Ancient: Roman Provincial - Alexandria
Empress Helena 137 CE silvered AE follis
c 327-328 CE AE3 follis
Empress Helena / Saint Helena
obv: diademed, mantled bust right w/necklace;
F L HELENA AVGVSTA
rev: Securitas standing left holding branch in lt hand;
SECVRITAS REIPVBLICE; in exergue: SMAL
<sunburst> and II in fields
Silvering still present
AE 3.44g 19mm 2.0mm Edge: plain
RIC VII 48 (R4)
Helena is best known as Saint Helena for her devotion to the Catholic faith. She sought out relics such as the cross on which Christ was crucified and is credited with influencing her son’s decision to embrace Catholicism. This was the turning point at which Catholicism shifted from an oft persecuted religion to eventually become one of the most common religions in the world.
Helena was born in the Greek town of Drepanum in Asia Minor circa 247 CE. Constantius I purportedly met her in Asia Minor while on campaign against Zenobia. Helena became the first wife (whether formally or common law is unclear) of Constantius I 270 and mother of Constantine I (the “Great”) circa 272. Although Constantius initially referred to her as his soulmate and they were together for many years, he divorced her circa 289 in order to marry Flavia Maximiana Theodora. At this point Helena and her son Constantine were sent to the court of Diocletian, the mastermind of complete reorganization of the Roman Empire. When Constantine became emperor in 306 he brought Helena into his court and she was ultimately awarded the title of Augusta in 325.
The considerable remaining silvering gives this coin a beautiful luster that wonderfully complements the attractive design. An exceptional coin.
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