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Our Lady Help of Christians

Patron Saint

Since the Apostolic Age, Christians have turned with great confidence to the Blessed Virgin Mary for spiritual and temporal help. Knowing that the Mother of God is also our spiritual Mother, Christians have sought her maternal aid and intercession with the Divine Majesty. And Mary Immaculate, being the marvelous Mother that she is, often comes to help her children before they even come to implore her avail, sometimes before they are even aware of their particular need. Our Lady’s solicitude at the Wedding Feast at Cana manifests this maternal trait of anticipating the needs of her children. Remember: Mary notices that the young couple had run out of wine at their marriage feast. No one had said a word about it to her, yet she mentions the plight of the married couple with tact and delicacy to her Son. And Our Lord hears and answers her prayer!

Mary’s title Help of Christians is one of the invocations in the well-known Litany of Loretto (also known as the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary). Pope St. Pius V inserted the title of Help of Christians in the litany in 1571 in thanksgiving to Our Lady for the victory of the inferior Christian fleet over the Muslim Turks at the Battle of Lepanto.


Sub Tuum

The ancient prayer the Sub Tuum indicates that the early Church not only venerated the Mother of God but actively sought her help through prayer. A translation of the third century Greek manuscript (which varies from the more familiar Latin text) reads: 


Under your mercy, 
we take refuge, Mother of God, 
do not reject our supplications in necessity. 

But deliver us from danger. 
[You] alone chaste, alone blessed.

The Memorare

The famous Marian prayer the Memorareexpresses the confidence Christians should have in the succor the Holy Virgin provides to her children. 


Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, 
That never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, 
implored thy help, or sought thy intercession, was left unaided. 
Inspired with this confidence, I fly unto thee, 
O Virgin of virgins my Mother. 
To thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. 
O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, 
but in thy clemency hear and answer me. Amen. 


Saint Helen

Patron Saint

St. Helen was born, so far as can be ascertained, at Drepanum in Bithynia, possibly an innkeeper's daughter. Somewhere around 270, Roman general Constantius Chlorus met her and married her despite her humble birth. When Constantius was made Caesar, he was persuaded to divorce her and marry Theodora, the step-daughter of Emperor Maximillian. Some years earlier, Helen had given birth to a son, Constantine, who had deep regard and affection for his mother. Constantine became the first Christian Emperor. He declared Christianity a legal religion, ending the persecution in the Roman Empire.


In about 312, St. Helen became a Christian. She used the empire's treasures by giving money to the poor, caring for the indigent and distressed, and building numerous churches. After the victory in Licinius in 324, Constantine became master of the East. At this time, St. Helen went to Palestine to venerate the places made sacred by the bodily presence of our Lord.

Saint Helen and the Sacred Cross

After Golgotha and the holy sepulcher had been laid bare by removing the terrace and temple of Venus with which Emperor Hadrian had over-built them, Constantine wrote to St. Macarius, Bishop of Jerusalem, ordering a church to be built. St. Helen took the task on herself to see this work executed, desiring at the same time to discover the sacred cross on which our Redeemer died. The finding of three crosses in a rock cistern just to the East of Calvary is celebrated on the 3rd of May. The story of her finding the cross is the subject of Cynewulf's finest poem, Elene. Cynewulf is one of only four Anglo-Saxon poets from the 9th century whose work is known today.


Whether or not she actively participated in the finding of the cross, it is beyond dispute that Helen's last days were spent in Palestine. Eusebius reports that she built two basilicas, one on the Mount of Olives and one at Bethlehem. Coins that bore her name, Flavia Julia Helena, were minted in 330, presumably the year of her death. This occurred somewhere in the East, and her body was taken to Rome for burial.

The feast of St. Helen is celebrated annually on the 18th of August.

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