May 21 The Holy Emperor Constantine and His Mother Helen, Equal to the Apostles

Bulletin as of May 20 2024

Constantine reigned in ancient Rome and in Byzantium (which became New Rome), and was the first Christian emperor and champion of the Faith. Though he was not baptized until on his deathbed, he considered himself a Christian, and called the First Ecumenical Council at Nicea in 325 to settle the Arian heresy. 

On the Via Labicana in old Rome, Helen, the mother of emperor Constantine, is remembered. She single-mindedly worked to help the needy and piously visited churches, mingling with the crowds. Having made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem to see the places of the Nativity, Passion, and Resurrection of Christ, she honored the manger and cross of the Lord by building basilicas worthy of respect.  


Seeing the cross in the sky like Paul, and like him you received a call from the Divine. You committed the royal city into the hands of the Lord. Save this city always in peace, O only Lover of Humankind, through the prayers of the Theotokos.


Today Constantine and his mother Helen reveal the cross, that most precious tree which puzzles the Jews. It is the armor of Christian authority against enemies. It has proved itself awesome in war by its many miracles.

Readings for the feast


Acts 26: 1-5 & 12-20

In those days Agrippa spoke to Paul: “You have permission to state your case.” So Paul stretched out his hand and began his defense. “Many charges have been leveled against me by the Jews, King Agrippa. I count myself fortunate to be able to make my defense today in your presence, especially since you are expert in all the various Jewish customs and disputes. I beg you to listen to me patiently.

“The way I have lived since my youth, and the life I have led among my own people from the beginning and later at Jerusalem, is well known to all Jews. They have been acquainted with me for a long time and can testify if they wish, to my life lived as a Pharisee, the strictest sect of our religion.

“On one such occasion I was traveling toward Damascus armed with the authority and commission of the chief priests. On this journey, Your Majesty, I saw a light more brilliant than the sun shining in the sky at midday. It surrounded me and those who were traveling with me. All of us fell to the ground and I heard a voice saying to me in Hebrew, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the goad.’ I said, at that, ‘Who are you, sir?’ and the Lord answered: ‘I am that Jesus who you are persecuting. Get up now and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to designate you as my servant and as a witness to what you have seen of me and what you will see of me.

‘I have delivered you from this people and from the nations, to open the eyes of those to whom I am sending you, to turn them from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God; that through their faith in me they may obtain the forgiveness of their sins and a portion among God’s people.’

“King Agrippa, I could not disobey that heavenly vision. I preached a message of reform and of conversion to God, first to the people of Damascus, then to the people of Jerusalem and all the country of Judea; yes, even to the Gentiles. I urged them to act in conformity with their change of heart.”


John 10: 1-9

The Lord said, “Truly I assure you: whoever does not enter the sheepfold through the gate but climbs in some other way is a thief and a marauder. The one who enters through the gate is shepherd of the sheep; the keeper opens the gate for him. The sheep hear his voice as he calls his own by name and leads them out. When he has brought out those that are his, he walks in front of them, and the sheep follow him because they recognize his voice. They will not follow a stranger; such a one they will flee, because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.”

Even though Jesus used this figure with them, they did not grasp what he was trying to tell them. He therefore said to them again: “My solemn word is this: I am the sheepgate. All who came before me were thieves and marauders whom the sheep did not heed. I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be safe. He will go in and out, and find pasture.” 

Readings for the day


Romans 1: 1-7 and 13-17

Greetings from Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart to proclaim the gospel of God which he promised long ago through his prophets, as the holy Scriptures record – the gospel concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh but was made Son of God in power according to the spirit of holiness, by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. Through him we have been favored with apostleship, that we may spread his name and bring obedient faith to all Gentiles, among who are you who have been called to belong to Jesus Christ. 

To all in Rome, beloved of God and called to holiness, grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 

My brothers, I want you to know that I have often planned to visit you (though up to now I have been kept from it) in order to do some fruitful work among you, as I have among the other Gentiles. I am under obligation to Greeks and non-Greeks, to learned and unintelligent alike. That is why I am eager to preach the gospel to you Romans as well. 

I am not ashamed of the gospel. It is the power of God leading everyone who believes in it to salvation, the Jew first, then the Greek. For in the gospel is revealed the justice of God which begins and ends with faith; as Scripture says, “The just man shall live by faith.”


Matthew 4: 23-25, 5: 1-13

At that time Jesus toured all of Galilee. He taught in their synagogues, proclaimed the good news of the kingdom, and cured the people of every disease and illness. As a consequence of this, his reputation traveled the length of Syria. They carried to him all those afflicted with various diseases and racked with pain: the possessed, the lunatics, the paralyzed. He cured them all. The great crowds that followed him came from Galilee, the Ten Cities, Jerusalem and Judea, and from across the Jordan. 

When he saw the crowds he went up on the mountainside. After he had sat down his disciples gathered around him, and he began to teach them: “How blest are the poor in spirit: the reign of God is theirs. Blest too are the sorrowing; they shall be consoled. Blest are the lowly; they shall inherit the land. Blest are they who hunger and thirst for holiness; they shall have their fill. Blest are they who show mercy; mercy shall be theirs. Blest are the single-hearted for they shall see God. Blest too are the peacemakers; they shall be called sons of God. Blest are those persecuted for the sake of holiness; the reign of God is theirs. Blest are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of slander against you because of me. Be glad and rejoice, for your reward is great in heaven; they persecuted the prophets before you in the very same way.

“You are the salt of the earth. But what if salt goes flat? How can you restore its flavor? Then it is good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.”

Icon courtesy of Jack Figel, Eastern Christian Publications –

Monday, May 20 –

  • 3:56 PM