Milvian Bridge. She became celebrated for her charity to the poor and to prisoners.

Helena was almost 80, however, when, in 327-8, she made her pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Jerusalem had been desecrated in 130 by the Emperor Hadrian, who had built a pagan temple on the supposed site of Jesus’s tomb near Calvary.

Helena ordered its demolition, and then selected a spot close by to start digging for relics.

Three crosses were found, and the true one identified when a sick woman was cured after touching it. Nails and a tunic were also discovered.

While in the Holy Land, Helena supervised work on the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, and on the Church of the Mount of Olives.

She died soon after her return to Rome, and was buried on the Via Labicana.
Her remains are now in the Vatican Museum.


True Burial Site of Christ – Church of the Holy Sepulcher or the Garden Tomb?

Which is the authentic site of the tomb of Jesus Christ?

Bible literalists (meaning: Protestants) flock to the site in the Holy Land known as “the Garden Tomb”, despite a huge body of very substantial evidence to the contrary. Why? Because today, that site most closely resembles the general description of the place, as written in the Bible.

Traditionalists (meaning: Catholics and Orthodox) prefer the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, which was originally built on a site that was located, excavated, and designated during the 4th century, by St. Helena, the mother of the Roman Emperor, Constantine. There’s also a huge amount of historical and archeological evidence indicating that the Church of the Holy Sepulcher is precisely what and exactly where it claims to be.

So what is a person to do? Believe one’s own personal interpretation of scripture, even if it’s sure to lead to the wrong destination … or go with the facts, based on all the testimony of those who have gone before … including the scriptures?

I guess it all depends on what you’re looking for.

Certainly worth thinking (and praying) about!

Icon of the Madonna by St. Luke, believed to accurately depict face of Blessed Virgin Mary

St. Luke painted this Icon of Mary (about the year 60 AD) while she was staying with St. John the Apostle. According to tradition, when St. Luke “wrote” the Icon, he accurately rendered the Blessed Virgin’s authentic facial features.

The Icon was written directly onto a three foot by five foot cedar plank, believed to be part of a table that Jesus had originally hand crafted during his time in Nazareth. When Mary went to stay with St. John, in Ephesus (a town located in southwestern Turkey) the table evidently made the trip, as well.

Lost for over 200 years, the Icon was discovered by St. Helena (mother of Emperor Constantine) in Jerusalem, buried near the True Cross, on or about the year 326 AD.

The title of the Icon is Salus Populi Romani (“Protectoress of the Roman People”). It is the only major Icon attributed to Saint Luke (who is also the writer of  the Gospel bearing his name, “the Acts of the Apostles” and most of St. Paul’s epistles.)

St. Luke is also believed to have been a physician (medical doctor).

Tradition and history informs us that St. Luke’s Icon has resided in St. Mary Major Basilica, Rome, for about 1,700 years.

Click here to read more about Icons