Talk:Pope Sylvester I

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Early Life[edit]

is there anything at all about his early life? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:42, 5 November 2007 (UTC)

Doctor of the church[edit]

Only the Armenian church recognizes Sylvester as a doctor of the church. Shouldn't this be a separate category? Student7 (talk) 00:42, 30 December 2007 (UTC)

Maybe, maybe not. Many of the doctors (Basil the Great, for example) are recognized by several different churches, and a different category for each would overload the categories on their articles. However, it should be mentioned in the article which group considers him a Doctor of the Church, with a good citation. Gentgeen (talk) 08:46, 2 January 2008 (UTC)


There is no doubt that the English version of his name is Sylvester. See Catholic Encyclopedia.Student7 (talk) 21:44, 11 November 2008 (UTC)

Nota bene: Some refer to this saintly pope as Saint Pope Silvester I; you can search him by either spelling of that name. philipofBVMPhilipofBVM (talk) 00:03, 1 February 2015 (UTC) PhilipofBVM (talk) 00:03, 1 February 2015 (UTC)


There's a folk legend that Pope Sylvester was an advocator of torturing Jews and antisemitism. That's sheer nonsense, it's just made up by stupid people who think 'EW! CHRISTIANS! GOYIM!' Should this be added? Siúnrá (talk) 12:39, 5 February 2009 (UTC)

It is a strongly held belief in Israel, and is covered in the Hebrew Wikipedia article. I don't think it's relavent in this page. (Vaskafdt (talk) 01:22, 20 March 2011 (UTC))

NPOV Tag[edit]

Much of this article has been edited with an anti-Catholic slant, either from an Orthodox point of view or a Protestant one, without any citations. Given that the article makes substantial claims which contradict either generally accepted history or tradition, one would expect at least some tenuous attempt to cite statements claiming that Constantine created the "Pope" or that the Roman Catholic Church was created with the emperor's decree (the separation of the East and West, for that matter, is generally not dated until 1054). This article needs a serious clean up. (talk) 04:42, 25 April 2009 (UTC)

When did anyone deny that the Diocese of Rome was founded by Saint Peter? It's not a matter of creating the Bishop of Rome, only a matter of when the Diocese of Rome came to be considered primary. Anyone who denied that the Diocese of Rome was founded by Saint Peter was wrong, but when was such an edit ever made? The Mysterious El Willstro (talk) 04:29, 14 October 2010 (UTC)
One must agree with the following, above mentioned fact: "Much of this article has been edited with an anti-Catholic slant, either from an Orthodox point of view or a Protestant one, without any citations." I will strive to cite plenty of sources to prove that Pope Saint Sylvester I was a true Catholic saint, and that he in fact, did baptize the Great Emperor Saint Constantine, long before his death. The legend that some Arian heretic baptized him at death, is untrue. See sources from The Catholic Breviary, The Roman Martyology, and other places, some mentioned in this article. philipofBVMPhilipofBVM (talk) 00:00, 1 February 2015 (UTC) PhilipofBVM (talk) 00:00, 1 February 2015 (UTC)

Rome supreme?[edit]

This topic has been relocated to the "Transition" Section on the Roman Catholic Church Talk Page, where it is more relevant.
The following discussion has been closed. Please do not modify it.

I couldn't find anything to justify that Constantine decreed that Rome was the center of everything, etc. etc. So I deleted it. Seems like a bleed-over from the Donation of Constantine. After Constantine legalized the church, bishops suddently had a lot of authority - they were magistrates, for example, so the power was there. Can't find anything about the "single church." Nor a named decree in 314, which should be in Wikipedia if it were that important.

Having said that, Sylvester deliberately didn't attend the council of Nicea suggesting he was on a higher plane. Also, there are indications that the bishop of Rome was "first among equals" in the church for a long time. But that is a separate issue and was church inspired not Constantine-inspired. Student7 (talk) 20:50, 27 September 2009 (UTC)

