The Seventh Day of Christmas: The Feast of Pope Saint Sylvester I

Pope Saint Sylvester was ordained to the priesthood by Pope Saint Marcellinus when he was just about thirty years old, distinguishing himself by the exquisite perfection with which he offered the Sacred Mysteries. He succeeded to the Throne of Saint Peter following the death of Pope Saint Melchiades in the year 314 A.D. It was during his blessed reign that the Church was able to come up out of the catacombs following the end of the age of persecution with the issuance of the Edict of Milan by the Emperor Constantine in the year before his ascended to the papacy. Saint Sylvester thus oversaw the restoration of the Church buildings that had been seized by the state and persuaded Constantine to build basilicas. The emperor, grateful to Saint Sylvester for having given him the gift of the Faith in the baptismal font, endowed these churches and basilicas were marvelous statues and images. Constantine further ordered that the worship of the false idols cease once and for all. God had seen to it that Pope Saint Sylvester I, a priest at around thirty years of age, was to preside as the Supreme Pontiff as the era of Christendom dawned upon the world and as the Church Militant arose from the catacombs.

Dom Prosper Gueranger, O.S.B., explained the importance of the life of Pope Saint Sylvester, who guided Holy Mother Church out of the catabombs to begin the epoch of Christendom in Europe over the course of the ensuing centuries:

So far, the only ones we have seen standing round the Crib of our Jesus have been Martyrs: Stephen, overwhelmed with the shower of stones; John, the Martyr in heart, who survived his fiery torture; the Holy Innocents, massacred by the sword; Thomas, murdered in his Cathedral—these are the champions of Christ, who keep guard in the palace of Bethlehem. Yet all Christians are not called to be Martyrs. Besides this countless battalion of the King’s favorite soldiers, there are other troops of sainted heroes which form the heavenly army—and amongst these, there are the Confessors, who conquered the world without shedding their blood in the combat. Though the place of honor in the service of the King belongs to the Martyrs, yet did the Confessors fight manfully for the glory of his name and the spreading of his Kingdom. The palm is not in their hands, but they are crowned with the crown of justice, and Jesus, who gave it to them, has made it be part of his own glory that they should be near his throne.
The Church would therefore grace this glorious Christmas Octave with the name of one of her Children, should represent, at Bethlehem, the whole class of her unmartyred Saints. She chose a Confessor—St. Sylvester: a Confessor who governed the Church of Rome, and therefore the universal Church; a Pontiff whose reign was long and peaceful; a Servant of Jesus Christ adorned with every virtue, who was sent to edify and guide the world immediately after those fearful combats, that had lasted for three hundred years, and in which millions of Christians had gained victory by martyrdom, under the leadership of Thirty Popes—predecessors of St. Sylvester—and they too all Martyrs.
So that Sylvester is messenger of the Peace, which Christ came to give to the world, and of which the Angels sang on Christmas Night. He is the friend of Constantine; he confirms the Council of Nicaea; he organizes the discipline of the Church for the new era on which she is now entering—the era of Peace. His predecessors in the See of Peter imaged Jesus in his sufferings; Sylvester represented Jesus in his triumph. His appearance during this Octave reminds us that the Divine Child who lies wrapped in swaddling clothes and is the object of Herod’s persecution is, notwithstanding all these humiliations, the Prince of Peace, the Father of the world to come. (Isaiah 9:6) (Dom Prosper Gueranger, O.S.B., The Liturgical Year.)

The following is a brief description of the life of Pope Saint Sylvester as found in today's Divine Office:

Sylvester was a Roman by birth, and his father's name was Rufinus. He was brought up from a very early age under a Priest named Cyrinus, of whose teaching and example he was a diligent learner. In his thirtieth year he was ordained Priest of the Holy Roman Church by Pope Marcellinus. In the discharge of his duties he became a model for all the clergy, and, after the death of Melchiades, he succeeded him on the Papal throne, in the year of our Lord 314, during the reign of Constantine, who had already by public decree proclaimed peace to the Church of Christ. Hardly had he undertaken the government of the Church when he betook himself to stir up the Emperor to protect and propagate the religion of Christ. Constantine was fresh from his victory over his enemy Maxentius, on the Eve whereof the sign of the Cross had been revealed to him limned in light upon the sky; and there was an old story in the Church of Rome that it was Sylvester who caused him to recognise the images of the Apostles, administered to him holy Baptism, and cleansed him from the leprosy of misbelief. (Matins, The Divine Office, Feast of Pope Saint Sylvester I.)

