117. Gower, Confes. Amant., Prologus:--
"The patrimonie and the richesse
Which to Silvester in pure almesse
the firste Constantinus lefte."
Upon this supposed donation of immense domains by Constantine to
the Pope, called the "Patrimony of St. Peter," Milman, Lat.
Christ., Book I. ch. 2, remarks:--
"Silvester has become a kind of hero of religious fable. But it
was not so much the genuine mythical spirit which unconsciously
transmutes history into legend; it was rather deliberate
invention, with a specific aim and design, which, in direct
defiance of history, accelerated the baptism of Constantine, and
sanctified a porphyry vessel as appropriated to, or connected
with, that holy use: and at a later period produced the monstrous
fable of the Donation. "But that with which Constantine actualy
did invest the Church, the right of holding landed property, and
receiving it by bequest, was far more valuable to the Christian
hierarchy, and not least to the Bishop of Rome, than a premature
and prodigal endowment."