Saint Silvestre Gozzolini
Abbé à Fabiano en Italie Centrale (✝ 1267)
Il embrassa la vie monastique pour se donner totalement au Christ et il fonda une nouvelle congrégation bénédictine, dédiée également aux tâches apostoliques.
"Saint Silvestre, contemporain de saint François d'Assise, était, comme lui, destiné à se brouiller avec son père, pour avoir suivi l'attrait de la grâce et obéi à sa vocation.
Il naquit à Osmo ou Osimo, dans la Marche d'Ancône, en 1177, de la noble famille des Gozzolini...
Comme il était savant en théologie, l'évêque d'Osmo l'ordonna prêtre et lui donna un canonicat dans sa cathédrale. Notre saint s'adonna avec succès à la prédication...
Placé, comme autrefois saint Bruno, près d'un évêque scandaleux et incorrigible, il n'éprouva plus, comme lui, que du dégoût pour le monde et résolut de le quitter.
Il s'enfuit secrètement avec un guide, et alla se cacher seul dans un désert, à dix lieues d'Osimo. Il avait alors quarante ans. Il vécut là de la manière la plus pauvre et dans de grandes austérités...
Malgré le soin qu'il avait de se cacher, il lui vint des disciples, qui lui demandèrent à vivre sous sa conduite. Il bâtit avec eux un monastère sur le mont Fano, près de Fabriano, dans la Marche d'Ancône, en 1231 , et y jeta les fondements de son ordre, qui prit d'abord le nom de Monte-Fano, et il donna à ses moines la règle de saint Benoît, leur recommandant surtout la plus grande pauvreté, à l'instar des franciscains...
Saint Silvestre, dont la vie fut longue, fonda lui-même une douzaine de monastères de son ordre, et mourut dans celui de Monte-Fano, le 26 novembre 1267, à l'âge de quatre-vingt-dix ans: ce qui prouve que les austérités n'abrégent pas toujours l'existence des hommes. Clément VIII, né à Fano, et élevé sur la chaire de saint Pierre, en 1592, mit le nom de Silvestre dans le martyrologe romain."
(source: Histoire et costumes des ordres religieux, civils et militaires par René Tiron)
Près de Fabriano dans les Marches, en 1267, saint Silvestre Gozzolini, abbé. Devant la tombe ouverte d’un ami qui venait de mourir, il comprit toute la vanité du monde et se retira dans la solitude. Après avoir changé plusieurs fois de lieu, pour mieux se cacher des hommes, il finit dans un lieu désert, à Monte Fano, par jeter les fondements de la Congrégation des Silvestrins, sous la Règle de saint Benoît.
Saint Sylvestre naquit de nobles parents à Osimo, dans la Marche d’Ancône. Son rare mérite engagea les chanoines de la cathédrale d’Osimo à l’associer à leur dignité.
Assistant un jour aux funérailles d’un homme illustre, son parent, et considérant dans le cercueil découvert le cadavre hideux de cet homme autrefois remarquable par sa beauté, il se dit : « Je suis aujourd’hui ce qu’il fut ; un jour je serai ce qu’il est ».
Aussitôt il quitta tout et se retira dans un désert où il s’adonna à la pénitence et à la méditation.
« Il éleva plus tard à Monte-Fano, dit le Bréviaire Romain, une église en l’honneur du très saint Père Benoît qui lui conseilla dans une vision de fonder un ordre religieux dont il lui indiqua la règle et l’habit. C’est l’Ordre des Sylvestrins ».
Cette branche de l’Ordre bénédictin se propagea en peu de temps et comptait déjà vingt-cinq maisons en Italie, lorsque son saint Fondateur mourut en 1267, à l’âge de quatre vingt-dix ans.
Silvester Gozzolini, OSB Abbot (RM)
Born at Osimo, Italy, 1177; died at Monte Fano, 1267; equivalently canonized in 1598 by Pope Clement VIII.
Born of a noble family, Saint Silvester studied law at Bologna and Padua, but, against his father's wishes, switched to the study of theology and Scripture. He was ordained and became a canon in the cathedral of his home town of Osima until he was 50. Then he respectfully, but firmly, rebuked his bishop for the dissolute life he was leading. Silvester resigned his benefice in 1227, and became a hermit 30 miles from Osimo. Here he lived in poverty and discomfort until the landowner gave him a better hermitage. This one proved to be too damp, so he moved to Grotta Fucile, where he lived an extremely penitential life until 1231.