Saint Sylvester, who was known for his prudence and charity, understood that it was both prudent and charitable to condemn error by its proper name. This is why he and Emperor Constantine, who was most eager to put defend orthodox doctrine, convoked in the year 325 the First Council of Nicea, at which over 300 bishops participated, to condemn Arius as a heretic and Arianism as a heresy, thereby demonstrating that popes have a solemn duty to condemn heresy and to discipline heretics severely. The Nicene Creed, which was elaborated upon by the Council of Constantinople fifty-six years later, is still recited by Catholics in the context of those offerings of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass of a solemn character (Sundays, Double Majors of the First Class, Feasts of Apostles and Doctors). The Council of Nicea was truly an extraordinary event as it reflected the concern of both the Sovereign Pontiff and a secular potentate that right doctrine was essential to the establishment and maintenance of civil peace.  

Sadly, as we know only too well, the the counterfeit church of conciliarism is all too tolerant of unsound doctrine and outright heresy. It was in August of 2005 that the well-known critic of the doctrine of papal infallibility and a promoter of a one world religion, the late Father Hans Kung, who remained, yes, even to his dying breath, a priest in "canonical" good standing in the counterfeit church of conciliarism thirty-seven years following his removal from a Chair of Theology at Tubingen University for his dissident writings, has spoken glowingly of Jorge Mario Bergolio and even spent four hours with Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI in the Apostolic Palace over dinner in 2005. Not a word of concern over Kung's lifelong warfare against the Faith was uttered. This quite a contrast to what happened at the Council of Nicea when Saint Nicholas rushed at the heretic Arius and slapped him across the face. Saint Nicholas knew the harm that Arius had been doing to the Faith. So did Pope Saint Sylvester.

The condemnation of Arius and Arianism also stands in very sharp contrast with the Opening Address of Angelo Roncalli/John XXIII to the "Second" Vatican Council on October 11, 1962, the Feast of the Divine Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Rejecting the admonitions of his predecessors about the dangers of Modernity, Roncalli, who forbade any criticism of Communism at the Council, said:

In the daily exercise of our pastoral office, we sometimes have to listen, much to ou r regret, to voices of persons who, though burning with zeal, are not endowed with too much sense of discretion or measure. In these modern times they can see nothing but prevarication and ruin. They say that our era, in comparison with past eras, is getting worse, and they behave as though they had learned nothing from history, which is, none the less, the teacher of life. They behave as though at the time of former Councils everything was a full triumph for the Christian idea and life and for proper religious liberty.

We feel we must disagree with those prophets of gloom, who are always forecasting disaster, as though the end of the world were at hand.

In the present order of things, Divine Providence is leading us to a new order of human relations which, by men's own efforts and even beyond their very expectations, are directed toward the fulfilment of God's superior and inscrutable designs. And everything, even human differences, leads to the greater good of the Church. . . . .

At the outset of the Second Vatican Council, it is evident, as always, that the truth of the Lord will remain forever. We see, in fact, as one age succeeds another, that the opinions of men follow one another and exclude each other. And often errors vanish as quickly as they arise, like fog before the sun The Church has always opposed these errors. Frequently she has condemned them with the greatest severity. Nowadays however, the Spouse of Christ prefers to make use of the medicine of mercy rather than that of severity. She consider that she meets the needs of the present day by demonstrating the validity of her teaching rather than by condemnations. (Angelo Roncalli/ John XXIII 's Opening Address)

This is why the now retired Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI, who was a peritus at the "Second" Vatican Council, called Roncalli's council a "Counter-Syllabus of Errors." The condemnations of the past had to give way in favor of an allegedly more "enlightened" attitude of "dialogue" in a spirit of "opening up to the world." The result has been a widespread toleration of, if not open support for, dissident and heretical positions that have confused the faithful, caused many souls to leave the true Church altogether in favor of Protestant sects, and has silenced the authentic, perennial teaching of theCatholic Church in an effort to appear "sensitive to" the realities of contemporary life. Nowhere is this more evident than in the conciliar apostasies of ecumenism and religious liberty.

