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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

St. Sylvester (1177 – 1267, 26 November)

He was the son of a lawyer and had also studied law before becoming a canon in his native town of Osimo. He was a zealous and fervent priest.

Abbot Sylvester founded the Sylvestrine Order, a reform congregation of the Order of St. Benedict, in 1231. Upon seeing the corpse of an aristocrat relative, who had been very handsome, in the coffin, he cried out, "I am what this man was, I will be what this man is!" After the funeral services, the words of our Lord kept ringing in his ears, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me" (Matt. 16:24). He betook himself to a hermitage, led a life of perfection.

He at first lived as a hermit at Grotta Fucile, and then on Monte Fano where followers came to join him. He gave them the habit and Rule of St. Benedict together with certain other customs which reflect his own aspirations and the devotional tendencies of his day. He died in 1267 at the age of ninety.

The members of his Order wear a Benedictine habit, Turkish blue in color. Today there remain seven Sylvestrine monasteries in Italy and several mission houses in Ceylon and in the United States.

Excerpted from The Church's Year of Grace, Pius Parsch.

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