Reblogged from Smorgasbord:
Today part one of the story of The Thirteenth Apostle (and his mum) from Paul Andruss. As with any legend, there is usually some variations on the origins and plenty of embellishments by later historians, that need to be resolved. Paul takes on the task and unravels the stories to reveal the probable truth behind Constantine the Great, the first Christian Emperor.. and his mother Helena.
The Thirteenth Apostle (and his mum) by Paul Andruss
Statue of Constantine the Great at York (source: schoolworkhelper)
This is about an illegitimate boy, who grew up to inherit a shattered empire and changed the world; who overthrew pantheons of gods for the one his old mum worshipped.
Although he was not baptised until on his deathbed, he claimed to be Christ’s most favoured disciple. At one time he was believed to be a British king who became emperor of the Romans; and his mum, Helena, a British Princess who found the true cross of Jesus and became a saint, which ain’t too shabby for a barmaid.
Constantine the Great, the first Christian Emperor, was once considered British born and bred. The legend went something like this. His dad, Constantius, was a Roman senator who came to Britain to meet old King Cole in Colchester. Yes, that old King Cole, although he wasn’t such a merry old soul when he thought the Romans were coming to knock him off his throne. When Cole died, Constantius took the throne for himself and married Cole’s daughter, the beautiful Princess Helena. In due course their son Constantine became king and sometime later took his army off to the continent to thrash the perfidious Romans and ended up becoming Emperor.
Head of the Colossus of Constantine in the Courtyard of the Palazzo dei Conservatori of the Musei Capitolini, (source: jacabook.it)
As with all legends, there are nuggets of truth mixed with fool’s gold. There probably was an Old King Cole (in legend called Coel Hen meaning Old Cole), but nothing is known of him except he wasn’t king of Colchester, which is named from the Roman words for ‘colony’ and ‘fort’. He probably was a warlord working for the Romans beyond Hadrian’s Wall, around 350 AD: a quarter of a century after Constantine died.
Part of Constantine’s legend is mixed up with another Roman General who left Britain to become Emperor almost a century later. Magnus Maximus, which modestly translates as Greatest of the Great, was married a British Princess called St Helena of Wales, and they had a son named Custennin (Welsh for Constantine).
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