Collection: St. Helena

ARTIST: Museum Religious Art Classics


Artist: Francesco Morandini – c. 1575

St. Helena (ca. 247-ca. 327) was the mother of Emperor Constantine the Great (ca. 288-337), who, according to tradition, christianized the Roman Empire. Helena is shown holding the True Cross (the cross on which Christ was crucified), which she is said to have discovered in Jerusalem. Her elaborate headdress and idealized, slightly masculine facial features reveal the artist's study of Michelangelo's so-called "teste divine" ("divine heads"), admired for their great beauty. Morandini and other Florentine artists of the later 16th century thought of Michelangelo as the greatest artist of all time, and they devotedly imitated his works.

Her feast day is August 18.