Saints Silvia and Gregory the Great

by Melanie on September 13, 2017

in Catholicism, Nonfiction, Saints, Sisterhood of Saints, Spirituality, Wednesday's Woman

Note: I’m currently featuring women saints who had notable relationships with male saints–their sons, husbands, fathers, or colleagues in faith.

The Basics: Silvia, born about 515 in Italy;died about 592 in Italy; feast day, November 3. canonized pre-congregation. Wife, mother. Gregory, born about 540 in Italy; died March 12, 604; feast day, September 3. Pope and Doctor of the Church.

The Story: We know little of Silvia’s early life, other than that she likely came from a family of some

Silvia of Rome

note, given that her husband, Gordianus, was a Roman senator. We know that the family was devout; two of Gordianus’ three sisters entered religious and also are regarded as saints. Silvia and her husband had at least two sons, and one of them would go on to become Pope Gregory I, who would go on to become a saint himself and a Doctor of the Church for his writings.

The family lived in a comfortable villa on Rome’s Caelian Hill, and at some point, Silvia established a chapel within their home.

Gordianus died in 573, and Gregory converted the villa into a monastery named for St. Andrew. However, after five years, he was named as a regional official of the Church. The position involved travel, and it was 585 or 586 before he returned to Rome and became abbot of the monastery. At this time, legend has it, Silvia would bring him lunch each day from her vegetable garden.

Gregory being offered the papacy

In 590, Gregory was elected pope. The prospect apparently concerned him, and he thought about leaving Rome. Ultimately, he acquiesced. Silvia was alive for the first two years of his papacy, and the lunch tradition changed to include feeding twelve poor people daily.

What We Can Learn from Silvia and Gregory: Mother and son shared a love for the Lord, and a willingness to follow His plan, writ large on the public stage, or small in ministry. That humility is a gift to any child or friend.

Wisdom from Gregory: Perhaps this quotation was at least partly inspired by what he had learned from watching his mother’s quiet service and piety: “If the wearing of fine and precious robes were not a fault, word of God would never have so carefully expressed this. For no one seeks costly garments except for vainglory, that he may seem more honorable than others; for no one wishes to be clothed with such, where he cannot be seen by others.”

To Learn More About Silvia: Check out the Vatican site for the Church of St. Andrew on the Caelian Hill, which includes St. Silvia’s oratory.

To Learn More About Other Women Saints and Blesseds: Come back next week, or consider buying my book, Sisterhood of Saints: Daily Guidance and Inspiration.

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