In the Roman Calendar and in the Calendar of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer this day is the commemoration of Sylvester, Bishop of Rome from 314 to 335. Little is known of Sylvester’s life and episcopate. He became bishop of the imperial city in the year of the promulgation of the letter of the emperors Constantine and Licinius (known in later years as the “Edict of Milan”) which declared Christianity a religio licita (a legal religion) in the Roman Empire. He was represented by delegates at the regional Council of Arles, called in 314 in an attempt to heal the Donatist schism, and at the first Council of Nicaea. Though little of historical value is known about him, he figures importantly in medieval legendary hagiography, which asserts that he baptized the emperor Constantine at the baptistery of the Lateran, cleansing him of leprosy. His medieval Acts also assert that he established the Lateran church as the cathedral of the city of Rome on land given to him by Constantine.
O God, our Heavenly Father, who raised up your faithful servant Sylvester to be a bishop and pastor in your Church and to feed your flock: Give abundantly to all pastors the gifts of your Holy Spirit, that they may minister in your household as true servants of Christ and stewards of your divine mysteries; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the same Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.