Spring: Constantine orders Licinius (now a private citizen in Thessalonike) put to death. The younger Licinius is also put to death most likely at this time as well.

20 May - 26 July: Constantine convokes the first general council of the Christian Church -- Council of Nicaea.

25 July 325 - 25 July 326: The celebration of Constantine's vicennalia, the twentith anniversary of Constantine's reign as an Augustus.

14 September: Helena discovers the Holy Cross.

Construction of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher (Jerusalem), the Church of the Nativity (Bethlehem), and the Church on the Mount of Olive (site of the Ascension in Jerusalem) begins.

"For without delay she dedicated two churches to the God whom she adored, one at the grotto which had been the scene of the Saviour's birth; the other on the mount of his ascension. For he who was "God with us" had submitted to be born even in a cave of the earth, and the place of his nativity was called Bethlehem by the Hebrews. Accordingly the pious empress honored with rare memorials the scene of her travail who bore this heavenly child, and beautified the sacred cave with all possible splendor. The emperor himself soon after testified his reverence for the spot by princely offerings, and added to his mother's magnificence by costly presents of silver and gold, and embroidered hangings. And farther, the mother of the emperor raised a stately structure on the Mount of Olives also, in memory of his ascent to heaven who is the Saviour of mankind, erecting a sacred church and temple on the very summit of the mount. And indeed authentic history informs us that in this very cave the Saviour imparted his secret revelations to his disciples. And here also the emperor testified his reverence for the King of kings, by diverse and costly offerings. Thus did Helena Augusta, the pious mother of a pious emperor, erect over the two mystic caverns these two noble and beautiful monuments of devotion, worthy of everlasting remembrance, to the honor of God her Saviour, and as proofs of her holy zeal, receiving from her son the aid of his imperial power."
Eusebius, Vita Constantini

These words come from the third book of the Vita Constantini, the life of Constantine written shortly after Constantine's death by Eusebius, the bishop of Caesarea. Eusebius does not name Helena as architect of the Nativity and Ascension churches, but his text nonetheless links Helena directly with the erection of these two buildings. Moreover, the two holy sites chosen by Helena, that where Christ came into this world and that where Christ left this world, signify a well designed intention.

Even without naming Helena as architect, the testimony of Eusebius is valuable for its rare attribution of monumental building construction to a woman.




Quondam © 2014.11.29