Jacobus de Voragine's The Golden Legend contains a description of how Saint Sylvester, at the invitation of Emperor Constantine, entered into debate, not "dialogue," with Jewish elders in Rome. Those elders had been sent to Rome by the emperor's mother, Saint Helena, who had yet to convert to the Faith, for the purposes of ascertaining whether her son had converted to the true religion. Here are a few brief excerpts:

Now the eighth master, Aroel, spoke, "It is certain that God is the summit of all perfection and that he needs no one. Of what use, then, could it be to him to be born in Christ? Secondly, how do you call Christ the Word, for this too is certain, that before he had a son, God could not be called Father; therefore, if afterwards he is called Christ's Father, he has become subject to change." Silvester replied: "The Son was begotten of the Father before all time, in order to create what did not yet exist., and he was born in time to remake those that had been lost. He could have remade them by his sole word, but he could not redeem them by his passion unless he became man, because he was not capable of suffering in his divinity. Nor was it an imperfection but a perfection, that in his divinity he could not suffer. Moreover, it is clear that the Son of God is called the Word, because the prophet says, 'My heart has uttered a good word.' God also was always Father because his Son always existed, for his Son is his Word and His Wisdom and his Power. The Son was always in the Father as his Word according to the text, 'My heart has uttered a Word.' He was always the Father's Wisdom: 'I came out of the mouth of the Most High, the firstborn before all creatures.' He was always the Power: 'Before the hills I was brought forth, nor had the fountains of waters as yet sprung out.' Since, therefore, the Father was never without his Word, his Wisdom, and his Power, how can you think that the name Father came to him in time?"

Aroel being dismissed, Jubal, the ninth doctor, said: "We know that God did not condemn nor curse marriage. Why therefore do you refuse to have the on your worship born of a marriage--unless it is your intention to denigrate marriage? Another question: how can one who is almighty be tempted, and how does one who is power suffer, or one who is life die? And lastly, you are forced to say that there are two sons, the one whom the Father begets, the other born of the virgin. And again, how can it be that the humanity which is assumed suffers without injury to the divinity which assumed the humanity?"

To all this, Silvester responded: "It is not to condemn marriage that we say Christ was born of a virgin and we have already stated the reasons for his virginal birth. Nor is marriage discredited by that assertion; on the contrary, it is honored, because this virgin who became Christ's mother was herself the child of a marriage. Christ was tempted in order to vanquish all the devil's temptations; he suffered in order to bring all suffering under subjection; he died to thwart the reign of death. In Christ there is the one and only Son of God: as Christ is truly God's invisible Son, the Son is the visible Christ. what is invisible in him is God, what is visible is man. We may show by an example that the man assumed can suffer what the godhead assuming does not suffer. Let us use the emperor's purple mantle as an example. it was wool, and blood was applied to the wool and gave it its purple color, but when the wool was held in the fingers and twisted into thread, what was twisted? The color that signifies the royal dignity, or the wool that was wool before it was dyed purple? So then, the wool stands for the man, the purple color for God. God was present in Christ's passion when Christ suffered on the cross, but was not subjected to suffering in any way."

The tenth master, Thara, said: "I am not pleased by this example, because the color is twisted with the wool!" All present disagreed, but Silvester said: "Very well, take another example! Imagine a tree filled with the splendor of the sunlight. when the tree is cut down, it feels the sharp bite of the ax, but the sunlight suffers nothing from the blow! So, when the man suffered, the divinity underwent no suffering!"

Sileon, the eleventh doctor, now spoke. "If the prophets foretold these things about your Christ," he said, "we would like to know the reasons for all this mockery and suffering and death!" Silvester: "Christ suffered hunger that he might feed us; he thirsted in order to quench our dryness with a life-giving draft; he was tempted to liberate us from temptation; he was taken captive to deliver us from capture by the demons; he was mocked to free us from the demons' mockery; he was bound in order to untie for us the knot of bondage and malediction he was humiliated in order to exalt us; he was stripped of his garments to clothe with his pardon the nakedness of our primal privation; he accepted the crown of thorns in order to give back to us the lost flowers of paradise; he was given gall and vinegar to drink in order to bring man into a land flowing with milk and honey and to open for us fountains running with honey; he took mortality upon himself to confer immortality upon us; he was buried to bless the tombs of the saints; he rose to restore life to the dead; he ascended into heaven to open heaven's graces; he is seated at God's right hand to hear and grant the prayers of the faithful." (Archbishop Jacobus de Voragine, O.P., The Golden Legend.)

