St. Sylvester I
by americancatholic.org | Source: americancatholic.org
When you think of this pope, you think of the Edict of Milan, the emergence of the Church from the
catacombs, the building of the great basilicas, Saint John Lateran, Saint Peter’s and others, the
Council of Nicaea and other critical events. But for the most part, these events were planned or
brought about by Emperor Constantine.
A great store of legends has grown up around the man who was pope at this most
important time, but very little can be established historically. We know for sure that his papacy
lasted from 314 until his death in 335. Reading between the lines of history, we are assured that
only a very strong and wise man could have preserved the essential independence of the Church in the
face of the overpowering figure of the Emperor Constantine. The bishops in general remained loyal to
the Holy See and at times expressed apologies to Sylvester for undertaking important ecclesiastical
projects at the urging of Constantine.
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