Saint Silvia by an altar painter
Rome or Sicily
|Venerated in||Roman Catholic Church|
|Feast||3 November ×|
|Patronage||Invoked by pregnant women for a safe delivery|
Saint Silvia (Sylvia) (c. 515 – c. 592) was the mother of St. Gregory the Great; she had another son but his name did not survive through the ages. She is also venerated as a saint by the Catholic Church. 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.
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.
Silvia was noted for her great piety, and she gave her sons an excellent education. After the death of her husband 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 St. Andrew; it is minutely described by Johannes Diaconus (P.L., LXXV, 229-30). Silvia was portrayed sitting with the face, in which the wrinkles of age could not hide the beauty, in full view; the eyes were large and blue, and the expression was gracious and animated.
The veneration of St. Silvia is of early date.
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 St. Sabas. In the 9th century an oratory was erected over her former dwelling, near the Basilica of San Saba.
Media related to Saint Silvia at Wikimedia Commons