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Saint Sylvester I

Saint Sylvester I
  • Century: 4th Century
  • Patronage: Sylvestrine Benedictines
  • Feast Day: December 31st

St. Sylvester I served as Pope from January 31, 314 to December 31, 335.   He filled the seat of Peter at an important time in the history of the Catholic Church, yet very little is known about him.  Most records we have of him come from the Liber Pontificalis, from the 7th and 8th centuries.  We also know that he was the son of a Roman named Rufinus.  During his Pontificate, many of the great Churches founded at Rome by Constantine were built.  Some being the Basilica of St. John Lateran, Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, St. Peter’s Basilica, and several Cemeterial Churches that were built over the graves of martyrs. 

St. Sylvester did not himself attend the First Council of Nicaea in 325, but two legates, Vitus and Vincentius, represented him and he approved the council’s decision.  There is an apocryphal account of an alleged Roman Council, including legends of Sylvester’s close relationship with the first Christian Emperor, Emperor Constantine.  These also appear in the “Donation of Constantine”, showing the very close friendship and working relationship between Constantine and St. Sylvester.  We also know that he died on December 31, 335.  The Church celebrates his Feast Day on December 31st

Practical Take Away

St. Sylvester I was a Pope in the early Church.  He was a close friend with the first Christian Emperor, Constantine and they had not only a personal relationship, but also a close professional relationship.  He was responsible for many of the great Churches in Rome that were built during his reign as Pope.  One of the famous Churches that were built in his Pontificate was St. Peter’s Basilica.  It is in studying the lives of these great Church leaders that we come to appreciate the efforts they made to leave onto us, the faith we have today.