Hero-Myths and Legends of the British Race

Page: 35

A Council Summoned

The emperor summoned a great council of all the wisest men in Rome, and when all were met he raised the Standard of the Cross in the midst and said:

“Can any man tell me, by spells or by ancient lore,
Who is the gracious God, giver of victory,
Who came in His glory, with the Cross for His token,
Who rescued my people and gave me the victory,
Scattered my foemen and put the fierce Huns to flight,
Showed me in heaven His sign of deliverance,
The loveliest Cross of light, gleaming in glory?”


At first no man could give him any answer—perhaps none dared—till after a long silence the wisest of all arose and said he had heard that the Cross was the sign of Christ the King of Heaven, and that the knowledge of His way was only revealed to men in baptism. When strict search was made some Christians were found, who preached the way of life to Constantine, and rejoiced that they might tell before men, of the life and death, the Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus Christ, who redeemed mankind from the bonds of evil; and then Constantine, being fully instructed and convinced, was baptized and became the first Christian emperor.

Constantine Desires to Find our Saviour’s Cross

Constantine’s heart, however, was too full of love for his new Lord to let him rest satisfied without some visible token of Christ’s sojourn on earth. He longed [Pg 54] to have, to keep for his own, one thing at least which Jesus had touched during His life, and his thoughts turned chiefly to that Cross which had been to himself both the sign of triumph and the guide to the way of life. Thus he again called together his Christian teachers, and inquired more closely where Christ had suffered.

“In Judæa, outside the walls of Jerusalem, He died on the Cross,” they told him.

“Then there, near that city, so blest and so curst, we must seek His precious Cross,” cried Constantine.

Summons his Mother Elene

Forthwith he summoned from Britain his mother the British Princess Elene, and when she had been taught the truth, had been converted and baptized, he told her of his heart’s desire, and begged her to journey to Jerusalem and seek the sacred Cross.

Elene herself, when she heard Constantine’s words, was filled with wonder, and said: “Dear son, thy words have greatly rejoiced my heart, for know that I, too, have seen a vision, and would gladly seek the Holy Cross, where it lies hidden from the eyes of men.”

Elene’s Vision

“Now will I tell thee the brightest of visions,
Dreamt at the midnight when men lay in slumber.
Hovering in heaven saw I a radiant Cross,
Gloriously gold-adorned, shining in splendour;
Starry gems shone on it at the four corners,
Flashed from the shoulder-span five gleaming jewels.
Angels surrounded it, guarding it gladly.
Yet in its loveliness sad was that Cross to see,
For ’neath the gold and gems fast blood flowed from it,
Till it was all defiled with the dark drops.”