For the first time, the holy relics of St Helena will be displayed in Athens together with a section of the Holy Cross. It is also the first time that holy relics leave the permanent residence in St Marcus Basilica n the Vatican Museums in Italy.
This will be the first time the relics of Saint Helena, mother of Emperor Constantine the Great, will leave Italy since the Crusades.
The relics will be transferred to Greece upon the initiative of the Apostolic Ministry of the Church of Greece, following the approval from the Vatican for the temporary visit.
The relics will arrive in Athens on Sunday, May 14. They will be exhibited for pilgrimage in the Church of Agia Varvara (St Barbara) in Egaleo suburb of western Athens/Piraeus until June 15th 2017. Pilgrimage will be possible from the morning until 11 p.m. at night.
The relics will be transported to Greece in a special flight and will be welcomed with honors usually paid to state leaders, as they take place when the Holy Light arrives from Jerusalem on Eastern Saturday. The convoy to Agia Varvara Church will be escorted by police units, incl a helicopter.
Prior to departure there will be an official ceremony in the St Markus Cathedral in Venice. The ceremony will start at 01:30 pm.
The welcome ceremony is scheduled for 6:30 pm Sunday. Present will be the President of the Republic Prokopis Pavlopoulos, Archbishop of Athens, Ieronymos as well as local dignitaries and ambassadors from ten Orthodox countries.
Due to the importance of the relics exhibition, authorities have worked out a plan with high security measures to profit possible theft or even a terrorist attack, Greek media report.
Helena, or Saint Helena or Αγία Ελένη ( 250 – c. 330), was a Greek native from the Greek city of Drepana (Δρέπανα) in the province of Bithynia in Asia Minor. She became the consort of the future Roman Emperor Constantius Chlorus (reigned 293–306) and the mother of the future Emperor Constantine the Great (reigned 306–337).
She received the title of Augusta in 325 and died around 330, with her son at her side.
St Helena was buried in the Mausoleum of Helena, outside Rome.
The porphyri sarcophagus of St Helena is on display in the Pio-Clementine Vatican Museum in the Greek Cross Gallery (Sala a Croce Greca).
The Sarcophagus of St Helena is the red porphyry coffin in which Saint Helena, the mother of emperor Constantine the Great, was buried (died 329). The coffin, deprived of it contents for centuries, was removed from the Mausoleum of Helena at Tor Pignatarra, just outside the walled city of Rome, and ultimately moved to the Vatican museums in the 18th century.
Documentary: St Helena, the 14th Apostle
The Sarcophagus is carved in the Egyptian porphyry, used only in the finest Byzantine imperial monuments.
Her skull is displayed in the Cathedral of Trier, in Germany.
She ranks as an important figure in the history of Christianity and of the world due to her major influence on her son. In her final years, she made a religious tour of Syria Palaestina and Jerusalem, during which she allegedly discovered the True Cross.
St Helen was directly responsible for the spread of Christianity though the Roman Empire and was the first person to bring Christian relics back to Rome.
The Eastern Orthodox Church, Oriental Orthodox Church, Roman Catholic Church, and the Anglican Communion revere her as a saint. The Lutheran Church commemorates her.
It is a once in a lifetime chance to see some of the most sacred artifacts of the Christina world in Greece.
for better directions: click google maps Ekklisia Agia Varvara Egaleo
There will be live streaming from Vatican starting at 1:30 pm and from Athens starting at 6:00pm.
Video: Ceremony in Vatican SUN May 14 2017
LIVE STREAMING – NOW: The relics of St Helena arriving in Athens
Thousands have gathered in Agia Varvara to attend the ceremony on Sunday.
the relics of St Helena and the Holy Cross will be exhibited May 14 – June 15 2017.