Little is known of Saint Sylvester I, though there are legends. He succeeded to the Chair of St. Peter in 314. This was soon after the military triumph of Constantine and his Edict of Milan granting toleration to Christians. Constantine did not make Christianity the official religion of the Empire.
This would not occur until 380. But Constantine did give the Church breathing space. The Church could now simply be herself. And so the faithful poured out of the dark confines of their house churches and into the open-aired basilicas.
There were processions, statues erected in public, a new Christian calendar, sermons preached in the open, and proud bishops to lead a grateful people. Saint Sylvester I led the Church as it grew by leaps and bounds, becoming the primary institution in the Roman Empire, even replacing the imperial government itself.
Sylvester must have been a capable and even-handed leader. As pagan Rome slowly transformed into Christian Rome, any number of missteps could have halted the evolutionary process. But Sylvester and his successors stood confidently at the helm, kept a steady hand on the ship’s wheel, and guided the Barque of Peter to harbor with great tact.
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