St. Sylvester Gozzolini, Abbot of Osimo

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St. Sylvester : Abbot

Sylvester was born of a noble family at Osimo in Piceno, and in his childhood was a wonderful example both in regard to letters and good living. When he grew older his father sent him to Bologna to study the law, but God warned him to give himself to divinity, and he thereby incurred the wrath of his father, which he bore with complacency for ten full years. On account of his eminent graces he was elected an honorary canon of the Cathedral of Osimo, in the which dignity he ministered to the people by his prayers, his example, and his sermons.

At the funeral of a certain nobleman he perceived in an open grave the disfigured corpse of a kinsman of his own who had been very comely in his lifetime, and he said to himself, I am what he was, and what he is I shall be. Straightway after the funeral he read the words of the Lord, If any man will come after me let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. Thereupon he withdrew into the desert to seek after greater perfection, and then gave himself up to watching, praying, and fasting, very often taking no food but uncooked herbs. In order, however, to cut himself off the more from men, he moved from one place to another, and at length came to Monte Fano, which is hard by Fabriano, but was itself then absolutely uninhabited. Then he built a church in honour of the holy Father Benedict, and founded the congregation of Sylvestrians, with a rule and dress which were revealed to him in a vision by the holy Patriarch himself.

Satan envied him, strove to trouble his monks by divers terrors, and made an hostile attack by night upon the gates of his monastery, but the man of God so overcame the assault of the enemy that his monks were the more confirmed in their Institute and recognised the holiness of their father. He shone with the spirit of prophecy and other gifts. These things he always preserved by the deepest lowliness, whereby he so stirred up against him the ill-will of the devil that that evil spirit cast him headlong down the stairs of his oratory, and went near to slay him, but he was restored to soundness by the helpful gift of the Virgin. This help he remembered with an unceasing singular love toward her until the last breath of his life, the which breath he resigned to God, famous for holiness and miracles, aged almost ninety years, upon the 26th day of November, in the year of salvation 1267. The Supreme Pontiff Leo XIII extended his Office and Mass to the universal Church.

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At that time: Peter said unto Jesus: Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore? And so on, and that which followeth. Matt.19, 27-29

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A Homily by St. Jerome the Priest

Such great confidence! Peter was a fisherman, he was not rich, he earned his bread by his hand skill, and nevertheless he is thus bold, and saith confidently: We have forsaken all. And because it sufficeth not to forsake only, he addeth that which to do is to be perfect: And followed thee. We have done that which thou hast commanded us, what reward therefore wilt thou give us? And Jesus said unto them: Verily I say unto you, that ye which have followed me, in the regeneration, when the Son of Man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. Jesus saith not: Ye which have forsaken all, for this did even Crates the Philosopher, and they which have set nothing by riches are many, but, Ye which have followed me. This did the Apostles, and this do believers do also.

In the regeneration, when the Son of Man shall sit in the throne of his glory, and when the dead shall rise again from corruption incorruptible, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones of judgment, condemning the twelve tribes of Israel, because, when ye believed in me, they would not. And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my Names' sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life. This place agreeth well with that other where the Saviour saith: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man's foes shall be they of his own household. Every one therefore, that hath set no store by affection, and riches, and the pleasures of the world, for Christ's faith's sake, and the preaching of the Gospel, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.

Peter succeeded that eminent Saint, Theonas, as Pope of Alexandria, and the glory of his holiness and teaching hath enlightened not Egypt only, but the whole Church of God. The wondrous patience wherewith he bore the roughness of the times in the persecution under Maximian Galerius caused many greatly to increase in Christian graces. He was the first who cut off Arius, then a Deacon of Alexandria, from the Communion of the faithful, on account of his leaning to the Meletian schism. He was condemned to death by Maximian, and was in prison when there came to him the two Priests Achilles and Alexander to plead for Arius, but Peter told them that Jesus had appeared to him in the night clad in a rent garment, and when he asked what was thereby signified, had said unto him: Arius hath torn my vesture, which is the Church. Also, he foretold to them that they should be Popes of Alexandria after him, and strictly commanded them never to receive Arius into Communion, because he knew him to be dead in the sight of God. That this was a true prophecy the event did shortly prove. At length in the twelfth year of his Popedom, upon the 26th day of November his head was cut off, and he went hence to receive the crown of his testimony.
 
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