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Elen Luyddog

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Basic Facts:

Dates: about 380 CE; feast day August 25 or May 23

Known for: legendary Welsh princess; British empress

Also known as: Saint Helen of Caernarvon, St. Elen Luyddog of the Hosts (Armies)

About Elen Luyddog:

The story of Elen Luyddog is told in Maxen's Dream or The Dream of Macsen Wledig. The story is somewhat confused with the story of Helena, mother of the emperor Constantine, and the discovery of the true cross. Elen Luyddog may also have inherited some legendary status from an "Elen" of ancient Celtic lore. (One author has suggested that she's linked to ancient Athena stories.)

According to the stories:

Elen Luyddog was a Celtic princess, her father a chieftain in southwest Britain. She married a Roman soldier from Iberia, Magnus Maximus. When Magnus was proclaimed emperor by his soldiers, for winning victories in Britain, he named Elen as empress. He invaded Gaul and his success forced Theodosius to acknowledge Maximus as coemperor.

At their court in Gaul, Elen Luyddog had many children and fostered religious learning. She knew the Christian Martin of Tours and talked philosophy with him.

When Magnus was executed in 388, after a failed attempt to invade Italy, Elen Luyddog returned to Britain with her children. There, she helped Christianize the Britons and inspired or led the building of roads to connect the separate tribes, thus facilitating later unity. (In Wales, some Roman road sections are still called Elen's Highway.)

Elen Luyddog was:

  • wife of Magnus Maximus (Macsen Wledig)
  • mother of Owain (Eugenius) Finddu of Mid-South Wales
  • mother of Constantine of North Wales
  • mother of Severa who was married to Vortigern Vorteneu and was the mother of St. Edryrn

About Elen Luyddog

  • Categories: British legendary empress
  • Places: Britain, Wales, Gaul
  • Period: 4th century
  • Religious Associations: Christian

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