As undergraduates, we discovered St Helena (248 AD – 330 AD) was the patron saint of archaeologists (actually, of all new discoveries). On a trip, we effectively sacked Rome looking for jewellery-related images of her (we needed all the luck we could get). Nuns in the S. Giovanni di Laterano gift shop smiled benevolently at such fervent pilgrims – if only they knew what heathens we were!
Helena would understand that single-mindedness, as much as determination to gather all your data and deliver the research. She was the ultimate mature student multi-tasker. Bar-maid, courtesan, empress, saint, possible assassin – oh, and archaeologist. While her son, Constantine was busy being a Roman emperor, she headed off east to search for the True Cross while probably well into her 70s. Ecclesiastical legends says she found not just the Cross, but many other mystical Christian items. Indiana, remove your hat. This was a lady who really knew her Biblical artefacts!
Archaeology seldom attracts the conventional, so despite the saintly status bestowed on her, I like to think Helena would share some great site stories over a beer or two!
Written by Rena Maguire (@justrena)
Edited and posted by Becky (@LeMoustier)