St. Sylvester was born in Rome around 250. He grew up in the care of a priest, learning religion and sacred literature. Sylvester often hosted Christians who passed through the city, washing their feet, serving them at the table, and taking care of them as Christ did in the Gospels. One of his guests was Timothy of Antioch, a renowned Christian. No one else would dare to have him in their home, but Sylvester welcomed him.
Timothy remained with Sylvester for a year, preaching in Rome, before he was killed as a martyr. Sylvester buried him, but he was accused of keeping Timothy’s treasures, and was thrown in jail. Sylvester continued to deny having anything of value, and after the governor died, the guards set him free. Pope Melchiades heard of Sylvester’s courage and elevated him to the diaconate.
Sylvester served as a priest during the persecution of Christians under Diocletian. Many Christians turned him for strength. He was made pope in 314, after Mechiades died, and he held the office until 335. As pope, Sylvester is remembered for the Council of Nicea and the baptism of Constantine. Legend has it that Constantine contracted leprosy, while still a pagan, and Sts. Peter and Paul appeared to him, telling him to call for Pope Sylvester to heal him. They told him to ask for baptism, and he would be cured. Constantine did as they said. Pope Sylvester baptized him and he was converted.
The Church remembers Pope Sylvester on the day of his death, Dec. 31.
Start your day with Always Forward, our award-winning e-newsletter. Get this smart, handpicked selection of the day’s top news, analysis, and opinion, delivered to your inbox. Sign up absolutely free today!