Jacobus de Voragine wrote that even the Jews applauded Pope Saint Sylvester I after he finished that particular discourse in defense of the Faith. One elder, Zambri, though, was unconvinced and demanded that a sign be performed. Zambri uttered a word, probably that of a demon, into the ear of a bull and it died. Zambri then challenged Pope Saint Sylvester to awaken the bull in "name of Jesus, the Galilean, and we will believe in Jesus, for even if Silvester can sprout wings and fly, he cannot do this!" The narrative concludes as follows:

All the Jews then promised that they would believe if Silvester brought the bull to life. He therefore prayed and, bending down to the bull's ear said: "Bull, get up and go back nicely to your herd!" The bull got to its feet and went away gently and quietly. Thereupon the queen, the Jews, the judges, and everybody else were converted to the Faith. (Archbishop Jacobus de Voragine, O.P., The Golden Legend.)


Imagine if we had a true pope today who was concerned about converting the Jews to Catholicism so as to save the immortal souls. The false "popes" of the counterfeit church of conciliarism, however, have indeed been "puddy tats" who refuse to proclaim the Holy Name of Jesus, announced publicly for the first time at His Circumcision eight days after His Nativity, in front of Jews or Mohammedans or other non-Christians. Pope Saint Sylvester I knew that the Apostles themselves were unafraid to proclaim the Holy Name, that they went forth from the Sanhedrin on one occasion, rejoicing that they were accounted worthy to suffer reproach for the name of Jesus" (Acts 5: 41).

We need to pray for the restoration of the Church Militant on earth so that we will have true popes who act once again in the pattern of Pope Saint Sylvester, men who will condemn, yes, condemn error at the same time as they proclaim the truths contained in the Deposit of Faith clearly and unambiguously and as they hold forth to the form of worship that Pope Saint Sylvester himself offered God when he was but thirteen years of age. We need true popes who will proclaim the Holy Name as fearlessly as Saint Sylvester did in front of the Jewish elders. And we need true popes who will seek to restore the glories of Christendom, a time when emperors knew that the good of their empires depended upon the good of souls, and that the good of souls depended upon their total subordination to the Catholic Faith without one iota of dissent.

Dom Prosper Gueranger, O.S.B., composed the following prayer in honor of Pope Saint Sylvester, who had the privilege of governing Holy Mother Church during an era of peace as she emerged from the catacombs and a period of persecution that had lasted for two hundred forty-seven years under the Roman caesars and their minions:

