Pope Silvester II

Pope Silvester IIAlso known as

  • Gerbert of Aurillac
  • Sylvester II


Monk and then abbot at Aurillac, France. He studied in the Spanish cities of Barcelona, Cordoba, and Seville; he had a strong background in mathematics and science, including classes in Muslim schools. Tutor to Otto II. Abbot at Bobbio, Italy in 983, though he was never popular with his brother monks. Teacher at Rheims, France. Supported Hugh Capet’s rise to the throne, and served as his secretary. Archbishop of Rheims in 991, though he was never popular with his brother priests. When a council determined in 995 that his predecessor had been wrongfully removed, he left the position without a fight. Tutor to Otto III. Archbishop of Ravenna, Italy. First French pope.

He fought against simony, worked for clerical celibacy, and insisted on bishops with spotless backgrounds who could really help their flocks. He supported Otto III, but an uprising on 1 February 1001 caused both pope and emperor to flee Rome for several months. When he returned it was as spiritual leader only, and he confined himself to Church matters, unusual for his day. He created ecclesiastical metropolitans for Poland and for Hungary. Crowned the king of Hungary on 27 March 1000, and made him papal vicar for the country.

In addition to religious treatises, Sylvester wrote works on philosophy, mathematics and science. He is thought to have introduced the use of Arabic numerals to western Europe, and to have invented the pendulum clock. Those who knew him admired him for his learning; some common folks worried that such intelligence indicated he was in league with the devil.


Papal Ascension



  • Acta concilii Remensis ad S. Basolum
  • De corpore et sanguine Domini
  • De geometria
  • Epistolae ante summum pontificatum scriptae
  • Epistolae et decreta pontificia
  • First Letter to Queen Adelaide, 983
  • Leonis legati epistola ad Hugonem et Robertum reges
  • Letter to Bishop Arnulf
  • Letter to Boso, 15 July 982
  • Letter to Stephen of Hungary
  • Libellus de numerorum divisione
  • Libellus de rationali et ratione uti
  • Liber abaci
  • Regula de abaco computi
  • Second Letter to Queen Adelaide, 997
  • Selecta e concil. Basol., Remens., Masom., etc.
  • Sermo de informatione episcoporum

MLA Citation

  • “Pope Silvester II“. CatholicSaints.Info. 29 October 2018. Web. 14 April 2021. <>