English vernacular form of the name (Greek Hēlēnē) borne in classical legend by a famous beauty, wife of Menelaus, whose seizure by the Trojan prince Paris sparked off the Trojan War. Her name is of uncertain origin; it may be connected with a word meaning ‘ray’ or ‘sunbeam’ compare Greek hēlios ‘sun’. It has sometimes been taken as connected with the Greek word meaning ‘Greek’, Hellēn, but this is doubtful. In the early Christian period the name was borne by the mother of the Emperor Constantine, who is now usually known by the Latin version of her name, Helena. She is credited with having found the True Cross in Jerusalem. She was born in about 248, probably in Bithynia. However, in medieval England it was believed that she had been born in Britain, which greatly increased the popularity of the name there.