June 3 - Equal-to-the-Apostles Emperor Constantine and His Mother, Queen Helen

He firmly believed that only the Christian faith could unite the various peoples of the Roman empire. Therefore, he helped the Church with all his might . . .

Equal-to-the-Apostles Emperor Constantine and His Mother, Queen Helen

Today the Orthodox Church honors the memory of the great emperor Constantine, called "Equal-to-the-Apostles" for his service to the Church, as well as his mother, Queen Helen.

His service to the Christian church was truly great. Having been raised to believe in Christ, Constantine, unlike other rulers of his time, did not persecute the Christians living in his empire.

When he had freed the Western and Eastern parts of the Roman Empire from cruel persecutors, and began to reign as the only emperor, the first thing he did was to issue the edict of Milan on religious tolerance. After three hundred years of persecutions, the Christians could finally confess their faith in Christ openly.

He turned away from the pagan capital of Rome, and moved the capital of the Roman empire to the city of Byzantium in the East, which he later renamed "Constantinople". 

He firmly believed that only the Christian faith could unite the various peoples of the Roman empire. Therefore, he helped the Church with all his might: recalling confessors from exile, building churches, and supporting the clergy.

Queen Helen and Constantine both dreamed of finding the Life-giving Cross, because they sincerely believed in its power. By God's providence the Cross was miraculously discovered in Jerusalem by Queen Helen.

By Queen Helen's decree, all the holy places that were connected with the earthly life of the Lord Jesus Christ and His Most-Pure Mother in Jerusalem were cleansed from all traces of paganism, and beautiful churches were built in all the most important places.

And when trouble and strife began to rage inside the Church because of the rising heresies, the emperor Constantine convened the First Ecumenical Council in Nicaea. The great lights of the Church, who had gathered from every land, condemned those heresies, and, most importantly, they compiled the Symbol of Faith (Nicene Creed), which forever enshrined in the minds of Orthodox Christians the truth about the divinity of Jesus Christ, who took on human nature to redeem the whole human race. 

Emperor Constantine did many other great things to strengthen the Christian faith, and before his death he finally received Holy Baptism, for which he had been preparing himself his entire life. 

The third of June is the feast day of the Holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Emperor Constantine and his mother, Queen Helen.

MORE:Saints
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