The Catholic Defender: The St. Pope Sylvester Story, A True Royal Steward
Jesus told His Apostles, "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth." Acts 1:8
One of my favorite early Church leaders was Pope Sylvester I. He was raised through the terrible persecutions of the Christians.
Saint Sylvester was born in Rome around the year 250.
Sylvester was the first Pope of Rome to reign entirely under the liberty of the Church, guaranteed by the Edict of Milan in 313.
Sylvester became Pope in 314, after Pope Mechiades died, and reigned until 335. He is remembered in particular for the Council of Nicea, the Baptism of Constantine, and the triumph of the Church.
Sylvester was put under the care of a priest to be formed in the practice of religion and sacred literature. He enjoyed providing shelter to Christians passing through the city, and would take them with him, wash their feet, serve them at table and give them all the care the needed in the name of Christ.
One of the Christians that Sylvester hosted was Timothy of Antioch, an illustrious confessor of the faith. When he arrived in Rome, no one dared to receive him, but Sylvester considered it an honor.
For a year, Timothy preached the gospel Jesus Christ with great zeal, while Sylvester selflessly shared his own home. After Timothy died as a martyr, Sylvester buried his remains, but was quickly accused of having hidden the martyr’s treasures, and the governor had him imprisoned.
In reply to the accusation, Sylvester said, “Timothy left to me only the heritage of his faith and courage.”
A memorable story from Sylvester’s pontificate involved Constantine, who was attacked by leprosy. He was still a pagan at the time, and unconcerned for the Christians, whose doctrine was entirely unknown to him.
One night Saint Peter and Saint Paul appeared to him and commanded him to call for Pope Sylvester, who would cure him by giving him Baptism. He obeyed, and the Pope baptized him, with which came Constantine’s conversion.
Sylvester also performed numerous miracles, including reviving some men killed by a dragon and resuscitating a bull that had been killed by scribes.
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.
Some confuse Constantine's true position claiming he was the founder of Catholicism and the first Pope, but that is utter nonsense coming from those who are agenda bound and not truth seeking. In fact. Constantine would be seen as an early Catholic Head of State. If President Donald Trump were to convert to the Catholic faith, this would neither make him a pope or a founder to bring this accusation and false claim contemporary.
St. Peter, the first Pope, states, "Repent, and be baptized everyone one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." Acts 2:38
Some have argued that this baptism of Jesus should be in his name only, which is a mistranslation of of the text. The baptism of Jesus was to be a clear separation of the baptism of St. John the Baptist.
Jesus is clear to how the Baptism of Jesus is to be conducted, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age." Matthew 28:18-20
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.
his feast day is celebrated on December 31 in memory of his death in 335.
Jesus prayed on the night He was betrayed, "I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in me through their word, that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou has sent me. The glory which thou hast given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and thou in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that thou hast sent me and hast loved them even as thou hast loved me. Father, I desire that they also whom thou hast given me, may be with me where I am to behold my glory which thou hast given me, may be with me where I am, to behold my glory which thou hast given me in thy love for me before the foundation of the world." John 17:20-24