The protector Saints of the Patriarchal Cathedral in Bucharest, the Equal to the Apostles Emperor Saint Constantine and his mother Helen were celebrated Sunday, 21 May 2017, with devoutness.
On this occasion, His Beatitude Daniel, Patriarch of Romania, presided over the Divine Liturgy in the concelebration of hierarchs, priests and deacons.
The concelebrants of His Beatitude included:
- His Eminence Hon Metropolitan Nifon, Archbishop of Târgoviște,
- His Eminence Calinic, Archbishop of Argeș and Muscel,
- His Eminence Casian, Archbishop of Lower Danube,
- His Grace Galaction, Bishop of Alexandria and Teleorman,
- His Grace Visarion, Bishop of Tulcea,
- His Grace Siluan, Romanian Orthodox Bishop of Hungary,
- His Grace Varlaam of Ploiești, Assistant Bishop to the Patriarch,
- His Grace Ieronim of Sinaia, Assistant Bishop to the Patriarch,
- His Grace Timotei of Prahova, Assistant Bishop to the Archdiocese of Bucharest.
Patriarch Daniel delivered a homily in which he reflected on the blind man described by the gospel passage from John. His Beatitude pointed out that the purpose of the man born blind was to transform him into someone who sees both with his physical and with his spiritual eyes. The Patriarch explained that seeing or perceiving with one’s spiritual eyes means to have faith.
Faith is to perceive beyond one’s senses. It is a spiritual vision through which man feels God’s presence and work in his life and in the world. Christ the Saviour, the Patriarch said, gives light to everyone was coming into the world (John 1:9). He gives light to physical eyes and offers spiritual light to those who desire to receive Him, Patriarch Daniel added.
In the second part of his homily, Patriarch Daniel evoked the life and works of the Holy Emperors Constantine and Helen.
St Constantine, he said, was aware of his holy calling from God to help Christians, and therefore in 313, he granted freedom to Christians in the Roman Empire together with his brother-in-law Licinius, with whom he co-authored the Edict of Milan. Consequently, persecutions against Christians immediately ceased.
The Patriarch said that St Constantine was not only a liberator for Christians, but he also became their protector. He helped Christians to recover the assets of the Church that had been confiscated during the persecutions. He released from prison all those who were tortured for witnessing to Jesus Christ.
Among other decisions favourable to Christians, His Beatitude recalled, was the proclamation of Sunday as a non-working holiday in 321.
The Patriarch said that the missionary work of St Constantine the Great was greatly influenced by his mother Helen. A year after the first Ecumenical Council of Nicaea, St Helen went to Jerusalem to search for the holy cross on which our Saviour Jesus Christ had been crucified. With the help of her son, St Helen has built many churches in the holy places, especially the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Churches in Bethlehem and Nazareth.
His Beatitude went on to explain the connection between the Holy Emperors and the Holy Cross by reflecting on the icon depicting Sts Constantine and Helen. He said that they hold the holy cross in between to remember that St Constantine saw the sign of the holy cross in the sky, while St Helen discovered the holy cross in Jerusalem. The Cross is the sign of Christ’s sacrificial love through which is made manifest the humble love of the Most Holy Trinity for humankind, he said.
His Beatitude Patriarch Daniel concluded his speech by conveying best wishes to those who bear the names of Sts Constantine and Helen.
We entreat the Holy Emperors Constantine and Helen to grant good health, much support and joy to all those who build churches, to those who give birth to children and bring them up in the Christian faith, bestowing upon them the values of Christian faith and promoting the love of God manifested in prayer and in love for their neighbours.
The faithful who attended the Divine Liturgy could venerate the holy relics of Sts Constantine and Helen and of Venerable Demetrius the New, Protector of Bucharest.