St. Sylvester Guzzolini (Feast: November 26)
Sylvester was born in 1177 to a noble and prestigious Italian family. When he was of age, he was sent to Bologna and then Padua to study law, but feeling within himself a call to the ecclesiastical state, he left off the study of jurisprudence to pursue that of theology and the Sacred Scriptures.
This course of action so angered his father upon Sylvester’s return to his native city of Osimo, that it is said his father refused to speak to him for ten years on that account.
Sylvester accepted a canonry at Osimo and zealously dedicated himself to his pastoral duties. He spent long hours in prayer, pious reading, and the instruction of others.
However, his efforts to rid his diocese of corruption were not always well received and he made enemies, among them, his own bishop. He had respectfully admonished his superior for neglecting the duties of his office and causing scandal and, in retaliation, the hostile prelate threatened to relieve him of his benefice.
It was not merely the threat from his bishop, however, that decided him to abandon the world.
In 1227, while assisting at the funeral of a nobleman, his relative, who had been remarkably handsome in life and who had formerly been much admired for his worldly accomplishments, he looked into the open coffin.
The sight of the decaying corpse brought his own certain end vividly to mind and placing before himself the thought that what this man had once been, he now was, and that likewise what his relative had become, he himself should one day be, he resolved to act in response of this spiritual awakening.
Renouncing the world entirely and deploring its scandals and blindness, the canon left the city quietly and retired to a secluded locale about thirty miles from Osimo.
In this deserted place Sylvester lived in total solitude and utmost poverty until the owner of the property, recognizing his resident hermit, offered him a better site for his hermitage. His bodily mortification was most severe and yet many flocked to him for guidance and direction. Their numbers grew to such an extent that he eventually built a monastery to house them and when it became necessary to adopt a rule of life for the growing congregation, Sylvester chose that of St. Benedict.
Sylvester’s order was confirmed by Pope Innocent IV in 1247. By the time of his death twenty years later, the saint had founded eleven monasteries and had guided the congregation for thirty-six years.
DAILY QUOTE for January 21, 2020
SAINT OF THE DAY
One night, the Blessed Virgin appeared to him and told him he must become a Christian.