Elene, lines 1201-1320 [end]

Helen gathers the Jews together and urges them to follow the leadership of Cyriacus the bishop. She then calls upon all those who worship God to honor the day on which the Cross was found. The poem proper concludes with a prayer that heaven be unlocked for those who remember the festival of the Cross.

Then follows a long colophon in which the poet asks his readers pray for him. Runes which spell out CYNEWULF are used as part of a passage that has somewhat of an ubi sunt feel. The poem concludes with a brief discussion on judgment day, noting that those who are on the side of God will shine in beauty like the angels.

Elene, lines 1104-1200

Judas prays, and fire rises up out of the ground from the place where the nails are buried.  The people praise God for this sign.  Judas Cyriacus picks up the nails and brings them to Elene.  Elene praises God and tries to determine what should be done with the nails.   A wise man tells her that she should have the nails made into the bridle for Constantine’s horse so that no one will be able to defeat him in battle.  Elene does this and sends the jeweled bridle made of the nails over the sea to Rome.

Elene, lines 997b-1103

Constantine tells the messenger to go back to Elene and command her to build a temple on the spot.  She does, and has the Cross covered in gold and gems.

Judas, now converted to Christianity, receives baptism.  Elene commands Eusibius the bishop of Rome, to come to her.  He appoints Judas as bishop of Jerusalem and renames him Cyriacus.

Helen is still concerned that the nails which fastened Christ to the Cross have not been found. She asks Judas to pray for guidance.  Judas does so.

Elene, lines 894-997

The devil rises up from hell an begins to speak.  He is angry at Judas for robbing him or his riches (the cross), and he complains about all the things that Jesus has done to harm him.  He says that he will stir up another king against Judas so that the Judas is persecuted.

But Judas replies, saying that God will punish the devil.

Elene hears, and is pleased, thanking God both for the finding of the Cross and for Judas’ conversion.  She orders her troop to send messengers ahead to tell Constantine in Rome of the success of her mission.  Constantine is very happy.

Elene, lines 802-893

A smoke arises from the place where the Cross is buried. Judas prays to God to be admitted to His kingdom where Stephen, Judas’ brother, is honored.

Judas then digs into the ground and, in a deep pit, finds three crosses. The crosses are pulled out of the pit and set before Elene. She asks which of the crosses was the Lord’s. Judas does not know, but a crowd of people arrive carrying a dead body. They set the body down and raise each of the crosses over the corpse. When the third cross is raised, the dead man comes back to life.

Elene, lines 709-801

Elene orders Judas to be brought up out of the dry well. He leads her to the hill where Jesus was crucified. But, in his weakened condition, he does not know the exact location of where the Cross is buried. So he prays in Hebrew to the Lord Savior, asking Him to reveal the location, begging God to send up a pleasant smoke from the spot.

Elene, lines 619-708

Elene tells Judas that if he wants to receive eternal life and live with the angels in heaven, he had better tell her where the Cross is. Judas replies that it has been so many years since the Cross was hidden that there’s no way for him to know where it is.

Elene points out that the Hebrews know exactly what the Trojans accomplished in wars even longer ago than the crucifixion. But Judas says that battles are written down, while the hiding of the cross was not.

Elene says Judas is lying. Elene says that she knows, from ancient books, that Jesus was crucified on Calvary, so Judas had better tell her where the Cross is before she executes him. Judas says he doesn’t know the location.

Elene swears that Judas will be put to death via starvation if he doesn’t tell her. Then she has him put in a dry well and chained up with no food. On the seventh day, Judas begs to be released and says that he will reveal the location of the Cross.

Elene, lines 547-618

The wise men of the Hebrews refuse to answer Elene’s question about the location of the cross. Elene threatens that they will be destroyed by fire if they do not relent. They hand over Judas to speak with Elene.

Elene tells him to choose between life and death, and Judas answers that a starving man, traveling in the wilderness and confronted with a loaf and a stone, will choose the loaf.

Elene, lines 454-546

Judas says that he had asked his father why the Hebrews had executed Jesus if they knew he was the Son of God. He says his father told him that he himself had opposed the killing. The father tells the story of Saul’s conversion and adoption of the name Paul, and says that he has always believed that God suffered tortures for the benefit of man.
The gathered Hebrews, having heard Judas’ words, says that no one has ever spoken of these secrets before. They ask Judas to speak to Elene.

Elene, lines 364-453

Elene then commands the Hebrews to select those among them who best know the ancient writings. They choose their 500 wisest men. Elene addresses them, telling them that they have rejected the Scriptures by not accepting Christ. They reply that they have followed Hebrew law. Elene commands them to find the single individual who possesses the greatest wisdom. They choose a man named Judas. He notes that it is very important that they do not tell Elene where the Cross is hidden; otherwise, the children of Israel will not longer be able to rule over the earth.

Elene, lines 276-363

Elene calls together the 3000 most learned among the Hebrews and lectures them about their error in not accepting the Redeemer. She commands them to find men who will be able to answer he questions. The Hebrews select 1000 men who are most knowledgeable about ancient writings. Elene addresses them, reminding them of the teachings of Moses, David and Isaiah.

Elene, lines 194-275

Constantine converts to Christianity and is very happy about it. He then sends his mother, Elene (Helen) to the land of the Jews with a troop of soldiers to search for where the Cross is buried.

There is a nicely done set piece describing the troops marshaling and going aboard the ships and the ships then sailing across the Mediterranean Sea. The ships land at a harbor in the land of the Greeks, and the troops and Elene leave them and travel over land to Jerusalem.

Elene, lines 99-193

Constantine commands a banner / representation of the Cross to be made and carried into battle. The passage that follows is perhaps the single most technically proficient description of a battle in Angl0-Saxon poetry. The Huns are scattered, and Constantine and the Romans are victorious. Constantine then gathers his wise men and asks if any of them know whose symbol the Cross is. The wisest tell Constantine that it is Christ’s symbol, and they tell him a little about the Trinity, Incarnation, Crucifixion, Harrowing of Hell and Resurrection.

Elene, lines 1-98

It is two hundred and thirty-three years after the birth of Jesus and the sixth year of the emperor Constantine.  A great army of Huns is approaching and threatens to overrun the Romans.  Constantine dreams that he sees a man who says the God wishes Constantine to win his battle “Look to the heavens for a sign of victory.” Constantine looks to the sky and sees the Cross in glory, bejeweled.  Written on the cross are letters that proclaim “that with this symbol you will defeat the hostile armies.”