Helena, Mother of Constantine the Great (246-330)

Helena married emperor Constantius and gave birth to Constantine the Great on February 27, 272. Constantius divorced Helena around 289, and she joined Constantine at the court of Diocletian in Nicomedia (modern Izmit). When Constantine became the sole emperor of the Roman empire in 324, Helena became a pub- lic figure in the imperial court.

As a devout Christian, Helena had a major influence on the life of Constantine and became a very important person in the development of the early church. From 326 to 328, Helena made a Christian pilgrimage to the eastern provinces of the Roman empire and to the land of Israel. On her way to Jerusalem, she passed through Iconium (modern Konya) and sponsored the building of a beautiful church in what is today’s village of Sille. In 328, at the age of eighty, Helena returned to Nicomedia. She died around 330, the year Constantinople was dedicated as New Rome.

The Church of Saint Helena (327) Iconium/Konya

The Church of Saint Helena is located about five miles (8 km) outside of Iconium (modern Konya) in the Greek town of Sille. The inscrip- tion above the church’s entrance tells us that it was founded in 327 by Helena, the mother of Constantine the Great. The church was restored in 2012 and contains beautiful frescoes. It is open to visitors.