Historians tell us that Helena was born in Roman Britain, According to Leland she was the daughter of Coel, a British King who lived in friendship with the Romans. Constantius, at the time a senior officer in the Roman army in Britain, married Helena, and the future Emperor Constantine was one of their children.
In 293 AD Constantius was honoured by the Emperor with the title of Caesar, and given charge of Britain and Gaul. In return for this honour he was obliged to divorce Helena and marry Theodora, the daughter-in-law of the Emperor.
Helena’s son, Constantine, made good use of his Father’s new power and position and gained positions of authority early on in his career in the army, He was so successful that eventually be was proclaimed Emperor, Constantine then proclaimed his mother Empress and struck medals in her honour.
After being divorced by Constantine, Helena became a Christian. She was renown for her holiness and also her care for those in need. The Emperor Constantine through the example and devotion of his mother, Helena, became a Christian and vowed to build a great Church on Mount Calvary. At the age of eighty Helena went to Jerusalem to supervise the building of the Church. During excavations three crosses were discovered, One of the Crosses bore a title and the marks of nails and miracles that followed the discovery led all to believe that it was THE HOLY CROSS.
Part of that Cross is now in the safekeeping of Holy Cross Church, Seaview. The Small Particle of wood in a silver locket is on view once a year at the church on Good Friday. This religious artefact may well be the oldest Christian relic on the Isle of Wight. By special arrangement it is from time to time made available to Churches of all denominations for very special events or services.