(b. ca. 1553, Pomarance, d. 1626, Roma)

Pope Sylvester Baptizes Constantine

San Giovanni in Laterano, Rome

San Giovanni in Laterano is the cathedral of Rome, and as such is the privileged seat of papal authority. The origins of this sacred edifice are rooted in legends. The best known among the many legends which sprang up in the Middle Ages tells that the emperor Constantine (280-337) was suffering from leprosy when Peter and Paul appeared to him in a dream and promised him he would get well if he were baptized. The pope at that time was Sylvester I (314-335), who had fled Rome for fear of persecution and lived in hiding among the forests of Mount Socrate. Reassured by the emperor, he agreed to return to Rome and baptize Constantine. Healed of his leprosy, Constantine as a sign of gratitude built the basilica of San Giovanni.