Saturday, September 27, 2014

Feast of St. Helen: August 18

About a month ago was Eleanor’s first feast day. We didn’t do anything much, except read a short version  of St. Helen’s life, because, well, I was tired with a 7 week old. But at least Eleanor was able to hear about her illustrious patron saint. As a child, I was always attracted to the saints who were queens; firstly St. Elizabeth of Hungary, but after that, St. Helen, who was an empress. My favorite author, Evelyn Waugh, wrote what he termed his masterpiece (and I must agree) on her life, and this “fairy story” is what drew me closer to her. When we had to decide on names for our child, I was drawn to Eleanor, for 3 reasons: it was a unique name, its origins are Old French, (its first use was that of Eleanor of Aquitaine, who was queen of England and who inspired the 100 Years’ War), and it is a derivative of Helen.

From my missal excerpt:
Saint Helena, a native of Britain, espoused to the Emperor Constantius, was the mother of Constantine, the first Christian Emperor of Rome. Favored by her son, Saint Helena succeeded in discovering at Jerusalem the true Cross, to enshrine which she built a magnificent Basilica. She was renowned for her alsmsdeeds, and (say the ancient chroniclers) “incomparable in her faith and zeal”. Saint Helena received her heavenly crown in the month of August, in the twentieth year of the reign of her son, that is A.D. 326.

And the Collect of her Mass:

O Lord Jesus Christ, who to blessed Helena wast pleased to reveal the place where The Cross was hidden, in order, though her, to enrich Thy Church with this inestimable treasure: give ear to her prayers, and accept this tree of life as the price of our attaining to eternal happiness.