Directed by a vision of Saint Benedict, he organized the disciples he had attracted into a monastery at Monte Fano near Fabriano in the Marches of Ancona, thus founding the Silvestrine Benedictines, known as the Blue Benedictines from the color of their habit. He taught a very strict interpretation of the Benedictine rule. The congregation was approved by Pope Innocent IV in 1247, and Silvester ruled it with "unbounded wisdom and gentleness" for 36 years until his death, by which time 11 monasteries were under his rule. The Silvestrines still exist as a small, independent Benedictine congregation (Attwater, Attwater 2, Benedictines, Coulson, Delaney, Walsh).
St. Sylvester Gozzolini, Abbot of Osimo
[Institutor of the Sylvestrin Monks.] THIS saint was born of a noble family at Osimo or Osmo, about fourteen miles from Loretto in 1177. He studied the laws and theology at Bologna and Padua, and being instituted to a canonry at Osimo made prayer, pious reading, and the instruction of others his whole employment. His zeal in reproving vice raised him enemies, and his bishop, whom he admonished of certain neglects to the discharge of his office, declared himself his persecutor. These trials served to purify the heart of the servant of God, and prepared him for the grace of the pure love of God. The sight of the carcass of a man who had been admired in his life-time for his beauty and great accomplishments, completed his abhorrence and contempt of this treacherous world, so that, deploring its scandals and blindness, he left the city privately, and retired into a desert thirty miles from Osimo, being then forty years old. To satisfy the importunity of others, in 1231, he built a monastery upon Monte Fano, two miles from Fabriano, in the marquisate of Ancona. In this house he settled the rule of St. Bennet without any mitigation: and, in 1248, obtained of Innocent IV., who was then at Lyons, the confirmation of his institute. He lived to found twenty-five monasteries in Italy, and leaving his disciples heirs of his double spirit of penance and prayer, departed to the Lord on the 26th of November in 1267, being ninety years old. God was pleased to work several miracles at his tomb, and his name is inserted in the Roman Martyrology. See his life by Fabrini, fourth general of his Order, in Breve Chron. della Congreg. de Monachi Sylvestrini; and Helyot, Hist. des Ordres Relig. t. 6, p. 170.
Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73). Volume XI: November. The Lives of the Saints. 1866.
St. Sylvester Gozzolini
Founder of the Sylvestrines, b. of the noble family of the Gozzolini at Osimo, 1177; d. 26 Nov., 1267. He was sent to study jurisprudence at Bologna and Padua, but, feeling within himself a call to the ecclesiastical state, abandoned the study of law for that of theology and Holy Scripture, giving long hours daily to prayer. On his return home we are told that his father, angered at his change of purpose, refused to speak to him for ten years. Sylvester now accepted a canonry at Osimo and devoted himself to pastoral work with such zeal as to arouse the hostility of his bishop, whom he had respectfully rebuked for the scandals caused by the prelate's irregular life. The saint was threatened with the loss of his canonry, but decided to leave the world on seeing the decaying corpse of one who had formerly been noted for great beauty. In 1227 he retired to a desert place about thirty miles from Osimo and lived there in the utmost poverty until he was recognized by the owner of the land, a certain nobleman named Conrad, who offered him a better site for his hermitage. From this spot he was driven by damp and next established himself at Grotta Fucile, where he eventually built a monastery of his order. In this place his penances were most severe, for he lived on raw herbs and water and slept on the bare ground. Disciples flocked to him seeking his direction, and it became necessary to choose a rule. According to the legend the various founders appeared to him in a vision, each begging him to adopt his rule. St. Sylvester chose for his followers that of St. Benedict and built his first monastery on Monte Fano, where, like another St. Benedict, he had first to destroy the remains of a pagan temple. In 1247 he obtained from Innocent IV, at Lyons, a bull confirming his order, and before his death founded a number of monasteries. An account of his miracles and of the growth of his cultus will be found in Bolzonetti. His body was disinterred and placed in a shrine (1275-85) and is still honoured in the church of Monte Fano. Clement IV first recognized the title of blessed popularly bestowed on Sylvester, who was inscribed as a saint in the Roman Martyrology by order of Clement VIII (1598). His office and Mass were extended to the Universal Church by Leo XIII. His feast is kept on 26 November.
BOLZONETTI, Il Monte Fano e un Grande Anacoreta (Rome, 1906); FABRINUS, De Vita. . .b. Sylvestri (Venice, 1599).
Webster, Douglas Raymund. "St. Sylvester Gozzolini." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 14. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. 26 Nov. 2016 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/14372b.htm>.
Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Herman F. Holbrook. Saint Sylvester, and all ye holy Monks and Hermits, pray for us.
Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. July 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.