Saint Sylvester

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An icon of Saint Sylvester in his papal robes.

Saint Sylvester, known as Pope Sylvester I, was the reigning pope over one of the most important, historical periods of the Catholic Church. There is very little known about him aside from his major accomplishments as pope. Saint Sylvester's feast day is December 31.

Saint Sylvester reigned as pontiff from January 31, 314 to December 31, 335. In that time he presided over the Council of Nicea, and the building of the Basilica of St. John Lateran, Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, St. Peter's Basilica, and several churches over the graves of martyrs. Legend states that Pope Sylvester I healed Emperor Constantine I of leprosy through the ritual of baptism. His iconography depicts him wearing papal vestments.

In the syncretic practice of Cuban Santeria, in which Catholic Church saints are associated with the Youruba pantheon of West African deities, Saint Sylvester is associated with the orisha Osain (also spelled Ozain or Osanyin) because of the similarity between the Catholic Church rite of baptism and the magical bathing used in Santeria initiations.


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