December 31: St. Sylvester
This pope dates back to early Christian times, to the reign of Constantine, in fact. Sylvester I became pope in 314 and he reigned until his death in 335-twenty-one years.
The story is told that Constantine had at first persecuted Pope Sylvester. The emperor contracted leprosy and was going to have a pagan ritual of some kind performed. He was desperate for a cure. It seems that Constantine had a dream in which St. Peter and St. Paul spoke to him. They told the emperor to go to Pope Sylvester for a cure. Constantine asked the pope to be baptized and he was, in the basilica of St. John Lateran. It was during the reception of Baptism that Constantine was completely cured. From then on, Constantine not only permitted the Christian religion to exist, but encouraged it.
Devotion to Pope Sylvester I was well-known during the early Church. He is the first pope not a martyr to be proclaimed a saint. In the basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome, an impressive mosaic decorates one wall. It shows Jesus giving keys of spiritual power to Pope St. Sylvester I.
Take some time today to remember the many special blessings of the year. How has God drawn me closer to himself in the past year?