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Pope St. Sylvester I

Saint Sylvester I

Pope & Confessor

Sylvester was a native of Rome, born in the late third century. He was ordained a priest by Pope St. Marcellinus, and in the year of Our Lord 314 he succeeded Pope St. Miltiades as supreme Pontiff, shortly after the promulgation of the Edict of Milan by the Emperor Constantine. Sylvester’s was thus the first full pontificate of the era in which the Church began to grow publicly. Under Sylvester, the first great churches of Rome were built, including the original Basilica of St. Peter, the Lateran Basilica, the Basilica of the Holy Cross, and others. The first Martyrology was likely compiled under his authority, and public veneration of the martyrs was well-established by the many churches built over their tombs. The holy pontiff also sent representatives to the great Council of Nicaea, and confirmed the decrees thereof. After a reign of just over two decades, Sylvester died in Rome on December 31st, in the year of Our Lord 335. In several European countries he lends his name to the celebration of New Year’s Eve. On this day Catholics may obtain an indulgence for publicly singing or reciting the great hymn of thanksgiving, Te Deum laudamus, in gratitude to God for the previous year.


Traditional Roman Martyrology for December 31st

AT Rome, the birthday of pope St. Silvester, who baptized the emperor Constantine the Great, and confirmed the Council of Nicaea. After performing many other holy deeds, he rested in peace.

Also, at Rome, on the Salarian road, in the cemetery of Priscilla, the holy martyrs Donata, Paulina, Rustica, Nominanda, Serotina, Hilaria and their companions.

At Sens, the blessed Sabinian, bishop, and Potentian, who being sent thither by the Roman Pontiff to preach, illustrated that metropolitan church by their confession and martyrdom.

In the same place, St. Columba, virgin and martyr, who after having triumphed over fire, was beheaded, in the persecution of the emperor Aurelian.

At Retiers, St. Hermes, exorcist.

At Catania, in Sicily, the martyrdom of the Saints Stephen, Pontian, Attalus, Fabian, Cornelius, Sextus, Flos, Quinctian, Minervinus and Simplician.

The same day, St. Zoticus, Roman priest, who went to Constantinople, and took upon himself the care of orphans.

At Ravenna, St. Barbatian, priest and confessor.

The same day, St. Melania the Younger, who withdrew from Rome with her husband Pinian, and went to Jerusalem, where both embraced the religious life, she among the women consecrated to God, and he among the monks, and ended their career in peace.

℣. And elsewhere many other holy martyrs, confessors, and holy virgins.

℟. Thanks be to God.

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