Traveling the United Kingdom as an Orthodox pilgrim, you just never know what you might find. There was a time when I wanted to start a mission in Charlotte, North Carolina and name it for St Helen. I was told that it would need to be named for Ss Constantine
Helen. Regardless, it never came to fruition. But, my youngest daughter, Helen will be happy to note that there is a parish named for [only] her patron saint in Colchester, England. & Colchester has a rich history — as does the Parish of St Helen.
Here are some pics from my visit this past Sunday.
[For previous pics, click: Glastonbury 1, Glastonbury 2, Belfast & Downpatrick, Armagh, Walsingham, and Essex.]
Click images to enlarge.
… modern times?
BTW, some believe that King Arthur is connected with Colchester (formerly named Camulodunum — hence, Camelot) rather than Glastonbury: Dr. John Morris the English historian who specialised in the study of the institutions of the Roman Empire and the history of Sub-Roman Britain, suggested in his book “The Age of Arthur” (1973) that as the descendants of Romanised Britons looked back to a golden age of peace and prosperity under Rome the name “Camelot” of Arthurian legend was probably a reference to Camulodunum, the capital of Britannia in Roman times. [Wikipedia]
Regardless, St Helen (of Colchester) pray to God for us!
So, after all the history — pre-Christian Roman architecture, church built in 8th century, castle built in 11th century, it was an eye-opener to get back to …
This image, taken hastily while whizzing past, is of the ruins of an ancient church dating back to the early 4th century (the era of Constantine).
All along the current road, a wall from Roman times …
Some Colchester local flavor …
Yes, a nice house for prayer, indeed.
You can see ancient frescoes underneath the white …
From town square, it was on to an abandoned church, St Martin’s. (Pity. Wouldn’t this make a nice Orthodox temple? Your prayers.)
… is, of course, St Helen.
Atop the City Hall …
Colchester Castle — At one and a half times the size of the Tower of London’s White Tower, Colchester’s keep is the largest ever built in Britain and the largest surviving example in Europe [Wikipedia]. Construction was begun in around 1070, halted due to Viking threat in 1080, and completed in 1100.
A map produced by the city which shows a diagram of the ancient Roman auditorium, and the location of St Helen’s Chapel, built upon the foundation/walls of the theatre, possibly dating from the 8th century.
I got all this history and more from my gracious host, Fr Alexander Haig.
The Saints of Barking: Erkenwald, Ethelburga, Hildelith, Theogirth, Cuthburga, Cwenburga, Wulfhilda — and the nuns martyred by the Danes in 870. [Barking Abby was founded in the middle of the 7th c. in the lands of the East Saxons. These were later counties of Essex and Middlesex, with parts of Hertfordshire and Surrey. At first it was known as the Monastery of St Mary, later as the Monastery of St Mary and St Ethelburga.
St Cedd (also connected with Essex).
Saint Osyth was an early Saxon Queen of Essex. She became a nun and founded the holy monastery for nuns at Chich, now called after her St Osyth. She was martyred by Danish pirates about the year AD 700.
East window of St Helen’s, street side.
Enlarge this image and read all about the wonderful history of St Helen & Colchester.
The street is appropriately named.
Catty-corner from the church, in pink, the Rectory.
Helen is the Patron Saint of the city — this is the icon of St Helen of Colchester.
Looking back toward the west wall.
Inside the small but venerable house of prayer.
The Church of St Helen in Colchester (Antiochian), built on ancient Roman foundations.