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Updated:  Aug 12, 2013
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Silvia, Saint

Mother of Pope St. Gregory the Great, b. about 515 (525?); d. about 592

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* Published by Encyclopedia Press, 1913.

Silvia, AINT, mother of Pope St. Gregory the Great, b. about 515 (525?); d. about 592. There is unfortunately no life of Silvia and a few scanty notices are all that is extant concerning her. Her native place is sometimes given as Sicily, sometimes as Rome. Apparently she was of as distinguished family as her husband, the Roman regionarius, Gordianus. She had, besides Gregory, a second son. Silvia was noted for her great piety, and she gave her sons an excellent education. After the death of her husband she devoted herself entirely to religion in the "new cell by the gate of blessed Paul" (cella nova juxta portam beati Pauli). Gregory the Great had a mosaic portrait of his parents executed at the monastery of St. Andrew; it is minutely decribed by Johannes Diaconus (P.L., LXXV, 229-30). Silvia was portrayed sitting with the face, in which the wrinkles of age could not extinguish the beauty, in full view; the eyes were large and blue, and the expression was gracious and animated. The veneration of Silvia is of early date. In the ninth century an oratory was erected over her former dwelling, near the Basilica of San Saba. Pope Clement VIII (1592-1605) inserted her name under November 3 in the Roman Martyrology. She is entreated by pregnant women for a safe delivery.


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"Let us then not be ashamed to confess the Crucified. Be the cross our seal, made with boldness by our fingers on our brow and in everything; over the bread we eat and the cups we drink, in our comings and in goings out; before our sleep, when we lie down and when we awake; when we are travelling, and when we are at rest."
-- St. Cyril of Jerusalem in his "Catecheses" (xiii, 36), on the sign of the cross, a practice familiar to Christians in the second century and which had passed into a gesture of benediction by the fourth century, as many quotations from the Fathers show


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