St Helena, Mother of a Roman Emperor, Powerful Empress and … a Nurse.

A seated statue of St Helena from an exhibition at the Colosseum, Rome in 2013. (Image courtesy of Jebulan, Wikipedia)



Well, it maybe a bit more technical than that but she has popped up in my research for my current Work in Progress, A History of Nursing. Empress Helena (b.248, d.328) was the mother of the Roman Emperor Constantine I, also known as Constantine the Great. She is now known as St Helena due to her pious work and for her part to play in Constantine being the first Roman Emperor to convert to christianity. In Ancient Rome, many wealthy women – usually high-status and from powerful families as well as widows – put all their resources into helping the poor and sick, being driven by their religious beliefs. Helena is credited with the setting up of the first ‘home for the aged infirm’ in Rome, and today would be known as a specialist Care of the Elderly Nurse/Matron (UK), or similar.






Spirituality of Nursing by Mary Elizabeth O’Brien, 2010.





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