The Catholic Defender: St Sylvester, 32nd Successor of St. Peter
One of my favorite early Church leaders was Pope Sylvester I. He was raised through the terrible persecutions of the Christians.
He understood what hardship was, he had friends and associates who died at the hands of the Romans. He himself was a Roman. All that would get you was a quick beheading like St. Paul.
December 31 is the Feast day of St Sylvester I who served as Pope between January 31, 314 A.D. to December 31, 335.
He became a bridge between the terrible persecutions by the Romans and the conversion of the Roman Empire.
For many Religious, it was a death sentence to accept positions in the Church. St. Sylvester was the Bishop of Rome at a very important time in history, especially Church history.
Constantine’s conversion, was it real, what was the chief influence? This writer believes it was real because of the evidence of history.
Constantine’s Mother, St. Helena was a Christian and this did have an effect on Constantine, who had been in the court of Diocletian.
Constantine burned bishops to the stake, but as he did so, he began to develop a respect for their faith. With his Mother becoming a Christian, he became more open to the Faith.
St. Helena discovered the true cross in Jerusalem. Through a pre-planned event, she had torches lighted beginning from the hill tops from Jerusalem going all the way to Rome to report word of their finding to Constantine.
St. Eusebius baptized Constantine as an older man, but it is what he did when he became Emperor that established his Christian beliefs.
It is believed that a sign from Christ appeared as a cross in the sky with the words, “by this sign you shall conquer”, Constantine placed the cross on the shields of his Soldiers.
Constantine routes the battle at the Milvian Bridge even though he was out manned and his forces were not as well equipped.
The enemy dies trying to flee back over the Tiber river. This would become very important during the Papal reign of St. Sylvester.
Constantine was determined to grant Christianity freedom, the Church received property and funds that had been confiscated.
The Edict of Milan gave the Church freedom to come out of the catacombs, the caves, and the homes.
St. Peters was built by Constantine in honor of the Martyrdom of St. Peter at Vatican Hill in 67 A.D.
A mountain was moved literally to build this monument in honor of where the remains of St. Peter were laid to rest.
St. John Lateran was made the Popes Cathedral. This is very important because St. Sylvester was receiving great favor from the Roman Emperor.
The Pope sent delegates to represent him at the Council of Arles in 314 A.D. wanting to end the Donatist Schism.
Trouble began to brew again with another heresy began storming the land as a Deacon named Arius was causing a mighty stir.
The Council of Nicaea was called to end the division, St. Sylvester sent two embassies who represented his authority and concerns.
He was an older man by this time and was not able to make such a trip. There were about 300 bishops from the known world who gathered for the great Council.
The finished product was the defined teaching of the Trinity and the Nicene Creed. There were a number of disciplines that were debated among them was granting forgiveness to apostates who caved in to the Roman Persecutions.
Many of the bishops suffered greatly and this was a major issue. Ultimately, the Church granted repentance to those who would returned. St. Sylvester was the 32nd successor to St. Peter.
Despite being an older man, broken due to the sufferings he received, he served the Church as the Lord’s Chief Steward for about 21 years.
He maintained the unity of the Church showing himself a man of peace, forgiveness, and humility. His love for the Liturgy and the Mass, he continued to improve devotion. He built schools and cemeteries, placed monuments over the sites of the martyrs.
The Saints of the early Church speaks loudly against those who want to rewrite history and tell the lies of men. The Catholic Faith is built upon the foundation of the Apostles and prophets, the saints bear witness to the truth.