Until 20th-century archaeologists determined that the Holy Sepulchre did lie outside the city walls in Jesus’ day, explorers posited that it could not have been the place of Jesus’ death and burial. In the mid-19th-century, British explorer Charles Gordon proposed a site north of the Old City as Golgotha. A nearby tomb, called the Garden Tomb, became the Protestant candidate for the true tomb of Jesus. Archaeologists have since determined that the Garden Tomb was used hundreds of years before Jesus’ time and hundreds of years after, but not in Jesus’ day. See Dan Bahat, “Does the Holy Sepulchre Church Mark the Burial of Jesus?” BAR 12:03; and Gabriel Barkay, “The Garden Tomb: Was Jesus Buried Here?” BAR 12:02.



See, for instance, Carsten Peter Thiede and Matthew d’Ancona, The Quest for the True Cross (New York: Palgrave, 2000). See Jan Willem Drijvers, Helena Augusta: The Mother of Constantine and the Legend of Her Finding the True Cross (Leiden: Brill, 1992) for a historically more reliable picture. See also


For what is known about Helena’s life see Drijvers, Helena Augusta. See also Hans A. Pohlsander, Helena: Empress and Saint (Chicago: Ares, 1995).


Late sources name other places, like Trier and Colchester, as her birthplace, but Drepanum is most likely the right town.


A lively Helena tradition in Trier and surroundings in the Middle Ages is considered important evidence for Trier as residence for Helena.


See Erika Simon, Die konstantinischen Deckengemälde in Trier (Mainz an Rhein: von Zabern, 1986).


Eusebius, Life of Constantine 3.47.


On the Sessorian palace and Santa Croce, see Anna Maria Affanni, ed., La Basilica di S. Croce in Gerusalemme a Roma quando l’antico è futuro (Viterbo: Betagamma, 1997).


Eusebius, Life of Constantine 3.41–46.


Eusebius, Life of Constantine 3.43.


Ambrose, De obitu Theodosii 40–49.


See Drijvers, Helena Augusta, pp. 95–99; Stephan Borgehammar, How the Holy Cross Was Found (Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell, 1991), p. 7 ff.


The Latin translation appears in Rufinus, Church History 10.7–8.


These include the Church Histories of Socrates, Sozomen and Theodoret, as well as in Latin sources from the same period (Paulinus of Nola, Sulpicius Severus).


For the Kyriakos legend see Han J.W. Drijvers and Jan Willem Drijvers, The Finding of the True Cross: The Judas Kyriakos Legend in Syriac—Introduction, Text and Translation (Louvain: Peeters, 1997).


For the history of the site of Golgotha, see Shimon Gibson and Joan E. Taylor, Beneath the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem: The Archaeology and Early History of Traditional Golgotha (London: Palestine Exploration Fund, 1994).


Eusebius, Life of Constantine 3.26.


Cyril, Catecheses.


Cyril, Letter to Constantius.


Eusebius, Life of Constantine 3.27.


Eusebius, Life of Constantine 3.28. On Jesus’ tomb see Martin Biddle, The Tomb of Christ (Stroud, UK: Sutton, 1999).


Eusebius, Life of Constantine 3.30.


The fifth-century church historian Socrates reports that three crosses, including that of Christ, were found in Christ’s tomb; Socrates, Church History 1.17.


For a fuller survey of the scholarly discussion on this, see e.g. Drijvers, Helena Augusta and E.D. Hunt, “Constantine and Jerusalem,” The Journal of Ecclesiastical History 48 (1997), pp. 413–416.


Hunt, “Constantine and Jerusalem,” p. 413.


Itinerary of Egeria 37.1–3, 48.1


Gregory of Nazianzus, Oration 5.


Eusebius, Life of Constantine 3.46. The abrupt interruption in the issue of Helena Augusta coins in the spring of 329 suggests that she died either at the end of 328 or the beginning of 329.


More specifically, near the church of Ss. Marcellino e Pietro at the Via Labicana, to which she had made donations. For her mausoleum see Jürgen J. Rasch, Das Mausoleum der Kaiserin Helena in Rom un der ‘Tempio della Tosse’ in Tivoli (Mainz: Von Zabern, 1998).


For modern stories about Helena, see e.g. Evelyn Waugh’s Helena (London: Chapman & Hall, 1950) and the recently published Priestess of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley and Diana L. Paxson (New York: Viking, 2001).