Thursday, August 18, 2011

St. Helen

Although not on the universal calendar, a little French almanac I follow tells me that today is the feast of St. Helen--namesake of our parish in Chasm Falls--who died in Rome on this date in 328.

The mother of the emperor Constantine, she restored many sacred sites in the Holy Land and recovered many important relics there--including the Holy Cross of Christ.  Little wonder she became the patron of archeologists.  A pious woman, she prayed fervently for her son's baptism, which (according to most historians) would only take place after her death.

Evelyn Waugh wrote a fascinating novel (Helena, 1950) based upon the story of her life.  Quite movingly, on its last page we read:
The holy places have been alternately honored and desecrated, lost and won, bought and bargained for, throughout the centuries. But the wood has endured. In splinters and shavings gloriously encased it has traveled the world over and found joyous welcome among every race. For it states a fact.
"There is no wood like that of the cross for lighting the fire of love in the soul."

--Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity

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