The Order of Saint Sylvester is neither monastic nor military but a purely honorary title created by Gregory XVI, 31 Oct., 1841. The idea of placing this title, borrowed from the Middle Ages , under the patronage of a pope of the fourth century is explained by the existence of a fabulous order of Constantine the Great claiming the approval of his contemporary, Sylvester I, which enjoyed a usurped authority at Rome from the seventeenth century. To end this abuse, Gregory XVI created an authentic title of Knights of St. Sylvester, to be conferred in recognition of some service rendered to the Church, the order being limited to 150 commanders and 300 Roman knights, besides foreigners of whom the number is unlimited. The members have no privileges beyond that of wearing a decoration which consists of a gold enamelled Maltese cross with the image of St. Sylvester on one side and the other the inscription: "1841 Gregorius XVI restituit."
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