St. Helena, or St. Helen, was the first true Christian Pilgrim! She was the mother of St. Constantine, who was born in Nis, Serbia in year 272 and became Roman Emperor in 306 A.D. Constantine legalized Christianity in 313 A.D., and St. Helena was crucial in spreading the faith and using her royal position and influence to build some of the most important churches in the Holy Land and across the Empire. She is credited with finding the True Cross, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and for the construction and beatification of the Church of the Nativity. Among the many things she did to build Christianity, she also found the Holy Stairs that Jesus climbed during the night of his Passion and took them from Pilate’s palace to Rome in the 4th century. Pilgrims still visit these stairs to do and all who climb the marble steps on their knees, kissing the 28 steps that touched the bleeding feet of Jesus, receive a Plenary Indulgence. Many other Relics she collected can still be viewed in the minor Basilica, the Basilica di Santa Croce in Gerusalemme or, Basilica of the Holy Cross of Jerusalem in Rome, Italy. The name of this Basilica derives from the soil St. Helena brought from Jerusalem to Rome, literally placing the Basilica on Jerusalem soil. The Basilica holds two thorns from the Crown of Thorns, and a piece of the True Cross, among other relics. St. Helena’s feast Day is celebrated on August 18th.