‘Sylvester I reigned as Pope from 314 to 335, succeeding Pope Melchiades. Because of his banishment to Mount Soracte, he was considered a “confessor” and counted among the martyrs. During his pontificate the Church began to come out of the darkness of the catacombs. He was a friend of Emperor Constantine, confirmed the first General Council of Nice (325), gave the Church a new discipline for the new era of peace. He might be called the first “peace Pope” after centuries of bloody persecution. A series of illustrious basilicas were erected during his reign (Lateran, St Peter’s, St Paul’s).
Numerous legends dramatise his life and work, e.g., how he freed Constantine from leprosy by baptism; how he killed a ferocious dragon that was contaminating the air with his poisonous breath. Such legends were meant to portray the effects of baptism and Christianity’s triumph over idolatry. For a long time the feast of St Sylvester was a holyday of obligation. The Divine Office notes: He called the weekdays ferias, because for the Christian every day is a “free day” (the term is still in use; thus Monday is feria secunda)’.
from The Church’s Year of Grace, 1953, by Pius Parsch, 1884-1954
Be merciful to the people of thy flock, O Lord, eternal Shepherd of our souls: and keep us in thy continual protection at the intercession of Saint Sylvester, whom thou didst raise up to be shepherd of the whole Church; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Divine Worship: The Missal.
Fr Lee Kenyon
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