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Augusta  AD 324 - 330

Flavia Julia Helena (Saint Helena):
First wife of Constantius I Chlorus;
Mother of Constantine the Great;
Step-mother of Constantia and Licinius I;
Grandmother of Crispus,Constantine II, Constantius II, Constans, Constantina (wife of Hanniballianus and Constantius Gallus) and Helena the Younger.

Flavia Iulia Helena was probably born in Bithynia and she must have been born ca. 248/9. She was of low social origin. It is very likely that Constantius Chlorus took her as a concubine, and in 272/3 she gave birth to Constantine in Naissus. When in 289 Constantius became Caesar and married Theodora, he separated from Helena and Helena's life recedes into obscurity for us. She must have joined his son's court soon after 306, at his residences in Trier or Rome. There is a lively medieval Helena tradition in Trier and its surroundings, may be an indication that Helena once lived in this northernmost, imperial residence. In Rome, fundus Laurentus in the south-east corner of Rome, which included the Palatium Sessorianum, a circus and public baths (later called Thermae Helenae), are known as her possession. By 324 Constantine gave her the title of Augusta. She only converted to Christianity after 312 but quickly became a devoted servant of God. The most memorable event of Helena's life was her journey to Palestine and the other eastern provinces in 327-328. Because of Eusebius' description of this journey it is generally looked upon as a pilgrimage but it might have been a political act of conciliation. Shortly after her journey to the East Helena died in the presence of her son Constantine. The abrupt interruption in the issue of Helena Augusta-coins in the spring of 329 suggests that she died either at the end of 328 or the beginning of 329. She was buried in Rome in the mausoleum near the Ss. Marcellino e Pietro at the Via Labicana. The porphyry sarcophagus, which contained her remains, is now in the Vatican Museum. Her greatest fame Helena acquired by an act for which she was probably not responsible, i.e. the finding of the True Cross in Jerusalem. The legend of Helena's discovery of the Cross originated in Jerusal em in the second half of the fourth century and rapidly spread over the whole empire. Because of her alleged discovery of the Cross Helena became a saint in the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic Church. Her feast day in the eastern church is 21 May and in the western church 18 August.

Mints: Alexandria, Antioch, Arelate, Constantinopolis, Cyzicus, Heraclea, Londinium, Lugdunum, Nicomedia, Rome, Sirmium, Siscia, Thessalonica, Ticinum, Treveri.

List all Helena coins in the Catalog.

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