Flavia Julia Helena was probably born in the city of Drepanum in Bithynia. Various sources indicate that Drepanum was renamed Helenopolis by Helena's son Constantine to honour and to perpetuate Helena's memory (e.g., Sozom., Hist. Eccl., 2.2.5). Procopius (Aedif. 5.2.1-5) mentions that Constantine changed the name of Drepanum to Helenopolis because his mother was born there. Her year of birth may be established on Eusebius' remark (VC., 3.46) that she died at the age of about eighty years. Since she probably died in 328/9, she must have been born ca. 248/9. Helena was of low social origin. Ambrose (De obit. Theod.,42) calls her a stabularia and Eutropius (Brev. 10.2) mentions that she was born ex obscuriore matrimonio. Philostorgius (Hist. Eccl., 2.16) calls her `a common woman not different from strumpets' (cf. also Zos. 2.8.2 and 2.9.2).
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