Hidden treasures

Venice enshrines the remains of St Elena, the mother of Emperor Constantine

Historical Curiosities

Venice enshrines the remains of St Elena, the mother of Emperor Constantine

Amongst the remains of the many saints that are kept in Venice there are also those of a mother: St Elena.

Elena was in fact the mother of the Roman Emperor Constantine who, with the edict of Milan in 313 A.C., gave Christians the freedom of worshipl.

St Elena is remembered for having discovered the cross and nails that were used for the crucifixion of Jesus. After her death she was buried in Rome. Her body was later transferred to Constantinople and finally in 1211 the remains of St Elena were brought to Venice.

The legend says that the ship that transported the remains of St Elena ran aground as soon as it entered the Venice lagoon near the island of Olivolo, on a nearby small island where a small chapel dedicated to St Elena had been built.

The sailors tried to lighten the ship by unloading its cargo onto the nearby small island and this included the urn with the remains. Once the ship was afloat again the Saint's urn was placed back on board, however, the ship hit the ground again. 'Perhaps the Saint wishes to remain here' – thought the sailors – and consequently left the remains in the chapel, which was later turned into a gothic church becoming a pilgrimage site for all mothers in the world.

By Insidecom Editorial Staff

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