Supreme Pastor of the Church of Christ! thou lendest to the beauty of the holy Octave of Christmas the luster of thy glorious merits. There thou worthily representest the countless choir of Confessors, for it was thou didst steer the barque of Peter after the three hundred years’ tempest, leading her with watchful love in her first hours of calm. The pontifical Diadem, reflecting heaven in its gems, sits on thy venerable brow. The Keys of the Kingdom of heaven are in thy hands; thou openest it for the admission of the Gentiles, who embrace the faith of Christ; thou shuttest it against the Arians, in that august Council of Nicaea, where thou presidest by thy Legates, and to which thou givest authority, by confirming it with thy apostolic approbation. The Furious storms will again soon rage against the Church, and the angry billows of heresy will beat against her; thou wilt then be in the bosom of God; but, together with St. Peter, thou wilt keep guard over the purity of the Faith of Rome. Thou wilt support Julius; thou wilt rescue Liberius; and Athanasius, aided by thy prayers, will find a shelter within the walls of Rome.
Under thy peaceful reign, Christian Rome receives the reward of her long-endured persecution. She is acknowledges as Queen of Christendom, and her empire becomes the sole empire that is universal. The Son of thy pastoral zeal, Constantine, leaves the city of Romulus, which has now become the City of Peter; the Imperial majesty would be eclipsed by that greater one of the Vicar of Christ; he makes Byzantium his capital, leaving Rome to be that of the Pontiff-King. The temples of the false gods become ruins, and make room for the Christian Basilicas, in which are enshrined the Relics of the Apostles and Martyrs. In a word, the Church has triumphed over the Prince of this world, and the victory is typified by the destruction of that Dragon, which infected the air by its poisonous breath.
Honored with all these wonderful prerogatives, saintly Vicar of Christ! forget not the Christian people, which was once thy flock. It asks thee, on this thy Feast, to make it know and love the mystery of the Birth of Jesus. By the sublime Symbol which embodies the Faith of Nicaea, and which thou didst confirm and promulgate throughout the whole Church—thou hast taught us to acknowledge this sweet Infant as God of God, Light of Light, begotten not made. Consubstantial to the Father. Thou biddest us to come and adore this Little Child, as He by whom all things were made. Holy Confessor of Christ! vouchsafe to present us to him, as the Martyrs have done, whose Feasts have filled up the days since his Nativity. Pray to him for us, that our desires for true virtue may be fulfilled, that we may persevere in his holy love, that we may conquer the world and our passions, and at length, that we may obtain the Crown of justice, which is to be the reward of our Confessing him before men and is the only object of our ambition.
Pontiff of Peace! from the abode of rest where thou now dwellest, look down upon the Church of God, surrounded as she is by implacable enemies, and beseech Jesus, the Prince of Peace, to hasten her triumph. Cast thine eye on that Rome which is so dear to thee, and which is so faithful in her love of thee. Protect and direct her Father, King, and Pontiff. May she triumph over the wiles of political intrigue, the violence of tyranny, the craft of heretics, the perfidy of schismatics, the apathy of worldlings, and the cowardice of her own children. May she be honored, loved, and obeyed. May the sublime dignity of the Priesthood be recognized. May the spiritual power enjoy freedom of action. May the civil authority work hand in hand with the Church. May the Kingdom of God now come, and be received throughout the whole world, and may there be but one Fold and one Shepherd.
Still watch, O holy Sylvester! over the sacred treasure of the Faith, which thou didst defend when on earth against every danger. May its light put out the vapors of man’s proud dreams, those false and daring doctrines which mislead countless souls. May every mortal bow down his understanding to the obedience of faith in the divine Mysteries, without which all human wisdom is but folly. May Jesus, the Son of God and Son of Mary, be King, by his Church, over the minds and hearts of all men.
Pray for Byzantium, that was once called the New Rome, but which so soon became the capital of heresies, and the scene of everything that could degrade a Christian country. Pray that the days of her deep humiliation may be shortened; that she may again see herself united with Rome; that she may honor Christ and his Vicar; that she may obey, and by her obedience be saved. May the people, misled and debased by her influence and rule, recover their dignity as men, which can only subsist when men have faith, or be regained by a return to the faith.
And lastly, O Conqueror of Satan! keep this hellish monster in the prison whither thou didst drive him; confound his pride and his schemes; let him no longer seduce the people of God’s earth; but may all the children of the Church, according to the word of Peter, thy predecessor, resist him, by the strength of their faith. (Dom Prosper Gueranger, O.S.B., The Liturgical Year.)

May we make this prayer of the late Bishop Robert Fidelis McKenna, O.P., who died on December 16, 2015, our own:

O Lord, grant us a true pope.

Our Lord has given us the path back to such heroic, clear-sighted leadership. That path runs through the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, His Most Blessed Mother, Our Lady. May we, as we end the calendar year of Our Lord 2022 and commence the year of Our Lord 2023, continue to beseech Our Lady for the miracle that it will take to restore the Church Militant and to sweep away the conciliar revolution as we pray at the same time for the conversion of the conciliar revolutionaries themselves.

Her Most Holy Rosary has vanquished the enemies of the Church in the past.

It will do so again.

Isn't it time to pray a Rosary now?

A blessed and holy New Year of Our Lord 2022 to you all.

Viva Cristo ReyVivat Christus Rex!

Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us!


Saint Joseph, Patron of Departing Souls, pray for us.

Saints Peter and Paul, pray for us.

Saint John the Baptist, pray for us.

Saint John the Evangelist, pray for us.

Saint Michael the Archangel, pray for us.

Saint Gabriel the Archangel, pray for us.

Saint Raphael the Archangel, pray for us.

Saints Joachim and Anne, pray for us.

Saints Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar, pray for us.

Pope Saint Sylvester I, pray for us.