Saint Silvia

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Saint Silvia
Santa Silvia.jpg
Saint Silvia by an altar painter
Born~515 AD
Rome or Sicily
Died~592 AD
Venerated inRoman Catholic Church
Feast5 November ×
PatronageInvoked by pregnant women for a safe delivery

Saint Silvia (Sylvia) (c. 515 – c. 592) was the mother of Saint Gregory the Great. She is venerated as a saint by the Catholic Church, which names her a patroness of pregnant women.


Little biographical information about her exists. Her native place is sometimes given as Sicily, sometimes as Rome. Apparently she was of as distinguished family as her husband, the Roman regionarius, Gordianus. She had, besides Gregory, a second son, whose name did not survive through the ages.[1]

Silvia was noted for her great piety, and she gave her sons an excellent education. After the death of her husband, around 573, she devoted herself entirely to religion in the "new cell by the gate of blessed Paul" (cella nova juxta portam beati Pauli). Gregory the Great had a mosaic portrait of his parents executed at the monastery of Saint Andrew; it is minutely described by Johannes Diaconus (P.L., LXXV, 229-30).[2] Silvia was portrayed sitting with the face, in which the wrinkles of age could not hide the beauty; the eyes were large and blue, and the expression was gracious and animated.[1]


San Saba seen from outside the external wall.

The veneration of Saint Silvia is of early date.[1] She was honoured by the Romans as a type of a Christian widow.[2]

Silvia had built a chapel in her house. In 645, the monks from the monastery of Mar Saba (Palestine) settled in this house, and devoted it to the celebration of Saint Sabas. In the 9th century an oratory was erected over her former dwelling, near the Basilica of San Saba.

Pope Clement VIII (1592–1605) inserted her name under 3 November in the Roman Martyrology. She is invoked by pregnant women for a safe delivery.[3]

Two of her relatives, sisters-in-law Trasilla and Emiliana, are also venerated as saints, as well as her other sister-in-law Gordiana, and her husband Gordianus.


 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainHerbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Saint Silvia". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton.

External links[edit]

Media related to Saint Silvia at Wikimedia Commons