Saint Helen The Feast of the Cross References


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Saint Helen
The Feast of the Cross

References: The Book of the Synaxarium

Church Calendar:

  • The Feast of Exaltation of the Holy Cross: Thout 17 (September 27)

  • The Feast of the Cross: Bramhat 10 (March 19)

Lesson Aim:

  1. The story about the Cross

  2. The period of Emperor Constantine the Great; the Edict of Milan in 313 A.D. The Journey of St. Helen to the Holy Land

  3. The Cross in our life

Bible Reading: I Corinthians 1:18-25

Golden Verse:

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” I Cor 1:18

Notes about the Cross:

  1. We use the sign of the Cross in all our prayers.

  2. We use it when we feel in danger.

  3. We have to carry our cross daily and follow Christ (Luke 9:23)

  4. Our suffering in this world is our cross.

  5. Through prayers, long days and long nights, and self denial, we would be worthy of carrying the cross.


I Corinthians 1


Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother,


To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:


Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.


I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus,


that you were enriched in everything by Him in all utterance and all knowledge,


even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you,


so that you come short in no gift, eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ,


who will also confirm you to the end, that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.


God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.


Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.


For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe's household, that there are contentions among you.


Now I say this, that each of you says, "I am of Paul," or "I am of Apollos," or "I am of Cephas," or "I am of Christ."


Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?


I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius,


lest anyone should say that I had baptized in my own name.


Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas. Besides, I do not know whether I baptized any other.


For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect.


For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.


For it is written: "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, And bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent."


Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?


For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.


For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom;


but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness,


but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.


Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.


For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called.


But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty;


and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are,


that no flesh should glory in His presence.


But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God-and righteousness and sanctification and redemption


that, as it is written, "He who glories, let him glory in the Lord."


The Seventeenth Day of the Blessed Month of Tute

The Feast of the Consecration of the Church of the Honorable Cross

On this day the Church celebrates the consecration of the church of the Honorable Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Cross was uncovered by the lover of God, Queen Helena, mother of Emperor Constantine, from under the pile of Golgotha, after she ordered its removal.

As for the reason of how this great pile of dirt came to be: the Jewish leaders, when they saw all the signs and wonders which were manifested from the sepulcher of the Savior, such as raising the dead and healing the sick, became angry and sent forth throughout Judea and Jerusalem, ordering all the people to cast the dirt of their houses and the trash over the sepulcher of Jesus of Nazareth. They continued to do so for more than 200 years until it became a very great heap.

When St. Helena came to Jerusalem and asked the Jews about the whereabouts of the Cross, they did not inform her. Finally, some of them told her about an old Jew, named Judas, who knew the place. She called him and he declined to tell at first, but when she urged him, he told her about that pile. She ordered its removal, and the Holy Cross was found. She built a church for it, consecrated it and celebrated the Honorable Cross on the seventeenth day of the month of Tute. Christians made pilgrimages to that place every year, as they do on the feast of the Resurrection.

A certain Samaritan named Isaac, as he was travelling with his family among the people going to Jerusalem, reproved the people for taking such trouble in going to Jerusalem to worship a piece of wood. Among the people was a priest whose name was Okhidus. While travelling along the road, they became thirsty. They found no water and they came to a well where the water was foul and bitter. The people became dismayed. Isaac the Samaritan started mocking them, saying, "If I witness a power in the name of the Cross, I will become a believer of Christ." The priest Okhidus was moved with divine zeal and prayed over that foul water, made the sign of the Cross on it, and it became good. All the people and their animals drank, but when Isaac drank, the water was bitter and wormy. He regretted, cried and came to the saint, Father Okhidus, bowed down at his feet and believed in the Lord Christ. Then he drank from the water, and he found it good. The water of that well possessed the power of becoming good for the believers and bitter for the others. A cross of light appeared in the well and a church was built there. When Isaac the Samaritan arrived in Jerusalem, he went to its bishop, who baptized him and his family.

Because the feast of the appearance of the Honorable Cross, which is on the tenth of Baramhat, always comes during fasting, it was substituted by the fathers on the Seventeenth of Tute, which is the day of consecration of its church.

Glory and worship be to Jesus Christ our Lord forever and ever, Amen.


The Tenth Day of the Blessed Month of Baramhat

Commemoration of the Appearance of the Glorious Cross

The Church celebrates the appearance of the glorious Cross of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ twice: The First on the sixteenth day of the month of Tute, 326 A.D., by the hands of the righteous Empress St. Helen, the mother of Constantine the great, the righteous Emperor. When her son Constantine accepted the Faith in the Lord Christ, this Saint vowed to go to Jerusalem. Her righteous son prepared everything needed to fulfill this holy visit.

When she arrived at Jerusalem with multitude of soldiers, she asked about the place of the Cross but no one would tell her. She took one of the Jewish elders and pressured him by hunger and thirst until he was forced to direct them to the place where they might find the Cross at the hill of Golgotha. She ordered them to clear out the site of Golgotha, during which they found three crosses; that was in the year 326 A.D. However, they did not know the Cross upon which Our Lord Christ was crucified, so they brought a dead man and laid upon him one of the crosses and then the other, but he did not rise up. When they laid the third cross upon him, he rose up immediately; then they realized that this was the Cross of Our Lord Christ. The Empress and all the believers kneeled down before the Holy Cross, and she sent a piece of it with the nails to her son Constantine. Immediately afterwards, she built the churches that were mentioned on the Sixteenth day of the blessed month of Tute.

