+ Sylvester was elected bishop of Rome in 314. He ruled the Church during the reign of Constantine the Great, a time when the Arian heresy and the Donatist schism had provoked great discord.
+ As pope, Sylvester contributed greatly to the expansion of the Church and, although he did not attend in person, he was represented by delegates at the Council of Nicæa and later affirmed the decrees of the council.
+ During his pontificate, significant churches were dedicated in Rome, including the Basilica of St. John Lateran, the Basilica of Holy Cross “in Jerusalem,” and the old St. Peter’s Basilica, as well as numerous churches built over the tombs of the martyrs.
+ Pope Saint Sylvester died in 335, and his relics are kept in the Church of Saint Sylvester-in-Capite in Rome. He is particularly remembered as the first non-martyr to be honored as a saint in the Western Church.
For prayer and reflection
A child is born for us, and a son is given to us;
his scepter of power rests upon his shoulder,
and his name will be called Messenger of great counsel.
—Entrance Antiphon for December 31 (cf. Isaiah 9:5)
Come, O Lord, to the help of your people,
sustained by the intercession of Pope Saint Sylvester,
so that, running the course of this present life under your guidance
we may happily attain life without end.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(from The Roman Missal)
Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.