An empress of the Roman Empire, Saint Helena was the mother of Emperor Constantine the Great. Constantine legalised Christianity in 313AD. Helen was a convert to Christianity late in life and she used her influence to build churches and spread the faith throughout the Roman Empire.
When Helen was in her 80s, she had a dream about finding the real cross of Christ in Jerusalem. She travelled there with a small group to carry out a search. After talking to local Christians and Jews, she discovered the place believed to be the site of the crucifixion of Jesus was buried under the Temple of Venus. Helen had the temple demolished in order to excavate the ground below. A tomb, three crosses, a board with Pilate’s inscription and nails were found.
To discover if one of the crosses was the actual cross of Christ, the Bishop St Macarius took a corpse and touched each of the crosses to the body. One of the crosses caused the dead man to come back to life. The same test was also carried out on a woman with an incurable illness. When touched by the same cross, the woman was instantly healed.
St Helen then sent pieces of the cross to Rome and Constantinople and had the Church of the Holy Sepulchre built on the site of the crucifixion. Due to her discoveries, she is the patron saint of archaeologists.
The mother of Saint Basil the Great, and several other children who are saints of the church, Saint Emilia is known as the “mother of saints”.
With her husband, Basil the Elder, she gave birth to 10 children. She shared her faith with her children, teaching them to pray and devote their lives to the service of the church. As a result, five of her children are saints: Macrina, Basil, Peter of Sebaste, Gregory of Nyssa, and Theosebia, a deaconess.
After her other children left home, St Emilia and daughter Macrina founded a monastery for women. Emilia divided the family property among her children. With only a small amount of possessions, she and Macrina withdrew to a secluded family property in Pontus. A number of liberated female slaves desired to join the pair, and a convent was formed. They lived under one roof and held everything in common, eating, working and praying together.
Also known as Monica of Hippo, Monica was an early Christian saint and the mother of St Augustine of Hippo.
Saint Monica is the patron saint of mothers, due to her persistence in prayer for her son.
Christian legends tell of Saint Monica weeping every night for her son Augustine. After 17 years of prayer, she had the joy of seeing Augustine convert to Christianity. Augustine became a doctor of the church, and wrote extensively of his life with Monica in his collection Confessions.