Who was Saint Silvestre, the last “Saint” of the year and the first “legal” Pope in Christendom?


Image source, Getty Images


A forged document says that the papal goods were ceded by Constantine on New Year’s Eve

The indisputable fact is that with the conversion of Constantine, from the heart or simply out of political interest, Rome began to see a period of calm.

“[Entonces, Silvestre] he is the Pope who witnessed the end of the persecution of Christians determined by Constantine with his conversion to Christianity, a time in which peace was established ”, contextualizes the researcher and student of the life of Saint José Luís Lira, founder of the Brazilian Academy for Hagiography and professor at the State University of Vale do Acaraú.

But if both the account of Constantine’s conversion and the handing over of Roman possessions to the Church are legends, Sylvester’s peaceful relationship with the Empire explains many Christian improvements.

“Silvestre was considered a very good person to normalize the faith of the church and to regain Christianity in a process of pacifying religion in Rome,” says Domingues.

“It may not be true that Constantine ‘gave everything’ to the Pope, but it seems that he gave a lot,” he says.

Evidence of this is that important churches in Rome had their original seats at the time.

“In the pontificate of St. Sylvester the authority of the Church was established and the first official Christian monuments were erected, such as the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem and the first basilicas of Rome, St. John Lateran and St. Peter, in addition to the churches of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople. For his actions, for his life and for his testimony, we can say that he was celebrated as a saint, as a role model for Christians, ”says Lira.

Yesterday’s saint

“His pontificate was very important for the church,” Domingues emphasizes.

The Vatican recalls that this meaning is present in the Roman imagination, with several works alluding to this religiosity.

“It’s in a lot of mosaics, in a lot of Roman art, because it represents this very time of conversion, the transition from non-Christian Rome, when Christians were persecuted and the first saints were all martyrs, to a Rome where Christianity was legalized and then was institutionalized. “, he clarifies.

“Before Silvestre there were no ‘churches’, the Christians prayed in houses, in remote places. During this time they will start building, ”he emphasizes.

His canonization, that is, the process of recognizing him as a saint, fell outside the established protocols of the Church, created long after his life.

“There used to be no canonization ceremony to recognize a person’s holiness, but his remains were venerated by Christians,” explains Medeiros.

“Let’s say he was celebrated ‘as a saint’ with a modern term, after all, that is how a person became a saint in ancient times: through the applause of the people,” he adds.

Silvestre appears as early as 1583 in the first version of the Roman Martyrdom, the book in which the names of the saints are inscribed.

Who was Saint Silvestre, the last “Saint” of the year and the first “legal” Pope in Christendom?

Image source, Getty Images


Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem

In this “list, which documents the date of death and the burial place of the first Christians”, so Medeiros, it is attested that “he died on December 31, 335 and was first buried in the catacombs of Priscilla in Rome”. . . “.

“Currently, the saint’s bones are kept in the Church of San Silvestro in Capite, also in Rome,” he explains.

There is not much data on the reason for his holiness recognized, “says Lira. The rules that made beatification and canonization more complicated were direct, but not yet in place.”

Remember that Roman martyrdom only “Saint New Years Eve I, Pope, who ruled the Church piously for many years, at the time when Emperor Constantine was building the venerable Roman basilicas and celebrating the Council of Nicaea Christ as the Son of God, handed down. This day [31 de diciembre] his body was buried in the Priscilla cemetery. “

Maerki recalls a curiosity: “Saint Sylvester was the first non-martyr saint to be venerated in the Roman Church,” he emphasizes.

“In the first centuries of the Christian era, it was a privilege to be a martyr in order to be canonized.”

The day of San Silvestre is December 31st because that was the anniversary of his death, which makes him the last person in the Roman saint.

But at the time of his death, that date it wasn’t new year’s eve; December 31st became simply the last day of the Gregorian calendar year, which was marked on February 24th, 1582 by Pope Gregory XIII. (1502-1585) was proclaimed.

Who was Saint Silvestre, the last “Saint” of the year and the first “legal” Pope in Christendom?

Remember it You can receive notifications from BBC Mundo. Download and activate the new version of our app so you don’t miss out on our best content.


Comments are closed.