Online Encyclopedia


Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V25, Page 117 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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SILVESTER I., bishop of Rome from January 314 to December 335, succeeded Melchiades and was followed by Marcus. The accounts of his papacy preserved in the Liber pontificalis are little else than a record of the gifts said to have been conferred on the Roman church by Constantine the Great. He was represented at the council of Nice. The story of his having baptized Constantine is pure fiction, as almost contemporary evidence shows the emperor to have received this rite near Nicomedia at the hands of Eusebius, bishop of that city. According to Dollinger, the entire legend, with all its details of the leprosy and the proposed bath of blood, cannot have been composed later than the close of the 5th century (cf. Duchesne, the Liber pontificalis, i. 109). The so-called Donation of Constantine was long ago shown to be spurious, but the document is of very considerable antiquity and, in Dollinger's opinion, was forged in Rome between 752 and 777. It was certainly known to Pope Adrian in 778, and was inserted in the false decretals towards the middle of the next century.
End of Article: SILVESTER I

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