Today is the Feast Day of Saint Constantine and Helen. It is also the name day of those named Constantine, Constantinos, Con, Connor, Tino, Dino, Dean, Constantina, Konstandina, Tina, Constance, Helen, Helena, Helene, Eleni, Elena.

Saint Constantine was the son of Constantius Chlorus (the ruler of the western-most parts of the Roman empire), and of the blessed Helen. He was born in 272, in Naissus of Dardania, a city on the Hellespont. In 306, when his father died, he was proclaimed successor to his throne.

In 312, on learning that Maxentius and Maximinus had joined forces against him, he marched into Italy, where, while at the head of his troops, he saw in the sky after midday, beneath the sun, a radiant pillar in the form of a cross with the words: “By this shall you conquer”, “Εν τούτω Νίκα». The following night, our Lord Jesus Christ appeared to him in a dream and declared to him the power of the Cross and its significance.

When he arose in the morning, he immediately ordered that a labarum be made (which is a banner or standard of victory over the enemy) in the form of a cross, and he inscribed on it the Name of Jesus Christ.

On 28 October, he attacked and mightily conquered Maxentius, who drowned in the Tiber River while fleeing. The following day, Constantine entered Rome in triumph and was proclaimed Emperor of the West by the Senate, while Licinius, his brother-in-law, ruled in the East. But out of malice, Licinius later persecuted the Christians.

Constantine fought him once and again, and utterly destroyed him in 324, and in this manner he became monarch over the West and the East.

READ MORE: Saints Constantine and Helena

Under him and because of him all persecutions against the Church and Her people ceased. Christianity triumphed and idolatry was overthrown. Constantine also declared Sunday a public holiday so that Christians could worship God without other obligations.

In 325 he convened the First Ecumenical Council of the undivided Christian Church at Nicaea, which he himself personally addressed. In 324, in the ancient city of Byzantium, he laid the foundations of the new capital of his realm, and solemnly inaugurated it on 11 May, 330, naming it after himself, Constantinople. Since the throne of the imperial rule was transferred thither from Rome, it was named New Rome, the inhabitants of its domain were called Romans, and it was considered the continuation of the Roman Empire.

Falling ill near Nicomedia, he requested to receive divine Baptism, according to Eusebius the historian, and also according to Socrates and Sozomen; and when he had been deemed worthy of the Holy Mysteries, he reposed in 337, on May 21, the day of Pentecost, having lived sixty-five years, of which he ruled for thirty-one years.

His remains were transferred to Constantinople and were deposed in the Church of the Holy Apostles, which he himself had built.

His mother, Saint Helen, had undertaken a visit to Jerusalem after her son was triumphant. There, she discovered and recovered the original Holy Cross on which our Lord was crucified. After this, Saint Helen, in her zeal to glorify Christ, erected churches in Jerusalem at the sites of the Crucifixion and Resurrection, in Bethlehem at the cave where our Saviour was born, another on the Mount of Olives whence He ascended into Heaven, and many others throughout the Holy Land, Cyprus, and elsewhere.

She was proclaimed Augusta, her image was stamped upon golden coins, and two cities were named Helenopolis after her in Bithynia and in Palestine.

Having been thus glorified for her piety, she departed to the Lord being about eighty years of age, in the year 330.