The idea was that the transition from Early Christianity to Roman Catholicism proper occurred in 314. I got the idea of marking that transition then from this article: [1]. While I disagree with the author's opinions about the Roman Catholic Church expressed near the end of the article, I can not argue with the fact that the non-opinion parts of the article have no less than 54 historical sources. The Mysterious El Willstro (talk) 03:29, 25 June 2010 (UTC)
"I can not argue with the fact that the non-opinion parts of the article have no less than 54 historical sources."? Well, I certainly can: it only has 54 footnotes (not "sources"). Not every footnote corresponds to a source. And they are not guaranteed to use the source correctly just because they exist. Anyway, even without checking the sources themselves there seem to be no footnotes that would support the existence of some sort of decree (looks like the author simply assumes that the Church changed significantly with election of Sylvester I and that's how the date is produced). Not even that: there seems to be nothing helping us to start the search for the decree in question. What was its name? The decree has to have some name, right?
Furthermore, the source you gave is not a reliable source. First of all, it is a question of history. Thus the author of any reliable source will probably be a historian (or at least an amateur historian). But in this case the author's qualifications are given only as "A Former Catholic Nun"... And the Web page in question seems to be a simple personal Web page, thus any formal fact checking process is unlikely.
In conclusion - the source given is not acceptable, the "fact" is doubtful at best and should not be included in the article without a significantly better source. --Martynas Patasius (talk) 21:30, 25 June 2010 (UTC)
According to Page 208 of The Making of the West: Peoples and Cultures (3rd Edition) by Lynn Hunt et al. (Volume A to 1500), the Greek word "Pappas" and Latin "Papa" (which later gave rise to "Pope" in English) were used for various bishops prior to the start of the Christianization of the Empire, a transition that very much coincides with Sylvester's reign. From this time onward, the term was reserved solely for the Bishop of Rome, as it remains today within the Roman Catholic Church. (I specify "within the Roman Catholic Church" because there is 1 other denomination that has its own Papacy, the Coptic Orthodox Catholic Church.) Also in Hunt et al. shortly thereafter, the fact that the Diocese of Rome had been founded by Saint Peter received more emphasis at this time, and so all other bishops became subordinate to the Bishop of Rome from then onward. Even if practice lagged behind, Rome became theoretically the supreme archdiocese with the reigns of Sylvester I as Pope and Constantine I as Emperor, and the Christianization of Rome. The Mysterious El Willstro (talk) 02:55, 27 June 2010 (UTC)
Well, what is supposed to be proved by that? Let's look at the material in question (added by edits [2], tagged by edit [3], mostly deleted by edit [4], finally removed by edit [5]). It speaks about some decree, talks about "[t]he transition from Early Christianity to the Roman Catholic Church proper"... Can anything like that be supported by mere terminological changes? No, of course not - and such conclusions most certainly cannot be made by any Wikipedian (that would be original research - and bad original research at that).
Or are you proposing something other than reinstating that material? --Martynas Patasius (talk) 15:34, 2 July 2010 (UTC)
Collins may be a questionable source (that's the one by the former nun), but Hunt is much more reliable, and the text on Page 208 and shortly thereafter does imply the reigns of Sylvester and Constantine as the time of said Early Christian/Roman Catholic proper transition. The Mysterious El Willstro (talk) 05:00, 13 August 2010 (UTC)
"Imply"? That is, it does not really say so? In other words, we would have to take a couple of statements from the source (about terminology and emphasis) and reach the conclusion about "Early Christian/Roman Catholic proper transition"? That is exactly what is discussed in Wikipedia:No original research#Synthesis of published material that advances a position. Thus it is completely inappropriate to add anything like this to the article. It might be possible to add a sentence saying that some (maybe "some Protestants", maybe giving an example) consider it to be so, but we would need a source that actually says that. --Martynas Patasius (talk) 12:47, 14 August 2010 (UTC)
Imply/Say so...Hunt is quite clear that individual Dioceses were independent prior to that time. I don't have the book with me at the moment, but I'll retrieve an exact quotation next time I do. (The reason that this reply took so long is that I am in college, very busy, and not constantly on Wiki.) The Mysterious El Willstro (talk) 04:22, 14 October 2010 (UTC)

St. Sylvester I[edit]

I don't know how to make the table that shows Papal Styles but he should have one because he is a Saint. Also I don't know enough facts about him but if someone could write a section about him being a Saint.Etineskid (talk) 03:20, 1 February 2011 (UTC)

This bishop of Rome was never called "pope" in his lifetime. Some neutral history might be in order.--Wetman (talk) 13:05, 6 February 2011 (UTC)
He was never called "saint" in his lifetime either!  :) Student7 13:59, 8 February 2011 (UTC)

Pope Saint Sylvester Baptized Roman Emperor Constantine[edit]

Constantine The Great, received The Catholic Baptism from Pope Sylvester I. This is attested to in the Roman Catholic Martyrology on December 31 of each year, under the heading of Saint Sylvester I Pope. "Romæ natális sancti Silvéstri Primi, Papæ et Confessóris; qui Magnum Constantínum Imperatórem baptizávit, et Nicænam confirmávit Synodum, ac, multis áliis rebus sanctíssime gestis, quiévit in pace. At Rome, the birthday of Pope St. Sylvester I, confessor, who baptized Emperor Constantine the Great, and confirmed the council of Nicaea. After performing many other holy deeds, he rested in peace." from : The Roman Martyrology December 31 Prídie Kaléndas Januárii. Luna. The Thirty-First Day of December. The. Night of the Moon. philipofBVMPhilipofBVM (talk) 20:23, 31 January 2015 (UTC) PhilipofBVM (talk) 20:23, 31 January 2015 (UTC)

