From Academic Kids

Missing image
The face of Saint Helier is sculpted on the 1978 monument La Croix de la Reine in St. Helier, Jersey

Saint Helier, a 6th century ascetic hermit, is patron saint of Jersey in the Channel Islands, and in particular of the town and parish of Saint Helier, the island’s capital. He is also invoked as a healing saint for diseases of skin and eyes.

According to hagiography, Hellerius or Helier was born to pagan parents in Tongres (now in Belgium) after they had had difficulties conceiving a child. In desperation they had turned to Saint Cunibert who had advised them to pray to God and to promise to bring up an eventual child in the Christian faith. They prayers having been answered, Helier was born, but Helier’s father eventually grew angry at the influence Cunibert exerted over his precocious son (who was already causing consternation by his youthful miracles). Helier’s father had Cunibert killed, whereupon Helier fled.

Helier’s wanderings led him through what is now the village of St.-Hellier in the département of Seine-Maritime in Normandy and eventually to the Cotentin where he sought retreat from the distractions of the world in the monastic community of Saint Marculf at Nantus (Nanteuil, now St.-Marcouf-de-l’Isle in Manche).

Helier, however, found the monastic community did not provide the quiet he required to devote himself fully to a life of contemplation. Marculf had received pleas from the few inhabitants of the island called Gersut, or Agna (Jersey), which was all but depopulated due to repeated attacks by Vikings (or Saxons, or Vandals, depending on source). The inhabitants requested someone to help them, and bring the gospel to them as they had no shepherd to guide them.

Missing image
A mediaeval chapel was constructed over "St. Helier's Bed", the hollow in the rock where Helier sheltered. The Hermitage rock is the focus of the annual pilgrimage

Marculf sent Helier, and a companion Saint Romard, to Jersey where he found a small community of fishermen on the sand dunes where the modern town of St. Helier was to develop. Helier settled on a tidal islet (nowadays known as the Hermitage Rock) next to L’Islet, the tidal island now occupied by the 16th century Elizabeth Castle. Romard would travel back and forth between the hermit on his rock and the fishing village.

From his vantage point on his rock, Helier could see the sails of approaching attackers and would signal to the shore, whereupon the inhabitants would scatter into the surrounding marshes, thereby frustrating the attackers’ bloodlust. Small dark clouds on the horizon are still known in Jèrriais as les vailes dé St. Hélyi (the sails of St. Helier).

Helier is recorded as performing one healing miracle in Jersey, curing a lame man named Anquetil.

His prayers and the sign of the cross raised a storm that drove off a raiding party. Though on his rock Helier starved himself to ascetic weakness for 13 years, he had the strength when he was beheaded by final attackers to pick up his head and walk to shore.

According to the hagiography, Romard discovered Helier’s body on the beach still clutching his head in his hands, placed it in a boat and set off for the mainland. The boat, guided by the hand of God, arrived at Bréville-sur-mer (Manche) where a reputedly miraculous healing spring arose on the spot where Helier’s body rested overnight. A church was founded next to the spring, which is now topped by a statue and still attracts those seeking a cure.

Helier’s relics were sent to the abbey of Beaubec (situated in Beaubec-la-Rosière (Seine-Maritime)) where they remained until the destruction of the abbey at the French Revolution.

Churches dedicated to Helier can be found in Rennes, St. Hellier, Beuzeville (Eure), Amécourt (Eure), Barentin (Seine-Maritime), Monhoudou (Sarthe). Evidence of veneration of the saint can be found in La Hague in the Cotentin at Querqueville and also at Omonville-la-Rogue where a 13th century mural in the church of St. John the Baptist links Helier with Thomas Becket.

Helier is revered in Jersey for having brought Christianity to the island, but is better known in Normandy and Brittany as a healing saint. Besides the healing springs at St. Hellier and Bréville, there is also a healing spring at Saint-Jouan des Guérets (Ille-et-Vilaine), where Helier’s name has been deformed by folk etymology to St. Délier (délier meaning to untie in French, referring to the power to loosen the bonds of illness).

There is also a chapel of St. Helier in the cathedral of Trenton, New Jersey.

The traditional date of his martyrdom is 555 AD. His feast day, marked in Jersey by an annual municipal and ecumenical pilgrimage to the Hermitage, is on July 16.

External link


Academic Kids Menu

  • Art and Cultures
    • Art (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Art)
    • Architecture (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Architecture)
    • Cultures (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Cultures)
    • Music (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Music)
    • Musical Instruments (http://academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/List_of_musical_instruments)
  • Biographies (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Biographies)
  • Clipart (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Clipart)
  • Geography (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Geography)
    • Countries of the World (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Countries)
    • Maps (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Maps)
    • Flags (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Flags)
    • Continents (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Continents)
  • History (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/History)
    • Ancient Civilizations (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Ancient_Civilizations)
    • Industrial Revolution (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Industrial_Revolution)
    • Middle Ages (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Middle_Ages)
    • Prehistory (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Prehistory)
    • Renaissance (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Renaissance)
    • Timelines (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Timelines)
    • United States (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/United_States)
    • Wars (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Wars)
    • World History (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/History_of_the_world)
  • Human Body (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Human_Body)
  • Mathematics (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Mathematics)
  • Reference (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Reference)
  • Science (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Science)
    • Animals (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Animals)
    • Aviation (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Aviation)
    • Dinosaurs (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Dinosaurs)
    • Earth (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Earth)
    • Inventions (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Inventions)
    • Physical Science (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Physical_Science)
    • Plants (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Plants)
    • Scientists (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Scientists)
  • Social Studies (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Social_Studies)
    • Anthropology (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Anthropology)
    • Economics (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Economics)
    • Government (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Government)
    • Religion (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Religion)
    • Holidays (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Holidays)
  • Space and Astronomy
    • Solar System (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Solar_System)
    • Planets (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Planets)
  • Sports (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Sports)
  • Timelines (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Timelines)
  • Weather (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Weather)
  • US States (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/US_States)


  • Home Page (http://academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php)
  • Contact Us (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Contactus)

  • Clip Art (http://classroomclipart.com)
Personal tools