Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Saint Sylvester, Pope (280-335)

Saint Sylvester was born in Rome. When he reached the age to dispose of his fortune, he took pleasure in giving hospitality to Christians passing through the city. He would take them with him, wash their feet, serve them at table, and give them in the name of Christ, all the care that the most sincere charity inspired and this at a time when because of persecutions it was dangerous to do so.
Saint Melchiades, Pope, elevated him to the diaconate. He was a young priest when persecution of the Christians grew worse under the Diocletian. Idols were erected at the street corners, in the market-places, and over the public fountains, so that it was scarcely possible for a Christian to go abroad without being put to the test of offering sacrifice, with the alternative of apostasy or death. During this fiery trial, Sylvester strengthened the confessors and martyrs, and God preserved his life from many dangers. It was indeed he who was destined to succeed the Pope who had recognized his virtues.
His long pontificate of twenty-one years is famous for several reasons but specially for the Council of Nicea, the Baptism of Constantine, and the peace for the Church by the edict of Milan.
In the West, the liturgical feast of Saint Sylvester is on 31 December, the day of his burial in the Catacomb of Priscilla. This is the last day in the year and, accordingly, in various European countries New Year's Eve is known Saint Sylvester's Day; la Saint-Sylvestre and la notte di San Silvestro. May his intercession bring us blessing upon this year that will end in a few hours and the new one that is now upon us.

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