On the 7th Day of Christmas, we celebrate 2!
First Happy Feast of the Holy Family! The visiting priest called today “Nudge Sunday” because of the readings. If you went to Mass this morning you’ll know why! Today’s readings can be found here>>> United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
Second, is Saint Sylvester I, Bishop of Rome (also known as the Pope). He was born in Rome around the year 250. His papacy began Jan 31st, 314 and ended with his death on Dec 31st, 335. Again TL;DR at the bottom.
In his early years, Sylvester hosted many Christians, including Timothy of Antioch, a martyr, whom Sylvester buried. He was then accused of having hidden Timothy’s treasures, denied it saying, “Timothy left to me only the heritage of his faith and courage,” and was imprisoned by the Prefect Tarquinius. After the governor choked on a fish bone and died, the guards had a change of heart and released him, and he converted many to Christianity.
He was Pope during Constantine’s reign. Constantine being the first Roman Emperor to convert to Christianity, and thus saw the end of Christian Persecution in the Roman Empire.
He was also Pope during the Council of Nicaea (the one where St. Nicholas, the great defender of the faith walloped Arius for saying Jesus wasn’t both Human and Divine, it’s another great story in our faith history), although being great in age, did not attended himself, sending Vitus and Vincentius in his place, but did approve of the Councils’ decisions.
During his papacy, a great many churches were built in Rome including the Basilica of St. John Lateran, the Basilica of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem, Old St. Peter’s Basilica, and a number of churches built over grave sites or for the relics of early Martyrs and other Saints. Much of this was brought about not by Sylvester I, but by Emperor Constantine.
According to Franciscan Media: “Reading between the lines of history, we are assured that only a very strong and wise man could have preserved the essential independence of the Church in the face of the overpowering figure of the Emperor Constantine. In general, the bishops remained loyal to the Holy See, and at times expressed apologies to Sylvester for undertaking important ecclesiastical projects at the urging of Constantine.”
There’s not too much historically about his papacy because most of it focused on Constantine. We do know that the first role of martyrs was complied under his papacy, and that is name is connected to Church of Equitius, which was built near the thermæ of Diocletian, a bathhouse of the Roman Emperor and persecutor of the Church before Constantine. And that he was buried in a church built over the Catacomb of Priscilla.
Legend also says that while Constantine was still a pagan, he became ill with leprosy. Saint Peter and Saint Paul appeared to him one night and told him to call for Pope Sylvester to baptize him, and by that baptism he would be cured. He heeded their words, and the Pope baptized him. And this was Constantine’s conversion.
From the Orthodox Church in America (I thought it was neat, so here’s the 3 paragraphs):
“Saint Sylvester became renowned as an expert on Holy Scripture and as a staunch defender of the Christian Faith. During the reign of the emperor Saint Constantine the Great, when the period of persecution had ended for the Church, the Jews arranged a public debate to determine which faith was true. Saint Constantine and his mother, the holy Empress Helen, were present together with a large crowd.
Saint Sylvester spoke for the Christians, and the Jews had one hundred and twenty learned rabbis led by Zambres, a magician and sorcerer. Quoting the sacred books of the Old Testament, Saint Sylvester convincingly demonstrated that all the prophets foretold the birth of Jesus Christ from the all-pure Virgin, and also His voluntary suffering and death for the redemption of the fallen race of mankind, and His glorious Resurrection.
The saint was declared the victor in the debate. Then Zambres tried to resort to sorcery, but the saint obstructed the evil by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Zambres and the other Jews came to believe in Jesus Christ, and they asked to be baptized.”
TL;DR: Pope Sylvester I, friend, curer, and converter of Constantine and many others. Saw the end of Roman Percussion of the Church through which some of it he lived, the Triumph of the Church, The Council of Nicaea by proxy, Namer of Martyrs, Defender of the Faith.