Many references have been given, for example, to the Catholic Breviary, the Catholic Martyrology, etc... Hence, the reader will know to go and search out the truth for himself. The Holy Catholic Church celebrates his feastday, along with his mother, Saint Helena, each year, on the 21st day of the fifth month. : [1]

: philipofBVMPhilipofBVM (talk) 04:30, 27 January 2015 (UTC) PhilipofBVM (talk) 04:30, 27 January 2015 (UTC)

I do not see anything that would lend any credibility to that particular website, no citations, no bibliography, no name of the author, etc, etc. If this is such an historically documented fact, why not bring a published secondary source?
According to,
"Early Controversies and the Growth of Christianity", by Kevin Kaatz, page 113, Constantine was baptized in 337. --Kansas Bear (talk) 05:14, 27 January 2015 (UTC)
"Remembering Constantine at the Milvian Bridge", by Raymond Van Dam, Cambridge University Press, page 20, "Shortly before his death in 337, Constantine had been baptized by Eusebius, bishop of Nicomedia."
"Christianity in the Later Roman Empire: A Sourcebook", by David M. Gwynn, page 34, Constantine was baptized in Nicomedia in 337 after falling ill. --Kansas Bear (talk) 05:18, 27 January 2015 (UTC)
Thank you for that information. I plan to give more proofs of this asap, as well as references. Thanks again. philipofBVMPhilipofBVM (talk) 05:39, 27 January 2015 (UTC) PhilipofBVM (talk) 05:39, 27 January 2015 (UTC):

"The Rites whereof the Church of Rome maketh use for the hallowing of Churches and Altars were first instituted by the blessed Pope Sylvester I. From the very time of the Apostles there had been places set apart for God, where assemblies took place upon the first day of every week, and where the Christians were used to pray, to hear the word of God, and to receive the Eucharist, which places were by some called Oratories and by others Churches. But these places were not dedicated with so solemn a form nor did they set up therein an Altar for a pillar, and pour chrism thereon, for a figure of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is himself our Altar, our Victim and our Priest.

But when the Emperor Constantine had by the Sacrament of Baptism received health both of body and soul, then first in a law by him published was it allowed to the Christians throughout the whole world to build Churches, to the which holy building he exhorted them by his example as well as by his decree. He dedicated his own Lateran Palace a Church to the Saviour, and built hard by it a Cathedral in the name of St. John the Baptist, upon the place where he had been baptized by holy Sylvester, and cleansed from his leprosy. This Cathedral was hallowed by the said Pope upon the 9th day of November. It is this consecration, the memory of which is still celebrated upon this day, the first whereon the public consecration of a Church ever took place in Rome, and the image of the Saviour was seen by the Roman people painted upon a wall.

The Blessed Sylvester afterwards decreed, when he was consecrating the Altar of the Prince of the Apostles, that altars were thenceforward to be made of stone only, but notwithstanding this the Lateran Basilica hath the altar made of wood. This is not surprising. From St. Peter to Sylvester the Popes had not been able, by reason of persecutions, to abide fixedly in one place, and they celebrated the Holy Liturgy in cellars, in burying-places, in the houses of godly persons, or wherever need drave them, upon a wooden altar made like an empty box. When peace was given to the Church, holy Sylvester took this box, and to do honour to the Prince of the Apostles, who is said to have offered sacrifice thereon, and to the other Popes who thereon had been used to execute the mystery even unto that time, set it in the first Church, even the Lateran, and ordained that no one but the Bishop of Rome should celebrate the Liturgy thereon for all time coming. -- from the Roman Breviary (1911) Dedication of the Archbasilica of Our Saviour Tuesday 9 November 2010 IN DEDICATIONE ARCHBASILICÆ SSMI. SALVATORIS Dedication of the Archbasilica of Our Holy Saviour 2nd Class, White [1] : philipofBVMPhilipofBVM (talk) 20:37, 31 January 2015 (UTC) PhilipofBVM (BVM|talk) 20:37, 31 January 2015 (UTC)

