We intend, with the continuing agreement of our landlords, to continue to keep St Helen’s Chapel as a place that will welcome worshippers, pilgrims and visitors from across the world. As our Archbishop has said: “it is too precious to abandon.”
It is difficult to say how old the chapel is - its foundations are on a Roman theatre and it was restored by the Normans in 1076. It is probably one of the oldest places of worship in use in Britain. Local traditions say that the chapel was originally built by St Helen herself, which would make it about 1,700 years old!
St Helen has been the patron saint of Colchester for over 1,000 years. British tradition claims she was the daughter of Old King Coel and was born in Colchester. There have been many dedications in Colchester to St Helen or Helena, from the medieval Guild of St Helen to her statue that stands on top of the Town Hall.
What is more widely accepted is that she was the mother of Constantine the Great, the first Christian Emperor of Rome and is said to have discovered the True Cross in Jerusalem. She is venerated widely and, for her influence on the early church, is called an Equal of the Apostles.