The Second celebration on which the Church commemorates the Cross is on the Tenth day of the month of Baramhat, by Emperor Heraclius in 627 A.D. When the Persians were defeated by Heraclius, they retreated from Egypt to their country. On their way back, they passed through Jerusalem. A Persian prince entered the Church of the Cross which was built by Empress Helen. He saw a great light shinning from a piece of wood located in a place decorated with gold. He thrust his hand to it, but fire lit forth from it and burned his fingers. The Christians told him that this is the base of the Holy Cross; they told him how it was discovered and that no one was able to touch it except a Christian. He deceived the two deacons who were standing to guard it, gave them much money so they would carry this piece and go with him to his country. They took it, put it in a box and went with him to his country, along with those who were captured from the city of Jerusalem.

When Emperor Heraclius heard that, he went with his army to Persia, fought and slew many of them. He traveled about this country, searching for this piece of the Holy Cross, but could not find it because the Persian prince had dug a hole in his garden, ordered the two deacons to put the box in it, buried it and then he killed them.

One of the captives of that Persian prince was a daughter of one of the priests and was looking out of the window by chance when she saw what happened. She went to Heraclius the Emperor and told him what she saw. He went with the bishops, priests and the soldiers to the place. They dug and found the box; they took the piece of the Holy Cross out in 628 A.D., wrapped it in magnificent apparel and took it to the city of Constantinople and kept it there.

May the blessings of the Holy Cross be with us and Glory be to God forever, Amen.


Saint Helen

St. Helen, mother of Constantine the great, was born around 250 A.D. at Drepamum (later Delenopolis), in Bithynia (Asia Minor). Possibly a daughter of an inn-keeper, she married a Roman general Constantius Chlows about 270 A.D. But when Constantius Chlows was made Caesar, he was persuaded for political reasons to divorce her and marry Theodora, the stepdaughter of Emperor Maximian. St. Helen, a few years earlier had given birth at Noisus to Constantine the great, who had greatly honored and respected his mother. On the death of Constantius in 306 at York, England, Constantine was declared Caesar by his troops and won a clear title to the throne as emperor, after his dramatic Victory at the Milvan Bridge in 312 A.D.

It was around this time that St. Helen was converted to Christianity at the age of sixty-three, and through her influence, Constantine issued the Edict of Milan, permitting Christianity in the Empire and releasing all religious prisoners in 313 A.D. St. Helen zealously supported the Christian cause, aided the poor and made use of the treasures of the empire in liberal alms. She especially gave generously to churches and always appeared humbly dressed among the people in modest and plain attire. The empress looked upon herself as servant of the handmaids of Christ; in particular, to the religious persons she showed such respect as to serve them at the table and hold them water to wash their hands. She was also known for her kindness to soldiers and prisoners, freeing many from oppression, chains and banishment and ministering to the distressed.

After Constantine defeated Licinius in 324 A.D., he became emperor of both East and West and moved the Capital to Constantinople. Our noble lady, soon after, at the age of eighty made a pilgrimage to the Holy land to venerate the places made sacred by the bodily presence of our Lord. As she lead the way to the excavations of the true Cross, by divine inspiration, she called Jews and Christians to Jerusalem for consultation. However, although many assisted St. Helen, she was given effective counsel by a certain few and a man called Judas. Judas pointed out the Hill of Golgotha to her, where our beloved Lord was crucified. This is the very place in which St. Helen found herself embarrassed by the discovery of three crosses and faced with the difficulty of distinguishing the true Cross from those of the thieves. She prayed for guidance and was inspired to bring each of the crosses into contact with the body of a dead man who was being transported to burial. The Cross that restored life to the body of the dead man can then be identified as the Cross of Christ. Upon the application of the 3rd cross, the dead man's body began to move, as he lifted himself up and was fully revived.

In addition, St. Helen is credited with having found the Holy nails that the Roman soldiers had fastened Christ to the Cross with, when she discovered the true Cross. Also, the holy coat, the seamless robe of Christ is thought to have been brought by St. Helen from the East and given to the church of Ireves, and the bodies of the three magi, now shown at Cologne, were given to the church of Milan.

Furthermore, St. Helen exercised an influence on her son's church-building program in Palestine, where she builds the Church of the Nativity and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher; in Rome, she built the Church of the Holy Cross; in Constantinople, she built the Church of the Apostles; and in Egypt, at Palm (El-Kaff) Mountain, another church was built by her order. Also, besides a nunnery in Jerusalem, St. Helen is the founder of certain ancient Coptic monasteries which still stand today, such as Dair al Bakardh, or Convent of the Pulley, and Dair El-Abiad, or White Monastery, at the foot of the Libyan Hills.

St. Helen died possibly at Nicomedia, some where in the East, on August 18 in the year 330 A.D. and was buried at Constantinople or Rome; it is not certain. But her son, Constantine the great, outlived her by about 10 years and was baptized a few days before his death.


NAME: ____________________________

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Saint Helen

Memory Verse:

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

I Corinthians 1:18

  1. What did St. Helen find besides Christ’s Cross?

  1. Who was the son of St. Helen?

  1. Name the edict the degreed religious tolerance during St. Helen’s era:

  1. What are the events celebrated on the two Feasts of the Cross?

    1. __________________________

    2. __________________________

  2. When do we use the cross in our daily lives?

  1. Name a church in Jerusalem for which St. Helen is credited for building:

  1. What did St. Helen build in Egypt?

 Prepared by Dr. Raif Yanney, St. George Coptic Orthodox Church, Bellflower, CA

 Author unknown


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