Blog posts like this are not reliable sources. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 05:22, 1 February 2015 (UTC)
I agree with your statement about Blog posts. Here are a few reliable sources:
See The Roman and British Martyrology. Publisher: O’Neill and Duggan, Dublin, 1846. 31st December, p. 427: "In Rome, the feast of St. Sylvester, pope, who baptized the Emperor Constantine, and confirmed the decrees of the Council of Nice."
The Roman Martyrology Published by Order of Gregory XIII, Revised by Authority of Urban VIII and Clement X, Augmented and Corrected in 1749 by Benedict XIV. The 3rd Turin Edition, translated by Rev. Raphael Collins, B.A., 1946; Introduction by Rev. Joseph B. Collins, S.S., D.D., PH.D.; Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C. "The Thirty-First Day of December" p. 295: "At Rome, the birthday of Pope St. Silvester I, confessor, who baptized Emperor Constantine the Great, and confirmed the council of Nicaea."
The Roman Breviary, translated out of Latin into English by John, Marquess of Bute, K. T. Publisher: William Blackwood and Sons, Edinburgh and London, 1908. Vol. 1, Winter, Dec. 31: Pope St. Sylvester, Matins: Second Nocturn: Fourth Lesson, p. 307: "Silvester [I.] was a Roman by birth, and his father’s name was Rufinus. ... 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. ...It was Silvester who caused him [Emperor Constantine] to recognise the images of the Apostles, administered to him holy Baptism, and cleansed him from the leprosy..."
The Roman Breviary, translated out of Latin into English by John, Marquess of Bute, K. T. Publisher: William Blackwood and Sons, Edinburgh and London, 1908. Vol. 2, Summer, November 9: Dedication of the Cathedral Church of the Most Holy Saviour, at Rome, Matins: Second Nocturn: Fifth Lesson, pp. 1346-47: "But when the Emperor Constantine had by the Sacrament of Baptism received health both of body and soul, then first in a law by him published was it allowed to the Christians throughout the whole world to build Churches, to the which holy building he exhorted them by his example as well as by his decree. He dedicated in his own Lateran Palace a Church to the Saviour, and built hard by it a Cathedral in the name of St. John the Baptist, upon the place where he had been baptized by holy Silvester and cleansed from his leprosy."
See the Liber Pontificalis for December 31 and the inscription on a side of the St. John Lateran obelisk at Rome which reads, "CONSTANTINUS PER CRUCEM VICTOR AS SILVESTRO HIC BAPTIZATUS CRUCIS GLORIAM PROPAGAVIT." (Della Letteratura Italiana, by Cesare Cantù. Publisher: Presso L’Unione Tipografico-Editrice, Torino, 1856. Chap. 5, §4, p. 338).
See the Chronologies of Theophanes the Confessor: Chronographia of Theophanis, ex recensione Ioannis Classeni. Publisher: Bonnae IMPENSIS ED. WEBERI, 1839. Volume 1, p. 25: "A.C. 314 Hoc anno, ut nonnulli referunt, magnus Constantinus cum Crispo filio Romae a Sylvestro baptizatus est..." (Translation: A.C. 314 This year, some relate, the great Constantine, with his son Crispus, was baptized by Sylvester at Rome.)
These sources are sufficient, but there are many more. CatholicCrusade2013 19:58, 4 February 2015 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by CatholicCrusade2013 (talkcontribs)
Those "sources" are at best questionable, either with no author(s) or with non-historians for authors.
Walking Corpses: Leprosy in Byzantium and the Medieval West, by Timothy S. Miller, John W. Nesbitt, page 100, "In the basic version of this story, when Emperor Constantine first gained control of Rome, he began to persecute Christians. As a result, God punished him with leprosy. The emperor consulted pagan priests, who told him that a bath in the blood of slaughtered infants would cure his ailment. Before he could carry out this abominable deed, Peter and Paul appeared to him in a dream. On the next day, he summoned Pope Sylvester, who explained to the emperor that he should be baptized. When the emperor emerged from the waters, he was liberated not only from original sin but from his leprosy. The legend developed in Rome during the 400s without the approval of the official Roman Church because it clearly contradicted history. Constantine never persecuted Christians in 312; he was not baptized by Pope Sylvester in Rome but by Bishop Eusebius of Nikomedeia in Constantinople; and, finally, he never contracted Elephant Disease(leprosy). Despite these inaccuracies, the Constantine legend was added to the "Life of Pope Sylvester", which was written in 521 and incorporated into the "Liber Pontificalis".......
So as the published academic source clearly states, this nonsense of Sylvester baptizing Constantine is simply a small fairy tale of a larger legend. Wikipedia should not present "fairy tales" as historical fact. --Kansas Bear (talk) 05:23, 7 February 2015 (UTC)
But in the case of important ones like this, we should cover it, which at the moment the article does not, though it covers the donation, and various fanciful elaborations of the relationship between the pope and emperor. Johnbod (talk) 14:42, 7 February 2015 (UTC)

Legend of the devil[edit]

I think the legend refers to Sylvester II not to Saint Sylvester - see

Looking at the supplied citation, and scrolling back a page, it becomes clear that the necromancy content is attributed to Sylvester II. I have accordingly removed it. Bjenks (talk) 01:25, 12 March 2015 (UTC)